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Who Gets Paid Sick Leave?

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Archive: Dec 2015

Who Gets Paid Sick Leave?

Sick leave allows individuals to take time off work when they need to and still get paid. However, individual companies often determine who gets paid during sick leave and who has to take a hit for not showing up at work. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey, the good news is that the number of people who have paid sick leave has increased since the early 1990s. The bad news is that millions of people still don’t have access to the same benefits.

Who currently gets paid sick leave? Patterns in the statistics across the US indicate that those with full time white-collar jobs get paid sick leave most often, while those in blue collar and part-time jobs often work hard every day without any benefit if they have to take a day off. Higher earners are also more likely to receive paid sick leave.

California Paid Sick Leave

In our state, all employees who work at a place more than 30 days are entitled to paid sick leave, following a law that went into effect in July 2015. Both temporary and part-time employees can take advantage of the benefits. Employers reserve the right to limit how employees can use sick leave over a certain period of time. Employees may carry over paid sick time not used the year before. In addition to these state-wide laws, certain jurisdictions have also enacted similar paid sick leave statutes for workers in city limits. San Francisco, Oakland, and Emeryville all have local ordinances.

The Benefits and Risks of Paid Sick Leave

One major concern of extending paid sick leave benefits to all employees across the US is the potential for abuse. If an employee has 7 paid sick days available throughout the year, what is to stop them from playing hooky? However, considerations for a nationwide policy have used Connecticut’s experience as a baseline. The state saw no meaningful change in the amount of time taken off of work after enacting a statute for statewide paid sick leave. And the benefits are potentially numerous.

Having the freedom to leave work if you’re sick without suffering a financial loss often makes employees feel respected and more loyal to a company than they would be otherwise. Many people bring contagious viruses and infections into the workplace because they can’t afford to stay home. This often increases the duration of an illness and exposes other employees to the same contagion, while often decreasing productivity levels. Paid sick leaves allow people to take the time they need to stay well.

Paid sick leave could also make a big difference in workers’ compensation across the country. Workers who don’t come into work sick are less likely to make mistakes and cause injuries or be injured.

Will Paid Sick Leave Become a Right Everywhere?

Indications in the media and from the current administration indicate that the time for paid sick leave as a right instead of a benefit is near. Starting in 2017, all federal contractors will be required to provide paid sick leave to workers up to 7 days per year. While the number of workers affected is only about 300,000, the change could represent a shift in overall attitudes toward paid sick leave in the workplace. Many large companies have already started to initiate change. Companies such as Facebook will only work with other companies who offer employees sick leave, and workplace chains including Chipotle already offer all workers paid sick leave.

If your employer is not granting you paid sick leave in California or you have a question regarding your rights, please contact our team at DiMarco Arujo Montevideo today.

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UNA MADRE FUE CONDENADA POR HOMICIDIO AL NO PROTEGER A SU HIJO DEL PADRE

Artículo 15-38
¡No Se Deje! ®

Las leyes de Estados Unidos y de los estados claramente consideran responsables a las personas por los actos de otros y por no actuar responsablemente. A los patrones se les requiere que paguen por las lesiones y daños causados por sus empleados en el transcurso del trabajo. Los padres son responsables de pagar daños o lesiones causados a otras personas por sus hijos menores. Y, los propietarios de autos están obligados a pagar por lesiones y daños materiales causados por los conductores que con su autorización utilizan sus vehículos.

En el área de la ley penal, las consecuencias pueden ser mucho más serias y costosas como lo demostró el caso de California contra Rolon. En ese caso, la madre de un niño de un año de edad fue encontrada culpable de AGRESIÓN MORTAL, HOMICIDIO, AYUDA Y ENCUBRIMIENTO AL DEJAR DE EJERCER SU DEBER DE MADRE DE PROTEGER A SU HIJO. La madre dejaba que el padre del menor se quedara con ellos, aún cuando sabía que una orden de la corte le prohibía vivir con ellos o tener contacto sin supervisión con sus hijos.

Durante una visita sin previo aviso de un Trabajador Social, la madre mintió acerca de la presencia del padre en la casa. La corte determinó que por los próximos tres días la mamá dejó de proteger al hijo de los repetidos golpes del padre para intentar callar los llantos del niño. Al mentir al Trabajador Social, la madre intencionalmente ayudó al padre a no ser detenido y a no sacarlo de la casa. Esto le permitió seguirlo golpeando y finalmente matarlo.

La corte explicó que bajo la Ley Común, el padre y la madre tienen el deber legal de proteger a sus hijos y que no hacerlo se toma como “Ayuda y Encubrimiento” al agresor para que se ocasione daños a los hijos. Por lo tanto, el padre o madre que deja de proteger a sus hijos también es culpable del crimen. La corte también expresó que la CONDUCTA INTENCIONAL EN APOYO DE UN ABUSADOR PUEDE DEMOSTRARSE COMO RESPONSABILIDAD POR MUERTE PREMEDITADA IMPLÍCITA.

Los padres, especialmente las madres, deben ser muy cuidadosos de no hacer nada que permita que alguien, aún el papá, dañe a sus hijos. Como claramente ilustra este caso, aún si un padre no daña a su hijo directamente, se le puede imponer un castigo criminal por NO PROTEGER AL HIJO. La madre no debió permitir que el padre estuviera con ellos y debió haber llamado a la policía si no se quería ir. Y, definitivamente ella no debió mentirle al Trabajador Social.

Para las familias que luchan económicamente o para los inmigrantes indocumentados, generalmente puede ser muy difícil reportar los actos criminales de un padre o madre. Comprensiblemente temen que el arresto del abusador termine en pérdida de ingresos y aún en deportación. Esto desde luego tendría un efecto devastador en la capacidad para sobrevivir de la familia.

Por difícil que sea esta realidad, podemos ver que la opción de no reportar al abusador puede ser mucho peor. En el caso Rolon, ambos, el padre abusador y la madre no protectora estarán ahora en prisión por muchos años. Los hijos tendrán que ser criados por otras personas y vivirán sabiendo que su padre mató a su hermano y que su mamá no hizo nada para evitarlo. Lo peor es que ella realmente sí lo asistió y le permitió hacerlo. Los padres siempre deben proteger a sus hijos. Es la ley y es lo correcto. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO

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MOTHER CONVICTED OF MURDER FOR FAILING TO PROTECT CHILD FROM FATHER

Article 15-38
¡No Se Deje!

 

The laws of the United States and of the various states clearly hold people responsible for the acts of others and for failing to act responsibly. Employers are required to pay for injuries and damage caused by their employees while in the course of employment. Parents are required to pay for damage or injury caused to others by their minor children. And, owners of cars are required to pay for injuries and property damage caused by drivers they have authorized to use their vehicles.

In the area of criminal law, the consequences can be much more serious and costly as demonstrated by the California case of People vs. Rolon. In that case, the mother of a one year old child was convicted of DEADLY ASSAULT, MURDER, and AIDING AND ABETTING for FAILING TO PERFORM HER PARENTAL DUTY TO PROTECT HER CHILD. The mother allowed the child’s father to stay with them, even though she knew that a court order prohibited him from living with them having unmonitored contact with their children.

During an unannounced visit by a Social Worker, the mother lied about the father’s presence in the home. The court determined that for the next three days the mother failed to protect the child from repeated beatings by the father while trying to stop him from crying. By lying to the Social Worker, the mother intentionally assisted the father to avoid detection and removal from the home. This enabled him to continue to beat and ultimately kill their child.

The court explained that under the Common Law, a parent has a duty to protect his/her children and that failing to do so does constitute “Aiding and Abetting” the perpetrator to cause the harm to the children. Therefore, the parent that fails to protect his/her children is also guilty of the crime. The court also stated that the INTENTIONAL CONDUCT IN SUPPORT OF THE ABUSER CAN ESTABLISH LIABILITY FOR IMPLIED MALICE MURDER.

Parents, especially mothers, must be very careful not to do anything that enables anyone, even the other parent, to harm their children. As this case clearly illustrates, even if a parent does not harm the child directly, criminal punishment can be imposed for NOT PROTECTING THE CHILD. The mother should have refused to allow the father to stay with them and should have called the police if he refused to leave. And, she definitely should not have lied to the Social Worker.

For families that are struggling financially or for undocumented immigrants, it can often be very difficult to report the criminal acts of a parent. They understandably fear that the abuser’s arrest and result in loss of income and even deportation. This of course would have a devastating effect of the ability of the rest of the family to survive.

As difficult as this reality is, we can now see that the alternative to reporting the abuser can be far worse. In the Rolon case, both the abusing father and the non protecting mother will now be in prison for many years. The children will have to be raised by others and will live their lives knowing that their father killed their brother and that their mother did nothing to help. What’s worse is that she actually did assist and enable him to do it. Parent must always protect their children. That is the law and that is what is right. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.

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Understanding Workers’ Compensation and Self Employment

Every employer, including self-employed individuals, needs to look at the requirements of workers’ compensation in the state of California. If you only employ one other person, then you have to carry insurance. If you work in certain hazardous occupations, you may need to take the insurance on yourself.

In the state of California, workers’ compensation insurance is optional for most self-employed workers. If you are a roofer or a self-employed individual in other highly hazardous fields, you may need to obtain a workers’ compensation policy for your own injuries. The provision is outlined under Business and Professions Code Section 7125. California does have a threshold for self-insurance, but the minimum net worth is high at $5 million, with an annual income of $500,000 and a state security deposit.

Furthermore, anyone who is responsible for carrying workers’ compensation as a self-employed individual needs to carry and present proof of insurance to customers if asked. Those who fail to take the appropriate actions could have their licenses revoked and face criminal prosecution. If you have a C-39 license, you need to obtain workers’ compensation insurance.

When to Consult a Professional

If you’re not sure if you are required to carry workers’ compensation, contact the California Department of Industrial Relations, or a workers’ compensation attorney who can better explain your rights and responsibilities as a self-employed individual under state laws. Since repercussions for failing to carry insurance can be costly and career-damaging, we highly recommend clarifying your responsibilities early on.

How Do I Get Workers’ Compensation as a Self-Employed Worker?

If you do not qualify for self-insurance, you will need to use a licensed insurer who has the proper authorization to develop California workers’ compensation policies. You can use the California Department of Insurance site to find a broker or agent authorized to write your policy. You may want to secure quotes from several different agents to find the best rate for a self-employed worker. You can also use the State Compensation Insurance Fund website to find a policy if you have trouble locating a larger company that insures self-employed workers.

Benefits of Carrying Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Although you may think of the requirement as a hassle and a drain on your monthly budget, the insurance will act as a safety net if you do suffer an injury on the job. If you suffer a catastrophic injury in a fall or experience some kind of debilitating illness as a result of the work you do, your insurance policy will provide the extended disability coverage you need to get back on your feet. The financial support can significantly help you after a serious injury on the job.

What if My Insurance Denies My Claim?

While self-employed workers aren’t subject to the same employer coverage problem W-2 employees face, they may still face trouble having a claim honored after an accident. Larger insurance companies will often do anything they can to maximize their profit while minimizing the payouts to policyholders. As a result, you could end up not receiving your rightful compensation, regardless of the premium you pay every month.

If you hold the proper insurance required by the state and have to use it, you deserve to obtain fair compensation according to your policy. You can dispute the claim findings with your representative, but if that doesn’t work, secure the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you hold an insurance company liable for their bad faith practices and obtain the compensation you need to move on.

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Accident Report Guide

Car accidents are unexpected and stressful. They can leave you feeling a bit scattered. Even the most careful drivers may be involved, that’s why it’s important to review post-accident steps now, when you’re good and levelheaded.

IF YOU HAVE AN ACCIDENT:

1. STOP IMMEDIATELY.

2. If possible and safe to do so, move vehicles and persons involved to side of road, out of traffic’s way.

3. Help injured persons.

4. Notify police and medical personnel.

5. Obtain names, addresses and phone numbers of other drivers, passengers and witnesses involved.

6. Write down makes, models and license numbers of all vehicles involved.

7. Draw diagram of accident scene, indicating direction of involved vehicles and/or persons, and any important information.

8. Take pictures of the accident scene, damages to vehicles and injuries.

9. Do not accept fault or settlement at scene.

10. Keep calm and remain courteous.

11. Notify your insurance company.

12. To get experienced legal help, call
DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo    l (888) 516-8530

Here is a helpful Accident Report Guide for you to keep in your car.

What you can do before the accident.

If you haven’t been in a car accident, use these handy tips to make sure you’re ready for the unpredictable:
• Pack a First Aid and Safety kit
• Keep important documents at the ready (ID, additional insurance company contact information, vehicle registration, health plan info, etc.)
• Have a Accident Report Guide in car
• Have your phone on you and charged whenever you hit the road
• Keep loose items in the center console or glove box, and not on the seats, where they can get lost or fly around in an accident
No matter how safe you are on the road, you never know when an accident can happen. You’ll be glad you kept these items in mind if you find yourself handling the aftermath of a car accident.

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PARENTS CAN BE PUNISHED FOR ACTIONS OF THEIR CHILDREN

Article 15-51
¡No Se Deje!

Every State in this country has laws that impose legal obligations on parents for the acts of their minor children. Parents of children that damage public or private property or that injury people are often surprised when the law punishes them (the parents) by imposing significant fines and/or sending them to jail.

The most relevant California law relating to parental liability states:
“any act of willful misconduct of a minor which results in injury or death to another person or in any damage to the property of another shall be imputed to the parent or guardian having custody or control of the minor…and they shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages resulting from the willful misconduct”.

The financial responsibility of the parent or guardian is limited to $25,000, plus a cost of living increase every two years, for each unlawful act of the minor. And, the parents or guardian are obligated to pay for the court costs, attorney’s fees, and damage to property including graffiti painted by their minor children. And, section 272 of the California Penal Code is similar to the laws of many states, which makes it a crime to “Contribute to the Delinquency of a Minor.” This law is violated if parents/guardians “fail in their legal duty to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over their minor children.” This is a crime and is punishable by a fine of $2,500 and/or up to one year in jail per illegal act of the child. Parents of first time juvenile offenders are usually given a choice of participating in parenting classes or facing criminal charges.

A 1996 law allows judges to order parents or guardians to pay up to $25,000, plus a cost of living increase every two years, to the victims of crimes committed by their minor children. This is in addition to the fines and other costs that can be imposed on the minor. Judges can also consider the future earning power of the parents, guardians and the guilty minor in determining the amount of the fines and penalties. This means that parents, guardians and minors can be ordered to pay these very significant amounts from future earnings for many years. These strict laws reveal and represent a change in attitude within our society and among lawmakers. It is now the legal policy in this country to hold parents and guardians responsible for not properly raising their children to respect the rights and property of others. It is now believed that punishing the parents and guardians will cause them to make sure their children do not injure others or damage their property.

The law imposes punishment for “negligent supervision” on adults having custody and control of minors who unlawfully cause damage or injury. The law includes grandparents and others that have “custody and control” of a minor. The punishment of parents and guardians only applies until the child is 18 years old in California or sooner if the minor is emancipated by court order, marries, or joins the military. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.

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PUEDEN CASTIGAR A LOS PADRES POR LOS ACTOS DE SUS HIJOS

Artículo 15-51
¡No Se Deje! ®

 

Cada Estado en este país tiene leyes que imponen obligaciones legales a los padres por los actos de sus hijos menores. Los padres de hijos menores que dañan propiedad pública o privada o que lesionan a personas frecuentemente se sorprenden cuando la ley los castiga (a los padres) imponiéndoles grandes multas y/o enviándolos a la cárcel.

La ley de California más relevante sobre la responsabilidad de los padres establece que:
“cualquier acto de mala conducta intencional de un menor que resulte en lesión o muerte de otra persona o en algún daño a la propiedad ajena deberá ser imputado a los padres o al tutor que tiene custodia o control del menor… y deberán ser responsables conjunta y separadamente con el menor por cualquier daño que resulte de la mala conducta intencional”.

La responsabilidad financiera de los padres o el tutor está limitada a $25,000 por cada acto ilícito del menor. Y, los padres o el tutor están obligados a pagar los costos de corte, honorarios de abogado, y daños a la propiedad causados por el hijo menor de edad que incluyen paredes manchadas con pintura (graffiti). Y, la sección 272 del Código Penal de California es similar a las leyes de muchos estados que consideran un crimen “Contribuir a la Delincuencia de un Menor.” Se viola esta ley si los padres/tutores “no cumplen con su deber legal de ejercitar cuidado, supervisión, protección y control razonables sobre sus menores hijos.” Este es un delito que castiga a los padres/tutores con una multa de $2,500 y/o hasta un año en cárcel por cada acto ilícito del menor. A los padres de delincuentes juveniles de primera vez, usualmente se les da la opción de participar en clases para padres de familia o enfrentar cargos criminales.

Una ley del año 1996 permite que los jueces ordenen a los padres o tutores pagar hasta $25,000, más un incremento cada dos años por costo de vida, a las víctimas de crímenes cometidos por sus hijos menores. Esto es en adición a las multas y otros costos que pueden ser impuestos al menor. Los jueces también pueden considerar el potencial de ingresos monetarios de los padres, tutores, y del menor culpable para determinar el monto de las multas y castigos. Esto significa que a los padres, tutores y menores se les puede ordenar que paguen cantidades muy grandes de sus ingresos monetarios futuros por muchos años. Estas estrictas leyes revelan y representan un cambio en la actitud dentro de nuestra sociedad y entre los legisladores. Ahora la política legal en este país es hacer responsables a los padres y tutores por no enseñar adecuadamente a sus hijos a respetar los derechos y los bienes de otros. Hoy se cree que castigar a los padres y tutores hará que se aseguren que sus hijos no lesionen a otros o dañen sus propiedades.

La ley impone castigo por “supervisión negligente” a los adultos que tienen custodia y control de menores que ilícitamente ocasionan daños o lesiones. La ley incluye a abuelos y otros que tienen “custodia y control” de un menor. En California el castigo a padres y guardianes solamente aplica hasta que el hijo tiene 18 años de edad o antes si el menor se emancipa por orden de la corte, por matrimonio o si se une al ejército. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO

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A Brief History of Workers’ Compensation in the US

Many of us have some kind of opinion about workers’ compensation practices in the US. Employees often feel it doesn’t do enough to support the needs of injured workers, while employers resent that they have to carry the additional insurance to stay in business. However, there was a time not too very long ago when no type of compensation existed for workers in America.

The Early Days

The Industrial Revolution began in the late 1700s, and all through the 1800s workers were expected to maintain a certain level of output without much thought for their working conditions. If someone was injured, he or she often suffered under the pain of poverty without the ability to earn an income, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Some people took their employers to court, but the legal expense was high and the outcomes were typically limited.

Many attribute the 1906 publication of Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, with spurring an increased awareness of workplace hazards and leading to reform. 1911 was the first year that state workers’ compensation laws started to gain traction. Some states on the eastern seaboard had attempted to pass similar laws prior to 1911, but failed. Wisconsin was the first state to succeed, and other states started to enact their own similar laws. Mississippi was the last state to pass worker’s compensation laws in 1948.

In the early days of workers’ compensation, the laws protected injured workers by requiring employers to provide medical benefits and lost wage benefits. Accepting those benefits often precluded an employee from taking further legal action against the employer, which is often true today.

The Rise of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Every new law that is passed subtly or drastically changes the way lawyers approach a field. After workers’ compensation laws were passed, attorneys had to learn these new laws to protect injured workers who did not obtain the required benefits after accidents.

In the early 1900s, injustices in the system were rampant. A few key individuals in the legal and insurance fields had a meeting of minds and formed a strategy for developing the legal representation of workers throughout the country. These two individuals were Ben Marcus, in house counsel for United Automobile Workers, and Sam Horovitz, a Harvard Law School alumni.

They founded the NACA, which is today known as the American Association of Justice. This organization and organizations like it included attorneys and legal specialists who had a passion for protecting the rights of injured workers and educating other lawyers, employers, and the general public.

The Modern Workers’ Compensation System

Today, all state workers’ compensation laws are still loosely tied to international roots. The United States was not the first country to recognize the need for protection of injured workers. However, the laws do vary from state to state. Some states, like California, require employers to carry workers’ compensation for all employees, while others may only require it of employers who employ a certain number of individuals.

Of note, major changes since those early days have included the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Workers’ compensation is an evolving field, and the present and future system has its own issues to address. Low wage growth impacts the ability for workers to obtain fair compensation, and technology is slowly changing every aspect of insurance, health, and law. Workers, employers, insurance companies, and attorneys must maintain an awareness of industry activities to adequately support the people who need it most and avoid repeating a history of inadequate coverage.

If you’d like to learn more about your rights to worker’s compensation, contact the attorney team at DiMarco Araujo Montevideo today.

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¿SON TODAS LAS PERSONAS IGUALES ANTE LA LEY?

Artículo 15-50
¡No Se Deje! ®

Varias decisiones de la Corte Suprema han causado críticas cuestionando la integridad de la justicia en este país. La reputación conservada por largo tiempo de entregar el más alto nivel de justicia está basada en nuestra aplicación consistente de principios legales sólidos designados para asegurar que cada persona será tratada igualmente bajo la ley. “UN SISTEMA DE LEYES NO DE HOMBRES” significa que la ley determinará si se ha cometido un crimen o un daño civil y si se ordenará un castigo. El estatus social de la persona acusada se supone que es irrelevante. El principio de “NADIE ESTA SOBRE LA LEY” fue demostrado con efectividad cuando el Presidente Richard Nixon se vió obligado a renunciar y cuando se permitió que una trabajadora del estado de Arkansas demandara al ExPresidente Bill Clinton.

Expertos legales creen que éstos y otros importantes principios legales han sido violados por algunas decisiones de la Corte Suprema. En un caso, la Corte le negó a Thomas Goldstein el derecho a demandar a la oficina del Fiscal de Distrito del Condado de Los Angeles aún cuando se reveló que fiscales conscientemente usaron testimonios falsos de un criminal convicto para culparlo y sentenciarlo por una muerte que el Sr. Goldstein no cometió. El testigo admitió más tarde que había mentido. Dos jueces federales y 3 cortes federales de apelaciones sentenciaron que era inocente y que fue condenado equivocadamente. La ciudad de Long Beach aceptó pagarle $8 millones por el equivocado encarcelamiento por 24 años. Aún así, la Corte Suprema sentenció que la víctima no puede demandar a quienes cometieron el error porque son fiscales.

En otro caso, unos fiscales en Iowa fueron demandados por “inculpar con engaños” a dos adolescentes negros por asesinato, aún cuando los testigos habían identificado a un sospechoso que es blanco. Después que pasaron 25 años en prisión, un juez federal sentenció que los fiscales no tienen derecho a inmunidad contra enjuiciamiento por fabricar el falso testimonio. Los fiscales realmente pidieron que se desechara el reclamo porque “no existe derecho constitucional a no ser inculpado con engaños.” La víctima convino en aceptar voluntariamente un arreglo antes de que la Corte Suprema decidiera la apelación de los fiscales.

También, la Corte Suprema escuchó los argumentos legales en el caso de John Thompson, quien había pasado 14 años en prisión esperando a ser ejecutado por un crimen que no cometió. Estaba apenas a un mes de la fecha de su ejecución cuando un joven investigador de laboratorio criminal encontró pruebas de que los fiscales habían ocultado intencionalmente exámenes de sangre que habrían establecido su inocencia. El Sr. Thompson demandó a la Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito de Nueva Orleans y un jurado le otorgó una indemnización de $14 millones de dólares.

Expertos legales temían que la Corte Suprema de EE.UU. una vez más protegería a los fiscales que, en este caso, deliberadamente violaron la ley y causaron que un hombre inocente pasara muchos años en la cárcel sentenciado a muerte. La Corte Suprema finalmente sentenció que la Oficina del Fiscal de Distrito de Nueva Orleans no es responsable, y podría utilizar este caso para crear inmunidad contra demandas para todas las Oficinas de Fiscales de Distrito. El Magistrado Alito pareció sugerir que sería injusto permitir que las Oficinas de Fiscales de Distrito sean demandadas por la conducta errónea de unos pocos fiscales específicos. Dado que la Corte ya ha sentenciado que los fiscales no pueden ser demandados de manera personal, las víctimas no tendrán remedio para las conductas erróneas de la parte fiscal. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
Jess J. Araujo, Abogado

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IS EVERYONE EQUAL UNDER THE LAW?

Article 15-50
¡No Se Deje!

Several Supreme Court decisions have caused critics to question the integrity of justice in this country. The long held reputation for producing the highest level of justice is based on our consistent application of sound legal principles designed to ensure that every person will be treated equally under the law. “A SYSTEM OF LAWS NOT MEN” means that the law will determine if a crime or civil wrong has been committed and punishment imposed. The status or stature of the accused person is supposed to be irrelevant. “NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW” was effectively demonstrated when President Richard Nixon was caused to resign and President Bill Clinton was allowed to be sued by an Arkansas state worker.

Legal experts feel that these and other important legal principles have been violated by some decisions of the Supreme Court. In one case, the Court denied Thomas Goldstein the right to sue the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office even after it was revealed that prosecutors knowingly used perjured testimony from a convicted criminal to convict him of a murder he did not commit. The witness later admitted that he had lied. Two federal judges and 3 federal appeals court judges ruled that he was innocent and wrongly convicted. The city of Long Beach agreed to pay him $8 million for his wrongful incarceration for 24 years yet the Supreme Court ruled that the victim cannot sue the wrongdoers.

In another case, prosecutors in Iowa were sued for “framing” two black teenagers for murder, even though the witnesses had identified a suspect that is white. After they spent 25 years in prison, a federal judge ruled that the prosecutors are not entitled to immunity from prosecution for fabricating the false testimony. The prosecutors actually asked the court to dismiss the claim because “there is no constitutional right not to be framed.” The victim agreed to accept a voluntary settlement before the Supreme Court had decided the prosecutors’ appeal.

The Supreme Court also heard the legal arguments in the case of John Thompson, who had spent 14 years in prison waiting to be executed for a crime he did not commit. He was one month away from his execution date when a young crime lab investigator found proof that prosecutors had intentionally hidden blood test evidence that would have established his innocence. Mr. Thompson sued the Office of the New Orleans District Attorney and a jury awarded him $14 million dollars.

Legal experts feared that the U. S. Supreme Court would once again protect prosecutors who, in this case, deliberately violated the law and caused an innocent man to spend many years on death row. The High Court eventually ruled that the New Orleans District Attorney Office is not liable, and may use this case to create immunity from lawsuits for all District Attorneys Offices. Justice Alito seemed to suggest that it would be unfair to allow the Offices of District Attorneys to be sued for the misconduct of a few individual prosecutors. Since the Court has already ruled that individual prosecutors cannot be sued, the victims will have no remedy for prosecutorial misconduct. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
Jess J. Araujo, Esq.

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