TEXAS TRIAL LAWYERS REVIEW
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Studies and Dragons
Why I Love the Library
It may not be the most widely recognized holiday, but I couldn’t let this month pass without talking about National Library Week. Held the second week of April, this nationwide observance dates back to 1958 but doesn’t get a lot of press. Still, as someone who spent much of his young life among the bookshelves of many a library, I feel these public learning spaces deserve some recognition. Back when I was in high school, I’d actually go in early to spend time at the library. It meant getting up at 5 a.m., but being able to sit at a quiet table and study was the perfect start to my day. I got more homework done there than I ever did at home. This is a benefit of libraries that sometimes gets overlooked when people question whether or not we need them in the digital age. They don’t just give people access to books — they provide a space where anyone can read, write, and learn. Gaining an appreciation for this space early in life helped me immensely down the road. When I went to law school, I was more prepared for the rigorous coursework than I thought I’d be. Learning the law isn’t all mock trials and lectures on old Supreme Court decisions. In fact, the vast majority of a student’s time is spent reading. To be successful, law students need to spend hours poring over case files and researching legal history — which makes the campus library a vital resource. Much the same as when I was younger, I got up early every day and headed to the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library on the St. Mary’s University campus. Some days, I would stay there until it closed.
While libraries certainly helped me throughout my school days, their value goes far beyond the academic. In fact, I’d argue that one of the most important works on their shelves are found in the fiction section. For readers of all ages, works of fantasy and science fiction can provide inspiration, enjoyment, and expand our own horizons. Fictional novels were just as formative to me in my younger years as any textbook. Growing up, I loved anything with swords and sorcery. I particularly loved Mary Stuart’s take on Arthurian legends, known as the “Merlin Trilogy.” Blending elements of historical writing and magic, those books pulled me in as a young man. Here was the story of a boy who came from nothing and was suddenly charged with ruling a kingdom — that’s quite a lot of responsibility to suddenly inherit! To this day, I think back on those books as an example of just how precarious power can be, even to those who try to wield it wisely.
As someone whose profession largely revolves around facts, I’m still a firm believer in the place fiction has in our lives. Reading for pure escapism is valuable — sometimes you need to forget the stress of everyday life and go fight a dragon or pilot a spaceship. And throughout these fantastic journeys, you usually end up learning more about yourself and the real world. As Mary Stuart herself once wrote, “The place for truth is not in the facts of a novel; it is in the feelings.” A place of study, learning, and storytelling: It’s hard to understate how important local libraries are, especially to our youth. We may not always use them ourselves, but there’s no better time to recognize the role they play in our community. This April, why not swing by your local library? You never know what you might discover. Alex R. Hernandez Jr.
Fictional novels were just as formative to me in my younger years as any textbook.”
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Many people believe that a personal injury claim is solely affected by the events that led to their injuries. You got rear-ended and sustained a concussion — end of story, right? Wrong. The insurance company is going to look at your life after the accident, attempting to find any reason to reduce or deny your claim. To prevent this from happening, avoid these all-too-common pitfalls in the aftermath of your injury. POSTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA Twitter and Facebook have become a gold mine for insurance adjusters hunting for “evidence” about your injuries. It’s an easy enough scenario to picture: You’ve been looking forward to a friend’s birthday for months, so despite your injuries, you decide to grit your teeth and make it to their party. You pose for a photo with the group and do your best to look happy. Someone uploads this picture to social media and tags you in it. If the insurance company were to show this photo in court, a jury wouldn’t see the pain you pushed through to be there for your friend. They’d only see you smiling and, by all indications, having a great time. This can devastate your case. NOT STICKING TO MEDICATION People stop taking their medication for many reasons. Maybe the side effects are just too much to bear, they’re worried about becoming addicted, or they found the medicine was ineffective for them. Regardless of the reason, an insurance company will argue that going off your meds is a sign that your injuries aren’t as severe as the prescribing doctor Teen in Legal Trouble? What Parents Need to Know For a parent, there are few things harder than having a teenager charged with an adult crime. You may feel angry or betrayed by your child and scared for their future. You may even start blaming yourself or the people your child spends time with. While these are understandable responses to a very difficult situation, they won’t help your family move forward after an arrest. There are positive steps you can take to work toward putting this gut-wrenching situation in the past. KEEP COOL Despite the rush of emotion that may come the moment you learn your teenager is being held at a police station, the best thing you can do is remain calm. Too often, parents who are upset with their child end up hurting that child’s case, and by extension, their future. Do not waive your child’s rights, agree to an unwarranted search of your home, or order your child to confess. Decisions like these, made in the heat of the moment, can make the legal process far more difficult. HAVE A CONVERSATION Teenagers are, well, teenagers. They’re going to make mistakes and often fail to grasp the full consequences of their actions. As a parent, it’s important you help your child understand how serious the situation Innocent Mistakes That Will Cost You Don’t Hurt Your Own Claim
On an island off the coast of Antarctica, a BBC film crew caught footage of a naughty penguin engaging in criminal activity. In the video, as one male Adélie penguin leaves his nest to search for additional rocks to add to it, his neighbor waddles over, removes a rock from the nest, and carries it back to his own. When the first penguin returns from his search, his neighbor plays it cool, but at each opportunity, he repeats the crime and steals his neighbor’s rocks. While animals aren’t actually subject to legal action, and the Adélie penguin was only behaving according to natural instinct, the fine writers for the blog Legal Grounds point out that the rock thief situation presents an interesting legal case study. By taking his neighbor’s rock and putting it in his own nest, the neighbor penguin committed an act of theft. Theft is defined as “the taking of someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the victim of that property.” In some places, when a thief leaves the scene of the crime, the theft is considered complete. If the thief returns and steals additional items, that could be considered a new crime and result in additional charges. So, since the neighbor penguin takes a rock, leaves the scene of the crime, and returns, he could be found guilty of multiple theft charges. If he’d decided to go big and take his neighbor’s entire nest at once, he might’ve been charged with grand theft. Now, if the penguin who was stolen from had used force to protect his precious nest rocks, the case would be complicated even further. Allowable force is generally limited in cases of theft. To prove self-defense, the victim penguin would have to show there was a threat of force against him, that he didn’t provoke the neighbor penguin in any way, and that he didn’t have the option to escape. From a legal perspective, it was probably best that the victim penguin didn’t use force. EXPLORING THE CRIMES OF ANTARCTIC WILDLIFE Legal Case Study: Adélie the RockThief
For now, we’ll leave the Adélie penguins to their nest-building business and save the legal cases for the human world.
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TAKE A BREAK
believed. If a medication isn’t working for you, let your physician know and talk with him or her about alternatives.
NOT FOLLOWING UP ON CARE Just as stopping your medication can hurt your claim, so can inconsistent or truncated medical care. Prohibitive costs and the challenge of making it to multiple doctor’s appointments lead plenty of people to simply stop going. That’s handing a big win to the insurance company, who will spin this cessation of care as a sign that you’ve recovered. The claims process is fraught with pitfalls, making an already difficult recovery even more complicated. Experienced Texas personal injury lawyer Alex Hernandez has seen the many ways insurance companies leverage information to their advantage. Having such a knowledgeable attorney on your side can level the playing field.
EASY BACON AND SPINACH STIR-FRY
Inspired by OhSnapLetsEat.com
This super easy stir-fry is the perfect weekday dinner. It manages to pack a ton of flavor using just a handful of ingredients.
• • • • •
3 slices bacon
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 bunches spinach
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper Salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Heat a large skillet to medium.
2. While skillet is warming, cut bacon into squares.
is. It’s also crucial to take the time to listen to what they have to say for themselves and understand any underlying issues that may have led them to this situation. If they have a hard time opening up to you, consider letting them talk to a licensed counselor instead. HIRE AN EXPERT LAWYER The best thing you can do to protect your child’s future is to get them an experienced criminal defense attorney. Their knowledge of the law, police procedures, and alternative sentencing programs means your teen will have the best shot at keeping their record clean. After all, your child made a mistake, but it doesn’t have to define them for the rest of their life.
3. Cook bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is almost to your desired doneness. If desired, you can remove bacon fat from skillet and replace with 1 tablespoon oil. However, keeping the fat is recommended for flavor.
4. Add garlic and cook for 1–2 minutes.
5. Add spinach and crushed red pepper and stir-fry for 10 minutes.
6. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.
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1. How Libraries Shaped a Lawyer
2. A Chilly Legal Case Study
2. 3 Mistakes That Hurt Your Claim
2. What to Do When Your Teenager is Arrested
3. Easy Bacon and Spinach Stir-Fry
4. The Importance of Rain to the Survival of Cultures
The History and Cultural Significance of Native American Rain Dances DANCING TO BRING THERAIN
While traditions and dances vary between Native American tribes, many of them feature rain dances. Because water is essential to life, and because many tribes lived in agrarian societies, these dances were important rituals, pleas for the survival of the tribe for another season. These dances have existed for hundreds of years, and many tribes still perform them today. Rain dances are notably common in the Southwestern U.S., where the dry climate means water is scarce and every bit of rainfall is essential for survival. Generally, rain dances are performed to ask the spirits or gods to send rain for the crops. Tribes such as the Hopi, Navajo, Pueblo, and Mojave perform rain dances often. An old Cherokee legend says that the rain is filled with the spirits of past chiefs, and the rain is an indication of their battle with evil spirits beyond the natural world. One interesting fact about rain dances is that both men and women — not just men — participate in the ceremony. Dancers wear special regalia, sometimes including headdresses, masks, body paints, and jewelry. What is worn varies from tribe to tribe, but turquoise is very important in rain dances for many tribes and is often incorporated into the jewelry. The rain dance regalia is not worn at any
other point or for any other purpose during the year, and participants dance in a zigzag pattern, unlike all other dances, which feature a circular motion. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, when the U.S. government was relocating Native Americans all over the country, they banned the practice of many ceremonial dances on reservations, sometimes including rain dances. However, rain dances continued undercover: Native Americans simply performed the ritual as a different, unbanned ceremony. The dances and the traditions continued, and today many tribes still perform rain dances, even if only in reverence for their heritage.
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