Monday, April 25, 2016

E-Filing in Los Angeles County for Personal Injury Cases

Stanley Mosk is the central court in Los Angeles County for civil cases. Thousands of cases are heard each year at the Hill Street courthouse. In addition, due to changes a few years ago, all personal injury cases are initially filed at Stanley Mosk. It is referred to as the personal injury hub.

Prior to February 2016, there were a few ways to file a case. One way -- the old fashion way -- was to walk it in and file it in person with the civil clerk in Room 102. A plaintiff could also file by mailing in the lawsuit, with a check for the filing fee. Finally, fax filing was an option as well. No more, however. Cases no longer can be filed by fax.

Personal injury cases can now be e-filed! It appears that e-filing may be rolled out for all civil cases, but as of now, it is limited to personal injury causes of action.

The technological change is welcomed. Los Angeles County falls behind Orange County and San Diego County with respect to e-filing. Los Angeles County certainly handles larger volumes of cases but one way to increase productivity and efficiency is to embrace technology.

Initiation of a personal injury case requires a complaint, summons, and cover sheet. A complaint is a legal document that contains the claims made against the defendant. It is meant to provide notice of why the plaintiff is seeking monetary damages. The summons is a procedural document that gives information as to the pending litigation against the defendant. It obligates the defendant to respond to the allegations made. The cover sheet helps the clerk determine where to assign the case.

If you or someone you know has a potential case, it is prudent to consult with a personal injury attorney. One should not e-file a case pro per unless they understand the ramifications of proceeding forward without representation.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Constitutional Right to Effective Representation in Trouble

The Constitution is the bedrock of our Republic. Not only did it formulate a form of government meant to distribute powers among the branches, it also established personal liberties and rights. Among those rights, includes the right to an attorney. The Fifth and Sixth Amendments should be respected.

Unfortunately, throughout our country, lack of public funding has led to a crisis in adequate criminal representation. The New York Times recently reported that Louisiana defendants are without counsel. In some situations, the accused remain in jail without a trial date. Some in the criminal defense bar are being compelled, without pay, to represent indigent defendants.

Louisiana judges have threatened to release defendants due to the crisis. Despite being outright appalling, Louisiana does not stand alone. States are struggling to find ways to pay for public defenders. As is, public defenders face enormous challenges: having to litigate hundreds of cases without much assistance. Instead of justice being served, often, it is an assembly-line to get cases completed quickly without second thought as to the defendant's guilt or innocence.

Most citizens do not pay attention to this growing problem. Such issues are not important until it becomes a personal issue -- say when a family or friend has been charged with a crime. Our country should care about these constitutional rights.

Even if states are being irresponsible with their budgets, public defense must be paid for. More funds must be allocated to these offices.

Additionally, novel approaches must be considered. Funding cannot rely solely upon traffic ticket revenues. A Texas county announced that it intended to experiment with a voucher program. The county will allow a defendant to choose an attorney of his or her choice, and provide a certain amount of the funds for representation. Other experiments should be done.

We do not expect constitutional principles to be disregarded when it is difficult to find the money. Our elected officials must make it a priority. You, as a citizen or resident, should make your voice heard. Let's protect the constitutional right to an attorney.