Author Archives: Stephenson

Human Rights Lawyers

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Human rights lawyers generally deal with litigation associated with torture and abuse. As their name suggests, they deal with all litigation associated with violation of human rights. Most people who pursue this career path have a passion for protecting people’s civil rights.

Becoming a human rights lawyer
To be a human rights law, you first need to complete an undergraduate degree in law. Pursuing courses in human rights history, gender injustice and immigration law is an added advantage. However, there is no undergraduate degree offered that is called human rights law.

You will just have to become a lawyer then specialize in human rights cases. After graduating, experience in an established law firm can help gain experience. Participation in school law clinics, internships and being affiliated with human rights organizations also fosters exposure.

Pursuing a master’s degree in human rights can increase your employ-ability in this highly competitive field.

lawyer in front of building

Skills needed
To be successful in this career path you will need impeccable interviewing skills. This helps you during the interviewing of potential witnesses and victims. The ability to read emotions and gauge people’s reactions will be useful.

Communication skills will also be useful in dealing with clients and media outlets. Human rights lawyers also need to be thoroughly organized in order to be able to effectively manage their cases.

An analytic and creative mind is also an added advantage in this line of work. Perseverance is key as it takes time before someone makes a name for themselves in this industry.
Career prospects and salaries

This field is highly competitive because it has less job openings as compared to other branches of law. This is probably because organizations and law firms dealing with this field are few. It is however lucrative.

An entry level human rights lawyer can earn up to $50,000 per year. This value can shoot up to $90.000 or more upon experience. Though it is tough to break through the competition, it is highly rewarding.

Other possibilities
People who pursue this path are considered to have a deep desire to serve and derive enjoyment from protecting others. If one has a passion in human rights but does not have a law degree, a position as a mediator, arbitrator or conciliator can prove just s rewarding.
At the end of the day, all human rights lawyers, mediators, arbitrators and conciliators simply serve as conflict resolver.

How To File for Workers Compensation

Published / by Stephenson

A significant number of employees suffer permanent or long-term injuries at the workplace. Such injuries limit their ability to earn a living as it was before. Luckily, such individuals can file for permanent disability benefits that can help cushion them against financial losses resulting from staying out of their jobs for considerable time. Workers’ compensation typically covers the injured employees’ medical bills and other expenses.

Who is Eligible for Compensation?

In this case, eligibility is typically determined by the report that a workers’ compensation doctor will file. In the course of your treatment, the medic will ascertain whether your condition can allow you to go back or not. Once you reach a maximum medical improvement point, the medical practitioner will undertake an examination to establish whether the injuries that you suffer have left you with permanent limitations that may prevent you from resuming your job. Thereafter, you will be assigned a disability rating. This is an index representing the extent of the permanent limitation that you have suffered.

Sometimes, the doctor may opt to give a whole-person impairment rating. This is normally the case in instances where the injury involves your neck, internal organs, head, and back. If you are a mine worker for instance and you end up suffering a lung critical lung disease, you are eligible to receive a whole person impairment rating of up to 40%.

Calculating Disability Benefits and How Personal Injury Lawyers Help

Typically, calculating permanent and long-term disability benefits involves a lot of intricacies. This varies according to the state that you are in because each states employs a different method when determining how much disability benefits is to be paid to injured workers. The main determinant of how much you will receive is the extent to which you were injured. This implies either partial or total disability.

picture of a man hurt at work

Permanent total disability is that which prevents you from ever getting involved in meaningful employment in your life. Those who are deemed to have sustained permanently and totally disabled are those with debilitating and serious injuries such as the loss of limbs, or eyesight. If you suffer this kind of disability, you will receive payments for the rest of your life. On the other hand, permanent partial disability implies scheduled and unscheduled disabilities, which are not as dangerous as permanent total disabilities.

If you are injured at your place of work, it is advisable that you get in touch with a disability lawyer who will help you understand all the workers’ compensation rules that relate to your case. Besides this, he/she will represent you in court when or when negotiating for a higher compensation. You definitely need a lawyer who will handle the case on your behalf while you focus on your treatment and recovery. Since lawyers have a better understanding of workers’ compensation laws, you stand a better chance of getting slightly more compensation by hiring one.

A Breakdown of the Bankruptcy Law

Published / by Stephenson

Bankruptcy is basically a legal procedure, which allows debtors to reorganize and reduce their debts under the supervision of the bankruptcy court. Once you embark on this process, the automatic stay will protect you from creditors till you clear your personal liability and receive your discharge.

You are advised to file for bankruptcy if you are struggling to meet your financial obligations. You should similarly file for bankruptcy if you are faced with the possibility of having your property repossessed. Contrary to public belief, filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean that you are broke. It is simply a strategy that helps you eliminate your debts by giving you additional time to pay up.

Automatic Stay and Bankruptcy Discharge

As soon as your bankruptcy claim is filed, an automatic stay will go into effect. This is a decree that shields you from creditors by preventing them from collecting their debts from you. The automatic stay similarly prohibits all forms of collection activities such as wage garnishments, creditor calls, and lawsuits.

Once the bankruptcy process is successfully completed, you will be discharged from your debts. The discharge completely wipes out your obligation to pay your debts and any personal liability that you might have. Nonetheless, you should keep in mind that not all types of debt are dischargeable through bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

You can either choose to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is specially designed to help clear general unsecured loans. More often than less, it lasts for three months. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is sometimes perceived to help speed up liquidation processes because a bankruptcy trustee appointed by the court is legally allowed to sell a debtor’s nonexempt assets. Even so, there are certain legal provisions that protect a certain portion of debtor’s property from liquidation.

Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy doesn’t allow the sale of debtors’ nonexempt property. Instead, it allows them to propose a payment plan in exchange of keeping their assets. Typically, such debt repayment plans last between three to five years. This explains why Chapter 13 bankruptcy is sometimes known as reorganization bankruptcy. In case you are behind on car loan or mortgage repayments, you should consider filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy so that you can reorganize your finances.

Alternative Ways to Resolve Your Disputes Without a Trial

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If you have a legal dispute, a trial can be one of the most expensive and time-consuming ways to resolve your case. Depending on your case, you may find that a trial may also lead to undesirable outcomes. However, there are a number of other methods available for those that want to stay out of court. In this article, we’ll take a look some of the most common methods to settle disputes without a trial.

Negotiation
Negotiation is perhaps the simplest of the alternatives to trial. Essential, those who are involved in a dispute (or their representative attorneys) communicate with one another to try to reach an agreement. The parties involved offer terms and conditions to satisfy the other party. If there is no agreement between the parties, other methods of resolving the dispute may be necessary to avoid a trial.

While it seems like a no-brainer, many people jump the gun and immediately assume the worst when dealing with unfavorable conditions. Instead, a level-headed approach to negotiation with reasonable expectations and willingness to compromise may actually resolve matters in a fair way.

Mediation
Mediation is the process of using a mediator (a neutral party) to help those on both ends of a dispute reach an agreement. Similar to negotiation, the mediator facilitates discussions and allows for both sides to realize the viewpoints of the other. Typically, this is done in confidentiality (something that a trial cannot guarantee). Because of the neutrality of the mediator, they cannot come to any conclusion nor decide the case in favor of one party over another. However, mediation can serve as a viable method where negotiation alone cannot.

Arbitration
Arbitration is similar to mediation, but with a few notable differences. First, an arbitrator reviews presentations from both sides, (including testimony from experts, witnesses, documents relating to the case, etc.) much in the way that a trial judge would. Second, the arbitrator makes a final decision concerning the details of the case.

This decision may be binding or non-binding. Binding decisions are final and cannot be challenged; non-binding decisions are not final and may be appealed if the decision isn’t felt to be satisfactory. This, however, leads to a trial, where the same of evidence and arguments must be presented again.

The Legality of Marijuana in the United States

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legal books on a table

The legality of marijuana in the United States has been under fierce debate for decades. Countless political and cultural movements have made efforts to either legalize or criminalize marijuana, and its status as a schedule I controlled substance has impacted the nation for decades. How did Marijuana become classified in the way it is today, and what is the likely future of the drug?

In 1970, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a list of drug schedules which categorized drugs into separate categories. Schedule I drugs are considered the most harmful of them all, and constitute drugs with high risk and no counterbalancing benefits; Marijuana is categorized as a schedule I drug.

While marijuana’s classification as a schedule I drug has endured fiery debate from the start, the enforcement of statutes outlawing and punishing its use has a mixed history. In recent years, particularly under former President Barack Obama, the federal government has largely stepped back from policing marijuana, instead opting to allow states to decide for themselves how to implement marijuana laws.

Individual states gradually began to decriminalize marijuana as early as the 1970’s, though medicinal cannabis wasn’t legalized until 1996. The states of Colorado and Washington famously legalized marijuana for recreational use for the first time in U.S. history in 2012, unleashing an avalanche of legal change across the nation.

Currently, recreational usage of marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. Medicinal marijuana is currently legal in 12 states, and most states have some form of marijuana legalized or decriminalized, with the exception of Kansas, Idaho and South Dakota.

Many states have pending legal or political initiatives to either decriminalize, fully legalize, or medically legalize marijuana. Public support for marijuana’s legalization has grown rapidly in recent decades, with a majority of Americans now supporting it.

The classification of marijuana as a schedule I drug has had a significant impact on U.S. history; millions of arrests have taken place for the possession, distribution, and use of marijuana over the past few decades. Social and legal activist have claimed that marijuana laws often fall along distinctly racial lines, and unfairly lead to greater incarceration rates among minorities.

The full legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana appears to be continuously gaining support in the United States, though current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, head of the U.S. Justice Department, has signaled his intention to resist legalization efforts. Nonetheless, despite its broad support among the American public, the legalization of marijuana was not a particularly large issue in the 2016 presidential election.
What are your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana? How has it affected you? Leave a comment below!

The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution

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The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land, overriding lesser laws and acting as the fundamental basis of our legal and political systems. How, then, does the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution work?

Article VI, Clause 2, or The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, is a vital rule which primarily serves to enforce federal rulings over state rulings. As a federated government, the United States has both federal and state laws, as well as a plethora of local laws. When these laws overlap or conflict with one another, there must be some form of remedy to determine which is the ultimate law to be followed; the supremacy clause functions exactly as that remedy.

The Supremacy Clause holds that the constitution, and most federal laws, will supersede and override laws at the state level. States who are dissatisfied with a specific federal law are not permitted to violate it, even if they have their own laws or constitution stating otherwise.

As a conflict-of-laws rule, the Supremacy Clause establishes one ultimate legal authority, and prevents a number of judicial conflicts over jurisdiction from breaking out.
A pertinent historical example of this is the desegregation of schools in the American South in the 1960’s; in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jim Crow laws often forbade African Americans from attending White schools in many Southern states. These laws were eventually rendered null after the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools were unconstitutional.

Now that racial segregation was unconstitutional per the highest law in the land, it no longer mattered that existing state laws or constitutions forbade them; it was the Supremacy Clause in action.

Intricate legal and political systems like that of the United States need rules such as the Supremacy Clause to keep things functioning smoothly. Without it, our nation would be a land of complex and contradictory laws vying against one another for legal legitimacy.
What are your thoughts on the Supremacy Clause? How do you think our nation would be different without such a rule? Leave a comment down below!

Evaluating How the Criminal Justice System Works

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The criminal justice system is basically made up of 3 major institutions that process each case from inception to trial and punishment. Cases are set in motion when law enforcement officers investigate a criminal offence and gather evidence that can be used to pin down the presumed perpetrator. Thereafter, the case is forwarded to the court system, which analyzes the evidence presented before it to establish whether the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

If the defendant is found to be guilty of the alleged crime, a jail term will be prescribed depending on the seriousness of the crime that he/she committed. The corrections system uses several means to punish offenders including probation and incarceration. The correction system similarly aims at rehabilitating those who go through it.

At each stage of the criminal justice process, there are various constitutional protections that have been implemented to guarantee to protection of the rights of the convicted and accused persons. These protections are important since they make it possible for the criminal justice system to carry out investigations and prosecute the accused persons while upholding their fundamental human rights.

1. Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System

The police are an important pillar of the criminal justice system. The constitution protects those who are accused from police abuse and brutality. The Miranda advisement for instance, prohibits law enforcement officers from carrying out unreasonable arrests and searches. In as much as arrested people are aware of pertinent issues such as the right to remain silent, it is the duty of the arresting officers to remind them about these rights before questioning them.

the criminal justice system hard at work

On unreasonable searches and arrests, the Miranda advisement prevents law enforcement officers from arresting a suspect or searching his/her home without a valid warrant. Nonetheless, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, a suspect can be arrested without a warrant in the event that there is a hot pursuit, or the alteration of evidence.

3. The Court System and Bail

Just like it is the case with arresting a suspect, dozens of restrictions pertaining the trial of cases also exist. This includes the right to confront the defendant’s accusers, right to counsel, right against implicating one’s self, and the right to trial by a jury. The role of these safeguards is to ensure that the accused have a fair trial. Besides this, the defendants have the right to choose an attorney of their choice without being restricted by the court.

Before going to trial, the accused may have the chance to post bail. This is what is used to help people get out of jail before any pending trial or sentencing. In the US Constitution, the 8th Amendment explicitly details that bail bonds should not be excessively expensive. There are a few reasons for this, including negating the government’s ability to collect money from a defendant, nor should bail be used to punish a person suspected of committing a crime.

3. Corrections

The role of jails is to punish and rehabilitate criminals. However, this must be done in a human way since they are also protected by fundamental human rights. More often than less, jail terms or probation is used. Offenders who are sentenced to probation are typically those who have committed minor misdemeanors. However, more serious felonies are likely to attract jail terms.

Hope you enjoyed this! If you have any thoughts or comments please let me know.

Should Prostitution Be Legal

Published / by Stephenson

I have had this conversation with multiple people recently, and it created very interesting and heated debates. I have multiple feelings about this particular topic. However, to answer the overall question of this article, no, I do not think that prostitution should be legal.

When you look at it from a personal rights perspective, I can see why one would think that prostitution should be legal. If two consenting adults want to engage in the act of prostitution, why is that anyone’s business? I can definitely see the logic behind that point. That being said, it’s not the act of prostitution that is the issue, it is the results.

My issue with prostitution is the mental and physical side effects that it leaves. First of all, a lot of women who engage in prostitution started doing so before they were even legal adults. They were minors trying to make a living for themselves. It is illegal for grown men to have and solicit sex from minors. The mental and emotional side-effects can be daunting. A lot of them tend to grow up with a distorted view of the world and continue thinking that this is the best way for them to make money when times get rough. I am not judging anyone, I am just saying that allowing prostitution opens the doors for a lot of minors, a lot of runaways included, to enter that world at too young of an age.

legalize prostitution banner

There is also the issue of diseases. This leads to the physical detriments of prostitution. Sexually transmitted diseases are an unfortunate consequence for many prostitutes. So many of their clients treat them like objects and disregard their health. And, sadly, a lot of prostitutes seem to disregard their own health. Prostitution does not promote safe sex. A lot of these women and men do not use protection and knowingly sleep with someone fully aware that they are carrying an STD. All of these STD’s are being passed around to innocent spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends, to other prostitutes and clients, etc.

I read an article that stated that aids could be decreased by half if prostitution were legal. Apparently, a lot of prostitutes do not practice safe sex because they are in a rush to avoid trouble with the law, and they do not want condoms to be used as evidence. The article also stated that prostitutes are reluctant to go to health clinics, because they do not get the proper care that they need due to the stigmatism of their nature of work. This article really opened my eyes to a different perspective. If decrease is true, I could why a lot of people support the idea of legalizing prostitution. That being said, I still feel as though prostitution should illegal. I believe that it will still cause the spread of STD’s, and I still think it is mentally and physically damaging.

At the end of the day, our bodies are our personal property, and it is our choice to decide what we do with them. However, if we see someone doing something damaging to their bodies (mind and body alike), I think it is our mission as people to help and to do something about it. A lot of the time, we are so blinded by our own needs and desires, that we need another perspective on our actions. It may be our bodies, but that doesn’t mean that we know everything that is right for them. What do you all think? Should prostitution be legalized? Leave a comment down below and share your thoughts.

Texting and Driving is Legal in Texas

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Texting and Driving is Legal in Texas: When Will That Change?

Considering what a conservative state Texas is, I was shocked to learn that there is no state law in Texas that prohibits texting and driving for the general public. I was not just shocked, I was appalled.

After learning about this, I went on the DMV site for Texas and almost laughed at what I read. The page about distracted driver’s states that 23% of car accidents are caused by distracted drivers. After stating that, ironically enough, it lists the laws that Texas has implemented to fix that problem. After reading those laws, I realized that they enabled the problem more than fixing the problem.

The only time that texting and driving is prohibited state wide, is when Texas residents are texting and driving in designated school zones, when a driver is under 18, and when a bus driver is driving. Really? So after a person is 18, or when a bus driver hops into his personal car, he or she is allowed to text and drive? This blows my mind. How is that ok? I understand that it is physically impossible to catch everyone who texts and drives, but that does not mean that Texas should just allow them to do whatever they want. If more people got fined or were given a little bit of jail time for texting and driving, I think that there would be a definite decrease in the number of horrific accidents that happen due to texting and driving.

I am not trying to pick on Texas; I have not researched other states who do not have any general laws banning texting and driving. However, I live in Texas, and I am really disappointed to learn this information. I love Texas, but with us being one of the largest states in America, I would have hoped that we would do a better job of protecting and regulating our citizens, while also being an example to other states.

On a more positive note, there are lot of cities in Texas that ban texting and driving. I was happy to see that major cities like Austin and San Antonio are a part of that group. However, I was extremely disappointed to learn that Houston, one of the largest cities in the United States, does not ban texting and driving. Houston should be the main city that prohibits texting and driving. Dallas, another large city, does not have a law that bans texting and driving as well.

I am trying to be rational and figure out what the logic is behind this. Something that came to mind, was that a lot of people would simply deny that they were texting and driving, or perhaps cops would be easily triggered to stop people all of the time. I don’t know. Regardless, this is a huge safety issue. I think that Texas should make a law that bans texting and driving in all cities. I do not know if this is based off of a Supreme Court ruling that says that cities have the power to make that decision on their own or not. I have to do more research. But if that is not the case, then this needs to be changed; not just in Texas, but in all states. Also, to those of you who text and drive. Please, please, please stop. You are not only putting yourself in danger, but you are also putting the lives of other innocent people in danger. Here is an article about the potential to make texting illegal.

Gun Alternatives for Police Officers

Published / by Stephenson

I can only imagine what it is like to be a police officer today. The world we leave in is a dangerous place. Although I feel that racial profiling does, unfortunately, ignite a lot of fear in police officers, their overall fear on the job is not completely unwarranted.

I try to imagine stopping a random stranger on the side of the road and approaching his or her car. I try to imagine going to a stranger’s home to investigate a domestic dispute call and not knowing how violent the aggressor is. That is certainly not a job that I could personally take on, and I commend police officers for taking on that role.

With the fear of the unknown, I understand the need for protection. I certainly would not roam the city without a sufficient method of protection. That being said, I often wonder why guns are the primary method of choice. I also wonder why there are not more alternative uses of protection available. I know that there are Tasers, and I think that they are an excellent alternative to guns. However, I do not understand why they are not used more. I read an article written by a retired cop who said that guns are used more often, because you may only have one option of defense if the aggressor comes at you with deadly force. The article also explained that for Tasers, there needs to be contact of the skin with both electrodes. If that contact does not happen, the Taser will be ineffective.

After reading that article, I can understand why guns are used more often. I just don’t understand why we have not improved the Taser or worked on creating another alternative. Guns are extremely deadly, yet very easy to use. A lot of police officers are not in danger of “deadly force” when they are dealing with citizens. They panic, and they immediately grab their guns, because they know that that will stop the problem. But at the end of the day, it does not stop the problem, and a lot of innocent people are killed.

I am not the one creating these weapons, so I cannot speak on how easy it is to create a new weapon that will be effective while also protecting police officers. However, I do know that we spend a lot of money and time arresting and incarcerating people for marijuana charges, but we cannot seem to spend the time and money on finding an alternative to guns for police officers. Police officers are not the only ones who need to protected, citizens do too. A misunderstanding should not lead to a gunshot wound to the chest. I think that we have enough intelligent individuals who can come up with a non-deadly form of protection for police officers, that it is more effective than the Taser.