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Top 25 paralegal blogs by Criminal Justice Degree Schools

Paralegal DegreeThe following is CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools.com’s list of the Top 25 Paralegal Blogs:

Top 25 Paralegal Blogs

Reading industry-leading paralegal blogs from thought- leading bloggers can provide insights and career advice for aspiring paralegals who are interested in a paralegal degree and achieving a successful career in the paralegal field. Here are our picks for the top 25 paralegal blogs:

The Paralegal Ana is a senior paralegal who discusses news and trends for today’s paralegal professional.

The Paralegal Society The Paralegal Society is a forum for educating and inspiring paralegals to excel in their careers and is written by a great team of successful paralegals who share advice and tips.

Practical Paralegalism A paralegal from North Carolina talks about useful tools, interviews paralegals, and paralegal news.

The California Litigator Barbara Haubrich-Hass provides paralegal career tips, how-tos, and educational articles on important legal topics at this valuable resource for paralegals.

The Paralegal Mentor Vicki Voisin offers strategies, tips, and resources for paralegal career success.

***LegallyBlog Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP (moi!) is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal from Houston and shares her reviews of true crime books, recommended paralegal articles, and an in-depth instructional series on the process of discovery that is a must-read for paralegal students.

Purple Paralegal A blog following Amanda as she seeks a paralegal job in Texas.

Paralegal Pie A blog providing advice and resources for paralegals.

Paralegal-Illumunati Steven Sanchez is a paralegal investigator in Florida discussing topics like legal technology, gadgets for paralegals, and law firms using social media.

Jim’s Paralegal Blog Follow Jim, a paralegal student, as he works his way through paralegal school.

Patti’s Paralegal Page The President of the North Carolina Paralegal Association blogs about resources and tips for paralegals.

Superlegal Fun This blog provides straightforward insights into working as a paralegal, legal jokes, and paralegal career advice (see What you should know before you become a paralegal).

Paralegal Blaw Blaw Blaw A paralegal in California’s blog discussing the news in the paralegal industry and providing tips and information for paralegals.

Paralegal Hell Paralegal Hell provides witty and honest discussion about her job as a paralegal that shares both the good and bad sides of the profession.

Mom-alegal’s Blog Written by a litigation paralegal and mom, this blog discusses working at a medical malpractice firm while also juggling the demands of parenthood.

Paralegalese A paralegal in Memphis describes her work as a young paralegal.

A Paralegal’s Journey to Lawyerhood This blog follows a paralegal on her journey to earn a law degree and become a lawyer.

Sonoma Freelance Blog A freelance paralegal who describes her experience transitioning from a large LA law firm to self employment.

Parasec : The Source A blog by the president of Parasec which discusses legal research and legal topics.

The Estrin Report This blog by the Editor-in-Chief of two popular legal publications writes about career advice, industry news and issues.

Digital Paralegal Services Blog This blog by a 15-year paralegal veteran discusses the emerging trend of virtual paralegals and provides great career tips.

The Empowered Paralegal A blog written by Robert E. Mongue is an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the  University  of Mississippi an author of the upcoming book The Empowered Paralegal. Mongue discusses issues and news in the paralegal profession.

Paralegal How To An insurance defense paralegal writes shares practical experience with paralegals just starting their career.

A Paralegal’s Life A very honest blog that discusses some of the challenges that paralegals face while working at a law firm.

Haley Lobs Law Bomb A paralegal blog that provides great commentary on the paralegal field and also discusses the role of technology at law firms.

Honorable Mentions:

Paralegal Gateway Blog  This blog covers top news in the paralegal industry.

Paralegal Associates  Kristina Duncan talks about being a virtual paralegal and using social media to attract clients.

Paralegal Pundit  A blog sharing tips for increasing effectiveness and discussion about the paralegal profession.

Halo Secretarial Blog  Laurie Mapp, a virtual paralegal, discusses running a small business and paralegal career topics.

National Association of Freelance Legal Professionals This blog focuses on providing tips for freelance paralegals.

A Paralegal’s Blog  Although this blog no longer updates, there is a wealth of information in the archives including paralegal book recommendations and career information.

New York Paralegal Blog  This blog tracks the latest important legal news for paralegals.

ABC’s of E-Discovery  A blog for paralegals that focuses on the topic of E-discovery.

Mid Missouri Paralegals  This blog provides tips to help paralegals be more productive and effective while also discussing relevant paralegal topics.

This post generously reprinted with permission from CriminalJusticeDegreeSchools.com, which has a paralegal program here in Texas as well. Thanks guys for letting me share with my LegallyBlog followers!

For more info:

CJDS Paralegal Resource Center

 

Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a senior paralegal at a consumer law firm and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She is also WestlawNext certified. Sami has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and a ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

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What is a judicial vs a non-judicial foreclosure?

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Twenty-two states (22) in the union use judicial foreclosure proceedings while the rest utilize individual state-provided steps undertaken by attorneys to foreclose. But what is the difference?

In a judicial foreclosure, a lender will file a complaint which commences the legal action to foreclose on a home or piece of real estate. The lender files a notice in the public land records making its claim to the property known to the public, particularly to potential buyers, creditors, and other parties who may be interested. The complaint will state the debt owed and the amount of the default. The complaint is a formal pleading to the court asking for legal permission to foreclose on the property and take it as a remedy for non-payment.

The homeowner is served notice of the complaint and is permitted to dispute the facts or offer any other type of defense. The homeowner may even file a counterclaim, a separate suit altogether, and may attend a court hearing on the matter where the homeowner has an opportunity to show there are discrepancies in material facts. If this is the case, a trial will be held to determine whether or not the foreclosure may move forward. Should the court determine that the lender’s complaint is valid and that the homeowner did indeed default on his/her payments, then it will issue a judgment in favor of the lender. The judge in the case determines the full amount owed via an affidavit submitted by the servicer that itemizes the debt plus costs for the foreclosure proceedings. A sheriff’s sale will follow in the form of an auction, and the highest bidder–typically the servicer–becomes the owner of the property. At this time, the property then becomes known as real estate owned (REO). 

States utilizing judicial foreclosure are:

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Hawaii

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

South Dakota

Vermont, and

Wisconsin

The remaining states utilize a non-judicial form of foreclosure whereby attorneys follow a prescribed state-specific statutory procedure. In these cases, the mortgage documents grant lenders the “power of sale” outside the judicial process, making court intervention and affidavits unnecessary in these cases.

Typically, the homeowner is alerted by a default letter, followed by a prescribed period of time in which to cure the default. Should the homeowner be unable to cure the default, a Notice of Sale will be mailed and posted in public places and/or newspapers. A public auction is then held, and again the highest bidder becomes the new owner of the property.

This is essentially a simplified synopsis of a usually complicated process, so check your state’s local rules. For example, here in Texas, one can actually utilize a judicial OR a non-judicial foreclosure proceeding. Most attorneys prefer the non-judicial avenue for its relative ease of implementation, but there may be advantages to running the foreclosure process through the court system as well. It really depends on each individual situation.

NOTE: I am not an attorney. If you need legal advice on your own foreclosure situation, I encourage you to contact an attorney licensed to practice in your state.

For more info:

Uniform Law Commission’s summary of its non-judicial foreclosure act

Foreclosure laws and procedures by state

How foreclosure works in your state

Interesting blog by foreclosure defense guru Neil Garfield, JD, MBA of The Garfield Firm

Full disclosure~~Source: Mortgage Bankers Association

Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a senior paralegal at a consumer law firm and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She is also WestlawNext certified. Sami has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and a ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

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New paralegal tips presentation from an ABA-approved San Jacinto College student

Recently I was interviewed by paralegal student Ms. Cynthia Shortle. She attended San Jacinto College’s paralegal program, an ABA-approved program here in Texas, and is a recent graduate. Just before her graduation, she was assigned the task of interviewing a working paralegal and then presenting the information she gathered from that paralegal to her class. For her interviewee, she chose moi, and you can click the link below to see her presentation.

I was asked questions such as what paralegals do, what are some tips for new paralegals, what skills should future paralegals nourish, and so on. What follows is the result. Thank you, Ms. Shortle, for agreeing to share your presentation with LegallyBlog followers. (You can click “save as” to save the file to your computer or simply open it to view the presentation.)

Hartsfield paralegal presentation

When Ms. Shortle agreed to share her presentation with LegallyBlog followers, I asked her about her own past and what brought her to paralegal-land:

I received a BFA in painting and art history as first education from UH, and for a while taught art elements to children in the education department of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, which was the most fun and rewarding work I have done thus far.

A nursing career that followed a divorce was completely pragmatic. I graduated in 1991, magna cum laude, with a BSN from HBU.

I planned to do a masters in art therapy when I left the military (USAF), but economic stresses drove the decision to get a masters degree in nursing, which was from UT health science center at Houston with honors. I left nursing after a 18.5 year career when my only child passed away.

Interest in paralegal work, in the legal field? I like factual research, advocating for equitable and optimal treatment options for underserved patients, and had been told at HBU and the graduate program that I had a knack for writing. Then I learned about the paralegal program at San Jacinto College [in Texas].

I made a decision to find a different focus and a new career using analytical and listening skills.

I had been working an internship in a mostly family law practice since spring 2012, though I really like the intellectual property coursework–perhaps because the content is related to creative efforts, and I would like to work in that specialty.

I graduated from the SJCD program on Saturday, May 12, 2012, Phi theta kappa and Lambda Epsilon Chi.

I hope to find interesting work with fair salary and benefits, and plan to take the NALA Certified Paralegal exam sometime next year. Additionally, I joined the Houston Paralegal Association.

Hartsfield paralegal presentation

For more info:

San Jacinto College’s ABA-Approved paralegal program

Demand remains high for paralegal graduates despite recession

List of ABA-Approved paralegal programs throughout the United States

Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a senior paralegal at a consumer law firm and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She is also WestlawNext certified. Sami has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and a ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

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What is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and how do I make one?

What is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and how do I make one?

Click link above to view my article in the National Paralegal Reporter!

Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a senior paralegal at a consumer law firm and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She is also WestlawNext certified. Sami has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and a ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

 

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**Reprinted with generous permission from the National Paralegal Reporter Feb/March 2012 issue.

Deposition rules–guest post by Daphne Drescher of Drescher ProParalegal

Today’s guest post comes to us from Daphne Drescher.  Daphne is a virtual litigation paralegal and owner of California-based Drescher ProParalegal. She is also an instructor in the Paralegal Degree Program at Empire College.

PRACTICE TIP

Depositions: More Scheduling Rules At Your Fingertips!

As you know by now, I like having rules I use frequently in one place for ready reference. Need to schedule a deposition in a Federal Court jurisdiction? Follow these guidelines:

Party or Non-Party. Service of a deposition notice is enough to require the testimony and production of documents or things of a party to the litigation. However in order  to depose a non-party, a deposition subpoena must be served upon the deponent. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(a))

Timing. Federal court rules strongly encourage the parties to complete their Rule 26(f) Discovery Plan prior to the commencement of discovery. So to take a deposition prior to the Rule 26 discovery conference, the parties must either stipulate to early discovery, or must seek permission from the court. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(a)(2)(iii))

Number of depositions. A party may not take more than ten depositions without permission from the court. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(a)(2)(A)(i))

Duration. Unless stipulated or ordered by the court, each deposition is limited to 1 day of 7 hours. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(d)(1))

Local Rules. Check your local court rules. For example, California Northern District LR 30-1 requires conferring with opposing counsel prior to scheduling a deposition.

Notice Contents. A deposition notice must contain the time and location of the deposition, and the deponent’s name and address, and the method for recording the testimony. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(1) and (3))

Notice Timing. The deposing party must give “reasonable written notice” to every other party. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(1)). While the rule doesn’t specify a notice period, note that Fed. R. Civ. P. 32(a)(5) prohibits the use of a deposition against a party at trial when less than 14 days is given, and the deposition occurs before the time a promptly filed motion for protective order can be heard.

Documents. If the deponent is required to bring documents to the deposition, the noticing party must serve a Rule 34 request to produce documents upon a party deponent, or a subpoena duces tecum upon a non-party deponent, specifying the requested materials. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(2))

Location. When a deponent is not a party or an employee of a party, he or she cannot be compelled to travel more than 100 miles from his/her residence or place of employment. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(b)(2))

***For more information, visit Daphne’s website at http://proparalegal.com, where you can subscribe to the free Drescher ProParalegal Newsletter full of litigation practice tips and resources for legal support staff.

To learn more about Daphne, go here.

Daphne’s post reprinted with permission–thanks for sharing with us, Daphne!

If interested, please see my other posts on discovery:

What is discovery, and what are interrogatories?

What is a discovery subpoena?

Discovery II: What are requests for disclosure?

Discovery III: What are requests for admissions?

Discovery IV: What are requests for production?

Discovery V: Depositions–What is a deposition on written questions, or DWQ?

Discovery top ten fundamentals

Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a senior paralegal at a consumer law firm and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She is also WestlawNext certified. Sami has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and a ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

 

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To the Last Breath by Carlton Stowers–true crime book review conclusion

To the Last Breath by Carlton Stowers

So here was two-year-old Renee Goode mysteriously dead after a sleepover at her father’s house with several other female relatives. The youngsters found Renee the next morning unresponsive in her sleeping bag. Her father, Michael Shane Goode, claimed not to know what could  possibly have happened to his young daughter overnight. Yet a second autopsy —  performed on Renee’s tiny exhumed body several months later only after continued prodding from a dogged detective and grandmother — proved Shane squeezed his own two-year-old daughter till she could  breathe no more, calmly lay her back on her sleeping bag, and then went to sleep  himself. Just like that.

[Please see the first installment of this book review To The Last Breath by Carlton Stowers (Renee Goode child  murder).]

It presumably takes several minutes to compress a child’s diaphragm to the  point that the child can no longer take a breath. It is excruciating to imagine  what this child went through – was she awake? Did she know it was her daddy  holding her, squeezing her to death? What could possibly be going through Shane  Goode’s mind for those several minutes it took to squeeze the life out of his own daughter? Was he able to sleep afterward?

We’ll likely never know the answers to these probing questions, as there was no confession and he pleaded not guilty at trial. What we do know, from both the  circumstantial and medical evidence, is that Shane Goode left Renee’s tiny, lifeless body —  still frothing at the mouth — for the other horrified young girls to find in the morning after he deliberately squeezed the life from her.

A word about Carlton Stowers: quite simply, he’s one of the  best true crime authors around. If you see his byline on a book, you know you will be getting quality writing and superb storytelling. In fact, I’d call him a master storyteller, right up there with the very best.

Stowers is also an accomplished investigative journalist, as evidenced by this book. It takes readers from the crime, back through Renee’s parents’ volatile relationship, forward to the murder investigation that at first seemed  destined to go nowhere, and finally through the riveting trial where the devastating truth was finally revealed. It’s definitely a page-turner, from beginning to end.

Touchingly, the book is dedicated to Brandon, who was born to Annette after  his sister Renee was so callously murdered. The dedication inscription reads:

For Brandon… Who will one day want to know.

The baby killer Shane Goode, incidentally, is serving out his life sentence in a Texas prison.

Grade: **** 1/2

Status: Highly  Recommended

Ready to read? Buy To The Last Breath by Carlton Stowers on  Amazon

More about Carlton Stowers 

Brazoria County public criminal records  for Michael Shane Goode

Appellate court records in Texas’ First  Court of Appeals for Michael Shane Goode

Texas Department of Corrections inmate  locator

MyInmateLocator.com – Find local, state,  or federal inmates in this database of all 50 states

Justice  for All – Criminal Justice Reform Organization

Houston Press story on  then-problems plaguing the Harris County M.E.’s Office

More true crime book reviews

Read the book? Let me know in the comments section what you thought!

Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a consumer law paralegal and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She is also WestlawNext certified. Sami has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and a ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

 

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To the Last Breath by Carlton Stowers–true crime book review part I

Published in 1998, To The Last Breath: Three Women Fight For the Truth Behind a Child’s Tragic Murder by Carlton Stowers tells the heartrending story of the unexpected and mysterious death of an otherwise healthy two-year-old girl. Renee Goode had gone to her father’s house in 1994 for a sleepover along with some other young female relatives. But by the next morning, little Renee lie dead on her sleeping bag.

Interesting in a sinister way, her father Michael Shane Goode never wanted Renee to be born in the first place, insisting to his then-estranged wife that she abort the unplanned pregnancy. Annette Goode, Renee’s mother, adamantly refused, and Renee was born about six weeks after her parents’ acrimonious divorce became final.

For most of Renee’s very short life, Shane – as he preferred to be called – never saw his daughter, nor was he even sure of her name. It wasn’t until court-ordered child support payments began, and subsequent DNA tests proved he was indeed Renee’s father, that Shane suddenly developed an ostensibly paternal interest in Renee.

Coincidentally, being the good father only Shane himself purported to be, he apparently also felt moved to take out a $50,000 life insurance policy on the youngster that he’d never even seen yet. Curiously, he initially denied the insurance policy’s existence to Renee’s mother.

It took a dedicated detective – then-Alvin Police Department Detective Sue Dietrich – and a formidable prosecutor – Assistant District  Attorney Jeri Yenne – to crack the case. This at the urging of one heartbroken yet determined maternal grandmother, Sharon  Couch, after Renee’s untimely death was initially ruled as indeterminate. (I believe Renee’s mother, Annette Goode, was just too distraught and grief-stricken to doggedly pursue the matter herself at that time.)

Author/journalist Carlton Stowers

Author/journalist Carlton Stowers deftly weaves his  expert tale backed up by extensive research. Additionally, he really brings the players to the forefront of the story. Readers are there with these three tremendously strong women through every legal battle and political confrontation to get to the truth of what happened to little Renee Goode the night she spent with her father, and the night she wound up dead by morning. Stowers obviously spent a great deal of time with the story’s three heroines who ultimately procure justice for little Renee.

On a personal note to this writer, this heinous crime occurred in Alvin, a small town located just outside of Houston, where I live. I have relatives in Alvin, and I remember this crime well. Flabbergasted–and deeply saddened–is all I can say.

You see, at that sleepover at her father’s house, the one in which Shane Goode claimed Renee just somehow spontaneously stopped breathing overnight, a child was actually murdered by her very own father. The seemingly innocent sleepover that millions of American girls love to participate in was, incongruously, the scene of a premeditated, dastardly murder plot…by a little girl’s own father.

Coming up next: The conclusion — What really happened to little Renee Goode?

Grade: **** 1/2

Status: Highly Recommended

More about Carlton Stowers 

Buy the book on Amazon

Appellate court records in Texas’ First Court of Appeals for Michael Shane Goode

The Texas Tribune inmate information on Michael Shane Goode 

Texas Department of Corrections inmate locator

MyInmateLocator.com – Find local, state, or federal inmates in  this database of all 50 states

Justice for All – Criminal Justice Reform Organization

Houston Press story on then-problems plaguing the Harris County M.E.’s Office

Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a consumer law paralegal and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She is also WestlawNext certified. Sami has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and a ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

 

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Reading legal citations

Today’s post generously reprinted with permission from

Sacramento County Public Law Library:

Any reference to any primary law source – case or statute – has a citation. The basic format of a citation is standardized, and generally includes a volume number, an abbreviation of the title of the publication in which the law appears, a page or section number, and a date.

CASES

Court cases are often published by more than one publisher, so there can be more than one citation appearing after the name of the case. Usually the first citation given is to the official reports for a particular court, and is called the “official citation.”  The official reports are printed by the publisher with which that court has contracted to distribute its cases.

In California [for example] the official reports of California Supreme Court cases are published in the California Reports (1st – 4th series) and the official reports of Courts of Appeal cases are published in the California Appellate Reports (1st – 4th series).

The other citations given in a string are known as “unofficial” or “parallel” citations.  The text of the opinion is the same in all sources, whether they are “official” or “unofficial.”

SUPREME COURT

Court of Appeals

California Supreme Court cases have two parallel citations.  The first is to the Pacific Reporter, and the second is to the California Reporter, which started in 1959.  Court of Appeals cases have only one parallel citation, to the California Reporter.

STATUTES OR CODES

The terms “statute” and “code” are often used interchangeably.  There are two publishers of the California Codes:  West and Deering’s. The wording of the Codes is identical in either publication; the only difference is in the annotations that follow each section.

The following are examples of citations for California and United States Codes:


List of California Statutory Abbreviations

Generously reprinted with permission from the
Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a consumer law paralegal and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She is also WestlawNext certified. Sami has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and a ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

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Discovery quick tips

Discovery Quick Tips – Conducting a Successful Exchange of Information With the Other Side guest author: Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP


Generously reprinted with permission by the Institute for Paralegal Education (IPE). This article came from the IPE monthly newsletter and you can subscribe by contacting them at ipefeedback@nbi-sems.com.

There are five basic formal discovery devices: interrogatories; requests for disclosure; requests for admissions; requests for production; and depositions; plus many more informal discovery devices. Following are my quick tips to get you started on a successful exchange of information with the other side:

  • Work Up the File Before Formulating Your Discovery Plan.   This means conducting or studying the intake questionnaire and the Complaint/Answer. Formulate a discovery plan based on the facts and allegations contained in the Complaint and/or defenses raised in the Answer.
  • Read the Complaint Carefully to See What Elements Need to be Proven or Disproven.   Make a list of these elements as a go-by as far as what type of information you will need in order to prove or disprove a claim(s). For example, in contract and commercial cases, the issues raised in the complaint are often decided by records, documents, and substantive law. Making a list of the elements necessary provides a blueprint of the type of information you will need to collect.
  • Ensure You Use a Reliable Calendaring System   Sometimes rights or privileges can be waived if not completed or answered on time, and sanctions, while rare, may apply. Always remember that if a date changes, it likely needs to be changed several months ahead. Do not count the day of receipt, but do count every day, including intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. Fed. R. Civ. P. 6.
  • Under the Federal Rules, Attorneys for the Parties to a Lawsuit Must Meet for a Scheduling Conference After Service of the Complaint to Plan for Discovery Deadlines.   The parties will need to agree on this discovery plan, and submit the proposed plan to the court. The judge must issue the scheduling order within the earlier of 120 days after any defendant has been served with the complaint or 90 days after any defendant has appeared. Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(2).
  • Complete as Much Informal Discovery as Possible Prior to Embarking on Formal Discovery.   This can include – depending on what type of case you are working on – procuring and analyzing police reports, accident reports, insurance claims, FOIA requests, employment, and academic histories, amongst others.
  • Google is Your Friend.   Embrace this simple yet powerful tool. Research opposing counsel (OPC), a plaintiff or defendant, witnesses, and experts this way first.
  • If You Need to Conduct Legal Research, Try Google Scholar for FREE   Go to http://scholar.google.com/ and click the bubble titled “Legal opinions and journals.” You will be amazed how much information can be retrieved here, including full case opinions and law journal articles, treatment history, and a list of cases citing to your case on point.
  • Get Rid of Metadata (i.e. data about the data) by Converting All Word or WP documents Into PDF or Other Imaging Documents Before Sharing by Electronic Means With Opposing Counsel (OPC).   This prevents OPC or anyone else you don’t want to see your changes or edits from seeing them in an electronic or emailed document. Just because you cannot see metadata does not mean it’s been adequately erased. If possible, save the Word document as a PDF rather than scanning a hard copy to cut down on file size.
  • Interview Your Client in Depth, All of Your Witnesses, and Any Possible OPC Witnesses That Will Speak With You, Along With any Disinterested Witnesses.   Memorialize the interviews on some type of medium, such as on tape, in order to nail down witnesses to their statements. It is important to talk to these folks as soon as possible while the information is still fresh in their minds, or before they have reservations about speaking to you. Many times, witnesses reluctant to talk to an attorney will have no problem speaking to a paralegal. You can – and must – identity yourself as a paralegal, but often this will work to your advantage, so utilize that title for the client’s benefit.
  • Sometimes It’s Best to Play Dumb When Interviewing Witnesses.   Now is not the time to dazzle with your vast array of knowledge about the case. The same folks that are hesitant to share information with attorneys likely do not appreciate a condescending tone or intimidating manner. Most people want to be helpful. Let the witness do most of the talking.
  • If Applicable, Be Certain to Send Out Authorization Forms to OPC for medical records (ensure the form is HIPAA compliant!), tax, Social Security, employment, Department of Labor, and military records with initial discovery requests.
  • Summarize the Records Received if That is Part of Your Job Duties, or Read Through the Summaries Your Colleagues Have Completed.   Highlight those bits of information likely to prove or disprove your case. Streamline by eliminating “clutter” information, or those data chunks that are superfluous to the issues at hand.
  • Investigate the OPC’s Client, OPC, OPC’s Witnesses, and Yes, Your Own Attorney’s Client Via Paid Site Like www.publicdata.com or www.accurint.com, and Don’t Forget to Search Free Sites Like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.   Much publicly available information is posted on social media sites. The OPC likely advised her client to remove online personal data, but often you will find that, for whatever reason, folks don’t always heed their counsel’s advice. (It is unethical to friend somebody for purposes of mining personal information, but anything posted publicly is freely available for you to use.)
  • One of My Favorite FREE Resources to Facilitate Discovery is Craig Ball’s Awesome Web-Site With Tons of Informal Discovery Information and Links at Craig Ball’s “Sampler of Informal Discovery Links.”   Craig Ball is a well-known board-certified attorney and certified computer forensic examiner based in Austin, Texas, but writes about a wide variety of discovery-related topics that apply anywhere, including extensive information about eDiscovery. You can visit his web-page here.
  • Familiarize Yourself With the Discovery Rules Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.   Most states’ discovery rules are the same as, or very similar to, the federal rules.
  • My Favorite FREE Site for the FRCP, federal codified statutes, links to state statutes, and even a FREE online legal dictionary and encyclopedia is Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII) located on the Web at http://www.law.cornell.edu/.
  • Annual December 1 Updates to Federal Rules are available at http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/?q=rules.
Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP, is a freelance paralegal and writer in Houston, Texas. She conducts medical, legal and factual research, investigations, and client interviews. Ms. Hartsfield prepares all manner of legal documents, including pleadings, witness lists and exhibits, trial notebooks, demand and settlement documents, and deposition schedules and summaries. She also coordinates and manages document production, locates and interviews witnesses and experts, and organizes pleading and trial exhibits. Ms. Hartsfield assists lawyers at trial, gathers and reviews medical records, and maintains general client contact. She recently worked as a Webmaster for a personal injury law firm in the Houston area, and started their social media marketing efforts. Ms. Hartsfield earned her AAS degree from the Center for Advanced Legal Studies and will graduate with a B.S. degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Houston Downtown later this year. She is a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants, the American Association of Notaries, and the Electric Data Extraction Network. You can find Sami’s blog on the Web at LegallyBlog.

Institute for Paralegal Education • 1218 McCann Drive • Altoona, WI 54720 • © 2011, Institute for Paralegal Education, a division of NBI, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

If interested, please see my series on discovery:

What is discovery, and what are interrogatories?

What is a discovery subpoena?

Discovery II: What are requests for disclosure?

Discovery III: What are requests for admissions?

Discovery IV: What are requests for production?

Discovery V: Depositions–What is a deposition on written questions, or DWQ?

Discovery top ten fundamentals

NOTE: I am not an attorney. This foregoing is not to be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, consider hiring an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.

You can find Sami on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

 

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Discovery top ten fundamentals

Discovery Fundamentals Top Ten guest author: Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP

Generously reprinted with permission by the Institute for Paralegal Education (IPE). This article came from the IPE monthly newsletter and you can subscribe by contacting them at ipefeedback@nbi-sems.com.

Discovery is the period of time after which a lawsuit has been commenced that adversarial parties to that lawsuit exchange information via a specific, codified procedure in furtherance of the case. The purpose of this is threefold:
A. It is desirable by both the courts and the parties involved that the case can be resolved without the necessity of an expensive and possibly lengthy trial (in reality, statistics tell us that relatively few cases ever go to trial, despite what TV legal dramas would have us believe);
B. To determine which side has the stronger case based on the evidence; and
C. Finally, to commit witnesses to their testimony via such discovery devices as interrogatories and depositions. Should the case ever go to trial, these statements become invaluable as a way to (possibly) impeach a witness, or raise concerns about their credibility should they change their story down the road.
Following are my top ten tips for paralegals working in discovery (I am a paralegal in Texas but I am going by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure except where noted, then I am using the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure as a general example. Be sure to look up the rules in your state):
  1. There Are Two Types of Discovery: Informal and Formal. Informal is just what it sounds like – the informal exchange of information between two parties without court involvement. Or it could be your own informal Internet search to locate information on the opposing side. This usually takes place at the early stages of discovery, and includes things like people searches, business records searches, or any other type of publicly available information.
  1. Formal Discovery, on the Other Hand, Pertains to Discovery That Follows the Procedural Rules in All its Formalities. That being said, courts still don’t typically become involved in this procedure unless there is a problem, though the discovery requests are propounded on opposing sides and take the format of a formal court pleading. Your attorney may, however, file what’s known as a “certificate of written discovery,” alerting the court to the mutual flow of discoverable information exchanges, though this is not usually required, and is sometimes not even desired. Aside from perhaps setting due dates via some type of docket control order, courts typically don’t become involved in the discovery process unless there is a problem or issue (motion) that needs to be ruled on. The courts largely prefer the attorneys work the process out amongst themselves in a professional manner and in accordance with the rules, though this is not always possible for various reasons.
  1. Interrogatories (Rogs) are Questions Asked of the Opposing Party, Usually Via the Attorney’s Office Representing a Party to a Lawsuit. In Texas, as in most states, they must be answered under oath, under penalty of perjury. For this reason, they are notarized when they are completed, and are the only discovery device that is. Here in Texas, the client must sign his responses. The number and types of questions allowable are specified in the federal (R. 33) and your local rules.
  1. Generally Speaking, Interrogatories Seek Information Relevant to the Case at Hand, and Can Ask Such Things as Educational and Work Background; Basis and Facts Related to the Case; and Information on Any Witnesses That May be Called to Testify, Amongst Other Things. The answering party generally has 30 days in which to respond (unless both sides agree to a postponement, in writing, which is known as a “Rule 11 Agreement,” and must be filed with the court to be enforceable), or raise an objection. If a party does not respond, nor raise an objection (say, on the basis that the question asked is protected under the attorney-client privilege), then the propounding party may file a Motion to Compel, officially asking the court (as this Motion is formally filed with the court) to compel the offending party to respond, or otherwise rule on an objection. The offending party may be sanctioned, up to and including even having the case dismissed, though this harsh of a sanction is extremely rare. The number and types of questions allowable are limited by the rules of civil procedure, as are the responses and time to respond. This process is typically a rather routine, orderly flow and most attorneys can work out delays or issues amicably. Owing to our adversarial system of justice, however, this is not always possible.
  1. Requests For Disclosure (RFD) Under federal rules certain disclosures are automatic and do not have to be formally requested. If your case is in federal court, go to the FRCP, then click Roman numeral V – “Disclosures and Discovery,” then click R. 26 “General Provisions Governing Discovery.” There you will see, under R.26 (a)(1) the list of items required to be disclosed without a discovery request. See also R. 37 “Failure to Make Disclosures or to Cooperate in Discovery; Sanctions.” Of course always be sure to consult your state and local rules. Many state rules require a formal, written request be propounded on OPC. See also my blog entry on this topic at https://samihartsfield.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/federal-discovery-initial-disclosures-are-automatic-under-the-federal-rules-of-civil-procedure/.
  1. Requests for Admissions (RFA) Are an Ordinary Discovery Device Used Primarily to Eliminate Matters About Which There is No Real Controversy, Thereby Streamlining the Litigation Process. Under the FRCP, RFAs are governed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, R. 36. Google for your local rules. In Texas, RFAs are specific questions that require the answering party to either admit or deny a particular fact. They must be in writing and may be served only on other parties to the lawsuit at any time after the suit is filed. Texas discovery rules permit the request to be filed with the Original Petition. In that event, the answers are due 50 days after citation of service whereas one would otherwise typically have 30 days in which to respond. ** Please note that if your client is the one answering RFA, and if you do not admit, deny, or challenge the request for admissions by the due date stated in the request, then they automatically become admitted as true as a matter of law.
  1. Requests For Production (RFP), Which Can be Found Under Rule 34 of the FRCP, are a Common Discovery Device Used Between Parties to a Lawsuit so That Documents and Things May be Obtained From the Opposing Sides . This includes:
    1. “any designated documents or electronically stored information – including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations – stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form; or
    2. any designated tangible things; or
    3. to permit entry onto designated land or other property possessed or controlled by the responding party, so that the requesting party may inspect, measure, survey, photograph, test, or sample the property or any designated object or operation on it.”

    The documents and things must be produced as they are kept in the “ordinary course of business,” or an appropriate time and place must be provided for the opposing side to inspect and copy the requested items, provided they are discoverable items.

  1. Depositions by Oral Examination are Covered Under R. 30 Of The FRCP and Must Give Reasonable Written Notice to Every Other Party . If a subpoena duces tecum (the notice to a party deponent may be accompanied by a request under Rule 34 to produce documents and tangible things at the deposition) is to be served on the deponent, the materials designated for production, as set out in the subpoena, must be listed in the notice or in an attachment. Additionally, the party who notices the deposition must state in the notice the method for recording the testimony. Unless the court orders otherwise, testimony may be audio- or videotaped, along with a written record taken by a court reporter. Oral depositions are limited in duration, number, and scope under the rules of civil procedure. (See also the Federal Rules of Evidence.)
  1. A Deposition May Also be Taken by Written Questions: A party may serve written questions in a sealed envelope on the opposing party, who must deliver them to the court officer. The officer must ask the deponent those questions and record the answers verbatim. See also DWQ under Federal Rules R. 31.
  1. eDiscovery and Electronically Stored Information (ESI): It’s here; get up to speed on ESI as attorneys are traditionally slow to embrace new technology. It can be found in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure under R. 26(f), for example, which is known as the “meet and confer” rule. This rule necessitates that parties meet at the beginning of the litigation process to discuss any discovery-related issues, including whether or not a party intends to produce or request ESI. A report will then be given to the court, at which time a judge will consider this information and enter a scheduling order affirming the discovery due dates. Incorporate an eDiscovery strategy within your overall discovery plan.
Remember to use this as a go-by only. Always consult your own local rules (both the rules of civil procedure and the rules of evidence) specific to the type of discovery device you and your attorney are employing.
Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP, is a freelance paralegal and writer in Houston, Texas. She conducts medical, legal and factual research, investigations, and client interviews. Ms. Hartsfield prepares all manner of legal documents, including pleadings, witness lists and exhibits, trial notebooks, demand and settlement documents, and deposition schedules and summaries. She also coordinates and manages document production, locates and interviews witnesses and experts, and organizes pleading and trial exhibits. Ms. Hartsfield assists lawyers at trial, gathers and reviews medical records, and maintains general client contact. She recently worked as a Webmaster for a personal injury law firm in the Houston area, and started their social media marketing efforts. Ms. Hartsfield earned her AAS degree from the Center for Advanced Legal Studies and will graduate with a B.S. degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Houston Downtown later this year. She is a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants, the American Association of Notaries, and the Electric Data Extraction Network. You can find Sami’s blog on the Web at LegallyBlog.

Institute for Paralegal Education • 1218 McCann Drive • Altoona, WI 54720 • © 2011, Institute for Paralegal Education, a division of NBI, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

If interested, please see my series on discovery:

What is discovery, and what are interrogatories?

What is a discovery subpoena?

Discovery II: What are requests for disclosure?

Discovery III: What are requests for admissions?

Discovery IV: What are requests for production?

Discovery V: Depositions–What is a deposition on written questions, or DWQ?

NOTE: I am not an attorney. This foregoing is not to be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, consider hiring an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.

You can find Sami on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com.

 

LegallyBlog® on Facebook

Protected by Copyscape Unique Content Check

Copyright 2012 Sami K. Hartsfield – All Rights Reserved
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