Yeargan & Kert - October 2019

THE DEFENSE REPORT

OCTOBER 2019

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MY FIRST JURY TRIAL TRIAL BY FIRE

By the time this newsletter reaches you, I hope fall will have begun in earnest. The cool weather and changing leaves make this one of the best times to call Georgia home. I also enjoy the fall because it feels like a season for reflection. I like to remind myself of the people and events that got me where I am today. So, what better time to share the story of one of the most influential of these moments? It was 2004, and I was fresh out of law school. I’d landed a job at the prosecutor’s office in the City Court of Atlanta at a very interesting time — the court was perilously close to being dissolved. As the state and city council argued over the fate of my new place of employment, veteran prosecutors were jumping ship left and right, transferring to other offices or going into private practice. This absence of experienced lawyers is what led to one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in my legal career. Normally, your first year is spent shadowing more experienced prosecutors before you even become a junior prosecutor in the courtroom. I got six weeks. There simply weren’t enough hands on deck for senior or even junior prosecutors to make every hearing. Still, new recruits weren’t supposed to handle actual jury trials on their own. But, of course, that’s exactly what happened to me. It was a contentious case, an aggressive driving charge involving a police officer in an unmarked car and the impatient driver who was unfortunate enough to tailgate them. Just by looking over the details ahead of the hearing, I could tell it was going to go to trial. It was your classic “he said, she said” case, which left the defense plenty of room to reach for a “not guilty” verdict. This was going to take an expert hand. So, I went to a well-respected senior prosecutor and asked for help. She agreed to prosecute the case and walk me through my first real trial. There was just one problem: On top of being overworked due to the office’s short staffing, she was also eight months pregnant. It wasn’t until one of my fellow trainees told her they’d just watched me select a jury that she realized she forgot to show up for the trial.

I tried my best to stall the proceedings, thinking help would come around the corner any second. But, when the time came to select jurors, I knew I was on my own. One experienced prosecutor did drop by right before the trial started to give me a piece of advice: “Don’t lose. That would be embarrassing.” You do plenty of mock trials in law school, and many of the professors try to hammer home the fact that trials will rarely go exactly as planned. But it’s one thing to be told that in the classroom and another to live the experience firsthand. I went at the defense with everything I had and prayed they couldn’t tell how nervous I was. Then, during the recess just before closing arguments, help arrived, but the majority of the trial was already over. She was very supportive and encouraging, offering me some direct advice about the case. She felt the strongest point I’d made was pointing out that the driver had been riled up enough to yell at a uniformed officer, and she advised me to hinge my final statement on it. I followed her advice and got the conviction. Fifteen years later, the prosecutor and I still laugh about that fateful first trial. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I learned just how important it is to be quick on your feet in a real trial — you can’t just rely on weeks of planning, like in law school. It was an incredible way to kick off my career in earnest, and it was the start of a great friendship with this prosecutor.

–Jim Yeargan

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PUT YOUR BEST CARD FORWARD

BUSINESS CARD ETIQUETTE IN 3 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES

The business card is a nearly ubiquitous way to give your name, position, company, and contact information to potential clients and business partners all over the world. And while the exchange of business cards in the United States does not come with a lot of pomp and circumstance, that is not the case in many other countries. If you find yourself in one of the following places, remember these tips about exchanging business cards. Known in Japan as meishi , the exchange of business cards comes with a lot of ceremony. Present your card with both hands, as this gesture is seen as respectful. Japanese culture places a lot of value on hierarchy and status, so make sure your title is listed prominently. When receiving a card, take a minute to look it over and comment on it. Immediately putting it away is disrespectful, and once you’re done looking at it, put it in a cardholder, folder, or binder. JAPAN

your card. The practice of giving and receiving cards is very similar to that of Japan. Finish the exchange with a bow as a way to thank your acquaintance for meeting with you.

INDIA

Business cards are exchanged even in nonbusiness interactions in India. Much like hierarchy and status are valued in Japan, academic achievements are valued in India, so list your university, degrees, and honors along with your other information. When exchanging cards, always give and receive them with your right hand. This is also common practice in many Middle Eastern countries. Exchanging business cards the wrong way probably won’t be detrimental to your business deal, but learning the proper etiquette in the country you’re visiting can go a long way in starting a professional relationship on the right foot.

CHINA

In China, as in many other countries, having your credentials and contact info in English on one side and in the local language on the other is good practice. Gold lettering is considered auspicious, and if your business is relatively old, make sure the year it was founded is on

More Than Three Letters

OTHER CHARGES THAT COME WITH A DUI

have a few glasses of wine, drive home, and get pulled over before you get there. You blow a positive on a (potentially faulty) breathalyzer test and are charged with a DUI. The prosecution may also decide that since you placed your children in the car and the breathalyzer said you were drunk, you put your kids in danger. This is an extremely serious charge that can result in losing custody. There are two types of vehicular homicide in Georgia. In either case, the charge is usually leveled at a driver who the prosecution believes is directly responsible for any deaths caused by an accident. First-degree vehicular homicide is by far the most serious. It’s a felony charge, resulting in up to 20 years in prison. The second-degree charge is a misdemeanor VEHICULAR HOMICIDE

for which you may face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The determining factor between these charges is often whether or not the driver was driving under the influence. A DUI that results in death will solidify a first-degree charge. A successful DUI defense can have a cascading effect on other charges tied to your case. If you weren’t in fact over the legal limit, how can the prosecution claim you were endangering your children? If you are found not guilty of driving under the influence, a vehicular homicide charge may be reduced to second-degree or dropped entirely if the prosecution fails to prove your actions were directly responsible for the death. This is why having a skilled defense lawyer who is well-versed in DUI cases, like Jim Yeargan, can be invaluable.

Getting pulled over while drunk is a nightmarish scenario. Just getting charged with a DUI on its own means you’re facing an uphill legal battle that could result in disastrous consequences for your future. But the reality is DUIs are usually paired with other serious charges, compounding the fines and jail time you may face. Here are a couple examples.

CHILD ENDANGERMENT

Let’s say you went to dinner at a friend’s house and brought the whole family. You

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LAUGH IT OFF

Are Your Teens Getting More Than Candy This Halloween? MINOR IN POSSESSION

Trick-or-treating season is here, and while it can be a fun occasion for kids and adults alike, some teenagers tend to focus on the “trick” portion of the evening. With mischief as part of the holiday, it’s not uncommon for even well-behaved kids to get up to no good this time of year. Sometimes, they can take things too far. This is especially true when alcohol is involved. DEFINING POSSESSION Just like in the rest of the United States, it’s illegal here for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. But consumption is just part of a wider umbrella of laws designed to keep beer and liquor out of the hands of youngsters. A juvenile in Georgia can wind up with a minor in possession charge for any of the following actions: • Misrepresenting their age or identity to buy alcohol • Possessing an alcoholic beverage • Purchasing or attempting to purchase such a beverage • Using a fake ID to buy alcohol CONSEQUENCES If your child is found guilty of this misdemeanor, they will face consequences. A judge may require they seek counseling, do community service, and/or pay restitution to any individuals hurt by their actions. Also, their driver’s license may be suspended, and they could be placed on probation. A minor in possession charge can also establish a criminal record for your child, though the judge may be persuaded to avoid leaving such a permanent mark on their future. This is where having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your case can make all the difference. AN IMPORTANT EXCEPTION There are a few exceptions where those under 21 will not be charged with a crime for possessing and consuming alcohol, such as working in a brewery or taking part in a religious ceremony. But the most important circumstance where this law does not apply is in emergency situations where a minor has overdosed. In these life-threatening occasions, neither a minor who calls emergency services to report the overdose nor the overdosed teen themselves will be charged. It’s deeply important you emphasize this to your teenager. Their safety and that of their friends is most important. They don’t have to fear seeking help.

LEFTOVER CANDY SNACK MIX Inspired by Food & Wine Magazine

This recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar chef and “Master Chef” judge Christina Tosi makes great use of those extra Halloween goodies. It’s a quick and easy way to both elevate and get rid of unwanted leftovers.

INGREDIENTS

• 2 cups mini pretzels, coarsely broken

• 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted • 12 oz mini candy bars, such as Snickers, chopped into 1/2-inch piece

• 1/4 cup light brown sugar • 2 tbsp granulated sugar • 1/3 cup dry milk powder

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oven to 275 F. 2. In a large mixing bowl, fold together pretzels, sugars, milk powder, and butter. 3. Spread mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. 4. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and mix in candy bar pieces before serving.

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INSIDE

Trial by Fire

International Business Card Etiquette DUI: More Than Three Letters

Halloween and Teenage Drinking Leftover Candy Snack Mix

Frightful Films for Families

FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY! SCARY MOVIES

With the spookiest day of the year fast approaching, there’s nothing like a scary movie night to get the whole family into the Halloween spirit. The only problem is most frightful films really aren’t for kids, and the ones that are often fall flat. But, if you’re looking for a flick that will have the whole family on the edge of their seats (without traumatizing anyone), consider our top three picks for scary, family-friendly movies. NO. 3: ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’ “Who you gonna call” to be high on this list? The 1984 spectral classic, “Ghostbusters.” While this may be more of an action-comedy, plenty of scares and creepy imagery still get a jump out of first-time watchers young and old alike. If you’re looking for a lighthearted movie night that still captures a Halloween feel, “Ghostbusters” is a great choice. NO. 2: ‘CORALINE’ Few authors weave creepiness with coming-of-age stories together better than Neil Gaiman, and his 2009 film “Coraline” proves just that. Based on Gaiman’s book of the same name, director Henry Selick uses his signature stop-motion animation style to bring the script to life. While young children may find the doll-like imagery too unsettling, this is a great introductory thriller for preteens.

NO. 1: ‘SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND’ Yes, a Scooby-Doo movie is at the top of this list — and it deserves to be. As the feature-length debut of Scooby, Shaggy, and the rest of the Mystery Gang, this 1998 film doesn’t pull any punches. While the hand-drawn animation and slapstick high jinks of the original Hanna- Barbera cartoon are all there, make no mistake: There are some creepy moments in this movie. Between scary zombie elements and a spooky Voodoo doll scene, this is the perfect film to get your kids into the Halloween spirit.

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