Archive for the ‘Law in Washington, D.C.’ Category

Supreme Court closes its front doors to the public

May 8, 2010

Earlier this week, news broke from various media sources around the country, including The Washington Post, that the front doors of the United States Supreme Court would no longer be open to the public.  The Court, citing security concerns, stated that effective immediately, visitors will enter the historic building on the plaza level, which includes security checkpoints.

This decision,  like so many other decisions from the Court, includes dissenting opinions from more than one Justice.  A Washington Post article states:

The changes have been debated for years and came with a dissent from two justices who expressed  concern about altering the symbolic experience of visiting the 75-year-old building, designed by architect Cass Gilbert.

“The significance of the court’s front entrance extends beyond its design and function,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in a statement joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Writers and artists regularly use the steps to represent the ideal that anyone in this country may obtain meaningful justice through application to this Court. And the steps appear in countless photographs commemorating famous arguments or other moments of historical importance.

“In short, time has proven the success of Gilbert’s vision: To many members of the public, this court’s main entrance and front steps are not only a means to, but also a metaphor for, access to the court itself.”

Justice Breyer noted that he “knows of no other supreme court in the world that has closed its main entrance.”

I leave you with this to ponder….

Is it troubling to you that we are now barred from walking through the majestic doors of the highest court of this great country, where the above inscription reads “Equal Justice Under Law”?

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Another Child Dies. Will DC EMS Improve Now?

May 8, 2010

We reported back in mid-March on our blog site on the issues surrounding an investigation of the District of Columbia’s Emergency Medical Services. Since then, DC EMS has represented that they have made positive changes to their department.  In a headline article posted on MSNBC.com at the end of this past week, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Chief, Dennis L. Rubin, represented positive changes are being made:

Rubin said he is working to drive home a key point: providers never decline transport.

His staff is developing a “patient’s bill of rights” to be posted in every ambulance and producing a new  training video underscoring that message. In addition, the policy has been expanded to cover instances in which a patient refuses to be transported, including the requirement that responders get an OK from a supervisor and have a witness, such as a police officer, confirm the patient’s decision.

We certainly hope this is the case.  Our prior post cited a troubling report from April 2009, wherein it was found that there were serious training and performance issues relating to DC EMS.  The article posted at the end of  this past week also details another tragic event that unfolded after the report in April 2009:

Stephanie Stephens died after paramedics refused to take her to the hospital Feb. 10 in the first of two visits to her home after she experienced breathing problems. Her death has prompted a rare criminal investigation and raised questions about ambulance policies in Washington and emergency care for children nationwide.

After the paramedics recommended she be taken into a bathroom to inhale steam from a running shower, Stephanie’s family called back hours later and an EMS crew took her to a hospital. The child died from pneumonia the next day.

Anyone have issue with this?  How many tragedies must we endure before there is ZERO TOLERANCE for such costly delays?!  The citizens and guests of DC are dependent upon DC EMS to provide assistance immediately; not to give bad medical advice, try to play doctor, or decide that they will just simply not transport someone.  Read the report from last year cited above, along with the relevant articles.  Then, you decide.  I wonder what Stephanie’s family thinks…

Serious flaws in D.C.’s paramedic system

March 17, 2010

So says an editorial in last week’s The Washington Post.  The editorial details multiple deaths, allegedly caused by the inadequacies of  DC emergency response units.  One of the cases is the tragic story of Stephanie Stevens:

Responding to a call of a child with trouble breathing, emergency personnel went to Stephanie’s home on Feb. 10. But instead of taking her to a hospital, they advised her mother to run a hot shower to clear the child’s congested lungs. Less than 24 hours later, after another 911 call, she was dead, reportedly from complications of pneumonia.

This horrible set of circumstances follows other deaths in recent years – one with striking similarities:

Yet another problematic case was that of Edward L. Givens, who died in December 2008 after complaining of chest pains and being advised by emergency medical personnel to take Pepto-Bismol for what was likely acid reflux.

According to The Washington Post, a task force has been formed and has made some limited progress.  However, some of the main goals involve equal pay for medical personnel and to unify operations.  To date, this has not been accomplished.  An in-depth exclusive was featured by The Washington Post last year, regarding DC EMS problems.  A very concerning assessment of the quality of the training and performance of D.C.’s emergency response units was the subject of a Washington Times report of April 2009, which contains a ‘must see’ interview of Paul Werfel, Stony Brook University’s EMT/paramedic program director conducted by NBC 4, Washington, D.C.

Seat belt law not ‘clicking’ with House

February 24, 2010

A House subcommittee has killed a bill in Virginia, that would have made the failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense.  Although there is another version of the bill that has cleared the Virginia Senate, it has been referred back to the same subcommittee that killed the first bill.  Some believe this bill will suffer the same fate:

Last week, the subcommittee voted to table House Bill 901, sponsored by Delegate William K. Barlow, D-Smithfield.

“This is the second year I’ve tried it. It never passes in the subcommittee,” Barlow said. “The bill gets killed at the lowest level.”

Now the subcommittee has been assigned Senate Bill 9, proposed by Sen. Harry B. Blevins, R-Chesapeake. It passed 24-16 in the Senate last month.

Blevins said he is not optimistic about the reception SB 9 will receive in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.

“The bill doesn’t have much of a chance,” Blevins said. “I’m a realist.”

Opponents of the bill cite government intrusion as a justification for rejecting such a law.

An article, as published through the online site of The Gainesville Times, briefly outlined the current law:

Currently, Virginia law states that “occupants of front seats who are 16 years or older are required to use safety lap belts and shoulder harnesses.” However, breaking that law is a secondary offense: Police may cite you for a seat-belt violation only if they see you committing another offense, such as speeding or running a red light.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, ask yourself:  “What is the risk of having my seatbelt on, vs. not wearing one at all?”  Are there children in the car with you?  What kind of a message does it send to them if we do not buckle up?  Would you tell your child that they do not have to wear their seatbelt, or be ‘ok with it’ if they didn’t?  Remember, as much as we can control our vehicle, we can never control anyone else’s.  Be safe out there, please!

Choosing a Lawyer – A How-To Guide

December 24, 2009

One of the most important things you can do if you are considering a lawsuit is to spend time doing a proper search for the lawyer, who will be handling your case.

Just because a law firm or a lawyer has a fancy webpage or an eye-catching ad in your local phone directory or even a professional looking TV commercial does not mean that this lawyer has a clue what he/she is doing in the specialized areas of medical malpractice or catastrophic personal injury.

We invite you to read and consider the issues and questions raised in our White Paper – “How to Choose a Lawyer.”

If you have other ideas or questions that you believe would be helpful to our readers in their search for a lawyer, post your reply on this topic so others may benefit by your insights.

Nash And Associates Announces a Free New White Paper – “Statute of Limitations”

December 10, 2009

In the broadest sense, the statute of limitations is a period of time within which you are allowed to file a lawsuit against someone else. Another way to think about it is a deadline by which you must file your lawsuit. Why is there any time limitation at all on filing a lawsuit? The courts and legislature have reasoned that it is beneficial to society to have disputes resolved in a timely fashion. Also, as more and more time elapses after an incident, memories fade, important records get lost or destroyed, and it becomes more difficult to prove what actually happened. Therefore, the law imposes a time limit on when an injured party may file a lawsuit.

When you contact Nash and Associates to discuss your case, one of the first questions we will ask you is when did the incident take place and where it took place. The reason is simple—we need to know when the statute of limitations, or deadline, will expire in your specific case. The statute of limitations can vary widely depending on what state you live in and what specific legal claim you are asserting. Many states have a unique statute of limitations for medical negligence cases, including birth injuries, surgical errors, or other doctor mistakes. In some states (Ohio, for example) the statute of limitations can be as little as one year from the date of negligence. In Virginia, it is usually two years. In Maryland, it is generally three years, but even this seemingly simple rule can have a number of variables that can affect the deadline in your case