Category Archives:Latest News

Collateral Consequences: The Side-Effects of Criminal Convictions

Often people plead guilty to a criminal charge to “get it over with”, save time, or money. Most of us know that the direct results of a criminal conviction might range from fines to imprisonment. The indirect/side effects are less known. A criminal conviction can have far reaching consequences in the other areas of your life. For instance, a criminal conviction can block a job opportunity, disqualify you from voting, stop certain benefits, or make you ineligible for public office. Before pleading guilty, or risking a conviction at trial, it is important to understand the side effects of a criminal conviction.

Ohio has an on-line compilation of collateral consequences, prepared under the auspices of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center and the State Office of the Public Defender. See Civil Impacts of Criminal Convictions under Ohio Law, available at http://opd.ohio.gov/CIVICC.

PERSONAL INJURY: Nursing Home Negligence

More and more we have to entrust our elderly loved ones to nursing homes. Unfortunately, nursing home injury and neglect claims are on the rise. It may be necessary to file a lawsuit to stop, or to recover money damages for nursing home negligence or abuse. Some common lawsuits against nursing homes include, but certainly are not limited to, neglect, abuse, bedsores, assault, falls and fractures, failure to diagnose or treat medical conditions, and even wrongful death.

If your loved one has been hurt or if you recognize the signs of nursing home negligence or abuse, time is of the essence. Such claims are subject to laws known as statutes of limitations that require a lawsuit to be filed within a certain time. Failure to file the lawsuit in the specified time will result in the claim being barred forever.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE: Fewer Mandatory Minimum Sentences?

As part of a comprehensive prison-reform package, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, announced that he was changing the charging policy of federal prosecutors. The goal is to reduce the number of individuals who must face unreasonably long prison sentences. Under the reforms, federal prosecutors will be directed not to charge low-level, non-violent drug offenders without ties to gangs or large-scale organizations, with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences. As a result, the more severe penalties will be reserved for serious, high-level or violent drug traffickers.
It has long been recognized that the U.S. prison population is disproportionately poor, African-American and/or Hispanic. General Holder’s reforms affect only federal crimes but he urged states to follow his approach. The reforms will relate to future cases only and will not by themselves, reduce current sentences.

CHURCH DISPUTES: Civil Courts Limited

Generally, civil courts lack jurisdiction to hear “ecclesiastical” disputes within a church, although courts may hear church disputes that are “secular” in nature. The question of who will preach from the pulpit of a church is an ecclesiastical question, review of which by the civil courts is limited by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

In determining whether courts have jurisdiction over church disputes, courts apply a two-tiered analysis. First, courts must look at whether the church is hierarchical or congregational. If the church is hierarchical, civil courts generally lack jurisdiction to hear the dispute. However, if the church is congregational, a civil court has jurisdiction only to determine the narrow issue of whether the decision concerning the ecclesiastical dispute was made by the proper church authority.

EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION: Unlawful Retaliation

Employees who oppose unlawful employment discrimination, participate in employment discrimination proceedings, or otherwise assert their employment rights, are protected from retaliation. A person is protected against retaliation for opposing perceived discrimination so long as the person had a reasonable and good faith belief that the opposed practice was unlawful.

Several laws also prohibit retaliation against someone who is so closely associated with the person exercising his/her rights, that it would discourage a person from pursuing his/her right to oppose unlawful discrimination. For instance, it would be unlawful to discriminate against you, if your daughter, who is also an employee, opposed an unlawful discrimination practice by the employer.