As a personal injury lawyer and someone who has passion for law, I appreciate the way our forefathers set up our judicial system, especially the ability to argue a case in front of a jury of peers. Which brings up the topic of this week’s blog – the importance of jury service and why you should serve.
Citizens are called to serve on a jury every so often for the Kern County Superior Court and Federal Court. The opportunity for jury service is as American as it gets — the ability to witness our system at work and to help decide the fate of a case based on the evidence presented.
Every day, over 1.5 million Americans perform their civic duty by swearing in as a member of a jury. According to Jury matters, a project of the NYU School of Law, there are six compelling reasons to respond to a jury summons:
- No one is above the law
- By serving, you can help improve jury duty
- Serving on a jury builds community
- Jury duty makes better citizens
- It’s something that is uniquely American
- Jury duty is fulfilling
As a Personal Injury lawyer, I rely on thoughtful citizens in front of which I can argue my clients’ cases. I rely on open-minded and fair citizens to hear the evidence I present. Then they can make their judgements based on what they see and hear. While some jury cases can last for a long time, especially criminal cases, jury service has a minimal effect on one’s life given the importance of service. The call-in period for jury service is one week and trials take place Monday – Friday. An average Limited Jurisdiction trial lasts four days while an average General Jurisdiction trial lasts three days, although trials can last from one day to several weeks.
There are a limited number of excuses for disqualifying oneself from service due to the importance that jury service plays in the legal system and those include:
- Dependent Care: If you care for someone (a child or dependent adult) and limited child care is available and/or affordable, are a nursing mother or foster parent.
- Deceased: The deceased cannot serve on a jury;
- Employed outside of the United States.
- Financial Hardship: Applies to an individual who is self-employed or not paid for jury service. If employed, you must obtain a letter from your employer stating that you are not paid for jury service.
- Active Military.
- No Vehicle / transportation available.
- Medical: Must obtain a note from a doctor stating that a permanent or temporary medical condition prevents jury service.
- Peace Officer status.
- Student: For students outside of Kern County who do not come home for breaks
Detailed information is available at the Kern County Jury Services page at https://www.kern.courts.ca.gov/divisions/jury_services
Next time you receive that jury summons, take a moment to appreciate the importance of that invitation to our American way of life. We never know when we might find ourselves arguing our case in front of our peers. Furthermore, participating as a juror will preserve our legal system and ensure that the rule of law continues to shape our nation.
Thank you for serving!
Should you need anything, contact my office and get the legal help you need today!
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What Is Power Of Attorney?
The majority of people have heard the term “Power of Attorney”, yet they’re not aware of exactly what it entails. For those who don’t know how to go about utilizing Power of Attorney, my offices help with Power of Attorney matters.
Generally, a Power of Attorney is granted by an individual to an “attorney-in-fact” or an “agent” (a trusted individual). They then have the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of that individual (called the “principal”). The principal sets the limit in regards to how much authority will be given to the agent, and for what specific issues.
Power of Attorney is granted to an attorney-in-fact. They then have the power to make decisions such as:
- Financial decisions
- Gifts of money
- Health care decisions
- Recommend a guardian
An attorney-in-fact can be an individual such as an attorney or a friend and spouse or relative. In all cases the principal should only grant Power of Attorney to the most trusted individuals who will always have that person’s best interest at heart.
The most common types of Power of Attorney include:
- Conventional Power of Attorney begins when the principal signs it, and ends when that person becomes mentally incapacitated.
- Springing Power of Attorney begins only when a specified event begins, such as when the principal becomes incapacitated.
- Durable Power of Attorney begins when signed and remains in effect throughout the principal’s life time, unless cancelled.
There are common misperceptions about a Power of Attorney; First, it is false that a person can sign a Power of Attorney if they are legally incompetent because one must be competent to sign. Second, it is false that a Power of Attorney fallows the attorney-of-fact to do anything they want with an estate. The Attorney-of-fact has a fiduciary obligation to act in the best interest of the principal. The last is that a durable Power of Attorney lasts after death; hence all Powers of Attorney end upon the death of the principal.
I offer the following tips on creating a Power of Attorney:
- Tell loved ones about a Power of Attorney. It’s important to discuss how they’re used, the limitations that could be in place and who will be trusted as the principal. Planning ahead makes a difference later on.
- Hire an attorney. There are various types of Powers of Attorney and various implications for each. Find an attorney (like Kyle Jones) who will listen to your concerns and ensure that you have the best legal solution to your needs.
- Create a circle of advisors of trusted individuals and/or professionals. People who will give you sound advice on how to best manage the principal’s care and needs.
When you contact me for advice on creating a Power of Attorney, I will first listen to your needs and then determine the best course of action with your best interest in mind. I look forward to talking with you!
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Understand the difference between Wills and Trusts.
Don’t wait to figure these things out as it’s never too early to start planning for your loved ones. Contact me today for more information on wills and trusts; The Law Offices of Kyle Jones are always here to help.
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Biting Dogs – Man’s Best Friend?
At this year’s Rose Parade, Bakersfield’s Tara the Cat was honored for protecting her owner’s daughter from a dog in May 2014. Unfortunately, dog bites are a common occurrence and can cause severe injuries. Some resulting in loss of wages and even a loss of life.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year, and 900,000 of those bites become infected. The U.S. population is approximately 325.8 million people as of 2017. That means a dog bites 1 out of every 72 people.
This December, authorities in Virginia found a 22-year-old woman who was mauled to death by her dogs after taking them for a walk in the woods. Almost weekly it seems we hear of other tragic situations where people are attached by dogs, causing severe injury or death
In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years, meaning that anyone suffering a dog bite due to negligence of others must file a case in court within two years after an injury occurs.
California’s dog bite law, section 3342 of the Civil Code, states that the owner of any dog is liable for damages if:
- their dog bites you and causes damages
- the person bitten was in a public place or lawfully in a private place.
In order for California’s dog bite statute to apply, the injury must be caused by a dog bite. The bite cannot be by some other behavior on the part of a dog. If injuries are suffered due to some other behavior other than biting, negligence laws may apply if the owner of the dog did not take reasonable steps to secure the dog.
States handle dog bites differently. California is a “strict liability” state for dog bites, meaning that an owner is liable for dog bites regardless of whether they knew the dog would act aggressively or not. It also does not matter if the dog has never bitten anyone previously. Dog owners are responsible for damages caused by a dog bite in California.
If bitten by a dog, you must demonstrate that the bite occurred while you were in a public place or lawfully in a private place (e.g. not trespassing on someone’s lawn). For dog bites, you do not need to demonstrate that the owner knew the dog would bite or that the owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the bite. Remember, however, that for injuries other than a dog bite, you must show that the owner failed to use reasonable care to secure the dog.
If you’re the victim of a dog bite or injured by a dog, call my office. Preserve any evidence such as photos of the bite, the location where it occurred and other details about the event.
In addition, there are things you can do to protect yourself from a potential bite or injury. First and foremost, never trespass onto private property. The Humane Society offers additional suggestions such as:
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog. Especially one that is tied up, confined behind a fence or in a car.
- Do not pet a dog (even your own) without letting them see/sniff you first
- Don’t disturb a dog while they are sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or bone and protecting their puppies
- Always assume that a dog that does not know you sees you as a potential threat
- Pay attention to a dog’s body language. Notice things such as tensed body, stiff tail, pulled back ears/head and an intense stare or growling
- Avoid eye contact with a dog that you believe is a threat
Immediately wash any wound with warm soap and water if bitten by a dog. Then contact your physician for additional care and advice. Also, report the dog bite to the city or county animal control. Then call my office for advice on how to proceed should you want to seek damages for the bite or injury.
Dogs may be man’s best friend; however, they are animals that require the proper care and respect. Be a responsible dog owner and use caution when interacting with dogs so that everyone is safe and secure.
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