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Route 91 Shooting Update

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Author Archives: Matt Montevideo

  1. Route 91 Shooting Update

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    Over the past few days, MGM Resorts International, the Mandalay Bay Resort Group, and its subsidiaries have sued thousands of victims of the Route 91 Las Vegas concert shooting in Federal Courts in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, New York, and Alaska.  MGM’s unprecedented move to sue victims of its negligent conduct is based upon a federal act that MGM’s own attorney admitted in a declaration attached to MGM’s removal papers, seeking to take the victims’ lawsuit out of Nevada State Court and into Federal Court, that “There has apparently never been any litigation under the SAFETY Act.”  The SAFETY Act was enacted by Congress in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy to entice companies to develop anti-terrorism technology.  The lawsuit filed by MGM is seeking to have a court declare that the SAFETY Act applies to the conduct of MGM and Mandalay Bay, and thus removing any liability of these companies, despite allowing Stephen Paddock to use employee elevators to bring his weapons and ammo up to his suite, despite allowing Stephen Paddock to check into a room that was not under his name, despite failing to discover the bracketed door to the stairwell, and despite failing to respond to an alarm on the same floor as Stephen Paddock’s room an hour-and-a-half before the shooting.

     

    The filing of these multiple lawsuits in Federal Courts throughout the country is a ploy for MGM to find a judge who will rule that the SAFETY Act does apply, and thus rule that MGM and Mandalay Bay escape liability.  Nevada attorney Robert Eglet, who our Nevada licensed attorney Anthony Modarelli is working with in our firm’s representation of victims of this shooting, agrees that MGM is “trying to find a judge they like.”   Moreover, MGM and Mandalay Bay are using MGM’s retention of Contemporary Services Corporation (“CSC”), the event management and security company at the concert grounds, to support their lawsuit against the victims that the SAFETY Act applies to them.  Yet, MGM and Mandalay Bay were negligent in the security of their own hotel, the Mandalay Bay Resort, where the gunman was permitted to amass his weapons in his hotel suite.

     

    Besides the SAFETY Act, in court documents filed by MGM and the Mandalay Bay Resort Group, these companies are claiming they have no liability because an event such as the October 1, 2017 shooting or one similar to it was not foreseeable.  To the contrary, on November 29, 2014, a nearly identical situation occurred at Mandalay Bay where a hotel guest was able to bring multiple semi-automatic assault rifles, with on of the rifles equipped with a scope was position out of the hotel room window at the Mandalay Bay.  With discovery and disclosure of this prior incident, the filing of MGM’s numerous lawsuits against the victims is about “immunizing themselves from liability,” says Craig Eiland, a lawyer in Austin, Texas, also working with Mr. Modarelli. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/17/us/mgm-resorts-sues-victims.html).

     

    Standing along side Mr. Eglet and Mr. Eiland, our firm and Mr. Modarelli are committed to seeking justice for the victims of this heinous act that has multiple parties with dirty hands seeking to run from liability.  Contact our firm today if you were at the Las Vegas shooting, as we are representing victims from California and Nevada who were at the Route 91 Concert.

  2. Defective Hip Implants Lead to More Surgery

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    The FDA has issued warnings on Metal-on-Metal hip implants

    Many patients who received these hip implants (Wright Conserve, Stryker Rejuvenate, DePuy ASR, and DePuy Pinnacle) are experiencing an allergic reaction to metal debris from the implants, soft tissue damage, pain, loosening of the implant, limited range of motion, noise from the hip joint, and failure of the implant.  Some patients have needed a second surgery to replace the defective hip implant.  If you have had your hip replaced and are experiencing pain or have needed a second surgery, you may be eligible for compensation for the complications and medical costs caused by these hip implants.

    Contact us for a free consultation to review your hip implant questions.    

  3. Summer Time Means More Bikes on the Road

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    Summer Time Means More Bikes on the Road

    With cities vying to be more bike friendly and the increase in interest with cycling, people now more than ever are riding bikes for fun and for their main mode of transportation.  Now, with school out, many children are also enjoying the fun of a summer’s bike ride.  More bicycle injuries occur from May through September than during any other times of the year.  While California and Nevada have increased the protections for bicyclists, some motorists unfortunately still believe bicycles do not belong on the roads, which has resulted in many law abiding bicyclists, including children, getting injured.

    Avoiding Bicycle Accidents This Summer

    To avoid danger this summer:

    • When biking after 7 p.m., always wear bright, reflective clothing
    • Ride in a straight line and in a single file when biking with a group
    • Make sure your bicycle’s lights are in working order and bright enough to be seen by motorists
    • Pull over if you notice any signs of fatigue
    • Always wear a properly fitted helmet while cycling
    • Never cross a road unless you are at a crosswalk and have a green light

    Both California and Nevada require bicyclists to ride with traffic, as far right when practicable, while riding on a road way, except in limited circumstances.  Both states also require the use of lights and reflectors during darkness. (Cal. Vehicle Code §21201 and Nevada Revised Statutes §484B.783 and §484D.100)

    Fun Places to Ride

    Whether you’re embarking on a century ride (100-mile ride or race) or heading to work, be sure to stay safe and follow the rules of the road.  Looking for a safe place to ride? Check out these bike paths and trails:

    California and Nevada offer some of the best destinations and places to live in our country!  Since they are neighboring states, many of us have family and friends in the other state that we often visit.  Knowing that our clients enjoy visiting and spending time with family and friends in California and Nevada, our California and Nevada licensed attorneys are here to help you, your family, and your friends if they are injured while riding a bike in these states.

  4. Route 91 Country Music Festival Shooting

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    Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting site, Las Vegas Village and Festival Grounds, Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

    In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States, the investigation into the October 1, 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival tragedy has yet to bring closure to the tens of thousands of victims who are still grieving the effects of that night.  The victims of this shooting were from all over the country, with many of the concertgoers coming from California and Nevada.  Over 22,000 people were subjected to more than 1,000 rounds of bullets and ensuing chaos that surrounded this event.  Simply because the investigation is ongoing does not mean justice cannot be found for the victims and their families.

     

    Many of the victims put their lives and safety into the hands of multiple companies while attending the Route 91 Harvest concert, including MGM Resorts International, Mandalay Bay Corp., MGM Resort Group, Inc., MGM Resorts Festival Grounds, LLC, Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., and Live Nation Group.  In the months since the shooting, the following facts have been released that show the fault of these companies:

     

    • The hotel permitted the shooter to check into a hotel room that was under another person’s name without the named person appearing at the hotel;
    • The hotel failed to recognize that the door to the stairwell at the 32nd floor was locked with a bracket by the shooter;
    • Security at the hotel delayed their investigation into a door alarm on the 32nd floor that went off more than an hour before the shooting, which would have uncovered the bracketed door to the stairwell;
    • A security failure at the hotel permitted the shooter to bring in high-powered assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition into his room, at times with the help of the hotel staff, when other hotels in Las Vegas have invested in security features before October 1, 2017 to detect such items;
    • The hotel failed to discover the barrage of weapons in the hotel room or report the suspicious behavior of the shooter when he asked to remain in the room while the staff cleaned and instructed them not to vacuum the floor on multiple days before the shooting;
    • The shooter installed surveillance equipment outside of his hotel rooms without detection by requesting a room service cart remain in his room, which was later used outside his door to mount a camera;
    • Due to his “VIP” status, the shooter was permitted to use the service elevator to bring his deadly arsenal to his room instead of normal lobby elevators;
    • The lack of the timely response and misinformation by the hotel lead to a delay in reaching the shooter’s room;
    • Inadequately trained or competent staff both in the hotel and at the concert venue to respond to the shooting and provide safety instructions to the victims; and
    • Insufficient signage demarcating exits and entrances at the concert grounds.

     

    For years and in the wake of other mass casualty events, government entities and the casino industry have warned large hotels and casinos, including MGM Resorts International and Mandalay Bay, that they must be prepared for life-threatening events, including an active shooter.  The way for victims to claim compensation for their injuries is to prove that the events were foreseeable to these companies, and unfortunately in today, acts such as this shooting are not uncommon, especially near large crowds.  With this evidence, we believe that these companies may be responsible for the injuries to the Route 91 Harvest victims.

     

    Not just direct shooting victims may be entitled to recover for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and other compensation for injuries suffered at the Route 91 Harvest concert.  Other victims include those who suffered injuries while escaping the festival grounds, such as trampling injuries, ankle sprains, or broken bones.  In addition, those suffering from post-traumatic stress or emotional distress may also be entitled to bring a claim against these companies.  Nevada law allows victims with injuries of emotional distress without physical injury to bring lawsuits under certain circumstances.

     

    The actions of these companies placed profits above safety, leaving many lives in the wake of this shooting to be searching for answers, comfort, and justice.  If you or a family member were injured at the Route 91 Harvest festival and have questions about what we are doing to help victims or whether you may have a legal claim, please contact DiMarco, Araujo & Montevideo to speak to our team to get answers to your questions.

  5. LOS JUECES DEBEN EXPLICAR POR QUE NEGARON ORDENES DE RESTRICCION SOLICITADAS EN CASOS DE VIOLENCIA DOMESTICA

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    Artículo 17-29

    ¡No Se Deje! ®

    Los casos de violencia doméstica son, y deben ser tratados como, emergencias peligrosas.  El público ha quedado impactado y triste al enterarse de los muchos casos de violencia doméstica que resultan en lesiones serias y/o muerte.  Aún cuando la violencia doméstica no resulte fatal, los niños en la casa generalmente quedan afectados emocionalmente de por vida.   La mayoría de las víctimas de violencia doméstica son mujeres, pero  también los hombres  pueden ser víctimas.

     

    Las Ordenes de Restricción Temporales están entre los más importantes remedios legales disponibles para las víctimas de violencia doméstica.  Estas son ordenes de la corte contra un abusador denunciado que le prohíbe el contacto o la conducta abusiva o violenta contra la víctima.  Las cortes intencionalmente han hecho el proceso de aplicación simple y para ser utilizado sin necesidad de un abogado.   Las víctimas deben explicar por qué necesitan órdenes de restricción temporales de emergencia.  Esto se hace dando ejemplos del comportamiento violento o abusivo.  Las víctimas se han quejado que los jueces impropiamente les han negado las solicitudes de órdenes de restricción temporales con lo cual las exponen y en algunos casos a niños, a peligrosas lesiones físicas y emocionales.

     

    LA LEY obliga a los jueces a dar las razones por las cuales niegan solicitudes de órdenes de restricción temporal en los casos de violencia doméstica. Quienes respaldan esta  ley indicaron que sin una explicación por escrito de la negativa, no podemos saber las razones del juez para rehusarse a emitir la orden.  Cuando los jueces expresan sus razones, las víctimas y sus abogados pueden determinar si fue negada impropiamente y pueden considerar una apelación.   La ley también da a las víctimas el derecho a tener una audiencia dentro de los 20 días después  de negarse la orden de restricción temporal y pedir una orden prohibiendo que el abusador contacte a la víctima.

     

    Algunos críticos de esta ley dicen que las personas involucradas en disputas familiares acaloradas y  en disputas domésticas legales frecuentemente usan  las órdenes de restricción temporales cuando no son necesarias simplemente para castigar a la otra parte.   Dicen que las partes frecuentemente mienten para convencer al juez que conceda las órdenes de restricción que después pueden utilizar en procesos de divorcio o custodia de menores.   Los críticos también indican que las Ordenes de Restricción Temporal de Emergencia son emitidas y tienen efecto de inmediato sin darle a la otra parte la oportunidad de responder por 20 días.   Durante ese tiempo, su libertad de actuar en ciertas actividades incluyendo regresar al hogar familiar o tener contacto con un cónyuge y/o niños queda limitada o prohibida.

     

    Los críticos temen que si se les pide a los ocupados jueces que escriban las razones para negar Ordenes de Restricción Temporal, muchos jueces en vez de eso simplemente concederán la mayoría de tales solicitudes.  Dicen además que conceder Ordenes de Restricción Temporales innecesarias o injustificadas injustamente requiere que la persona restringida sea incluida en los Registros Estatales y Federales de Violencia Familiar.  Es casi imposible ser borrado de esos registros aún si más tarde se determina que la información que apoyaba la Orden de Restricción Temporal no era correcta o cierta.

     

    Como pueden ver, la decisión de conceder o negar una Orden de Restricción Temporal puede ser muy difícil de tomar.  Los Jueces tienen la poderosa autoridad y la enorme responsabilidad de tomar estas decisiones.   Ahora, bajo la ley, tendrán que dejarnos saber las razones para negar  una Orden solicitada  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

     

    JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO

  6. JUDGES MUST EXPLAIN WHY THEY DENIED REQUESTS FOR RESTRAINING ORDERS IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES

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    Article 17-29

    ¡No Se Deje!

    Domestic violence cases are, and must be treated as, dangerous emergencies.  The public has been shocked and saddened to learn of the many domestic violence cases that result in serious injuries and/or death.  Even when the domestic violence is not fatal, children in the home are often scarred for life emotionally.  Most of the victims of domestic violence are women, but men can also be victims.

     

    Temporary Restraining Orders are among the most important legal remedies available to victims of domestic violence.  They are court orders against a reported abuser that prohibit contact or violent or abusive conduct against the victim.  The courts have deliberately made the application process simple and designed to be used without the need for an attorney.  Victims must explain why they need a temporary emergency restraining order.  This is done by giving examples of violent or abusive past behavior.  Victims have complained that judges have improperly denied requests for temporary restraining orders thereby exposing them and, in some cases children, to dangerous physical and emotional injuries.

     

    THE LAW obligates judges to give their reasons for denying requests for temporary restraining orders in domestic violence cases.  Supporters of this law point out that without a written explanation for a denial, we cannot know the judge’s reasons for refusing to issue the order.  When judges state their reasons, victims and their attorneys can determine if it was improperly denied and can consider an appeal.  The law also gives the victim the right to have a hearing within 20 days after a denial of a temporary restraining order and to ask for an order prohibiting the abuser to contact the victim.

     

    Some critics of this law say that people involved in heated family and domestic legal disputes often use unnecessary temporary restraining orders merely to punish the other party.  They say that parties often lie to convince judges to grant the restraining orders which they can later use in divorce or child custody proceedings.  Critics also point out that Emergency Temporary Restraining Orders are issued and effective immediately without giving the other party an opportunity to respond for 20 days.  During that time, their freedom to engage in certain activities including returning to the family home or having contact with a spouse and/or children is limited or prohibited.

     

    These critics fear that if busy judges are required to write the reasons for denying Temporary Restraining Orders, many judges will simply grant most or all such requests instead.  They say that granting unnecessary or unjustified Temporary Restraining Orders unfairly requires the restrained person to be listed in State and Federal Family Violence Registries.  It is almost impossible to be removed from these registries even if it is later determined that the information supporting the Temporary Restraining Order was not true.

     

    As you can see, the decision to grant or deny a Temporary Restraining Order can be a very difficult one to make.  Judges have the powerful authority and the enormous responsibility to make these decisions.  Now, under the law, they will have to let us know the reasons for denying a request to issue one.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

     

    JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.  

  7. LOS MITOS LEGALES PUEDEN RESULTAR COSTOSOS

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    Artículo 17-27

    ¡No Se Deje! ®

    Consulte la ley aplicable antes de firmar un contrato

     

    (Este Artículo fue publicado en la semana del miércoles 5 al martes 11 de Julio de 2017)

     

    Nadie, ni siquiera los más experimentados abogados o jueces, conoce toda ley en efecto en algún momento dado.  Pero los abogados saben que es importante determinar cuáles leyes aplican a una transacción antes de aconsejarle actuar a sus clientes.  Infortunadamente, muchos mitos generalmente aceptados acerca de la ley hacen que las personas cometan costosos errores en las transacciones legales.

     

    DERECHO A 3 DIAS PARA CANCELAR UN CONTRATO

     

    La ley Federal y las leyes de cada estado sí disponen del derecho a cancelar ciertos tipos de contratos o transacciones; sin embargo, existen condiciones que aplican.  Y, la cantidad de tiempo disponible para ejercer el derecho de cancelación varía, así como la forma de perfeccionar este derecho.  Asumir que usted siempre tiene derecho a cancelar un contrato dentro de 3 días puede ser un gran error y muy costoso.  Una señora que había firmado un contrato para comprar  un carro nuevo me llamó para hacer una consulta.  Me dijo que quería saber cómo notificar al concesionario del vehículo que iba a cancelar el contrato de compra del carro.  Me dijo que tenía que hacerlo inmediatamente porque ya era el tercer día después de la firma del contrato.

     

    Le expliqué que en California, los contratos de arrendamiento y de compra de carro nuevo no están incluidos en la ley de Derecho Absoluto a Cancelar Contratos en 3 Días.  Se quedó sorprendida y muy decepcionada.  Ella podría tener otras bases para cancelar el contrato si el concesionario brindó información falsa o si de alguna manera no cumplió con otras leyes, pero simplemente cambiar de opinión dentro de 3 días no es suficiente en California.  Si ella hubiera hecho una llamada telefónica de 5 minutos a un abogado para verificar su errónea creencia, se podría haber evitado una compra muy cara y ahora indeseada.

     

     

    En California, muchos tipos de contratos pueden ser cancelados dentro de un período corto de tiempo después de ser firmados.  El período de tiempo para la cancelación varía dependiendo del tipo de contrato.

     

    La siguiente lista explica solo unos cuantos de los contratos y los períodos de tiempo aplicables para cancelarlos sin motivo:

     

    Contratos de Mejoramiento de Casa                          3  días si la casa es la prenda

    Solicitud de Ventas en el Hogar                                 3  días

    Contratos de Salud o Gimnasios                                5  días

    Contratos de Consultores de Inmigración                   3  días

    Ventas por Internet (hasta que se llene la orden)        30 días

    Consultores sobre Embargos de Casas                       3   días

    Ventas por teléfono (hasta que se llene la orden)       30 días

    Contratos de Servicios para Perder Peso                    3   días

     

    Existen muchas otras leyes para cancelaciones específicas para otros bienes y servicios.  Las leyes de cancelación son mejor utilizadas como último recurso.  En primer lugar el mejor concejo es no entrar en malos contratos.  Los contratos que están sujetos a un período con derecho de cancelación exigen que el vendedor le informe al comprador y le entregue una forma para cancelar el contrato.   Los consumidores pueden cancelar dichos contrato dentro del período de “Derecho de Cancelación” por cualquier razón o por ninguna razón en absoluto. Después que el período de derecho a cancelar ha expirado, para salirse del contrato los consumidores deben establecer un motivo legal. Un motivo legal puede incluir fraude, falsa representación, error, coacción o ilegalidad. ¡NO SE DEJE!®

     

    JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO

  8. LEGAL MYTHS CAN BE COSTLY

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    Article 17-27

    ¡No Se Deje!

     

     Verify applicable law before you sign a contract

     

    No one, not even the most experienced lawyers or judges, knows every law in effect at any moment in time.  But lawyers know that it is important to determine which laws apply to a transaction before they advise their clients to act.  Unfortunately, many generally accepted myths about the law cause people to make costly mistakes in legal transactions.

     

    3 DAY RIGHT TO CANCEL CONTRACT

     

    Federal law and the laws of every state do provide for a right to cancel certain types of contracts or transactions, however, there are conditions that apply.  And, the amount of time provided to exercise the right to cancel varies, as does the manner of perfecting this right.  Assuming that you have a right to cancel a contract within 3 days can be a big and very costly mistake.  I was called by a lady that had signed a contract to buy a new car.  She told me that she wanted to know how to notify the car dealer that she was canceling the contract to buy the car.  She told me that she had to do it immediately because it was already the third day after signing the contract.

     

    I explained that in California, new car purchase and lease contracts are not included in the 3 Day Right to Cancel law.  She was shocked and very disappointed.  She may have other grounds for canceling the contract if the dealer misrepresented information or otherwise failed to comply with other laws, but merely changing her mind within 3 days is not enough in California.  If she had made a 5 minute phone call to an attorney to verify her mistaken belief, she could have avoided a very expensive and now unwanted purchase.

     

    In California, many types of contracts can be cancelled within a short period of time after being signed.  The time period for cancellation varies depending on the type of contract.

    The following list explains just a few of the contracts and the applicable time period for cancellation without cause:

     

    Home Improvement Contracts                              3  days if the house is security

    Home Solicitation Sales                                        3  days

    Health or Gym Contracts                                      5  days

    Immigration Consultant Contracts                        3  days

    Internet Sales (until order filled)                           30 days

    Home Foreclosure Consultants                             3   days

    Telephone sales (until order filled)                       30 days

    Weight Loss Service Contracts                             3   days

     

    There are many other specific cancellation laws for other goods or services.  Cancellation laws are best used as a last resort.  The best advice is to not enter into bad contracts in the first place.  Contracts that are subject to a right to cancel period require the seller to inform the buyer and to provide a form to cancel the contract.  Consumers can cancel within the “Right to Cancel” period for any reason or no reason at all.  After the right to cancel period has expired, consumers must establish a legal cause to get out of the contract.  Legal cause may include fraud, misrepresentation, mistake, duress or illegality. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

     

    JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.

     

  9. EL SISTEMA DE JUSTICIA PUEDE PRODUCIR INJUSTICIAS

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    Artículo 17-26

    ¡No Se Deje! ®

    Los pensadores más brillantes en la historia han concordado con el principio legal “ES MEJOR QUE 10 HOMBRES CULPABLES SIGAN LIBRES QUE UN HOMBRE INOCENTE VAYA A PRISIÓN”.  El sistema legal Americano ha establecido ciertas reglas para evitar condenar a personas inocentes.  La “presunción de inocencia” requiere que jueces y jurados presuman que los acusados son inocentes a menos que se pruebe su culpabilidad “Mas allá de la Duda Razonable”.  A pesar de éstas y otras reglas, los registros oficiales revelan que un número incalculable de personas erróneamente han sido condenadas, enviadas a prisión y aún ejecutadas.

     

    MAS DE 200 HOMBRES Y MUJERES HAN SIDO ERRÓNEAMENTE CONDENADOS EN CALIFORNIA DESDE 1990 según los registros del Proyecto “Rostros de la Errónea Culpabilidad” (en inglés “Faces of Wrongful Conviction Project”).  No hay forma de compensar adecuadamente a estas víctimas y sus familias por haber pasado años y aún décadas, en prisión o haber sido ejecutadas.

     

    Solo 22 estados tienen leyes que disponen compensación por condena y prisión erróneas.  La ley de California dispone $100 por cada día que alguien erróneamente sentenciado pasa en cárcel o prisión si puede comprobar que en realidad es inocente.  No basta sólo argumentar que el jurado se equivocó.  Frecuentemente una inocencia real se prueba usando evidencia de ADN que muestre que no es posible que el acusado haya sido el infractor.  Algunas veces la inocencia real se establece cuando la persona verdaderamente culpable confiesa el crimen.

     

    Expertos legales han identificado varias causas que se repiten en las condenas erróneas.

     

    1. Los testigos a veces erróneamente identifican al sospechoso como el infractor. Este error ocurre más seguido cuando el testigo y el sospechoso son de diferente raza o grupo étnico.
    2. La mala conducta intencional en algunos oficiales de Policía, fiscales, testigos, y expertos como técnicos en sangre y huellas digitales han originado muchas condenas erróneas. Aún los jueces han sido culpables de mala conducta o por dar instrucciones improvisadas incorrectas.
    3. Los sospechosos son amenazados o presionados a confesar crímenes que no cometieron.
    4. Algunos abogados defensores no están calificados o dispuestos a representar a sus clientes agresiva y competentemente.

     

    Los Latinos son frecuentemente víctimas de estas violaciones. Los testigos No-Latinos frecuentemente tienen dificultad para identificar correctamente a los Latinos.  Como resultado, estos testigos frecuentemente identifican al que no es.  Esto le pasó a Arthur Carmona, de 16 años de edad acusado de robo en el Condado de Orange, California; pasó dos años en prisión antes que su abogado pudiera mostrar que el mal proceder de la policía causó que el testigo lo identificara equivocadamente.

     

    Los Latinos, especialmente los inmigrantes indocumentados, frecuentemente son presionados a declararse culpables de crímenes que no cometieron. Aceptan porque es menos costoso. No tienen que pagar abogado y no tendrán que perder de trabajar para participar en un juicio.  A veces el castigo es “crédito por el tiempo servido” es decir que el tiempo en cárcel antes de ir a la corte es el castigo completo.  En estos casos, al declararse culpable puede irse inmediatamente y el caso queda terminado.  Y, los inmigrantes indocumentados que no están en custodia frecuentemente se declaran culpables para terminar el caso rápidamente para evitar ser identificados por autoridades de inmigración.

     

    Esta realidad revela grandes imperfecciones en nuestro sistema de justicia.  Y mientras todavía podemos sentir la confianza que tenemos uno de los mejores sistemas legales en el mundo, es imposible justificar a tantas personas que se declaran culpables o que son erróneamente condenadas de cometer crímenes, enviadas a prisión y aún ejecutadas.  ¡NO SE DEJE!â

     

    JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO

  10. THE JUSTICE SYSTEM CAN PRODUCE INJUSTICE

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    Article 17-26

    ¡No Se Deje!

    The most brilliant legal minds in history have agreed with and repeated the famous legal principle “IT IS BETTER THAT 10 GUILTY MEN GO FREE THAN ONE INNOCENT MAN BE IMPRISONED”.  That is why the American legal system has established certain rules designed to avoid convicting innocent people.  The “presumption of innocence” requires judges and juries to presume that people accused of having committed a crime are innocent unless guilt is proved “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”.  In spite of these and other rules, the official records reveal that an incalculable number of people have been wrongly convicted, imprisoned, and even executed.

     

    MORE THAN 200 MEN AND WOMEN HAVE BEEN WRONGFULLY CONVICTED IN CALIFORNIA SINCE 1990 according to the records of the “Faces of Wrongful Conviction Project”.  There is no way to adequately compensate these victims and their families for having spent years, and even decades, in prison or having been executed.

     

    Only 22 states have laws that provide compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.  California law provides $100 for each day that a wrongfully convicted person spends in jail or prison if he can prove that he is in fact innocent.  It is not enough to argue that the jury just got it wrong.  Usually proving actual innocence is done by using DNA evidence which shows that the accused could not possibly have been the perpetrator.  Sometimes actual innocence is established when the guilty person later confesses to committing the crime.

     

    Legal experts have identified several recurring causes for wrongful convictions.

    1. Witnesses often mistakenly identify the wrong person as the perpetrator. This mistake occurs more often when the witness and the suspect are from different racial or ethnic groups.
    2. Willful misconduct by Police officers, prosecutors, witnesses and experts such as blood and fingerprint technicians have produced many unlawful convictions. Even judges have been guilty of misconduct or of giving improper jury instructions.
    3. Suspects are threatened or pressured into confessing to crimes that they did not commit.
    4. Some defense attorneys are not qualified or willing to competently represent their clients.

     

    Latinos are too often the victims of these violations.  Non-Latinos witnesses often have a difficult time accurately identifying Latinos.  As a result, these witnesses often identify the wrong Latino.  This is what happened to Arthur Carmona, a 16 year old accused of robbery in Orange County, California.  He spent two years in prison before his lawyer was able to show that police misconduct caused the witness to mistakenly identify him.

     

    Latinos, especially undocumented immigrants, are often pressured to plead guilty to crimes that they did not commit.  They do this because it is less expensive. They do not have to pay an attorney and they will not have to miss work to participate in a trial.  And, sometimes the penalty is “credit for time served” which means that the time in jail before going to court is the entire penalty.  If he pleads guilty he can leave immediately and the case is over.  And, undocumented immigrants that are not in custody often plead guilty to end the case quickly to avoid the possibility of being identified by immigration authorities.

     

    This reality reveals major imperfections in our system of justice.  And while we can still feel confident that we have one of the best legal systems in the world, it is impossible to justify so many innocent people pleading guilty or being wrongfully convicted of committing crimes, sent to prison, and even being executed. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

      

    JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.