Industry, CA: Simon Chu and Charley Loh, part-owners and former executives of Chinese appliance manufacturer Gree Electric Appliances and a company that imported, distributed, and sold China-manufactured dehumidifiers to retailers, allegedly knew the dehumidifiers caught fire but failed to report and recall (too expensive) the defects for at least six months. According to the indictment, the two men “deliberately” withheld information about the defective dehumidifiers.
Litigation was the pathway to the freedom to marry in many states. It often takes a judge to challenge prevailing assumptions (and even prejudice) that political decision-makers such as legislators or voters may be more unwilling to overcome. Early on, we won in state courts, first in Hawaii in the 1990s, then in Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, and Iowa. Later, we won in federal court, first in California, then in Utah, Oklahoma, and beyond, all the way up to the Supreme Court. In total, 25 of our final state victories (aside from the 13 final states we won at the U.S. Supreme Court) came through judicial rulings – 5 in state court and the rest in federal court. Most of these court wins came through our movement’s legal arm – the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights – while a significant share were initiated by private attorneys and assisted by growing numbers of law firms eager to join in the progress. Several of these victories, though, were stripped away by political attack, and most of them would not have happened had we not built momentum in public understanding and even the politics of the marriage debate, creating the climate for the courts to rule in our favor and ensure that the public and elected officials would accept the outcome.
If the facts in your case are questionable and there is significant risk for conviction at trial and the potential consequences are too high, an alternative to resolving your case by trial is to accept a plea agreement. It is important to have a criminal lawyer, whether hired or court appointed, helping you with your case, but this is especially true if you are considering a plea.
If, upon review of your case information, the attorney determines that you have a very strong case and that State’s case may be weak, one option is to fight the case by going to trial. The decision to go to trial is always the client’s decision. Depending on the charge and the jurisdiction, this may mean a bench trial, meaning a single judge presides and makes a decision as to your guilt or innocence, or a jury trial, meaning a jury of usually 12 people decides guilt or innocence. A trial usually takes quite a bit of time to be scheduled – in North Carolina a felony trial may take as long as a year or more schedule and in others it may take two years or even more. This is based on the severity of the crime you’ve been charged with and how busy the court calendar is.
Though the majority of lawsuits are settled before ever reaching a state of trial, they can still be very complicated to litigate. This is particularly true in federal systems, where a federal court may be applying state law (e.g. the Erie doctrine, for example in the United States), or vice versa. It is also possible for one state to apply the law of another in cases where additionally it may not be clear which level (or location) of court actually has jurisdiction over the claim or personal jurisdiction over the defendant, or whether the plaintiff has standing to participate in a lawsuit. About 98 percent of civil cases in the United States federal courts are resolved without a trial. Domestic courts are also often called upon to apply foreign law, or to act upon foreign defendants, over whom they may not even have the ability to even enforce a judgment if the defendant's assets are theoretically outside their reach.