Tallahassee, FL: Shirley had abdominal mesh implanted following the resection of colon cancer. That was in 2008 and she has been in debilitating pain ever since. And taking Oxycodone to numb the crippling abdominal pain not only resulted in an addiction to opioids; she had to give up her job as a federal prison officer. Wait, it gets worse: her surgeon said all the mesh cannot be removed because it has eroded into her bowel.
Fourteen defendants, including parents and one coach, have pleaded guilty in the college cheating scandal. Actress Felicity Huffman is among those to plead guilty in what prosecutors call the largest college admissions scam uncovered in U.S. history. They are among 50 people who allegedly schemed to cheat college exams and pay $25 million in bribes to buy the children of affluent Americans seats in well-known universities including Yale and Georgetown. CNBC's Robert Frank reports.

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After a final decision has been made, either party or both may appeal from the judgment if they believe there had been a procedural error made by the trial court. It isn't necessarily an automatic appeal after every judgment has been made, however, if there is a legal basis for the appeal, then one has the right to do so. The prevailing party may appeal, for example, if they wanted a larger award than was granted. The appellate court (which may be structured as an intermediate appellate court) and/or a higher court then affirms the judgment, declines to hear it (which effectively affirms it), reverses—or vacates and remands. This process would then involve sending the lawsuit back to the lower trial court to address an unresolved issue, or possibly request for a whole new trial. Some lawsuits go up and down the appeals ladder repeatedly before final resolution.
I have represented myself in various state and federal courts for years and have experienced firsthand just how unfair our system of justice can be against a person who decides to represent himself. Not long ago a federal judge looked me in the eye and told me just before the trial that I wouldn’t win. The judge did a lot of things during the trial to make it unfair for me, but I did win.
Many people are worried that if they’ve been charged with a crime that there will automatically be prison time. However, prison time tends to be less common of a potential outcome in the majority of criminal cases, especially if the crime is non-violent and you have no or very little previous criminal history. Many cases can be resolved with community service or treatment programs and often sentences are probationary in nature rather than requiring active time. This of course depends predominantly on the charges against you and your criminal history.
If you find yourself up against a lawyer who won't stop rattling off legal citations or won't let you get a word in edgewise, you'll have to stand up for yourself. Tell the judge that you are representing yourself without a lawyer because you can't afford or justify the expense, and that you'll rely on the judge to apply the correct law and reach the right conclusions. Many judges will make an effort to keep the proceedings comprehensible to a self-represented party -- and will take steps to rein in an opposing lawyer who tries to take unfair advantage.
Because the vast majority of cases will settle before trial, success often means obtaining a desirable settlement. In negotiating with the other side, try to be flexible in deciding what you can live with. Your concept of a fair deal will be vastly different from the opposing party's numerical figure. While you'll want to drive a hard bargain, both sides are probably going to compromise eventually. Usually, the earlier this happens the better.
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I watch the federal courts closely and became aware over time that the administration was being challenged in court on almost every important policy and deregulatory decision and that U.S. district court judges, who ordinarily defer to the government in most of these challenges, were no longer doing so. Deanna Paul and I began keeping track of the adverse rulings. I’ve been watching regulation and courts for a very long time, and the numbers of defeats were well beyond anything I had seen.
If the defendant chooses to file an answer within the time permitted, the answer must address each of the plaintiffs' allegations. The defendant has three choices to make, which include either admitting to the allegation, denying it, or pleading a lack of sufficient information to admit or deny the allegation. Some jurisdictions, like California and Florida, still authorize general denials of each and every allegation in the complaint. At the time the defendant files an answer, the defendant also raises all "affirmative" defenses. The defendant may also assert counterclaims for damages or equitable relief against the plaintiff. For example, in the case of "compulsory counterclaims," the defendant must assert some form of counterclaim or risk having the counterclaim barred in any subsequent proceeding. In the case of making a counterclaim, the defendant is making a motion directed towards the plaintiff claiming that he/she was injured in some way or would like to sue the plaintiff. The plaintiff in this example would then receive some amount of time to make a reply to this counterclaim. The defendant may also file a "third party complaint", which is the defendant's privilege to join another party or parties in the action with the belief that those parties may be liable for some or all of the plaintiff's claimed damages. An answer from the defendant in response to the claims made against him/her, can also include additional facts or a so-called "excuse" for the plead. Filing an answer "joins the cause" and moves the case into the pre-trial phase.
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