Law Office of William F. Underwood - September 2018

Justice MONTHLY

229-888-0888 • www.puttingpeoplefirst.law

SEPTEMBER 2018

The Biggest Courtroom

We’d been working the case for weeks, but due to the juvenile nature of the crime, it was difficult to get anybody to care enough to give up the videos and evidence we needed. So, we gathered all we could in advance of the court date and hoped it would be enough. I was already nervous about it. Then, on the day of the hearing, my superior called in sick, and I realized I would be facing the codefendants’ five highly experienced lawyers on my own in front of a judge who was already frustrated with the proceedings, without much of the evidence I needed to succeed. It went pretty much as you’d expect, considering the circumstances. The team of defense attorneys, a couple of them with 20–30 years’ experience, pulled every trick in the book against me, the underprepared rookie prosecutor. I was left grasping at straws, trying to find my footing in this hell I’d found myself in. But thank goodness it had been juvenile court, so it wasn’t in front of a jury. To his credit, Judge Solomon looked at the clear evidence that the kids had been the perpetrators and convicted them. So I emerged from the courtroom, battered, but at least proud of having done my job. Though my dignity was pretty mangled at that point, I picked myself up, brushed myself off, and got back into the fray as soon as possible. As they say, you live and learn. By now I’ve weathered enough storms to carry myself confidently through all kinds of legal proceedings, and to know precisely what to do in nearly every circumstance that comes up. Sometimes, though, it’s gratifying to look back at those early days, when I was a fresh face in the courtroom, and admire how far I’ve come. -William F. “Trey” Underwood, III Beat Down I’ve Ever Received THE STORY OF MY FIRST SOLO HEARING

O ver the years, I’ve come a long way as an attorney. By now, it feels like I’ve practically seen it all. So, when a new client comes in with a workers’ comp case or an injury weighing them down, I know exactly what to do to secure them the compensation they need. But when you’ve been in the game as long as I have, you don’t get to where you are without a couple of learning experiences along the way. And in fact, the toughest, most demoralizing courtroom beat down I’ve ever received was the first case I ever handled by myself, blindsided fresh out of law school with a juvenile court case that was a true perfect storm of legal messes. Shortly after I left law school, I worked at the DA’s office under the Graduate Practice Act, doing legal work for the department while I waited for my bar results. Until my bar results came through, I legally had to work under the watchful eye of my superiors, doing hearings and other things with them basically on standby the entire time. But one day, immediately after I received my license, the lawyer who was monitoring called in sick on the date of a juvenile detention hearing. I was left twisting in the wind. It all started with some bad press. Five 16-year-olds had wreaked havoc around town, boosting a bunch of vehicles in a cocaine- fueled frenzy and smashing up a local car dealership. Somehow, the detention hearing hadn’t happened in the mandatory 72 hours, so the hellions were initially released without even a slap on the wrist. The word was that Judge Solomon, who still oversees the Albany juvenile court, had let them off easy, when really his hands had been tied. After being bad-mouthed in the local media, he was pretty understandably upset.

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NEED A PERSONAL ASSISTANT TO MANAGE YOUR KIDS’ CRAZY SCHEDULES?

TRY THESE 3 TIPS INSTEAD

School has started. Youth sports are in full swing. Work is crazy. Food has become more about necessity than enjoyment. All of this can only mean one thing: Fall has begun. The crazy schedules this time of year can make it tough for parents to keep their heads on straight; making it through the insanity sometimes feels more like survival than life. But there are tactics you can employ to turn the tide and find more time for yourself. TAG TEAM There’s no reason to try to do everything on your own. The phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” exists because managing the stressors of life requires help. A great place to

entire family’s schedule so you never miss a beat. And apps like Mealime and MealBoard give you the ability to whip up food that is cost-effective and delicious. TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK While you’re busy trying to rally the troops at soccer practice, the scene at home resembles a horror movie. Laundry is piling up, food is spoiling in the fridge, and the dust bunnies around the house now have names. Housecleaning is a part-time job in its own right. The only way to stay on top of duties around the house is to work together. A chore chart with clear responsibilities is a great place to start. Whether you have one child or eight, everyone is capable of pitching in.

start is by establishing car pools with a parent group you trust. You can alternate drivers weekly, which provides the opportunity for you to focus your attention on other priorities — or if you’re lucky, have some freedom. THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB Technology makes organization easier and more accessible than ever. By using a tool like a shared calendar, you can coordinate the

You can have all the organizational abilities in the world, but the best way to manage life’s madness isn’t by directing day-to-day tasks; it’s by managing stress. Instead of using these tools to control life, look at them as a way to free up time so you can decompress and enjoy the things you love.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ‘COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE’

AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN ANY PERSONAL INJURY CASE

If you’ve been in a serious accident, the resulting legal processes are almost sure to be a headache if you decide to handle it yourself. But even if you decide to get a lawyer — and you absolutely should in order to give your case the best chance possible for success — it’s important to understand one component of personal injury lawsuits in Georgia. It’s called “comparative negligence,” and it can be the difference between receiving the compensation you need for your recovery and not getting a single cent. In some U.S. states, usually called “no-fault” states, you can recover damages whether an accident was your fault or not. But Georgia is what’s called a “modified comparative negligence” state, which means that any party who is more than 50 percent at fault for an accident cannot recover any damages whatsoever. Even if you’re 49 percent culpable, you’re still safe, but inch that up even a single percent and you have no claim to any compensation whatsoever.

It’s also worth noting that, in Georgia, the amount you can recover is directly proportionate to your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re 30 percent at fault, your potential compensation decreases by 30 percent. These percentages are determined during the legal process, usually as your insurer uses everything at their disposal to establish your negligence and thus, reduce the amount they have to pay you for your injuries. So, as abstract as that percentage may seem, it’s vitally important to your case. Establishing negligence isn’t a simple matter, and certainly not one most people are equipped to handle. To ensure that no stone is left unturned, call the experts at the Law Office of William F. Underwood, III at 229-888-0888 today. We’ll do everything we can to protect your credibility and ensure you get every ounce of compensation you deserve.

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2 MORE WEIRD PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS

E very couple of years, you hear about some crazy lawsuit that supposedly shows how broken the American legal system is. Most of these stories shame victims with legitimate claims and bend the information to discourage suffering folks from going toe-to-toe with massive corporations. But even we have to admit that there are a few personal injury cases out there that are truly bizarre. THE MAN WHO SUED HIMSELF

violate my religious beliefs. This was done by my going out and getting arrested.” He wanted the defendant (himself) to pay $5 million in damages, but he wanted the state to foot the bill, since he couldn’t make income in prison. He promised to pay it back when he got out, but the case was dismissed — though the judge did note that Brock had “an innovative approach to civil rights litigation.” THE MAN WHO TOOK IT A STEP FURTHER AND SUED GOD Say what you will about our Creator, but if he’s out there, he probably does have some pretty deep pockets. Apparently, that was on the mind of Pavel Mircea, a murderer from Romania, when he filed a suit against the big man — or rather, his representative, the Orthodox Catholic Church — in 2005. He argued that his baptism had been a legally binding contract, which God had broken when he failed to “protect [him] from all evils,” a list of crimes that included fraud, breach of trust, and abuse of authority. Of course, the case was thrown out. How would you even serve God legal papers? Drop them on the ground? Unfortunately, God’s lawyer couldn’t be reached for comment on this story.

Call it a horribly planned get-rich-quick scheme or an attempt at personal penance, but suing yourself will probably never work out in court. But that didn’t stop Robert Lee Brock, an inmate from Virginia, from attempting just that in 1995. His claim read, “I partook of alcoholic beverages in 1993, July 1st, as a result I caused myself to

Have a Laugh!

Inside-Out Grilled Ham and Cheese

Want to take your grilled cheese game to the next level? This recipe calls for cheese both inside and outside the sandwich, adding a crispy crunch to the grilled cheese experience. It’s a quick, delicious weekday dinner option the whole family will love.

Ingredients •

8 slices of bread (Pullman works best) 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano) Directions 1. Butter each slice of bread on the outsides and sprinkle with Parmesan. 2. Layer ham and cheese evenly on top of 4 slices of bread. 3. Spread apricot preserves and mustard across the other 4 slices. Press sandwiches together.

• • • •

8 ounces ham, thinly sliced 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, sliced 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 1/4 cup apricot preserves

4. In a cast-iron skillet or large sauté pan over medium heat, grill sandwiches until golden, about 3 minutes per side. 5. Cut in half and serve.

Inspired by Food & Wine magazine

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inside Trey Underwood Looks Back at His First Solo Hearing PAGE 1 3 Tips to Help Organize Your Crazy Life PAGE 2 What You Need to Know About ‘Comparative Negligence’ PAGE 2 The Man Who Sued God (And the Man Who Sued Himself) PAGE 3 Inside-Out Grilled Ham and Cheese PAGE 3 Why Labor Day Is Indebted to the Pullman Strike PAGE 4

How a Railroad Protest Laid the Foundation for a National Holiday Th e P u l l m a n S t r i k e a nd t h e Or i g i n o f L a b o r Da y

Today, Labor Day mostly means a day off and the closure of public pools. But when it was first created, it was a president’s desperate attempt to curb the tension after one of the most violent strike breakups in American history. In the late 19th century, the workers of the Pullman Company, which manufactured luxury train cars, all lived in a company-owned town. George Pullman, the owner, lived in a mansion overlooking houses, apartments, and crammed-together barracks, all of which were rented by the thousands of workers needed for the operation. For some time, the town operated without a hitch, providing decent wages for the workers while netting the higher-ups millions of dollars. But after the economic depression of the 1890s brought the country to its knees, everything changed. George Pullman slashed his workers’ wages by nearly 30 percent, but he neglected to adjust the rent on the company-owned buildings in turn. As a result, life became untenable in the town, with workers struggling to maintain the barest standards of living for themselves and their families.

Union (ARU). But Pullman, stubborn as he was, barely acknowledged the strike was happening, and he refused to meet with the organizers.

The tension increased when Eugene Debs, the president of the American Railway Union, organized a boycott of all trains that included Pullman cars. The strike continued to escalate until workers and Pullman community members managed to stop the trains from running. Eventually, President Grover Cleveland sent in soldiers to break up the strike. Violence ensued, with soldiers making a great effort to quell the strike at its core. By the time the violence ended, 30 people had lost their lives and an estimated $80 million in damages had been caused throughout the town. A few months later, President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day a federal holiday. Many experts believe that this act was an effort to build rapport among his pro-labor constituents after handling the incident so poorly. This month, as you fire up the barbecue and enjoy your day off, take a moment to remember the workers who fought for labor rights in our country.

In response, the workers began a strike on May 11, 1894. As the event ramped up, it gained the support of the powerful American Railway

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