Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Principal Principle

Every person who stands accused of a crime is entitled to a vigorous defense, no matter how horrible are the acts that person may have committed.  Standing firmly upon that heroic principle is the case of the notably unheroic Cherie Hyde.

There is no glossing over what Hyde did from 2003 to 2005, at least according to the facts as recited by the SCOV.  Hyde had a daughter, just ten years old in 2005.  She also had a 34-year-old male friend named who needed a place to stay on Sunday and Monday nights.  On numerous occasions Hyde had her friend bunk with the little girl, sharing her bed. Hyde routinely saw him in bed with her daughter as the mother closed the door to her daughter’s room.  The child would later tell her therapist that her mother had witnessed the man sexually molesting her on at least six different occasions.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Non-Attorney Representation

Michael Bandler, MB&Co, Ltd. a/k/a Michael Bandler & Company v. Cohen Rosenthal & Kramer, LLP, 2015 VT 115

Mr. Bandler (Bandler) is the sole shareholder of a corporation, Michael Bandler & Company. He’s not an attorney.

Sometime in 2003, Bandler and his company sued Charter One Bank due to some issues involving an account. As often happens with civil cases, there was arbitration, and the case went back and forth between arbitration and court a few times. At some point, the case headed to class-action arbitration.

In 2012, Bandler, on behalf of the company, signed a retainer agreement with Cohen Rosenthal & Kramer (CRK), which I assume is a law firm, agreeing that CRK would represent the company at the arbitration. It was unclear whether CRK also represented Bandler individually, and according to the opinion, this is a point of dispute. In any case, Bandler and the company sued CRK surrounding this representation.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Breath-Test Blowback

State v. Perley, 2015 VT 102

By Andrew Delaney

To blow or not to blow? For most DUI defendants that is the question. Mr. Perley decided not to.

Mr. Perley was handed a bouquet of charges stemming from his involvement in a car accident. Get it? That’s right—I’m a dork. Anyway, there was the car accident; Mr. Perley took off. Two hours or so later, he showed up at the courthouse in his father’s car. He showed signs of impairment. He was arrested at the courthouse. During processing, he refused a breath test. He was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, violating conditions of release, and operating with a suspended license; he pled no contest to those.

He was also charged with criminal refusal and DUI#3. On those two, he filed a motion to dismiss. The trial court reasoned that the DUI#3 wasn’t going to fly and tossed it, but the criminal refusal would stick. Mr. Perley was in an accident, he fled the scene, showed signs of intoxication when he was found, and therefore the police officer had a reasonable basis to request an evidentiary test. Basically, the deal is that if you have a prior DUI, and you refuse a law-enforcement officer’s reasonable request for an evidentiary test, you may be found guilty of criminal refusal.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

"Collapse," Coverage, Clarity?

Equinox on the Battenkill Management Assn., Inc. v. Philadelphia Indemnity Ins. Co., 2015 VT 98

By Andrew Delaney

The parties in this case have really long names, so we’re just gonna nickname them Equinox and Philly right from the get-go. Equinox manages a condominium complex—say that ten times fast—and Philly insures it. A number of the condo units have cantilevered balconies. I’d imagine they’re a little nicer-looking than (though as you’ll soon learn, perhaps not as sturdy as) the ones in the picture, but the selection of you-really-don’t-have-to-pay-to-use pictures on the interwebs isn’t limitless.

Anywho . . . the balconies had some issues. The 2012 policy pretty broadly excludes defective workmanship, but covers “collapse” under an “additional coverage” endorsement. Collapse is not defined save for a few exclusions. I could get into the specific language but then we’d be here all day and I have to mow the lawn. You can always read the opinion for that.

When Equinox started a deck-replacement program in 2007, it found structural problems “including water damage to sheathing and studs behind lower-level exterior clapboards and cracking in several exposed joists” in one unit, and similar problems in other units. So they strengthened the balconies on the outside, but they didn’t do any inside work.