Bicycling on the Rise, so are bike injuries

There has been a resurgence of bicycle riding in American cities for several years now. Bike lanes and share the road efforts have been underway literally in every state in our nation. Bicycle ride sharing has become popular in many American cities, including Atlanta.

City riding is not the only cycling that has been on the rise in recent years. Longer cycling adventures, not just city riding or day rides, are also a big part of cycling in America.

If you are considering a long or a shorter ride, lots of information is available these days to make your ride more comfortable and safe. Bike riding on a long ride requires planning, but rest assured there are many others out there who have gathered lots of information for avid cyclists to review before getting out on a major ride.

There are many options these days for bike riders who have decided to venture out on a longer ride across states. A good resource is Adventure Cycling Association. Maps and routes can be found on their website. One of the best things about these routes and maps is that they have been traversed by many riders before you. You can get your hands on either print or digital formats for ease of use on your ride.

Those who have done big rides before say it is really important to plan, but equally important to be flexible. A major bike ride can be the joy of a lifetime and planning and preparation are important to that. As with all travel, things can happen that are not expected, so those in the know remind cyclists to go with the flow and embrace the unexpected as part of the experience. If you need a repair or a part, or if you left something back home, dealing with those experiences can be a quirky and yet positive part of the journey.

Mickey G. Roberts, PC is proud to support the cycling and biking community in Atlanta and across Georgia. Please ride safely. In the unfortunate event of an accident or injury of any kind and you have a need for legal guidance, we are here to answer questions and to advise you on your legal rights. We are experienced with the issues involved in cycling and biking injury matters and can help you and your family sort through the challenges presented after an accident. Please feel free to contact us at any time for a consultation at no charge to you.More

Georgia Low THC Oil Law Amended

Georgia lawmakers managed to pass a meaningful expansion of the two year-old cannabis oil law by adding several new qualifying conditions and making it easier for some patients with a current qualifying condition to receive certification, although in-state cultivation is still off the table (for now).

The law was signed by the governor on May 7, and will mean patients who suffer from Tourette’s Syndrome, Autism and other medical conditions that have shown promise with the treatment of medical marijuana will now qualify for certification under Georgia’s Low THC Oil program. In addition, patients who are under the care of a Georgia hospice will also qualify for cannabis oil. Specifically, patients with the following medical conditions will now qualify for a low THC oil card:

  1. Cancer, when the disease is severe or end stage OR treatment produces wasting or nausea and vomiting
  2. ALS (severe or end stage)
  3. Seizure disorders related to epilepsy or head trauma
  4. MS (severe or end stage)
  5. Crohn’s disease
  6. Mitochondrial disease
  7. Parkinson’s disease (severe or end stage)
  8. Sickle Cell disease (severe or end stage)
  9. Tourette’s Syndrome (severe)
  10. Autism (all patients over 18 qualify, under 18 must be diagnosed as severe)
  11. Epidermolysis bullosa
  12. Alzheimer’s disease (severe or end stage)
  13. AIDS (severe or end stage)
  14. Peripheral neuropathy (severe or end stage)

In addition to the new conditions listed above, SB16 makes other changes to Georgia’s low THC oil law, including:

  • Removes the one-year residency requirement.
  • Allows certification for patients that are in either an inpatient or outpatient hospice program, regardless of diagnosis.
  • Requires semi-annual reporting by recommending physicians to include the level of THC in the oil the patient has been taking.
  • Provides reciprocity for qualified patients from other states that allow the patient to possess low THC oil

MORE TO DO:

The law did not include a mechanism for in-state cannabis cultivation or cannabis oil production, as well as the exclusion of conditions like PTSD and Fibromyalgia. Rep. Alan Peake offered a separate resolution earlier in the legislative session  that would have given Georgia voters a say on the issue of in-state cultivation but it was defeated in the House.

If you or your loved ones suffer from the above medical conditions and need more information, you can contact me or go to georgiacannabis.org

 

 

WHEN COPS LIE

The recent case in Gwinnett County, Georgia, involving the firing of two officers , is troubling in many ways. The incident shows why we need body cameras on all police officers in this country, and it also shows the absolute need for citizens to vigilantly record police encounters.

Sergant Michael Bongiovanni stopped Demetrius Hollins for a minor traffic violation. According to Bongiovanni’s incident report, Hollins was so uncooperative that he (Bongiovanni) tasered Hollins. A citizen witness videotaped a second officer, Robert McDonald, stomping on Hollins’ head after Hollins was lying on the ground handcuffed. McDonald was summarily fired by the Gwinnett County Police Department.

Later, a second video surfaced which showed what had actually happened before McDonald arrived on scene: Hollins was out of his car, both hands raised, when Bongiovanni punched him in the face, knocking him down. There was absolutely no justification, at least by viewing the video, that any reasonable person could say Bongiovanni acted properly. In fact, what we see is a crime, either of simple battery, but more than likely a felony of aggravated assault.

It sickens me that an officer would act this way, but more than that, it sickens me that Bongiovanni would lie in his report, not only throwing McDonald under the bus, but lying to save his own hide.

I am saddened by this incident. On the whole most Gwinnett officers are professional and do their jobs. But there are 2 really important lessons that come from this incident:

  1. Police must do a better job “policing” their own. Over his 17 year career, Bongiovanni had numerous “use of force” complaints, all of which had been dismissed by GCPD. When there are numerous use of force complaints filed by average citizens, that should be a red flag causing police supervisors to more closely scrutinize the officer.
  2. This incident once again undermines the trust we have in our police and in our criminal justice system. And when the citizenry loses trust in its institutions, the entire system is in danger of breaking down.

The Gwinnett solicitor, Rosanna Szabo, dismissed 89 cases involving arrests made by Bongiovanni and McDonald. Good for her; there is no way the officers credibility, especially Bongiovanni, would have been believed by any fair minded, reasonable juror.

In our criminal justice system, the “players”: police, judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers, all have roles to play. All are considered “officers” of the court. ALL are, and should be, held to higher ethical standards than the citizen not engaged in the criminal justice system. When any of these people act in an unethical manner, it undermines the very foundation of a fair, balanced system, and those unethical actions must be punished accordingly.

 

 

 

 

CHARGED WITH SERIOUS INJURY OR VEHICULAR HOMICIDE? WHAT TO DO FIRST

I hope you never find yourself in any of these situations: You are leaving a wedding, end up in an accident, and the other person in your car dies; you are going home after a long day at work, fall asleep, run off the road, hit a tree and your child receives stitches; you are driving your car in a parking lot and a young child runs in front of you; you hit the child, injuring her, and even though you had had only 2 beers, are charged with DUI/ serious injury.

I have represented people in all of those situations, all ending up with positive results; these were basically normal, good, decent, folks who, for whatever reason, had an accident in which someone died or sustained a “serious injury. When that happens, a case can go from being a misdemeanor, with possible punishment up to a year in jail, to a felony with prison up to 15 years!

Should you find yourself charged with such a crime there are some things to should do IMMEDIATELY:

  1. At the scene, do not admit to anything or say anything to witnesses or the police;
  2. Do not agree to perform field sobriety evaluations;
  3. Do not agree to any breath test on the side of the road;
  4. Do not agree to any state administered chemical test, UNLESS you have had only one or two drinks;
  5. Exercise your rights against self-incrimination under Georgia law by refusing to answer police questions and also by asking for a lawyer;
  6. As soon as you can, get your car released from impound;
  7. As soon as possible, call a qualified, experienced lawyer.

There are numerous reasons to hire a qualified experienced Vehicular Homicide or Serious Injury lawyer , such as my self:

  1. I will obtain the initial police report and police training record immediately;
  2. I will have an accident reconstructionist onboard as soon as possible, to take a look at the accident scene and your car;
  3. I will proceed, if necessary, to apply for bond immediately;
  4. I will then recommend a plan for you to help you with the case down the road, including, if necessary, an alcohol evaluation and treatment if necessary;
  5. Once I get the initial evidence I will outline a plan to aggressively defend the case.
  6. I have over 37 years of experience in handling these types of cases.

A conviction for felony vehicular homicide and for serious injury by vehicle can have a devastating impact on your life and the lives of your family; it is urgent that you act fast in obtaining qualified legal representation.

 

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR’E IN AN ACCIDENT

If you are involved in an auto or cycling accident with another party, whether you are injured or not, you should always call 911 and report the accident. Failure to stop and provide information in accident, where there is damage to any vehicle, is a crime, called by various names, including hit and run, and depending on the charge can result in driver’s license suspension. If you are involved in an accident with damage, DO NOT let the other driver talk you out of calling the police.

 

Do not agree with the other party to an arrangement that does not involve calling the police, because by calling the police, there will at least be an official accident report. If you need to file a personal injury or property damage claim against the other driver, a police report is essential.

 

In addition to police accident reports, EMS reports can be helpful in a later personal injury claim.

Also, as soon as possible, obtain the following information:

  1. the other driver’s name, address, phone, email and any other contact information;
  2. the other driver’s insurance company’s name, telephone number, and policy number;
  3. names and contact information of any witnesses;
  4. your immediate thoughts and observations;
  5. take photos of the accident scene, your injuries and damage to the cars;

In building a personal injury, money damage, claim against a negligent party, the initial few minutes after an accident can be crucial; even if you don’t think you are injured, if you do not call the police, EMS, etc., and at least have an official report, your case becomes much harder to prove.

If you have been hurt in an accident, whether involving a car, motorcycle, truck, or bicycle, my team can help you obtain the maximum recovery you deserve.

Call Georgia injury attorney Mickey Roberts at 678-775-6843 for a free evaluation of your case today!

 

 

Georgia Senate Passes “Driverless” Car Law

On March 3, 2017 the Georgia Senate unanimously passed a law authorizing the operation of so called “automated” motor vehicles. The bill still needs to get through the House for final approval before being sent to Governor Deal.

The Senate bill defines “Automated Driving System (ADS) as hardware and software that collectively is capable of operating all aspects of “dynamic driving tasks” without the supervision of a human operator.

Dynamic driving tasks means the operational aspects, including steering, braking, accelerating, and monitoring of a vehicle, and tactical aspects, including responding to events, determining when to change lanes, turning, using signals, and other related activities.

The law would also exempt any person who is in an automated motor vehicle while the ADS is engaged, from needing a drivers license.

The law provides that a motor vehicle with the ADS engaged does NOT have to have a human present while it is operating on the highways of this state, although the owner has to ensure that the car is being operated in compliance with Georgia laws, maintains liability insurance, and is properly registered.

I haven’t heard whether this law has any chance of passing this year, but it does seem that automated vehicles will be here sooner than later, and will bring along with them all sorts of legal issues, some known and some unknown. Stay tuned….

 

 

 

Search of Backpack Ruled Illegal

 

The 4th Amendment prohibits the government from “unreasonable” search and seizure of your person, houses, papers, and effects. A search can either be obtained with a search warrant obtained by the police from a magistrate, or can be a “warrantless” search, which can occur if the cop has probable cause to search, obtains consent to search, or there are exigent circumstances where it would take too long to obtain a search warrant. The various things that can be searched in current times are unlimited. When contraband is found as a result of a warrantless search, many times a “Motion to Suppress” is filed with the court asking the court to exclude the contraband from evidence.

Search cases almost always are decided on a factual case by case basis. A recent Georgia case, State v. Cook , decided in July, 2016, involved the warrantless search of a person’s backpack.

Nekia Cook was involved in an accident and taken to Grady Hospital. Security officers noticed an odor of marijuana coming from Cook’s backpack, confiscated the bag, and searched it. Inside they found a mason jar full of marijuana. The security officers called the Atlanta Police, who searched the bag without obtaining a warrant.

A warrantless search is presumed to be invalid, and the State has the burden of proving otherwise. At the hearing to suppress the marijuana evidence, the only person to testify was the Atlanta cop; the security officers did not testify. The Atlanta officer had no personal knowledge of what the security officers had seen, nor did the Atlanta officer smell marijuana himself,   nor did the APD officer include any such information in his report.

Since no evidence was presented by the State which would have given the APD cop reason to search the backpack, and since Cook neither consented to a search, nor were there exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless search, the evidence was obtained illegally and was suppressed from evidence.

For you, the important thing to remember is that you should NEVER consent to a search of your person, house, car, or personal property. The Constitution provides us certain protections from the government, and we need to use those protections. If you are charged with a crime involving drugs, you need an experienced, aggressive lawyer with knowledge of search and seizure law. Please do not hesitate to call me if you find yourself in such a situation.

 

MEDICAL RECORDS AND DUI CASES

One of the common questions I get in DUI cases with an accident is: “Can the State use my medical records against me at trial?”

The short answer is “yes”, under Georgia law, medical records may be introduced into evidence at trial pursuant to a valid subpoena from the State.

An example comes from the case of Samuels v. State, 325 Ga. App. 819, decided in April, 2016.

Samuels had been involved in an accident, was taken to the hospital, and subsequently prosecuted for a DUI. At trial, hospital records were admitted which stated that Samuels was “intoxicated” when she arrived at the emergency room. The records also indicated she had a history of alcohol abuse.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the medical records were properly admitted at trial, because the records were made to facilitate Samuels’ treatment, and were not made in anticipation of prosecution. The Georgia Supreme Court has specifically held that medical records created for treatment purposes are not “testimonial”, and hence are not subject to exclusion under Georgia’s evidence rules.

Of course, there may be HIPPA concerns on the part of the hospital, but the real question is whether the subpoena was proper, then if the medical records were originated because of treatment, and not in anticipation of being used as evidence in a future prosecution.

In the Samuels case, it appears the medical records were used to show the Ms. Samuels was intoxicated when she was admitted to the ER.

On the other hand, I have probably seen more cases where medical records do NOT indicate impairment or intoxication. Many times the medical records will indicate a person to be alert, their speech normal, being able to communicate properly, and so forth, when the police report indicates otherwise. Therefore the admissibility of medical records cuts both ways, and can be used by both the State and Defense in presenting evidence at trial.

 

 

 

The Difference between Battery, Simple Battery and Family Violence Battery

The Georgia law has two separate code sections which involve physical altercations between persons: simple battery and battery.

A “simple battery” is committed when a person intentionally makes contact of an “insulting or provoking” nature with another person, or intentionally causes harm to another.

A “battery” is committed when a person intentionally causes “substantial” physical harm or visible harm to another.

Generally, an example of a simple battery would be where a person shoves another.

An example of a battery, is when a person hits or touches another person to the extent that there is visibly bodily harm such as black eyes, swollen lips, bruises, etc.

Both simple battery and battery become “family battery” when the battery is committed against past or present spouses, person who are parents of the same child, stepparents, grandparents, children, etc, or other persons living in the same household.

Most of the battery cases we see are batteries involving spouses. While courts consider any physical harm to another as serious, in particular family violence cases are concerning to the State.

In most cases, the suspected batterer will be “restrained” from contacting the victim for a period of time. And if you are under such a retraining order and violate the Order, that can be considered another charge, and you could possibly be held in jail without bond!

There are several defenses to these types of cases and also ways to resolve these cases without going to trial.

It is important you hire lawyers who have special knowledge in defending these types of cases, from not only defending the criminal charge but also helping you with the Retraining Order.

For over 37 years, I have handled simple battery, battery, Family violence cases, as well as aggravated assault cases, with much success.

If you find yourself in such a situation, please call for a free consult.

 

 

He Had The Right to Remain Silent: He Didn’t

The recent case of King v. State, decided on October 17, 2016, provides wan example of why you should never volunteer information to the police about prior DUIs while under investigation for another DUI.

King was encountered by Henry County police, standing outside of his Jeep, which was pulled off the road with flashers on and hood up. The officer noticed King was a little unsteady, his speech was slurred and he smelled strongly of alcohol. The officer also located an unopened 24 oz. can of beer in King’s car.

Because of health issues no standard field tests were administered, but King was asked to say his ABCs, which he was unable to do. Because of King’s physical appearance, the officer placed King under arrest.

The officer then read King the Implied Consent warning, during which King stated that he was familiar with the implied consent warning because he had a prior DUI. King consented to a breath test, but after the officer placed him in the back of the police car, he began to complain of back pain and indicated that he wanted an ambulance. The officer called for medical assistance and King was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Accordingly, the breath test was not performed, but King later consented to a blood test, which showed a blood alcohol level of .307.

At trial, the State introduced evidence of King’s statement, and the Defense objected on grounds that the statement would introduce character evidence, which generally is inadmissible unless the Defendant presents evidence of good character first. The trial court allowed King’s statement about having a prior DUI into evidence and the Court of Appeals affirmed:

“As found by the trial court, the prior DUI was relevant to King’s intent to drive while intoxicated, his defense at trial that the State had failed to prove that he had driven while intoxicated (as opposed to becoming intoxicated after stopping the vehicle by the side of the road), and “peculiarities about the investigation,” including why King suddenly developed back pain moments after consenting to a breath test.

We agree. A material issue in the State’s prosecution was intent and “because the same state of mind required for committing the prior act and the charged crimes, i.e., the general intent to drive while under the influence of alcohol,” evidence of King’s prior DUI was relevant to show King’s intent on this occasion.

Likewise, the relevance of the prior DUI was heightened because King’s defense was that he did not drive the vehicle while intoxicated, “making evidence that he had voluntarily driven under the influence of alcohol on a prior occasion all the more relevant because it tended to show that it was more likely that he intentionally did so on this occasion.”

So the lesson to be learned, besides not driving while intoxicated, is that you should never voluntarily provide information which the police can use against you at trial.