Is Time on Your Side?

clock photo

Photo courtesy of Dave Stokes

When you are purchasing your dream car, a new stereo sound system, or a diamond ring, you need to make sure you are protected with your significant acquisition if something goes awry. This need is especially important if your purchase does not include a warranty on the item, as you may need to be aware of how soon you need to act to protect your rights.

Yet waiting for too long could be outweighed by the Statue of Limitations for sale contracts.  Read more

Whether Business or Personal, Proper Planning for Partnering Up in Life

hand shaking image By Tsahi Levent-Levi

Image from Tsahi Levent-Levi.

Prenups.  It is fair to say that a certain stigma is attached to that word.  After all, when planning a wedding, the last thing a couple wants to think about is the potential end of their marriage.  The same is true for business partnerships: dissolution of a newly-minted business is the furthest thing from the mind of small business owners. However, in both cases, planning ahead—whether through a prenuptial agreement or through a dissolution plan in a partnership agreement—can have both legal and financial benefits in the long term.

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Gowen Group Files Lawsuit For Concerned Residents Regarding Unethical Actions by Town of Brentwood, MD

PG County Courthouse

Prince George’s County Courthouse

A recent article from a local Maryland newspaper, The Gazette, highlighted a lawsuit brought by The Gowen Group against the Town of Brentwood, Maryland and a former Brentwood councilwoman. The lawsuit was brought by citizens of the town who noticed that elected officials awarded $27,000 through a grant from Prince George’s County to a former council member, a clear violation of the town’s charter and ethics rules.

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Maryland DNA Law Going to U.S. Supreme Court

Special thanks to Gowen Group Law Clerk John Langlois for producing this post. 

lab photo from Flickr

On November 9th, 2012 the United States Supreme Court granted review of the case of Maryland v. King to determine if collecting and analyzing the DNA of people arrested and charged with serious crimes is allowed under the Fourth Amendment. The case will be reviewed next year.

The review is in response to a ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals. That state court held that collection of DNA samples from arrestees prior to conviction violated the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable, warrantless searches. Maryland first enacted legislation establishing a DNA database in 1994. Collection of DNA samples was originally limited to individuals convicted of violent crimes or attempts at those crimes. In 2008 the law was expanded to allow collection upon arrest rather than after conviction.

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Gowen Group Lawyers Call ‘Em As They See ‘Em

umpires at plate conferenceA common metaphor used in describing judges is that they are like umpires: they need to be impartial, are required to apply a body of rules to a situation, and they make decisions that are typically not of a black and white nature and will probably end up upsetting one of the two parties. Gowen Group partners Bill Phelan and Peter Silva can appreciate this metaphor more than most attorneys considering their litigation experience and the fact that they enjoy the unique opportunity of working together on the baseball diamond as umpires.

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The Negative Consequences of the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights

 

In a recent post entitled ‘Why Firing a Bad Cop is Damn Near Impossible‘, Mike Riggs of Reason.com recounts the now infamous pictures of Rhode Island police officer Edward Krawetz kicking a handcuffed women in the head.

Three years later, in March of 2012, Officer Krawetz was convicted of felony battery, but his 10 year sentence was immediately suspended in lieu of anger management classes. Riggs’ article draws attention to the fact that despite the conviction and public scrutiny, Krawetz was not fired from the Lincoln Police Department, mostly thanks to the “law enforcement bill of rights.”

Both Virginia (9.1-500-507) and Maryland (3.101 – 3.113) have similar Law Enforcement Bill of Rights legislation.

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New Small Business Service Helps Reduce Risk, Increase Bottom Line

The Gowen Group is proud to announce a new service for small businesses so they, too, can have an attorney at their disposal–and at a fraction of the cost!

Whether your small business is just-established or a community institution, you need to make sure its interests and finances are protected. Small businesses often forgo even the most basic of legal advice when entering into contracts or in the decision making process because of the cost—only to later discover that a simple review by an attorney could have saved thousands of dollars in legal fees. To help protect your small business, its reputation, and its bottom line, the Gowen Group Law Office announces its Virtual General Counsel Service for small businesses.

The Virtual GC allows you the ease of service by being able to work with us from virtually any location. Additionally, our attorneys can work with your schedule and are available to come to your place of business. It is like having an in-house attorney on your staff!

The purpose of the Virtual GC is to bring excellent legal services and peace-of-mind to small businesses at a price they can afford. The Virtual GC allows your company to remove the uncertainty of being billed by the hour. Instead, you pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited basic legal services, including:

  • Organizing and incorporating your organization
  • Review of Existing Contracts
  • Drafting and Negotiating Contracts
  • Handling of Legal Employment Issues
  • Demand Letters
  • Advisement on Business Decisions
  • Initial Review and Advice on Pending or Potential Lawsuits

Visit our website today for more details and to see how we can help your small business.

Personal Reflection: Memoriam of Former Client Gives Pause, New Energy

About two weeks ago was the memorial service for one of my former clients, Ms. Shirley Riley. I met Ms. Riley through some pro bono work I was doing for her in March 2009 for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. At that time I was nearly a year into doing pro bono work for the Clinic; but it was through Ms. Riley’s set of circumstances that I became intimate with the functions of the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS) and its failings with regard to serving those with disabilities in the DC shelter system. It was also through Ms. Riley’s situation that I became even more intimate with the good pro bono legal work can do for individuals and society-at-large.

pro bono imageMs. Riley had impairments that required she have an accessible room and a location with no communal setting. She was placed at one of the city’s main shelters, DC General, which provided neither of these accommodations at the time. Taking the typical course of action, I began using the administrative process to have Ms. Riley moved to a better environment. Unfortunately, my efforts were not initially being responded to by DHS. I even had to go so far as to testify before DHS on Ms. Riley’s behalf to bring its shortcomings to the attention of DHS leadership. Ms. Riley was eventually moved from the shelter to an apartment-style residence and provided a more accommodating environment. In the end, litigation was initiated by Ms. Riley and my colleague at the Legal Clinic, Amber Harding.

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Juvenile Life Without Parole Decision by the Supreme Court

This post by Gowen Group law clerk Brenna Daugherty

 

This past week much attention has been on our nation’s highest court. While most of the attention was focused on the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court also handed down a decision in Miller v. Alabama, a case involving two 14 year-old offenders convicted of murder from Arkansas and Alabama.  Both were sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Elena Kagan, the Court found that the mandatory nature of the punishment as well as preventing the sentencing authority from taking a juvenile’s ‘lessened culpability’ and ‘capacity for change’ into account, violated the Eight Amendment of the Constitution.

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Your Future Legacy and the Future of Others May Depend on Having a Will

 

Millions and millions of Americans die each year without a will (or “intestate”) and leave their families with unintended consequences and sometimes major headaches.

While it’s an unfortunate fact that we’re all going to die some day, it’s also a fact that we prefer not to dwell on it if we can avoid it, and a will makes us do just that.  A survey conducted in 2012 found that almost half of Americans are intestate.

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