The latin phrase “non bis in idem” is translated as “not twice in the same thing” and refers to the right of a defendant to be protected from prosecution for the same crime twice. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “No person shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” This is not exclusively an American doctrine, and is found in a similar form in the federal law of nearly every other modern country. In fact, every member of the Council of Europe has signed a convention which regulates human rights. Article Four of Protocol Seven of the Convention says that no person can be charged again for a crime that they have already been acquitted or convicted of. Laws that guard against double jeopardy are extremely important in any modern legal system, because of the how corrupt and easily abusable repeat trials would be.
Is it just me, or does road rage seem to be more prevalent nowadays than it used to be? It seems that if you accidentally cut someone off, drive in the left lane too long, or use your horn to signal your presence, you may just tick someone off. I am not innocent, either, and can say I have found myself on both sides of this situation.
What do you do when: someone cuts you off in traffic; you notice someone texting and driving; someone changes lanes in front of you without using a turn signal; someone drives too slowly in the left lane; or someone stops at an intersection where there is no yield or stop sign and no vehicles in sight?
How important is your privacy to you? And what would you define as a violation of that privacy? If your neighbor climbed over your fence into your backyard and peered into your window, would you not almost certainly be offended? Without any doubt, this person would be breaking multiple laws such as trespassing and the Peeping Tom law. However, what if someone used a more subtle or sneaky way to view you and your property?
It has been a rainy October for the Tri-Cities – record levels of rainfall have been documented this month. Over the past few weeks, most of the days have been overcast and gray, raining off and on. Last Thursday, as I was driving through pouring rain from Kennewick to Walla Walla, I passed a serious accident heading westbound on I-182. Multiple ambulances, police cars, and a fire truck were arriving at the scene of the crash, which involved a semi and a couple of cars. The weather was undoubtedly a factor.
I attended a murder trial last week. Not in any sort of official way, but simply as a learning experience. As a high school intern at Anderson Law in Kennewick, I have the opportunity to investigate law as a career. So, with the help of Anderson Law attorney Edwardo Morfin, I went to a superior court trial in Franklin County. Even though it wasn’t related to personal injury or car accidents, the trial was interesting and educational in many ways (especially since it was a murder trial). One thing in particular stood out to me: I noticed that the jury had significantly fewer Hispanics than Caucasians on it. There were two or three Hispanic jurors, but the majority of the jurors were Caucasian. Since the defendant was also Hispanic, I wondered if this was truly a jury of his peers. Although I do not believe this was indicative of jury selection bias, it made me think about the importance of jury diversity, and how maybe it isn’t being addressed enough. A lack of diverse juries, and potential racial bias, have been a problem in the American courtroom for a long time. Although American demographics have changed substantially, and race relations seem to be better than they ever have been, there is still much room for improvement.
A few weeks ago, I was riding my bicycle behind a cautious driver who was hoping no one was going to crash into her as she passed through a Kennewick roundabout (we’ve all been there, right?). After we came out of the roundabout, she shouts back at me, “Thanks a lot, jerk!” What had I done? Was I following too close? Was I not being safe? I didn’t think so at the time, but either way, she clearly wasn’t happy that I was on the road.
When you do finally get your day in court, a year or more after your lawsuit begins, you will face a panel of jurors from the community. Franklin County jurors are mostly from Pasco. Benton County jurors are mostly from Kennewick or Richland. And almost all of them have witnessed a car accident like this one on the Blue Bridge.
People frequently come to Anderson Law because they have been injured by someone else. Usually, that someone else was negligent, careless, and sometimes even reckless. Often, the injury was caused by a car crash while crossing the Blue Bridge from Kennewick to Pasco, or vice versa. Other times, it’s on Court Street in Pasco (below). Even worse, someone was careless at a nursing home or in a hospital. Damages range from sprains and strains to broken bones and even death of a loved one. Lost wages, lost time with grandchildren, lost enjoyment of life, and the list goes on and on.
Last Saturday, with a fresh morning breeze and sunshine, numerous volunteers showed up to participate in building a group of Habitat for Humanity houses in an east Pasco community. Each house was in a different phase of development – from foundation to finishing. On this particular Saturday, members of Anderson Law took a break from attorney work and car accidents and enjoyed performing different tasks - some painted and some worked with the installation of sheetrock.
“With great power comes great responsibility”— I know, I know, that’s a quote most popularly attributed to a Spiderman comic book, but it’s true. When one has it in their power to be able to help others, one should not take this responsibility lightly. That’s why I have committed myself to being of service to my community.