Phyllis Law - June 2020 | 404.514.3397

Protecting Bright Futures

JUNE 2020

Bright Futures Bulletin

A person commits the offense of felony murder when, in the commission of a felony, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice. We know the shots fired that day killed Arbery. So to prove felony murder, the state prosecutor must prove the underlying felony, which, in this case, is aggravated assault. A person commits the offense of aggravated assault when he or she assaults: (1) with intent to murder, to rape, or to rob; (2) with a deadly weapon. The second criterion is clear. No one disputes the McMichaels used a deadly weapon, which resulted in Arbery’s death. The first criterion will be in dispute at trial. Did the defendants intend to murder Arbery without justification? We already know the defendants are claiming that they were making a citizen’s arrest. In Georgia you may arrest anyone who commits a felony in your presence or with your immediate knowledge. A citizen's arrest occurs when a citizen prevents a suspect from leaving a scene. This kind of arrest most often occurs in cases like shoplifting when the store's manager detains the suspected offender until the cops can arrive on scene. Many believe the extension of a citizen’s arrest power to this scenario is a far overreach and should not be allowed. When making a citizen's arrest, a person may not use more force than is reasonable to make the arrest. Deadly force is limited to self-defense or to instances in which such force is necessary to prevent certain felonies. The right of private citizens to make a citizen's arrest is limited. The problemwith the citizen’s arrest defense is that Arbery was unarmed, and so far, we do not have any clear evidence that he had committed or was in the commission of a felony. Video evidence shows Arbery leaving the scene of a

TheDeathof AHMAUDARBERY The Laws Behind the Case

Gregory and Travis McMichael (father and son) were arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) 74 days later on charges of aggravated assault and felony murder. The case has outraged Americans due to the following circumstances. 1. The victimwas black, and the accused men are white. Many believe the McMichaels' actions were racially motivated. 2. Video evidence indicates the McMichaels chased Arbery down in a pickup truck with loaded firearms — at least one shotgun and one handgun. 3. The father, Gregory McMichael, worked in local law enforcement, and many argued the police and prosecutors were protecting their own (i.e., “home cooking”). 4. Three different district attorneys failed to make an arrest, and only after public outcry and national media attention did the GBI take over the case and arrest the McMichaels. Then our own Cobb County got involved. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr appointed Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes to prosecute the case after the third prosecutor recused himself. Here is what the state prosecutor must prove to get a felony murder conviction.

This article is intended to explain the laws at play in this heartbreaking case that has gripped our nation since early May. Because there have been so many “opinion” pieces written nationwide, I want to leave opinion out and instead explain the laws that will be debated at trial. On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in the middle of a neighborhood street a fewmiles from his home in Brunswick, Georgia. The assailants claimed Arbery was a suspect in a string of recent burglaries nearby and a burglary that same day, and they were attempting to make a citizen’s arrest.

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Keep Your Brain Young

3 Tips for Good Brain Health From Harvard Medical School

As we age, our bodies change, including our mental functions. Cognitive decline is one of the biggest fears of aging, but it’s not inevitable. Though we’re still learning new things about how our brains work, there’s a lot of scientific research that shows how to keep your brain young. If you want to keep your mind sharp throughout your lifetime, then follow this advice from Harvard Medical School. 1. Get a good workout. Exercising regularly helps all the muscles and organs in your body, even your brain! A good workout can lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels, which help your brain and your heart. Harvard Health Publishing, a website of Harvard Medical School, also notes that “animals who exercise regularly increase the number of tiny blood vessels that bring

oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought.”

2. Pay attention to your mental health. Poor mental health can lead to impaired cognitive function. Chronic anxiety, depression, and exhaustion tend to cause low scores on cognitive function tests. But test scores aren't necessarily a sign of future cognitive decline, and Harvard Health Publishing urges readers to maintain good mental health and get restful sleep, as they are “certainly important goals” for improving cognitive function and overall well-being. 3. Stay connected. It’s not enough to focus on yourself. In order to maintain your long-term cognitive health, you should also focus on your connections with other people. According

to Harvard Health Publishing, “Strong social ties have been associated with a lower risk of dementia, as well as lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy.” Make new friends, stay in touch with family members, and maintain positive relationships in your life. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is certainly true when it comes to your brain health. Do what you can today to protect your mental functions tomorrow.

Our Kids Need Our Help

We discovered quickly that our children need structure. Our kids were used to having something to do every minute of the day, including school, sports, church, and socializing with friends. With all of that suspended, a lot of bad habits were formed, and we needed help to redirect. So I became a client of the firm. Let me explain. We began offering life coaching to our clients about a year ago. It has been wildly successful, especially with our younger clients. Part of our firm’s mission is to provide second chances to live a happier life. We do not just deal with the immediate problem that leads our clients to the firm. We strive to lead our clients to a better place in life. Sometimes that requires life coaching. I

prefer life coaching because it teaches individuals to help themselves. You learn to identify and set goals and create plans to reach those goals. I engaged one of our certified coaches to help my family. I know that sounds weird. And, yes, I paid the firm. Coach Pashia met with each of my children individually via Zoom and with me and my husband separately. We identified strengths and weaknesses, goals, schedules, rules, and consequences. We have a plan now, and everyone is on board. I strongly suggest you give it a try, especially if you have noticed changes in your kids since the pandemic started. Recognizing there is a problem is the first step, and we can take it from there.

My kids have been negatively affected by COVID-19. We have had some positives too, but more negatives. The virtual learning experience for my children was a challenge. In the beginning, we thought it would only last a few weeks, so we just flew by the seat of our pants without much planning. If I had it to do over, I would handle it differently.

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SUDOKU BREAK Solution on Page 4


3. $500 worth of jewelry — This is pawn shop value, not replacement.

“What can I keep if I file for bankruptcy protection?”

4. $5,000 worth of household goods — Again, this is not replacement value, but what you think you would get in a garage sale for the items.

This is the first question I usually get when I give a bankruptcy consult. Here is the answer:

1. $5,000 worth of equity in the debtor’s vehicle — Check KBB.

5. A $1,200 wildcard exemption that can be used to protect any asset

com for your car’s value. If it is worth $10,000 but you still owe $5,000 on the note, you get to keep your car. Many times, people owe more than their car is worth. If so, they are able to keep the car or can surrender the car to the lien holder without having to pay repossession fees or remaining balances. 2. $21,500 of equity in the debtor’s home — Married couples can double that if they file a joint petition for bankruptcy protection and are both on the deed. Any unused portion of this homestead exemption, up to $10,000, can be used to exempt any other assets. If you are trying to determine the value of your home, you can ask a real estate agent or hire a residential real estate appraiser for a more exact value.

6. IRA and 401k accounts

Paleo Sausage Frittata

This list is not exhaustive, but it covers the things that people are the most concerned about. It is very important to assess the value of assets before making any decisions regarding a bankruptcy. Debtors with assets that cannot be protected by exemptions may chose to file a Chapter 13 instead so that they can retain their assets. Another option for such debtors is to engage an attorney to negotiate debt settlement directly with creditors. In the wake of COVID-19, we are offering free consultations to all those who are struggling with debt issues. Everyone deserves a second chance, especially those affected by COVID-19 through no fault of their own.

Inspired by

Bacon may be a paleo favorite for breakfast, but this hearty sausage meal can be enjoyed any time of day and is the perfect way to mix things up!


• • • • • •

3 tbsp coconut oil

1 lb mild Italian sausage

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1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated

4 green onions, diced

10 eggs, whisked

house under construction on Feb. 23 without taking anything. At best, he may have been guilty of loitering, only a misdemeanor in Georgia.

Black pepper, to taste


The defense strategywill be that the McMichaels’ actions were justified because they were acting in self-defense. A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other's imminent use of unlawful force. So, the strategywould require the defense to prove that because Arbery grabbed for the gun during what they are calling a lawful citizen’s arrest, theywere justified in shooting him to protect themselves or others. However, this strategy may not be effective because the law further provides that a person is not justified in using force if he was the aggressor. Clearly, the McMichaels were the aggressors.

1. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. 2. Crumble sausage into the skillet and cook until browned. 3. Add sweet potato and cook until tender. 4. Add green onion and sauté for 2–3 minutes. 5. Spread this mixture evenly throughout the skillet. Pour eggs over mixture and sprinkle black pepper over top. 6. Cook without stirring for 3 minutes or until bubbly. 7. Transfer skillet to oven and cook under broiler on low until frittata is cooked through.

This case will continue to garner national attention until its conclusion. All eyes are on Cobb County now. May justice prevail. –Phyllis Gingrey Collins

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Inside This Issue

The Death of Ahmaud Arbery 1 Harvard’s Tips to Keep Your Brain Young Our Kids Need Our Help 2 What You Get to Keep When You File for Bankruptcy Protection

Paleo Sausage Frittata 3

Help Local Nonprofits in Challenging Times 4

Over the past several months, families, businesses, and nonprofits have had to navigate life in this challenging “new normal,” and it can be hard to support your favorite nonprofits when times are tough. Here are a fewways you can help these important entities, even when you don’t have resources to spare right now. Donate While many people donate generously during the holiday season, remember that nonprofits need donations throughout the year, and different nonprofits need different things. A monetary donation can often go a long way, but never feel obligated to give money, especially when your budget may

be tight. Instead, consider cleaning out your closet. What clothes, shoes, or other accessories can you part with? What about dishware or small appliances? When you clean out your home and donate unused items, you benefit those in the community who need them most. Volunteer In a time of social distancing, volunteering may be discouraged, but nonprofits still need volunteers to operate. The good news is that many nonprofits need volunteers for positions that maintain social distance, such as driving. Food banks and kitchens need drivers to pick up donations or ingredients from donors and to deliver food to people in need, such as the elderly or those with disabilities. Advocate Even if you don’t have time or resources to give, you can become an advocate for important causes around your community. While it might not seem like much, sharing information about local nonprofits on social media can make a genuine difference. Nonprofits need exposure, which is greatly boosted through community support. Sharing useful information about nonprofits — or sharing their posts — increases their visibility so more people will take action.

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