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13 Tips for Buying an Existing Business

Many people think having their own business would be easier than working 9-5 for someone else, but in fact it is harder because when you own a business the buck stops with you. It is wise to always consult a lawyer’s list before making a final decision about buying an existing business and to keep that lawyer on so you have quick access to help should any problem crop up.

When you own a business, the responsibility for everything being right rests on your shoulders – and sometimes you have to step into the gap when an employee doesn’t show up at the last minute. If anything goes wrong, you are the one who has to fix it, or at least ensure that it is fixed by someone else who knows what they are doing. While there are many responsibilities, there is also a great deal of satisfaction at meeting the challenge successfully.

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How To Ensure Your Financial Agreements are Fair

Whether you own a business or are entering into some kind of financial agreement unrelated to business, lawyers will tell you to never sign on the dotted line unless you fully understand everything within it. In fact, consulting with family lawyers like robinson family lawyers about financial agreements is the best way to ensure the other person is not taking unfair advantage of you.

Financial agreements can be very simple or they can be much more complicated and you are unlikely to understand the implications of everything you read in it, even if you think it is clear.  In business there are many ways of saying things legally that spin the meaning around to give favour to the person who is offering the agreement.  Unless you have a lawyer go over it and explain it all to you, it could be that you are disadvantaged in some way.

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How to Protect Intangible Business Assets

If you have recently started up a small business, you most likely consulted commercial lawyers and other professionals to ensure everything was set up legally.  Of course there is a lot of information online these days, but often it is difficult to understand, or you may not be sure if certain legal requirements actually apply to your business.

In all the busyness of getting your business up and running, you may  not have thought about protecting those intangible business assets, even though you’ve taken out insurance to protect the stock and all those other things you need to run the business.

What are the intangible assets?

  • The specific name of your business
  • Your logo
  • Brand name
  • Trademarks
  • Specific processes and methods to do certain things
  • Knowledge your employees have that is unique to your business

Some of these intangibles can be protected through taking out patent, trademark or copyright registrations, while others should be protected by using non-compete and non-disclosure documents that your employees should sign to protect your new business. This will prevent them from using this knowledge if they should leave your company and go to the competition or even start up their own company. It is best to have your lawyer draft such agreements so they are watertight.

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Legal Tips for When a Relationship Goes Bad

Often, young people – and not so young people – jump into a relationship too quickly, then find several things about their partner they just cannot stand. Family lawyers are available to help you when a relationship goes bad and it is essential to take their advice to heart so that you remain safe and get through that divorce with the least possible emotional turmoil.

Lawyers would be the first to tell you it is important to follow the law, so here are some tips to help you know what the law expects – and what it does not.

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What To Do When Facing the Threat of Litigation In Business

It doesn’t matter what type of business you have. Whether you are a SEO Agency or a building contractor they are all the same in the sense that no business wants to go through litigation. If you have a small business, the expense and other costs of litigation are like to put you right out of business, or at least take many years to recover from. That is why it’s important to consult with litigation lawyers immediately in order to find a resolution before it is too late.

The reason for the litigation may not even have been the fault of your business, but going through the courts to prove it is not only costly, but time consuming and is still likely to cause a loss of reputation, even if you eventually win the case. The actual details get lost over time and all anyone remembers is the court case, the gossip and the problem that you were accused of. They may not even remember – or believe – that you were innocent.

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How to Get Legal Aid if You are a Minor

Being arrested is often frightening, especially if you don’t know exactly what is happening or why. In Western Australia, if you are arrested for an offence and you are a minor, you can get legal aid from the government’s Youth Law Team. There are a team of criminal lawyers who can help you with advice or help you if you’ve been arrested and have to appear in court.

Everyone has certain rights, even if they are a convicted criminal. If you are a minor, you have just as much right as anyone else to be represented in court, not to mention the right to remain silent or only answer police questions with a lawyer present.

If you don’t know who to turn to, these lawyers will help you with

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The Difference Between a Fixture and a Chattel – and Why It Matters

If you are buying or selling a house you may hear something about fixtures and chattels. It’s important to have your property lawyers explain the difference in these terms, since they are usually included in the terms of agreement and the purchase/sale documents. If you don’t understand what they refer to, you could be disappointed once the removalists like Brilliance Removalists Melbourne leave and you move into your new home to find out something is not there when you expected it to be.

Fixtures

Generally speaking, a fixture is something that is attached to the land or property. However, even though it may seem very obvious as to what is attached and what isn’t, there are some variations, just to keep you on your toes. In some cases, chattels can become fixtures and fixtures can become chattels. In one case of selling an old theatre, the question arose as to whether the seats were fixtures, since they were actually bolted to the floor and to each other. Oddly enough, a court decided they were not fixtures, but chattels, so they were not to be considered part of the theatre. This was in spite of the definition of a fixture being anything that is attached to the land through anything but its own weight.

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Court Rules Sleeping Lawyer Violated Defendant’s Right to a Fair Trial

Texas murder convict Calvin Burdine came within hours of execution in August of 1987, despite having had a lawyer who slept for periods of up to ten minutes throughout the trial. Fortunately, the court granted him a stay of execution, and Burdine appealed his conviction on the grounds that his public defense attorney, Joe Cannon, had fallen short of the adequate counsel provided for by the Sixth Amendment.

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The Case for Evidence Preservation

This week Rolando Cruz celebrated the 13th anniversary of his exoneration from Illinois’ death row. Cruz was wrongfully convicted in 1983 due in large part to a co defendant’s statements implicating him. Even though Cruz was never physically linked to the crime scene, DNA evidence did exist. With the help of a volunteer legal team led by Professor Lawrence C. Marshall at Northwestern University Law School, Cruz was able to secure DNA testing on the evidence found near the crime scene which proved he could not have committed this crime.

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Crime Labs Expose Preventable Forensic Errors

Police crime labs in both Detroit and Baltimore have recently come under fire for shocking errors discovered in the testing, analysis, and use of forensic evidence.

Last week the Detroit police crime lab was shut down after an audit in June of the ballistics division revealed a 10% error rate in 200 firearms cases they reviewed. A fear that this error rate pervaded all divisions was the main reason for the closure of this chronically under-funded and over-worked lab.

The discovery in the ballistics divisions has put the integrity of all forensic evidence testing and analysis in Detroit at risk. And the ramifications of the lab closure could be far-reaching. Innocent people may have been wrongfully convicted from flawed forensic evidence leaving dangerous criminals free to commit more crimes.

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Fixing Flaws in Forensic Science

In recent decades, the use of forensic science in criminal investigations has skyrocketed. In the media, TV crime dramas like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation portray forensic evidence collection and analysis as a flawless science that can quickly and accurately identify the perpetrator. Yet time and again, inaccurate or misleading forensic evidence and testimony has helped to convict the wrong person.

Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson were convicted of a crime they didn’t commit based on microscopic hair comparison – a notoriously unreliable forensic test. Williamson was sent to death row and Fritz spent a decade in prison before DNA testing proved their innocence. Brandon Moon, another innocent man, went to prison for seventeen years after a state forensic crime lab analyst gave erroneous testimony at his trial.

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Post-Conviction DNA Testing Shouldn’t Depend on Miracles

By now everyone knows that DNA testing is a powerful scientific tool for proving guilt or innocence in our criminal justice system. Often post-conviction DNA testing provides the only evidence that can correct the injustice of wrongful conviction.

But what if all the biological evidence is destroyed while you’re still in prison? What if there is evidence but it’s not discovered until after state-imposed deadline for seeking DNA testing? What if the state denies your petition for testing because you accepted a plea bargain to avoid a harsher sentence for a crime you didn’t commit? And what if you’re indigent and can’t afford an attorney to help navigate the complex legal and scientific issues involved in obtaining a DNA test?

The sad truth is that it often takes a series of miracles to gain access to post-conviction DNA testing. That’s because our criminal justice system continues to place significant obstacles in the way of post-conviction DNA testing that could determine whether the wrong people have been convicted and punished for crimes they didn’t commit.

Today, The Justice Project is releasing Increasing Assess to Post-Conviction DNA Testing: A Policy Review. This policy review explains the problems surrounding post-conviction DNA testing policies and procedures and identifies the best practices for states to adopt to ensure that post-conviction DNA testing contributes to a more accurate criminal justice system and restores public confidence in the system’s ability to correct its own errors.

To date, more than 200 people – including 16 who were sentenced to death – have been proven innocent by DNA testing. In many of those cases, the same DNA test helped bring the real perpetrators to justice.

But seven states – Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota and Oklahoma – don’t even have laws on the books allowing for post-conviction DNA testing. And those that do have laws fall short of what is needed to ensure that DNA testing can be used effectively to correct the injustice of wrongful conviction.

All but 12 states and the District of Columbia lack statutes requiring the preservation of evidence throughout an inmate’s incarceration. An investigative series this year by The Columbus Dispatch found that “evidence had been lost or destroyed nearly two-thirds of the time that prosecutors agreed to search for it because Ohio does not require evidence to be catalogued and saved.” States should require the preservation of biological evidence throughout a defendant’s sentence and devise standards regarding the custody of evidence.

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Increasing Access to Post-Conviction DNA Testing

DNA is a powerful scientific tool for proving guilt or innocence, but barriers throughout the criminal justice system are preventing this tool from being used effectively.

Increasing Access to Post-Conviction DNA Testing: A Policy Review is a new publication from The Justice Project designed to foster a dialogue among policy makers and to help states implement better DNA testing procedures and practices. This policy review provides an overview of problems with current post-conviction DNA testing laws, offers solutions to these problems, profiles cases of injustice, highlights states with good laws and policies for DNA testing, and includes a model policy.

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A New Website for The Justice Project

Welcome to The Justice Project’s new website!

Along with a fresh, new look, this website has been designed to inform, engage and empower citizens and supporters of The Justice Project (TJP) as we work together to increase fairness and accuracy in the criminal justice system.

TJP’s website makes it easier to find important information about the primary causes of wrongful convictions and the reforms needed to prevent them. Through our Profiles of Injustice, you can read the true stories of innocent people convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Each wrongful conviction is a window into our criminal justice system’s failure to find the truth, and a reason to demand change.

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Introducing the Justice Newsladder

I’ve been engaged in social justice advocacy for more than 25 years. In that time, I’ve seen how important a fair and accurate criminal justice system is to our society. When crimes are committed, our system should determine the truth. Unfortunately, time and time again, the system gets it wrong.

Earlier this month, Glen Chapman of North Carolina became the 128th prisoner on death row to be released since 1972. The courts found that detectives committed perjury at Chatman’s trial and withheld potential evidence of his innocence from his defense attorneys. The forensic evidence was so bad that one of the two homicides pinned on Chapman may in fact have been a drug overdose. Chatman, who spent 14 years behind bars, was also a victim of bad defense lawyering.

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Justice Department Holding DNA Testing Program Hostage

The day President Bush signed the Innocence Protection Act into law was one of the proudest days of my life. The law, part of the Justice for All Act of 2004, included a new program named after me: the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program.

The program provides federal grants to states to conduct DNA testing that can exonerate the innocent and help identify the truly guilty. At the time, the program’s creation seemed a fitting end to a terrible chapter in my life, my 20-year struggle to prove my innocence after being convicted and sentenced to die for the brutal rape and murder of Dawn Hamilton, a 9-year-old girl I had never met.

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The Innocence Protection Act Of 2004: A Small Step Forward And A Framework For Larger Reforms

Passage of the Innocence Protection Act in the closing days of the 108th Congress was a watershed moment. To be sure, the bill that finally became law was a shadow of the more ambitious criminal justice reforms first championed five years earlier by Senator Pat Leahy, Congressman Bill Delahunt and others. But the enactment of legislation designed to strengthen – not weaken – procedural protections for death row inmates was rich in symbolic importance and promise.

Writing in the April 2001 issue of The Champion (”Innocence Protection Act: Death Penalty Reform on the Horizon”), I said optimistically: “The criminal justice pendulum may be swinging back in the direction of fairness. The Innocence Protection Act of 2001, introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives earlier this year, promises meaningful reforms in the administration of capital punishment in the United States.” Four years later I’d claim that prediction was fairly accurate. While the reforms in the final bill are not as meaningful as I and others had hoped, the pendulum clearly swung. (Title IV of Public Law 108-405, Justice for All Act.)

The IPA marks a dramatic departure from 25 years of congressional debate on the death penalty. Soon after the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, proposals emerged to restore the federal death penalty. In 1986, the Reagan Administration unsuccessfully urged the U.S. Sentencing Commission to promulgate guidelines for federal capital punishment. In 1988, as part of an omnibus anti-drug bill, Congress reauthorized the federal death penalty for certain drug-related murders. The 1994 crime bill signed by President Clinton authorized a death sentence for over 50 new and existing federal crimes.

At the same time that Congress was dusting off the machinery of federal capital punishment, it began to debate measures to limit federal review of state death sentences. Proposals to eviscerate habeas corpus came close to passage in crime bills throughout the early 1990s, but were held at bay by strenuous opposition from senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee and members of the Emergency Committee to Save Habeas Corpus, co-chaired by former Attorneys General Katzenbach, Richardson, Levi and Civiletti. Pressure to streamline death row appeals finally found an outlet in the 1996 anti-terrorism bill that followed the Oklahoma City bombing. That same Congress cut off funding for the death penalty resource centers that had provided a modicum of procedural protection for death row inmates in a number of active death penalty jurisdictions.

But by 2000, the climate began to change. The advent of DNA technology demonstrated with scientific precision the fallibility of the criminal justice system. Pioneering legal work and public advocacy by Innocence Project founders Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld exonerated dozens of long-time prisoners based on post-conviction DNA testing. An overlapping list of wrongly convicted death row inmates – some exonerated by DNA testing, some by non-scientific evidence – began to grow, and soon both lists topped 100. Public pressure that only a few years earlier led to an acceleration of capital punishment now shifted in favor of closer scrutiny of death sentences to protect the innocent.
Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman William Delahunt both began their political careers as prosecutors, Leahy in Vermont and Delahunt in Massachusetts. Both Democrats are opponents of the death penalty, but they are also savvy legislators. They built alliances with Republican death penalty supporters – Leahy with Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon and Delahunt with Congressman Ray LaHood of Illinois – to advance a package of new statutory protections for capital defendants. They dubbed their proposal the Innocence Protection Act.

Introduction of the IPA in 2000 coincided with the decision of Governor George Ryan to impose a moratorium on executions in Illinois following the exoneration of 13 death row inmates in that state. Ryan attended an early press conference on the Innocence Protection Act and was the star witness at the first House Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill.
During this time, a non-profit organization called The Justice Project – for which I served as outside counsel – developed a grassroots and media campaign to publicize growing concerns about the administration of capital punishment and build support for the Leahy/Delahunt reforms. Eventually dozens of senators and over half of the House cosponsored the bill.

Still, it would require five years of legislative slogging before the IPA would become law. Proponents of reform faced institutional opposition from federal and state prosecutors as well as skepticism from senior Republican members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees who, only a few years before, had championed the 1996 limits on habeas corpus.

Early versions of the IPA were more wide-ranging than the recently enacted law. From the outset, the two pillars of the bill were expanded access to post-conviction DNA testing and improvements in the systems by which states appoint defense lawyers for indigent capital defendants. But the original IPA also contained other reforms such as limits on the application of the federal death penalty in states that do not authorize capital punishment, improved jury instructions in federal capital cases, and a Sense of Congress that juveniles and the mentally retarded should not be executed. These peripheral proposals dropped out during legislative negotiations over the years.

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Statement from Senator Hatch on Passage of 5107

HATCH BROKERS DEAL AND DNA BILL PASSES SENATE
Washington – Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today praised the Senate’s passage of the “Justice for All Act of 2004,” to provide funding and assistance to the criminal justice system in order to realize the full potential of DNA technology to solve crimes and protect the innocent.

“After days, months and now years of hard-fought negotiations we finally reached an agreement. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is one of the most significant bills that will come out of the 108th Congress,” said Hatch.

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