Monday, August 31, 2009

Man Robbed Outside San Antonio Strip Club

In an act that demonstrated some questionable skills in terms of determining the optimal time to find a great deal of cash on a man, a patron of a strip club in San Antonio was robbed after spending some quality time at the establishment. The suspect approached the victim as he was exiting Tiffany's Cabaret and demanded money at gunpoint. When the victim refused to hand over the money that remained following his evening at the gentleman's club, the suspect pistol whipped the man across the face and took his wallet, which contained both cash and credit cards.

The suspect fled in a white Dodge Charger with chrome rims. The victim, who suffered only minor injuries and was not going to let a gun to the face keep him down, followed the suspect in his own vehicle until multiple gunshots were fired at him. He understandably made the decision to let his assailant escape at this point, but not before writing down the license plate number on the getaway car.

I certainly never would encourage the victim of a crime to take any action that may bring them further harm, but I am impressed with this man's desire to fight back against the violence he encountered. He managed to keep his senses about him and gather evidence that may prove crucial to the police investigation. I hope that his efforts soon will result in the capture of his attacker.

At Bertolino LLP, we recognize that every person accused of a crime, from minor offenses to the most heinous acts, deserves his day in court. Therefore, we have experienced criminal defense attorneys with our firm who will fight for you aggressively and thoroughly in the face of criminal charges. If you are in need of legal representation, whether you have been accused of a rather ineffective pistol whipping, a robbery, or any other crime, please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Whistleblower Brings Suit Against Bandera County Sheriff

You often hear of police auctions in which cars that were confiscated from drug dealers or other criminals are sold to the public. This provides a way to keep well-functioning cars on the road and bring a little extra revenue to local law enforcement. Do you ever wonder what happens to other evidence that is collected as part of an investigation? You probably do not assume that a glass beaker used in a meth lab would become a police officer’s new fish bowl or that shotguns used in the commission of a crime would be used during hunting trips. However, allegations of such misuse are being brought against Sheriff Weldon Tucker of Bandera County. And now, the deputy who exposed the alleged crimes is claiming he lost his job as a result.

Deputy Scott A. Sharp contends that he was fired by Tucker in retaliation for reporting “unlawful, irregular and corrupt activities” to federal authorities. Sharp has now filed a lawsuit seeking at least $2 million in damages and naming Sharp, two other administrators, and the county itself as defendants. Tucker has denied any wrongdoing and insists that Sharp was fired due to insubordination. The case will be played out in the U.S. District Court in San Antonio.

In Texas, public employees such as police officers are protected under state law if they find it necessary to act as whistleblowers. You should not worry that your job will be threatened if you choose to report illegal activity occurring at your place of employment. If you have lost your job due to your decision to be a whistleblower, the labor and employment attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. We have offices in San Antonio, as well as in Austin and Houston, with lawyers ready to fight for your career and your reputation. Please contact us today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Austin City Council Approves Ban on Texting While Driving

This morning, the Austin City Council voted to approve a preliminary ban on typing and sending text messages while driving your car. Once the final legislation is written and put up for a vote in a few months, you no longer will be able to text your spouse that you are stuck in traffic or read that e-mail that you just did not get around to opening before you left the office. The legislators also approved a three-foot driving distance between other vehicles and users of the road. Together, these measures have the intention of putting the driver's focus back on the road and his surroundings. The question is, will these new restrictions make any difference?

Recent studies clearly have shown that texting while driving is a dangerous activity. The main proponent of the bill, Councilman Mike Martinez, shares that “You’re 20 times more likely to get into an accident texting while you’re driving.” Those quick messages you send with your Blackberry have proven to lead to more car crashes than talking on the phone or even driving while intoxicated. Not only are your eyes diverted from the road in front of you, but you also are removing your hands (or at least your thumbs!) from the steering wheel.

There were more than a dozen bills presented before the Texas state legislature this year concerning the use of cell phones while driving and most of them failed. A primary concern is how a ban on texting could ever be enforced. A police officer would either have to catch a driver texting, which is difficult when the phone is hiding on a driver's lap, or a witness would have to be presented who could offer a reliable account that texting had occurred. In the seventeen states in which texting while driving is already banned, many drivers continue the practice with the assumption that they will not get caught. In New York, a state in which a texting ban was enacted in 2001, the level of texting returned to pre-ban levels within a year, once drivers realized that enforcement was not taking place.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a driver who was texting and therefore distracted from the road, the personal injury attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. We have offices in Austin, as well as Houston and San Antonio. Please contact us today and let us work with you to get the compensation you deserve.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Austin City Council to Discuss New Requirements for Those Seeking Contracts with City

There are definitive protections in place at both the federal and state levels for many forms of discrimination in the workplace. You cannot be denied consideration for an open position, passed over for a promotion, or laid off from your job based solely on the reason of religion, race, disability, or a variety of other factors. One area of discrimination that does not receive the same comprehensive protection, and also provokes a great deal of debate whenever considered by a legislative body, is any action taken against a person based on his or her sexuality. On Thursday, the city of Austin will be discussing a resolution that would award contracts only to companies that have nondiscrimination policies including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Austin already requires companies to sign a form declaring that they do not discriminate based on a long list of identifying factors. This new resolution would take the requirements a step further and require proof from the companies that they already have a nondiscrimination policy already in place. This resolution would only apply to companies that are bidding for contracts greater than $50,000. If a company is interested in consideration for a contract and does not have an appropriate nondiscrimination policy in place, the resolution allows for the creation of standard language that the company could add their policy manuals in order to be compliant with the new requirements.

At Bertolino LLP, we strongly believe that every employee should have the opportunity to perform and excel at their chosen profession without fear of discrimination. We also understand that employers sometimes face false accusations of prejudice against an employee and need legal representation as well. We have employment and labor law attorneys at our offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio who are ready to assist you with any work disputes you may be facing. Please contact us today!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Houston Mom Accused of Injuring Her Son Stands Trial This Week

As I have discussed repeatedly on this blog, no crimes receive more feelings of anger and calls for revenge than those that are done against children. We look at these most innocent members of our society and wonder how anyone could think of bringing harm to them. It is understandable, then, that when someone stands accused of hurting a child and faces her day in court, the media is going to follow every moment of the proceedings. Therefore, you can expect the reporters will be focused on the Harris County Courthouse starting this Thursday, August 6.

Katherine Nadal stands accused of cutting off the genitals of her five-week-old son, Holden Gothia, while he slept back in March 2007. Nadal has maintained her innocence, claiming that the family's dachshund committed the horrible act, but the physical evidence points to a cut with a sharp and precise instrument instead of showing a jagged tear that would appear with a dog bite. She tested positive for both cocaine and methadone the day after she was arrested for the injuries to Holden, and therefore also faces charges of abusing drugs while being the sole provider for her son. If convicted, Katherine Nadal could spend the rest of her life in jail. Holden Gothia is now living with his aunt and her husband, who received full custody of the child.

Under the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, everyone who stands accused of a crime is guaranteed representation and a fair trial. This right holds true even when the court of public opinion has already issued its verdict in a highly-charged case. At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio who are experienced in the field of criminal defense. If you have been accused of criminal activity, we are ready to provide you with an aggressive and thorough representation in court. If children are involved and custody issues need to be resolved, our family law attorneys can work with you on this delicate and emotional situation as well. Please contact our office today.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Texas Medical Board Strips Houston Doctor of Professional License

Actions taken on Friday should serve as a reminder to all medical professionals in our state that the Texas Medical Board often becomes the body which determines your professional fate. Just ask Dr. Bernard Albina of Houston, an orthopedic surgeon who has been accused of molesting young boys over the many years in which he practiced his profession. While District Judge David Mendoza released Dr. Albina last week on $400,000 bail and allowed Albina to continue practicing medicine while awaiting his trial, the members of the Texas Medical Board had other plans.

The Medical Board decided to strip Dr. Albina of his right to practice medicine anywhere in the state of Texas. As shared by Board spokeswoman Jill Wiggins, "“No one but the medical board has the authority to allow him to practice medicine. And that requires a free and active license, which he no longer has.” Dr. Albina chose not to appear at the suspension hearing to speak in his own defense. The convincing evidence, hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the sexual abuse of minors, was allowed to speak for itself without Albina's refutation. The suspension of Dr. Albina's license will remain in effect until he is able to provide clear and convincing proof that he is physically and mentally able to practice medicine.

The attorneys at Bertolino LLP, particularly those who work in the Austin office, have a great deal of experience with appearing before the Texas Medical Board. If you are a medical professional and someone has filed a complaint against you, please contact Bertolino LLP before you move ahead with the investigation process. No matter the exact nature of the charges against you, you have a right to a hearing that is thorough and presents all possible evidence on your behalf. Our lawyers who work in the area of medical licensing and boards will make sure that you are provided the best possible defense of your professional reputation.