As you probably noticed I have not posted a new blog in a while. The reason is in part not enough time the other part is I have a real problem on deciding on what to write about. This morning while I was stopped at a red light the topic became clear. As I sat there probably 80% of the drivers were either talking or texting while driving. We are all addicted to our smart phones. We need to get smart and take control. I say we because I am guilty as well with the “I’ll just check this while I’m stopped at the light” or “traffic is light so I can return this call”, or any of the hundreds of excuses we all have for “just checking”. So today I ask you to join me in my Thumbs up to no texting. I know that I will forget and revert back to “just checking” without something to remind me that is the reason for the band aid. So today begins my no texting while driving. My goal is to make it to no phone use while driving. If you are up for the challenge join me and share. Also don’t be surprised if you get a bandaged thumbs up from me if I see you using your smart phone while driving.
7 Things you must do with your phone after a wreck
Save now read later; what to do after a wreck
If you, someone in your family, or a friend is in a wreck there is usually a lot going on after the wreck. Other cars are trying to get around you, you are scared and hurt, trying to get and give information and just generally adjust to the shock of the wreck. You can put this in your vehicles with your other papers. Hopefully you will never need to use it.
1. Call 911 if anyone is injured or vehicles cannot be moved.
2. Call your spouse, parents, etc. (If a minor call your parents -NOW) – start with I’m ok, if you are, or how you are and give them location of wreck. Then listen to what they tell you and answer any questions. They will probably be able to help provide you some insight and calm as their body is not having an adrenaline spike.
3. Take pictures of vehicles, position of vehicles, law enforcement and first responder vehicles and surrounding area.
4. Take pictures of the drivers of the other vehicles and any witnesses.
5. Take pictures of insurance information and Driver License of all drivers of all involved vehicles and driver license of witnesses.
6. Take a video/audio of what other driver is claiming happened and as well as any witnesses.
7. Call your insurance company to report the wreck. Most policies require that you notify them of any wreck you are in and failure to do so could impact your coverage and you want to make sure you are covered if the other side makes a claim against you.
Carpenter & Carpenter, P.C. 281-565-5900
I love living in Texas – there is nothing like shopping for Christmas presents while wearing shorts and short sleeves. However you should be aware that while you are out Christmas shopping, picking up packages, going out to lunch and dinner with friends and family, there are others who are out looking to steal from you. Below are some specific tips to help you stay safe while you are shopping and out and about in this holiday season. The number one tip is to stay alert and never assume that where you are is “safe”.
Make sure you remember where you parked by noticing the landmarks to help you find your car later;
Get in and out quickly. Park in a well-lit area. Do not sit in your car or leave doors open while you put stuff in the car. Have your keys in your hand and be ready to push your car alarm if necessary. Do not be fumbling for your keys as you approach your car. Make sure to check in, around and under your car before getting near it or in it;
Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. If you see anyone who appears suspicious or seems to be loitering notify the police or mall security;
Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk, or if possible, take them directly home.
Don’t leave phones, purses, chargers (which shows you may have a phone in the car) etc. or any other item of value in your parked car where they can be seen.
If you are entering through a store, make sure you know what time it closes so that you do not have to walk around outside of the store to get back to your car.
Shop during daytime if possible. If you plan on shopping at night try and go with friend or family member;
Do not carry a purse, or backpack as they are prime targets for pickpockets and thieves particularly in crowded shopping areas, buses, etc.;
Dress comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry;
Take only the ID and credit/debit cards you will need for the trip. Keep your wallet, cash, etc. in your front pockets;
Stay focused on area around you. While you are concentrating on what to buy, others may be focused on how to steal from you. Don’t read texts or emails while you are shopping if you can avoid it.
Do not let your guard down in the store. This is a perfect area for a thief to take something while you are distracted with your shopping. Don’t leave purses, phones, etc. in the shopping cart, and don’t leave your purse open or slung across your back.
Identity theft prevention:
Keep your debit/credit card in sight at all times. Cover the keypad when entering pin number or any other information as you check out or use the ATM. If you lose your card notify the card company immediately and report loss/theft to police. You can also put fraud alert on your account through Equifax, and other credit reporting agencies. Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers and company contact numbers in a safe place at home so that if you lose your card(s) you have the information necessary to cancel them quickly.
With a little extra effort you can keep your holidays as stress free and enjoyable as possible! Wishing you a wonderful holiday!!!
By Kathy Carpenter
This past weekend I was privileged to run in the Impact a Hero race which took place right here in Sugar Land, Texas. The Impact a Hero organization has been active for ten years, and in 2005, Sugar Land was one of the first cities to host a partnership event. Due to the incredible growth and participation, the event moved to downtown Houston and is now held at NRG Park each May.
It was great to have the event return for a November race in Sugar Land. As I ran (and walked!) next to some neighbors I have known for over a decade, I was moved by the pride, gratitude and strength of our community and by the tremendous sacrifices of the veterans who participated in this race. Brent and I have been Sugar Land residents since 1990 and it’s truly incredible to see how far the area has progressed in the past twenty plus years. Our kids rode bikes on the Grand Parkway before it was finished, and I still remember when Town Center was an open lot that hosted the Sugar Festival, before Walmart and Whataburger and overpasses, when the only retail on Highway 90 was a cleaners in a little yellow house. Through all these changes, the outpouring of caring and the generosity of the residents of Sugar Land has been a constant.
It is not surprising to me that the community of Sugar Land was one of the first to partner with Impact a Hero. It was that sense of welcoming and investment in community that drew Brent and I and eventually our law firm to Sugar Land. I am so proud to be a part of this great community and it was an honor to participate in the Impact a Hero event as we showed our gratitude to those who protect our country.
As we give thanks for our many blessings this week, we are also mindful of the tremendous sacrifices our military men and women make for us every day.
To learn more about the Impact a Hero organization please visit their website: http://impactplayer.org/
Early voting ends this Friday. I hear people complain about this elected official or that one, but then they don’t take the time to vote. Early voting is quick and easy and saves you time on election day. Take advantage of the opportunity. Another voting related issue I hear often is both parties complaining that the other party is just a mindless bunch of followers without any independent thinking or evaluation. Then these same people brag about voting a straight ticket. A straight ticket for either party has the very real probability of having less qualified judges and officials elected just because they have a R or D by their names. In past elections, counties across Texas have lost very good judges from both parties because of straight ticket voting. If you are like me you want a judge who will follow the law and rule accordingly without thought of party politics. I wouldn’t want a judge who would campaign on limiting a Texans right to open courts or any access which the law allows. I have prepared a list of the candidates I support and will be happy to send them to anyone who subscribes to my blog and requests a copy. (Spoiler alert – it is not a straight ticket)
Disclaimer: The following is my personal rant, not that of my firm, partner, family or anyone else.
As many of you know the person who hit and killed my sister in law while she was riding her bike is contesting the traffic tickets she received. last Thursday we along with about 100 people showed up to show support for my brother in law and his family. The trial was continued based upon the representation of the Def. attorney that one of the witnesses feared for his safety. There was no evidence produced, the attorney did not testify as to claims and the witness was not present to testify as to the supposed fear. Based upon these claims the judge granted a postponement. There were 3 other witnesses in the court room (2 police officers and another independent witness who stopped following the crash) who apparently felt no such fear.
The defense attorney is running for state’s attorney in Maryland and he posted his version of what occurred on his Facebook page (which I have set out in part below along with my comments in bold). I wonder if his platform includes if you are scared to testify I will let you slide and we will not prosecute anyone just forgive them.
“The Whitney DeCesaris trial involving the bicyclist fatality was indeed postponed yesterday; however, it was solely caused by the palpable anger in the room exhibited by certain persons in the cycling community, which intimidated a key witness in this case, causing him/her to fear for his/her safety.”
There was no anger in the courtroom, in fact it was probably one of the quietest I have seen in my almost 30 years of trying cases across the country. The intimidated “key witness” is identified by Mr. Simmons (the Defense attorney) in his post. There was no evidence that he was intimidated other than comments made to the Court by the defense attorney supposedly as an officer of the Court. I say supposedly because the term “palpable anger” describing the room must have been another room. If it were as he suggests the Judge would have taken steps to clear the Courtroom, she did not. The judge would have requested the bailiff to instruct the gallery to quiet down or be removed, she did not (probably because there was no anger and no one speaking). There was a comment made by Mr. Simmons that the witness heard people yelling his name. That is true. It was Mr. Simmons calling to see if he were present. So we have a representation by Mr. Simmons that a witness feared for his safety.
“However, when certain forces are at work to disrupt the process by threatening and intimidating witnesses, parties, and officers of the court, this system of justice becomes just like every other system of injustice in the world today.”
Apparently the palpable anger in the courtroom escalated to “forces at work to disrupt the process by threatening and intimidating” not only witnesses (actually only one if you believe Mr. Simmons to the entire system. I am surprised the SWAT and riot squads were not called out to quell this uprising in traffic court.
“This tragic event has brought two families together in the most horrible of circumstances. Mrs. DeCesaris, a nurse, stopped and immediately rendered care to Mrs. Cunningham, assisting Dr. Richard Garden with CPR. Dr. Garden took charge of her care while Mrs. DeCesaris administered mouth to mouth and attempted to manage Mrs. Cunningham’s bleeding until emergency services arrived. Dr. Garden and Mrs. DeCesaris were the only people who engaged, doing all they could to save Mrs. Cunningham’s life. Assuming for just a second, that this accident was not preventable, has anyone thanked Mrs. DeCesaris for trying to save Mrs. Cunningham’s life? Plenty have demonized her. Dr. Garden for his good deed has been intimidated by the some cycling advocates, because his testimony supports the premises that this accident was not preventable. Has anyone ever said thank you to Dr. Garden?”
Mrs. DeCesaris would never have needed to render care to Mrs. Cunningham had she not struck her bicycle from behind. How would you propose the thank you be worded Mr. Simmons? As to Dr. Garden (whom I never mentioned by name but you for whatever reason felt compelled to put his name out for all to see – a witness whom you claim was threatened ) I have actually spoken to him on two occasions and thanked him for all he tried to do and told him the family thanked him as well.
“Regardless of what history will ultimately reveal to us about this incident, one thing is sure: healing only begins with forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there can be no peace. Forgiveness is indeed for the forgiver and not the person receiving it.”
Forgiveness is generally the result of someone asking to be forgiven not where the person continues to blame everyone (anyone) else for their actions. With that said, I have forgiven her, but that does not mean she should not be held responsible for her actions in as anyone else.
I am sure it is just a coincidence that the delay will probably push the trial past your primary election for State’s Attorney, but look on the bright side, if you don’t make it in politics you can always become a fiction writer.
Frivolous lawsuits aren’t always the result of suits being filed, but often times are due to the defense of claims and it isn’t just in civil cases. This is a long blog and I apologize but I think the background is important. Let me start today and go back (with jumps around as I am prone to do).
I have experienced this personally as an attorney in cases. One happened when a driver was passing when unsafe hits a car head on and kills the other driver. The Defendant denies it was his fault and makes the family file a lawsuit to recover their damages. Jump ahead to trial and jury returns a judgment against the driver and company and they appeal – so the case continues. Did the Defendant have a right to deny the claim and force the family to go through a long trial and now appeal when all the evidence was that he caused the wreck? Sure. Should he have done so and put the family through the additional pain of a trial is the real question.
I have now experienced it on a personal level as well in a criminal (really just traffic tickets) case as set out below. The question again is just because you can deny and defend a claim should you? Just because you have a right does not mean you do not have choice not to exercise that right to prevent more harm.
Today I was supposed to be in Maryland to attend a traffic ticket trial. The trial was related to the woman who hit and killed my sister in law on August 21, 2013. Trish’s daughter Morgan started a petition at https://www.change.org/petitions/richard-a-simmons-whitney-decesaris-reconsider-contesting-whitney-decesaris-traffic-citations requesting the Driver and her attorney reconsider contesting the traffic tickets she was issued. I signed it and posted it on Facebook and within a couple of days it disappeared from my Facebook account as well as others who had posted it. Not sure why.
Here is a little background on the case. Trish was hit and killed while riding her bike outside Annapolis Maryland. She was wearing all appropriate safety equipment riding on the right hand side of the road. She was hit from behind in a no passing zone on a road with a gradual incline with a clear line of sight of almost ¼ mile. There is a lot more evidence regarding the actions (or lack of action) of the driver which need not be addressed here. The State’s attorney chose to send the case (a misdemeanor) to a Grand Jury rather than charge her. As you may know the only one presenting evidence and choosing what evidence and witnesses to present (or not present) to the Grand Jury is the State’s Attorney. The Grand Jury decided that the Driver would be issued 4 tickets. The family thought that would be the end of the story and she would pay the tickets. The Driver’s last name is Decesaris which meant nothing to me until I realized it is also the name on a Cancer Research Building and Foundation for Cancer Research. As I understand they are great charities and ironically on July 1st 2013 their dpcancerfoundation.org website had news of a Davidsonville cyclist going 1,500 miles “through the winding country roads” to raise money for cancer research. So about 50 days before Mrs. Decesaris strikes and kills a biker, the foundation that bears her family name is proud of a biker who generated money for their foundation by riding the roads. Irony is alive and well. If you are riding to benefit the foundation it is great. If you are riding not to benefit us – you shouldn’t be on the road at least if you are hit and killed by one of our family members.
The internet is an amazing thing where people can post all kinds of “information” and “facts”. The how’s and why’s of the crash that killed Trish will be debated and discussed forever because some people believe bikes should never be on any road and if they are it’s their own fault, despite the law. Some comments made on various websites and blogs have stated this in much more direct terms such as bikers deserve what they get if they choose to ride on roads. So we have a group of people who have some people who have decided that that law doesn’t apply to them as it relates to protecting bikers, but strongly support the law that allows them to defend themselves when the hit someone on a bike.
The petition is requesting the Defendant in the case to consider just paying the tickets without causing the family even more harm – just because you can. To those who will respond with it is everyone’s right to contest a claim or charge you are correct. But those people I ask are you going to defend everyone who brings a lawsuit no matter how stupid you think it is and argue that they should have their day in Court? A lawyer is not a bus. As a lawyer you do not have to take every case that comes in your door, nor should you. Just because you can defend a person doesn’t mean you have to and part of having a right is the ability to choose not to exercise it just because you can.
If the driver in my sister-in-laws case chooses to continue to fight the tickets – I will defend her right to do so but I will not defend her choice to do so.
If you would consider signing the petition I would appreciate it. If you have comments, let me hear them.