Smith Wallis & Scott March 2019

MAR 2019



I’VE BEEN BLESSED Reflecting on a Rewarding Journey

This month, we get to hear from James Wallis, one of the founders of Smith, Wallis & Scott. Mr. Wallis retired from taking new cases a few years ago, but he continues to be Of Counsel to the firm, providing his vast knowledge on probate matter, as well as presiding over these cases as a probate judge for Carroll County. Since the day we opened our doors at Smith, Wallis & Scott, we’ve had a very blessed practice. We try to do a good job, be fair, and represent the people of Carrollton and Georgia to the best of our abilities. The firm started in 1987 with my partner, Ken Smith, and myself heading the practice while continuing to work our corporate jobs. Another younger attorney, Chris Scott, joined us some time after. We’d gotten to know Chris through his stint as a summer intern when he was in law school and knew he was the perfect match, both in temperament and personality, for Ken and me. As soon as he got his bar number, we asked him to join our team. In 1995, Ken and I left our corporate employers and opened our firm in downtown Carrollton. Stepping out on our own was a little unnerving. I’d only worked for two employers my whole life, and it was something we weren’t sure of. But we’d also been practicing law long enough to know it would be unusual if we didn’t make it because we had a good client base to start with. We did what we considered to be good work for people, those clients sent us others, and we continued to grow. Our law professors told us

business would be built this way, and I’m not sure how many of us believed it, but it turned out to be true for us. Some years ago, I started doing volunteer work for our probate court, and it became my specialty. About 15 years ago, I was appointed as an acting judge for the probate court. Being on the bench gives you the chance to step back and evaluate the situations in front of you. The probate court in our county handles probate, guardianships, and conservatorships, and I’ve always worked in these areas and enjoyed it. Mostly, we’re there to protect people from themselves and others. Guardianship cases are sobering. It’s amazing how willing children are to help Mama and Papa out of their assets, but when they need help, the children are nowhere to be found. A lot of people take advantage of family members and friends when they can’t think for themselves. When those situations come up, probate comes in and appoints someone to take care of them. I’ve been blessed through the years to work with some outstanding attorneys; some have gone on to open their own firms, and others have left to work for the state. We’ve had some good people at Smith, Wallis & Scott. The attorneys there now are top notch. They have a strong moral compass, and I’m extremely proud to be associated with them. – James Wallis

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Who Was Theodor Geisel?

On March 2, Read Across America Day is celebrated by students, teachers, and community members in towns throughout the country. They chose that date to pay homage to one of the most beloved children’s authors who was

born that day: Theodor Geisel. That name may sound unfamiliar to you, but “Dr. Seuss” should ring a few bells.

His name alone is so associated with literacy that in 2007, the author of an article in U.S. News & World Report that chronicled the history of 1957 — the year “The Cat in the Hat” was published — wrote, “Greece had Zeus — America has Seuss.” In 2001, Publisher’s Weekly released a list of the bestselling hardcover children’s books of all time in the U.S. Of the books in the top 100, Seuss authored 16, which is more than any other author on the list by a long shot. But Seuss did not break into the children’s literature industry easily. Seuss and his nearly 50 children’s books almost never got off the ground. His first children’s book, “And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” was denied by more than a dozen publishers. Legend has it that Seuss was on his way home to burn the manuscript when he ran into an old friend who suggested another publisher. The rest is history. Given the enthusiasm for reading Dr. Seuss has fostered in children for the past eight decades, it’s no wonder the National Education Association chose his birthday to mark a day dedicated to celebrating reading. After all, he’s often quoted as saying, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

Theft is a serious matter, made even more grave when the victims are fallen war heroes. Such was the situation that stumped police in Hudson, New York, in 2012. The crime was first committed in July of the previous year. Flags had been placed around the graves of soldiers in Cedar Park Cemetery — only to go missing right around Independence Day. Veterans groups and locals were AN INSIDE JOB The Curious Case of the Disappearing Flags

Determined to find out who was to blame, police put up surveillance cameras and recorded the goings-on in the cemetery. As they watched the tapes, sure enough, they saw one of the culprits sitting atop a gravestone with an empty flagpole in front of him. It was a groundhog.

Apparently, the wooden flagpoles attract groundhogs, something other groundskeepers have experienced as well.

outraged and mystified by the crime. Some worried that a hate group was to blame, as the missing flags had adorned the graves

“I’m glad we don’t have someone who has taken it upon themselves to desecrate the stones and the flags in front of them,” said Hudson mayor

of Jewish soldiers. Veterans worked to replace the flags, one by one, and right the wrong. No culprit was found, and the community moved on — until the following July, when the mystery repeated itself.

Bill Hallenbeck. “We can all rest a little easier knowing that it was a critter and not a human defacing our flags, especially those of the veterans,” added Hudson’s police commissioner. Turns out Punxsutawney Phil has some very naughty cousins — ones who aren’t subject to the law.

Like the year before, flags were placed on veterans’ graves in honor of Independence Day, and again, they went missing sometime in the night, this time taken from the graves of African American Civil War soldiers. Cemetery caretaker and veteran Vincent Wallace was appalled, as was the rest of his community. “I just can’t comprehend the mindset that would allow someone to do this,” Wallace said.


You’ve been noticing bruises on your elderly mom the last couple times you’ve visited her, and she seems more and more withdrawn. She hasn’t told you anything is wrong, but you’re worried. You felt confident that the nurses at the retirement home would take care of her, but now you’re not so sure. What can you do? When people and facilities that should be caring for a vulnerable population exploit their position of power and put your loved ones at risk, they violate their code of conduct and the law. Abuse of at-risk adults (this category refers to elderly and disabled adults) can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and neglect. Self-neglect can also encompass an at-risk adult’s inability to care for themselves. Knowing the warning signs of abuse can help you determine if it’s happening. In addition to physical indicators, elderly parents suffering from abuse might seem more apathetic, fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or show other changes in their behavior or emotional state. In some cases, they may directly tell you they’re being mistreated. A caretaker’s refusal to let you visit your parent may also be an indication that something isn’t right. WHAT’S THE NEXT STEPWHEN YOU SUSPECT ELDER ABUSE?

The Georgia DHS Division of Aging Services reports that abuse of at-risk adults is one of the most underreported and undetected issues in the United States. While doctors, social workers, counselors, and certain other professionals are mandatory reporters — meaning they are bound by law to report when they suspect a person is being abused — if you notice abuse happening, you may be in the best position to report it. If you suspect that an elderly relative might be abused, it’s time to speak up. Call law enforcement to report abuse that is taking place in any setting. If the abuse is taking place at a community setting, you can also call Adult Protective Services (404-657-5250 for the Atlanta area, 1-866-552-4464 outside of Atlanta). Don’t let abuse go unreported. Once you’ve reported abuse, you and your family may benefit from legal help to make sure this horrible situation doesn’t happen to others. Call the attorneys at Smith, Wallis & Scott to help you find out if legal action makes sense in your case. We’re here for you, and together, we’ll fight against facilities and individuals that take advantage of at-risk adults.





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2 quarts water 1 cup kosher salt

1. In a large stockpot, combine water, garlic, and all herbs and spices to make brine. Cook over high heat until salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in ice. brisket in a 2-gallon zip-close bag, pour in brine to cover, lay flat in a large container, and store in fridge. 3. Brine for 10 days, checking daily to make sure brisket is fully submerged and brine is stirred. 4. After 10 days, remove brisket from brine and rinse under cool water. In a large pot, cover brisket, onion, carrot, and celery with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 2 1/2–3 hours. 5. Remove, slice across the grain, and serve. 2. Once water temp reaches 45 F, place

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons saltpeter (potassium nitrate) 1 cinnamon stick, broken into large pieces

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

8 cloves garlic

8 whole allspice berries 12 whole juniper berries 2 bay leaves, crumbled 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 pounds ice

1 5-pound beef brisket, trimmed

1 small onion, quartered

1 large carrot, coarsely chopped 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

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Inspired by Food Network


(770) 214-2500 INSIDE THIS ISSUE

327 Bankhead Hwy Carrollton, GA 30117

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A Founder of the Firm Shares His Story

Celebrate Dr. Seuss

The Curious Case of the Disappearing Flags


What to Do When You Suspect Elder Abuse

Homemade Corned Beef


Spring Local Events

What’s happening around Carrollton this spring? Well plenty, as it turns out! Our bustling community offers free classes at our local library and art, craft, and pottery days at a local studio. Check out a few of the fun events below and decide for yourself what spring will bring. Spring Local Events

MEDITATION SESSION Mondays, March 11 and April 9, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Neva Lomason Memorial Library, Carrollton

Meditation has been shown to help people handle stress better, reduce anxiety, improve cognitive function, and feel more relaxed — benefits everyone can use. Join certified Cognitively-Based Compassion Training instructor Margo Barnard as she takes participants through a guided meditation and helps people achieve some of the positive effects of meditation. The class is free and open to the public. Visit the website or call Neva Lomason Library to learn more.

DINOSAURS AND DONUTS Saturday, March 23, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Kreations Art Factory, Carrollton

SIGN LANGUAGE CLASS March 21 (Every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month) Neva Lomason Memorial Library, Carrollton

Need we say more? This fun event takes place at a local handprint and paint- your-own pottery studio, The Kreations Art Factory. The fine folks there will help you turn clay into donut- and dino-inspired artwork (though you can make anything you’d like). You might think this event is for the kiddos, but the creative team behind Kreations wants to remind us that pottery isn’t just for the young; it’s for the young at heart.

Do you have a loved one or friend who is hearing impaired who you’d love to be able to communicate with better? Are you just curious about learning sign language? Come to one of the free classes at Neva Lomason Memorial Library in Carrollton and learn American Sign Language alongside other inspired folks.


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