Friday, October 29, 2010

Hoping the Home Ballpark Will Bring Victory for Rangers

Things in the World Series have not gotten off to a particularly strong start for the Texas Rangers. The team is returning to Arlington having played the first two games in San Francisco and coming up short in both of them. Last night's 9-0 defeat was a particularly one-sided event, and baseball fans across the state are perhaps starting to lose some hope in the idea that Texas can claim a world championship this year. (The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans aren't doing much to lift the emotions of our state's sports fans, either, but that's a different story.)

The Rangers get the chance to host the World Series beginning tomorrow night and we're hoping that the tide turns for our guys. Colby Lewis will be starting for the Rangers and perhaps be the catalyst for a victory in the home ballpark. Former President George W. Bush will be on hand for Sunday night's game to throw out the first pitch. Will he bring luck to a team in which he used to have an active role?

If the Texas Rangers manage to come back from their 0-2 deficit and win the World Series, there may be some players who want their performances rewarded with bigger checks and flashier perks. And, there likely will be new endorsement possibilities with shoe companies, video games, and, of course, cereal boxes. For athletes to know that they are getting the deal they deserve, partnership with a sports attorney is critical.

At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio with experience in the area of sports law. We can help you negotiate contracts, protect your intellectual property rights, and resolve problems with management and agents.

If you are an athlete and you believe you deserve better treatment than you have been receiving, please contact us today.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Upcoming Election May Bring Changes to Immigration Policy

As the 2010 midterm elections await us next week, there are a variety of issues that have taken center stage over the past few months. Everything from witchcraft to questions regarding masculinity to an "aqua buddha" has garnered the attention of both the media and voters. But, beyond such theatrics, there are many policies of consequence and substance that will be affected by who is sent to Washington, D.C. and to Austin with our ballots on November 2. One topic that has proven to be more emotionally charged than most is the call for immigration reform. What will 2011 bring regarding our borders and the lives of those who have already crossed into our country without the government's approval?

Politicians from across the nation have come to Texas to film campaign commercials. In some instances, a candidate will stand at the border and state the need for a fence, either physical or virtual, to stop immigrants from entering our country illegally. Others will face the cameras while looking around the unforgiving landscape of a border area and decry the way in which our fellow humans are treated in their attempt to find a better life for their families. Voters are left to decide whose use of Texas more closely resembles their own beliefs concerning immigration policy.

The attorneys at Bertolino LLP are strong advocates of immigrants' rights. We have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio ready to assist you with green cards, naturalization, or employment-related issues. We also monitor all of the changing legislation in Washington, D.C. and Austin so that we are best able to represent you with the latest information. If you are in need of some help regarding an immigration issue, please contact us today.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Houston Man Allegedly Bites Police Officer

I am going to begin with the assertion that if you are a man who is beating and threatening your ex-girlfriend, then your ability to make wise decisions concerning your personal behavior is already in grave doubt. When you then bite a police officer when confronted with allegations concerning your physical aggression towards a woman, you are looking at even more problems.

Last night, two Houston police officers responded to a domestic disturbance call by a woman who claimed her ex-boyfriend was assaulting her in her apartment. The man was found sitting in his truck and attempted to drive away when approached by the officers. He stopped his truck after several feet only to be confronted by a third member of Houston's finest. In a moment that will not be recorded as one of the wisest decisions in history, the alleged ex-girlfriend attacker decided to bite the officer's finger. He was quickly met with the force of two tasers and now is being treated at Ben Taub General Hospital before making his inevitable visit to a jail cell.

The man is being charged with aggravated assault against a police officer and making a terroristic threat.

At Bertolino LLP, we certainly do not encourage you to use any force against an arresting officer. Comply with all requests and then make sure you have a lawyer by your side who will defend your rights at the precinct and in the courtroom. We have criminal defense attorneys in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio ready to help you if you are facing charges of violence. No matter your alleged crime, you have constitutional rights afforded to you under the law.

Friday, October 22, 2010

San Antonio Teenager Stabs Suspect in Home Invasion

It is certainly understandable that every person wants to feel safe in his home, and wants to have the right to defend his family when that safety is threatened. There have been quite a few people, not just in Texas but around the country, who have made the decision to break into a stranger's home only to be met by lethal and legally justified force. But, the situation grows more difficult when the confrontation leaves the home. At what point is responsive violence no longer allowed? A death in San Antonio on Thursday morning will soon put that question to the test in a court of law?

A nineteen-year-old resident of the South Side grabbed a pistol and a large knife when two men tried to break into his family's home. The young man fired several shots, causing the two would-be burglars to run outside to their car. One man jumped into the driver's seat and took off, leaving his partner in crime helpless in his attempts to get in through a locked passenger-side door. When the teenager tried to detain the remaining burglar, there was a struggle and the suspect was stabbed in the chest. The suspect later died at the scene.

The teenager contends that the stabbing was necessary after the suspect struggled and tried to grab the gun. While the death probably will not stand up under the "castle defense," which allows home owners to protect their property with force, the young man's attorneys certainly will assert that the stabbing was done out of self-defense.

If you find yourself charged with a serious crime that resulted from your legitimate defense of self, family, or property, the criminal defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. We know the importance of keeping the people you love safe. We have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio and are ready to defend your rights in court.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Texas Man Shoves Pieces of a Saw into Beef at Tyson Plant

We all are going to have a bad day at work from time to time. That's inevitable. Perhaps you occasionally mutter an unpleasant thought about your co-worker under your breath during a particularly long and frustrating meeting. Maybe you tell your boss that you have to rush out early for a family emergency when really you just needed to get out of that office. In a worst-case scenario, you might blame your workplace nemesis for an accounting error that may have, in reality, been your fault. I don't imagine that most of you ever consider inserting saw blades into food products as a way of venting your anger at work. But, if you did, you would not be alone.

Twenty-year-old Nwee Lah of Amarillo allegedly broke a saw blade into four pieces and poked the sharp remnants of the tool into beef as he worked on the production line at Tyson Foods. A co-worker saw the dangerous incident take place and reported Lah to management. Perhaps this goes without saying, but Lah is no longer employed with Tyson Foods.

Obviously, Nwee Lah's actions could have had horrible consequences if not noticed by an observant employee, whether that was Lah's intention or not. Consumers have been assured that the incident was an isolated one and there is no need for a recall of any Tyson products.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for problems at the workplace to become legal issues. If you have faced personal injury due to the poor decision made by an employee or if your business is facing litigation due to the actions of one of your workers, we can help. Please contact the offices of Bertolino LLP in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio and let's discuss your case today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Austin Energy May Pass Planned Franchise Fee on to Consumers

With both individual consumers and large businesses facing the consequences of a struggling economy, everyone is looking for new ways to minimize their expenses while keeping the bottom line in their bank accounts as large and substantial as possible. It's only common sense that no one wants to pay more for a product or service than required. And, when people feel that the government is giving them no choice in the amount of money they have to spend every month, tensions may rise.

Neighborhood reaction is just starting to be shared concerning the franchise fee that Austin Energy may start paying to the cities around Austin that it services. It is not uncommon for utility companies to offer some compensation to city governments in return for being the sole energy provider in that area. Of course, it also is not unusual for these companies to cover that additional expense by passing on the cost to the consumers. To cover the $800,000 in expected franchise fees, Austin Energy is considering a three percent surcharge to its customers who live outside of Austin.

This projected change, along with the already planned rate increase for 2012, reignites the debate over government-supervised monopolies of our utilities. Some residents who live in Austin's surrounding communities and who will be affected by these price hikes are frustrated by the fact that they have no voice in Austin's City Council, the governing body that approves any decisions by Austin Energy, and would be in violation of state law if they tried to receive their energy from another company.

What are your thoughts on the planned changes to Austin Energy's fees? If you live in one of the neighborhoods just outside of Austin that is serviced by Austin Energy, what is the overall reaction in your community, if there's been a noticeable one at all?

At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio who are experienced in both business formation and business litigation. If you are considering some changes to your company's contracts or business procedures, please contact our office and we will guide you through the process in a way that follows all legal provisions and maintains strong relationships with your clients.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Man Connected with Series of Stun Gun Attacks in Austin Arrested

Several people marked part of last weekend in Austin by an encounter with a man engaging in what became known as the "Stun Gun Series" of assaults. The alleged assailant, later identified by witnesses as 25-year-old Anthony Lightner, used a stun gun on his victims during robbery attempts, some more successful than others, over a short period of time early Sunday morning.

After an arrest warrant was issued on Thursday, Lightner was arrested on charges of robbery by assault and is now spending time in a Travis County Jail in lieu of paying $30,000 bail.

Before his connection to the series of stun gun attacks was known, Lightner was briefly detained by police on Sunday afternoon on charges of public intoxication. It has not been revealed if he already was under the influence during the robberies or if if the drinking came later to celebrate the incorrect theory that he had gotten away with his crimes.

Some in Austin are wondering where the many Texans with concealed carry permits were during this series of attacks. Was there anyone who could have stepped up and ended the violence before Lightner reached his third or fourth victims?

What do you think? Is a crime spree such as the one in which Lightner allegedly engaged an argument for more encouragement of law-abiding citizens to carry guns? Or, do you believe such a confrontation would only have made the situation worse?

If you ever find yourself injured by the stunning weapon of choice of someone who is after your money and belongings, the personal injury attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Texting Ban Begins This Friday in San Antonio

There is not much dispute to the evidence that texting while driving a car is a dangerous activity. Statistics show that drivers are twenty-three times more likely to be in an accident when texting than those who are not distracted by the urgent need to send a message to a friend while moving down the highway. This is a significantly larger risk than getting behind the wheel of a car after having several beers (although this practice certainly isn't recommended, either).

Despite the obvious danger, though, twenty-five percent of the United States population has admitted to typing and sending a text message while driving. This percentage doubles when just looking at teenage drivers.

In response to this dangerous practice, thirty states have passed laws regarding texting while driving. Many cities also have adopted their own ordinances to try to discourage texting until your car has come to a full and complete stop. San Antonio is one of the most recent locations to join this cause.

Today, the San Antonio police announced that beginning on Friday there will be a probationary period concerning texting while driving. For the next ninety days, drivers will receive a warning citation. After this grace period, drivers will face a possible fine of $200 per violation. So, put down those cell phones and keep all motorists, and your money, safe by waiting until your trip is over to send that text message.

While texting in and of itself may not land you in front of a judge, the damages to other drivers and their cars that may result certainly could result in criminal charges. If you find yourself in need of legal representation, please contact the law offices in Bertolino LLP in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio.

What is your opinion of the new law prohibiting texting while driving? Will it be effective in lessening the frequency of this common action?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Texas Considers New Anti-Bullying Laws

In the wake of a startling number of suicides that seem to be the direct result of bullying in our schools, many state and local governments are looking at how this sad trend is being addressed in their communities. Unfortunately, Texas is no different than other states in having to face this dangerous situation.

Last month, eighth-grader Asher Brown of Hamilton Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District of Houston shot himself in the head following incessant bullying from his classmates. This tragedy has led to several of our state legislators introducing legislation in Austin that has failed to garner enough support in previous years.

Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston says he plans to introduce a bill that will require training of school employees on preventing and responding to bullying. Rep. Mark Strama of Austin will bring back a bill he first put forth in 2009 that would require schools to report data on all incidents of bullying.

The nonprofit group Bully Police is not too impressed with the current efforts of Texas to end bullying, noting that we have no state law that defines bullying, assigns counselors to victims of bullying, or requires schools to report incidents. Perhaps now is the right time to make the changes that will improve our work in these areas.

We want to hear your opinion on the current state of bullying in our schools. Should the government be responsible for creating laws that hopefully will curb such taunting? Are there other factors in our homes or our culture that are contributing to the heightened problem of bullying that perhaps cannot be improved with such laws? If you are a parent of a school-aged child, how is the problem of bullying being addressed by teachers and administrators?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Former Houston Rockets Star Arrested at LAX

If you travel on an airplane with any regularity, you likely have seen someone try to board a flight whose level of sobriety was rather questionable. Two-hour delays due to storms and a convenient bar in the terminal do not always make for a good combination. And, as news from the Los Angeles International Airport this week demonstrates, fame and athleticism cannot mask your decision to drink too much before embarking on airborne public transportation.

Former Houston Rockets star Steve Francis was arrested late Thursday night at LAX for public drunkenness. Authorities say he was intoxicated, unable to care for himself, and combative towards the staff at the airport. Francis, who was an All-Star for three straight years with the Rockets but was waived last year by Memphis, will appear in court early next month to face his charges.

Francis was known as "Stevie Franchise" for the amazing contributions he made to the Houston Rockets team and also made a great impact during his single season playing high-profile college ball with the University of Maryland. Everyone certainly hopes that he learns his lesson from this incident and still has many productive days in basketball in front of him, as Francis has indicated that he still has an interest in playing.

If you are a professional athlete who is in need of legal representation, whether for contract negotiations or alleged criminal activity, Bertolino LLP has attorneys who specialize in the area of sports and celebrity law who are ready to help you. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Austin Police Chief Supports Idea of a "DWAI" Law

There are many instances in which drivers in Austin may have a glass or two of wine with dinner and still feel capable of driving home safely. And, as it stands now, the laws of the city would agree with this assessment. However, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo wants to change that perception and take a more aggressive stance towards protecting his residents from motorists who choose to drive after having consumed an even smaller amount of alcohol than is now legally permissible.

In order to be charged with drunken driving, a person has to register a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.08. While this standard would remain the same, Acevedo wants to create a new category of crime, known as "driving while ability impaired" (DWAI), that would apply to drivers who were caught with a 0.05 to 0.07 BAC.

The police chief and his supporters believe that such a distinction is needed because many drivers who are arrested for DWI are allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges, such as reckless driving, that do not hold them directly accountable for their decision to drink. Also, since an overwhelming number of people arrested for DWI do not become repeat offenders, perhaps this new law would stop some marginal offenders from ever getting behind the wheel after having even more to drink.

What do you think of Police Chief Acevedo's proposal to create the charge of DWAI? Will this help cut down the instances of impaired driving on our roads or is it another law that will crowd our courtrooms and not serve its intended purpose?

If you have been charged with a DWI, or find yourself arrested under the DWAI law should it pass, the criminal defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Please contact us if you find yourself in need of legal representation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Laptop Use Can Damage Your Skin

How many of you are reading this blog post on your laptop computer? If you are, is the computer placed on a desk or table, or are you taking the term "laptop" literally? An article published in The Houston Chronicle today examines the growing number of patients who are spending time in a doctor's office due to skin that has been damaged by laptop exposure.

The condition, which also can develop from overuse of heating pads and other directly applied sources of heat, is known as "toasted skin syndrome." If you are someone who tends to spend at least several hours every day with a laptop resting on your legs, you may find yourself experiencing the tell-tale symptoms of permanent skin discoloration. The altered pigment has not proven to be harmful to one's health, but it is not really a desired cosmetic effect.

There have been some fears that prolonged use of laptops without the use of a table or cooling fans can lead to cancer of various kinds. While chronic skin inflammation can increase chances for aggressive cancer, there have been no proven links between laptop use and cancer. Perhaps this is because we realize when a computer is starting to burn our legs and we move it!

If you have noticed changes in your skin or have experienced some other injury due to the temperatures or other functional error in your laptop, you may be entitled to some compensation. The personal injury attorneys at Bertolino LLP have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio and are ready to discuss your case. Please give us a call today.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Texas Woman Files Complaint Regarding Arson Evidence in Her Murder Trial

While it is comforting to victims' families and to our society at large to know that our criminal justice system works to put those who committed crimes behind bars, we always work with the reality of human error and shortcomings. There are, unfortunately, instances in which innocent men and women are put in prison as punishment for crimes they did not commit. Sonia Cacy of Bexar County insists she is one of those who was locked up despite her innocence, and now she is filing a complaint against the office that she said helped to put her behind bars.

Cacy was found guilty in 1993 of killing her uncle by dousing him with gasoline and setting him on fire. A key piece of evidence in Cacy's conviction with the determination by the medical examiner's office that traces of gasoline were found on the clothing of her uncle, Bill Richardson. However, subsequent reviews by ten independent experts found no such evidence on the clothing. Cacy was released on parole after six years because of the discredited evidence.

It now will be up to the Texas Forensic Science Commission to determine if there is merit to Cacy's complaint and decide what the next steps should be in reaching justice for this woman.

Whether you are facing your first day in court or you have been behind bars for years paying for a crime that you did not commit, you deserve justice and to have your reputation unheld. If you need assistance navigating through the criminal justice system in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio, the criminal defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP are here to help. Please contact us today.