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Civil Litigation

Vote NO to Amendment THREE This November

By | Case News, Civil Litigation, Probate and Trusts, Uncategorized | No Comments

VOTE NO TO Constitutional Amendment THREE

The Georgia General Assembly, apparently upset that one of its members had been removed as a judge by the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC), has decided that the JQC is corrupt and does not properly discipline the judges in this State. The Legislature’s solution for the problem they described is to allow the legislature to choose the members of the JQC. This allows politics to become the primary driving force behind the JQC.

As it is established, the JQC is a model that many other states have copied. It has successfully removed many judges through the years. It has punished many more for conduct it found improper. The current JQC comprises seven members, two sitting judges, selected by the Georgia Supreme Court, three lawyers who have been working for at least 10 years and who are elected by the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors, and two citizens, neither of whom shall be members of the bar and who are appointed by the Governor.

Lawyers expect judges to maintain the integrity of the bench. It is the cornerstone of all justice.  I expect it when I appear in Court.  All other attorneys expect the same. All trial lawyers expect that judges will comply with all rules of behavior. It is the only way we have an orderly judiciary and judicial system.  It guarantees that people appearing in court receive a just and proper hearing. All lawyers ask that the scales be balanced as their clients appear in court: nothing more and nothing less.

The JQC must remain free of political influence. Only if politics stays out of the business of disciplining judges will judges remain free to deliver decisions based only on the laws of the State of Georgia. I urge you to vote no to Amendment 3 on the November ballot.

Conservators Have A Duty To The Beneficiary Of The Account

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CONSERVATORS HAVE A DUTY TO THE BENEFICIARY OF THE ACCOUNT

We are pleased to announce another successful outcome at trial. In our most recent case, a four year old child’s mother passed away leaving her a $100,000 life insurance policy. The probate court placed this money into a conservatorship account and placed the child’s guardian in charge of the money. When the child turned 18, she should have received the money remaining in her conservatorship account.  Instead, she received nothing. Her guardian told her that the money had been spent on the child raising her.  The court records indicated no authority to spend the money.

Our investigation revealed that the conservator had failed to fulfill her duties throughout the duration of the conservatorship. Further, the court had failed to monitor the conservator as required by law.  At trial, we obtained the full $100,000 from the conservator and her bonding company in full satisfaction of our client’s demands.

Anytime a conservatorship account is established and the conservator does not properly account for the funds in that account, beneficiaries of the account have a claim against the conservator for the funds. A conservator by law must have a bond in place to protect the beneficiary.  With proper legal representation, you should be able to recover the funds placed in your conservatorship account.

Please contact us if you have not received funds you are due from a conservatorship account. Also, if you are a conservator, contact us for guidance and directions on how to properly perform your duties so you do not run afoul of any of the laws here in Georgia.

Have you been called as a witness for a trial?

By | Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, Probate and Trusts | No Comments

Most of you will go through life without ever being issued a subpoena to appear at a trial and give testimony. However, for those who have been issued a subpoena, the process can be daunting. First and foremost, you must strive diligently to tell the truth. Sure, it seems easy to tell the truth. However, once you start trying to remember the events about which you are to testify, your mind begins playing games with you and you become uncertain as to whether the event you remember happens exactly as you are recalling it today.

 

Your mind is a wonderful thing. Whenever you truly cannot remember complete events, your mind will fill in the blanks many times simply to allow things you do remember to connect and make sense. Therefore, when called upon to testify, you start second guessing whether you actually recall the event happening or you only recall bits and pieces of the event and your mind is filling in the blanks for the remaining items.

Countless surveys and studies have shown that much of what you do remember actually did not occur as you remember it. That is why trial lawyers may call multiple witnesses who will testify to the same event. You will discover that each of your remembrances is slightly different than your fellow witness’s remembrances.

 

In preparing to testify if you have any tangible evidence that will help you refresh your memory or recall, locate that evidence and review it. You may have a tangible item that was created as part of the event. It might be a dent in your car. It might be a broken tool, a torn shirt, a diary. Pulling that item out, or viewing that item, might well refresh your memory as to what happened. Talking to other people who witnessed the event may help you recall something about the event that you did not independently recall. Reviewing e-mails and letters you may have written to others after the event will also refresh your memory as to what occurred.

 

The lawyer’s goal in seeking your testimony is to have you repeat to a judge or a jury your exact recollection of what you witnessed. Generally speaking, the lawyer is not interested or looking for your opinions. The lawyer certainly is not looking for you to fabricate facts. The lawyer generally does not expect you to recall the entire event, unless you were the focus of the event, and even then, it’s not unusual to forget parts of what occurred. Each witness will remember parts of the event that you don’t remember. It is through all of the witnesses’ testimony that the judge or a jury finally can piece together a complete event.

 

If you are issued a subpoena to appear at trial, you should dress appropriately. That does not necessarily mean your Sunday best, unless you wear your Sunday best every day. You should dress comfortably. If you have a uniform of some sort that you wear to work, generally speaking it is fine for you to wear that uniform to court. You should never wear shorts, tank tops, t-shirts or flip flops. People will be paying attention to you. Will you look believable? Think about people you see in public. Appearance makes the witness.

Show up ½ hour earlier than the subpoena commands and seek out the lawyer who issued the subpoena to let him know you are present.

Many times you will be excused from the courtroom until it is time for you to testify. This is done so that your testimony is not influenced by what you hear another witness testify to. Remember, I mentioned above how everyone remembers events differently? The court wants to hear your remembrance.

Personal Injury Award

By | Case News, Civil Litigation, Personal Injury | No Comments

We are pleased to announce the resolution of a personal injury claim with one of our clients for the amount of $80,000. A client suffered a fractured ulna in a collision in Savannah, Georgia. After a full day of intense negotiations our client agreed to accept the sum of $80,000 as full compensation for the injuries he suffered. The matter was scheduled to be tried in July if the mediation had not been successful. This is another example of our firm finding the appropriate way to bring about a resolution to a case that fully complies with our client’s wishes and achieves an outcome that our client fully approves and accepts. If you or one of your family members has recently been injured through the negligence of someone else, please call us at Hughes and Associates to see if we can assist you in bringing about a favorable resolution to your matter.

Lauren Bryant admitted to practice before the Georgia Court of Appeals

By | Civil Litigation, Corporate Planning, Personal Injury, Probate and Trusts, Uncategorized | No Comments

We are pleased to announce that Lauren Bryant has been admitted to practice before the Georgia Court of Appeals. With Ms. Bryant’s acceptance to the Court of Appeals, we are pleased to announce that all of our associates are authorized to practice in the Appellate Courts of Georgia. Should you need any assistance with your legal matter, feel free to contact Lauren at our firm. Pictured Robby Hughes, Lauren Bryant, Judge McFadden
FullSizeRenderLauren Court Appeals_19

Is mediation, rather than litigation, right for you?

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Is mediation, rather than litigation, right for you?

Many people experience conflict with their family members after the death of a parent or sibling.  Many times, this is just the tip of many problems that have been simmering beneath the surface for years.  When an estate is being administered, families often differ on how the estate should be handled.  While you cannot ignore documents filed in probate court, family problems can be ironed out prior to anyone fighting in probate court.  This is where mediation plays a vital role.

In mediation, a skilled mediator will act as a go-between for family members, helping each family member understand the positions of the other family members while trying to find a way to bring all family members together on common ground.  It is usual for most family disputes to revolve around one or two specific issues, rather than disagreement uniformly across all positions.  A skilled mediator can help family members see where their thinking is in agreement, while highlighting specifically what the disagreements are.  Mediators are paid by the hour, and a successful mediation can usually be accomplished in one day.  Mediators cost far less than the fees that will be paid to lawyers fighting in probate court.

The typical mediator will charge anywhere from $250 to $400 per hour with that sum divided among the participants in the mediation. The typical mediation will last anywhere from six to ten hours. If the mediation is not successful, then all that the parties lose is the mediator fee. Further, they have a clear understanding of each other’s position with some better appreciation for why those positions are sustainable in a court room.

The upside to the mediation is that many disputes are resolved at this level. Therefore, you are capping your legal fees at a relatively manageable level, and allowing the probate administration to move forward without unnecessary expenses or delay. The typical estate litigation can easily cost the participants tens of thousands of dollars. If you would like Robert Hughes to assist you with mediating your matter, please give us a call, and we can go over the details with you.  I am a licensed mediator, licensed by the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution.

 

Computer Piracy Court Victory

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We are pleased to announce a victory at trial in the case of Advanced Computing Technologies, Inc. versus Delphi Communications, Inc., Brent Seyler and Sergey Alexandrov. In this case, our client, Advanced Computing Technologies, Inc., sued the defendants for computer trespass and computer theft. The individual defendants formerly were employees of my client, and left to start a competing business, Delphi Communications, Inc. When they left, they took with them copies of my client’s computer database which included computer programming and client lists. With this database, they were able to contact all customers and begin providing a competing service within days of leaving the employment of my client. The trial resulted in a verdict of $143,000 for my client. Should you have any issue with employee piracy, computer trespass or computer theft by your current or former employees, please give us a call; we can provide assistance to you.

Triumph Over Credit Card Collection Company

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We’re pleased to announce that we have achieved another victory for a consumer, who was being sued by a credit card collection company.

In this particular case, the consumer was being sued by a collection company who had bought an alleged credit card debt from a major U.S. bank.  This collection agency then sued our client to collect a debt that went back more than 10 years.

We successfully defeated the claim by the collection agency and thwarted its attempt to collect this alleged debt from our client.  We also made the collection agency pay all of our attorney’s fees, which resulted in our client not only avoiding the obligation that might have been proper, but allowed us to defend our client at no cost to the client.

This was the fifth such victory we have had in this arena.

Have you been sued for credit card debt?

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One of the growing trends in the world of high finance is the sale of credit card debt by credit card issuers to purchasers of the credit card debt. These consolidation companies buy your debt from a major credit card company, then begin the process of collecting the debt that the credit card company had given up attempting to collect.

The methods used by the consolidation companies border on illegal and certainly do not give the consumer much of an opportunity to succeed. As a matter of fact, many consumers simply throw the lawsuit in the trash, believing either the debt is so old that it can’t be collected, or they have little, if any choice trying to defend against this lawsuit. Sometimes, the consumer simply files bankruptcy to eliminate the debt.

At Robert W. Hughes & Associates, we work hard to represent you in these matters. Many of these collection efforts have no basis in law, and some even violate many debt collection laws. For a small price, we will be happy to defend you in these cases. In some cases, we can help you recover money for violation of the fair debt collection practices act (FDCPA).

If you have been served with one of these lawsuits, please give us a call and let us see if we can help you resolve this matter.