• What is Evidence?

    Ed Shaw Law Blog Jun 23, 2015 | 06:31 am

    CRIMINAL LAW, FAMILY LAW, CIVIL LAW, REAL ESTATE LAW, TRIALS

    WHAT IS EVIDENCE?

    Clients often tell me they have no proof when they have not physical evidence or documents to support their claim.  It is easy to assume, after watching Bones, CSI, Dexter and similar T.V. crime programs that cases always involve clear physical evidence gathered by hard working, and usually very attractive detectives and scientists in white lab coats and tailored suits.  

    The real legal world is not as simple.  In most cases, there is not clear physical evidence that proves a case one way or the other, there is often no physical evidence at all, even in many criminal cases.  Real world criminal investigations are much less thorough than what you see on TV.  Most evidence is produced in the form of testimony, witness statements about what happened.  When there are competing witness accounts, judges decide which witnesses are more credible in determining which side has proven their case.  What is said in court and how it is said is important, how you come across as a witness could determine whether you win or lose your case.  Do not wait for the white coats to show up and save the day for you.

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  • In Family Law, Don't Push Your Luck

    Ed Shaw Law Blog Jun 16, 2015 | 06:30 am

    DON'T PUSH YOUR LUCK

    FAMILY LAW, CIVIL LAW, REAL ESTATE LAW DIVORCE

    The old saying don't push your luck can come true in the legal world.  Sometimes negotiating an agreement in a divorce, custody dispute or civil case can be tough, the other side is not always reasonable, we need to push the issue or go to court if necessary.  Other times, the other side may be very reasonable right away, they want to get the case settled and move on with their lives.  When that happens, I advise my clients to take a good deal instead of pushing for more.  Sometimes you can get an even better deal, but more often than not pushing too far can make the other side pull their offer and dig in, I have seen it happen.  

    When you get a good offer to end a case, jump on it and move on with your life, you will be glad you did.

    Ed

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  • Criminal Charges and their Effects

    Ed Shaw Law Blog Jun 9, 2015 | 06:29 am

    CRIMINAL LAW, CRIMINAL DEFENSE
    What should you do if you are charged with a serious crime?
    Being charged with any crime is serious, even misdemeanors can have far reaching consequences.  Serious felonies put you in a whole different situation.  A conviction for one will most likely send you to prison, possibly for decades.  You will almost certainly lose your job, your marriage if you are married, and starting over after prison with a felony criminal record is very difficult.  You will lose your right to vote, and if you are convicted of a sex crime you will be required to register as a sex offender for many years, or the rest of your life.
    What should you do if you are facing a serious felony charge?  Do not give up, but treat if like a diagnosis for a very serious illness, fighting it should become your one and only priority.  If you lose nothing else will matter.
       
    What should you look for in an attorney?  One who knows their stuff, but more importantly, one who is willing to make your case their number one priority.  A defense that gives you the best chance to win will involve months of pre-trial work designed to give you the best chance to win, consultation with psychological experts who may be called to testify on your behalf, a trial that will likely last a week or more, two week trials are common in these types of cases, and single minded focus for the duration of the trial.  Needless to say this will not come cheap.  Effective serious case defense will cost you well into the 5 figures.  If you pay cheap in this type of situation you will probably get what you pay for, and be on the fast track to prison.
    Ed

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  • Criminal Law and Defense

    Ed Shaw Law Blog Jun 5, 2015 | 06:28 am

    CRIMINAL LAW, CRIMINAL DEFENSE


    Almost everyone has heard these words uttered dozens of time on T.V. police shows 'you have the right to remain silent'.  What do they mean?  Any citizen who is accused of a crime does not have to speak to police about what they are accused of doing, or speak in court at their trial unless they want to.  Whether you speak to police investigating the case, or at your trial when you are accused of a crime are two very different issues.
    With very few exceptions, it is not a good idea to talk to police investigating you in connection with a crime, despite police often saying that you do not need a lawyer.  The same police who tell you not to get a lawyer do not hesitate to get one before saying anything when they are accused of excessive force or other illegal behavior on duty.  When you are in trouble, do what police do when they are in trouble, lawyer up.

    Remaining silent at your trial is a very different story.  If you are on trial the jury will be hearing from your accusers saying that you committed a crime.  If you remain silent that is all they will hear from, meaning that they will probably believe them and convict you.  Even though the jury can be instructed not to assume that you are guilty because you remained silent, in the real world they will think you are if you do not speak up.  With very few exceptions, remaining silent at your trial is a fast track to jail, or prison. 
    While every case is unique, you will usually not go wrong following this simple rule, outside of the courtroom, shut up unless your lawyer is with you.  Inside the courtroom, plan on telling the jury why you are not guilty, with the help of your lawyer.  

    Ed

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  • Modern Witch Trials

    Ed Shaw Law Blog Jun 3, 2015 | 06:26 am

    FAMILY LAW, CHILD CUSTODY, CRIMINAL LAW, CHILD PROTECTION
    You may have heard of the Salem Witch Trials.  In late 1600's Massachusetts, under the Puritans not unlike modern Saudi Arabia in governing based on religious extremism, hundreds of women were put to death because they were thought to be witches.  Most were executed after trials which were dominated by junk science, gut feelings and shaky evidence.

    Our legal system has moved beyond this for the most part, but when it comes to accusations of abuse of children our methods of determining the truth can be questionable.  Child protection social workers, and police investigators who handle child abuse cases are generally trained in interviewing children who may be victims of physical or sexual abuse.  Proper training in determining if abuse happened is complex because it is very hard to get the truth out of children.  Children are very subject to adult influences, and  can come to believe stories that are not true.  Not all social workers are properly trained, or stay updated on current developments in interview techniques, and some counties, including Crow Wing do not follow all of the recommended best ways to conduct interviews, but at least they have some training in interviewing children.  In some cases, including one I was recently involved in, an interview of children in a case where the parents were disputing custody and abuse allegations were made was conducted by a guardian ad litem with no training in interviewing child victims of abuse.  

    Despite social services and law enforcement not seeing any reason to take action, and a many year history of false accusations on the part of the parent who made the claims of abuse, the guardian told the court that she believed the children had been abused, and custody of the children was changed, their contact with the parent they had lived with for several years limited to a couple hours per week at a supervised visit center.  If you are accused of child abuse, or believe your children are victims of abuse, would you want someone with no training making a decision that could end your relationship with your children, or subject your children to further abuse based on their uneducated gut feeling?  Probably not, but that is happening to others like you right now.  If you are involved in any type of abuse accusation get professional help right away.  There are ways to bring experts on board, they are not cheap, but when the stakes are this high you cannot trust the system to work for you or your kids, if often does not.

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  • Teamwork in Family/Civil Law Pays

    Ed Shaw Law Blog May 27, 2015 | 06:25 am

    TEAMWORK PAYS
    It is easy to think that a legal dispute is a zero sum game, your side only gains at the expense of the other side, your lawyer should never cooperate with the other lawyer.  That is not true, In many cases cooperation can actually pay off for both sides.  Both sides in a dispute can make decisions that will streamline how the cases is handled, saving each thousands of dollars.  Instead of formal discovery, information can be exchanged informally.  Agreements can be made to reduce pre-trial workloads and shorten trials by agreeing to use documents instead of paying to bring witnesses to court.  If done well, these types of agreements shorten the legal proceedings without harming or favoring either side.  Regardless of who wins the case, each side pays thousands less in fees and costs.  

    Good lawyering involves both cooperation and competition.  A lawyer who only knows how to compete will cost you more money without getting a better result.

    Ed

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  • The right to remain silent

    Ed Shaw Law Blog Mar 23, 2015 | 13:04 pm

    CRIMINAL LAW, CRIMINAL DEFENSE

    Almost everyone has heard these words uttered dozens of time on T.V. police shows 'you have the right to remain silent'.  What do they mean?  Any citizen who is accused of a crime does not have to speak to police about what they are accused of doing, or speak in court at their trial unless they want to.  Whether you speak to police investigating the case, or at your trial when you are accused of a crime are two very different issues.
    With very few exceptions, it is not a good idea to talk to police investigating you in connection with a crime, despite police often saying that you do not need a lawyer.  The same police who tell you not to get a lawyer do not hesitate to get one before saying anything when they are accused of excessive force or other illegal behavior on duty.  When you are in trouble, do what police do when they are in trouble, lawyer up.


    Remaining silent at your trial is a very different story.  If you are on trial the jury will be hearing from your accusers saying that you committed a crime.  If you remain silent that is all they will hear from, meaning that they will probably believe them and convict you.  Even though the jury can be instructed not to assume that you are guilty because you remained silent, in the real world they will think you are if you do not speak up.  With very few exceptions, remaining silent at your trial is a fast track to jail, or prison.  
    While every case is unique, you will usually not go wrong following this simple rule, outside of the courtroom, shut up unless your lawyer is with you.  Inside the courtroom, plan on telling the jury why you are not guilty, with the help of your lawyer.  

    Ed

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  • Health Care Directive & Power of Attorney

    Ed Shaw Law Blog Feb 5, 2015 | 11:01 am

    What is a Health Care Directive?
    A Health Care Directive or Living Will is a document that allows youto communicate your wishes regarding medical treatment if you cannotmake those wishes known because of illness or injury.  It also typicallydesignates a person to make health care decisions for you if you areunable to communicate or do not have the mental capacity to make adecision.  This ensures your wishes will be followed, creates certaintyfor your family, and minimizes conflict.
    What is a Power of Attorney?
    A Power of Attorney is a document that allows another person to actfor you in financial matters.  A durable Power of Attorney allows aperson to act for you if you become incapacitated.  A durable Power ofAttorney is an important estate planning tool because it avoids theappointment of a conservator to manage your financial affairs.

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  • What is a Trust?

    Ed Shaw Law Blog Jan 29, 2015 | 11:00 am

    Like a Will, a Trust in the estate planning context, includes provisionsto distribute assets upon death, specifies who will be responsible todistributing the assets, designates a guardian for minor children andaddresses estate taxes.  Unlike a Will, a Trust is effective immediatelyrather than upon death as is true with a Will, which allows forincapacity planning.  The other advantage of a Trust is that unlike aWill, probate can be avoided if all property is transferred into theTrust prior to death.  The disadvantage of Trust is that it is moreexpensive than a Will initially because of the requirement oftransferring all property into the trust, but probate costs will beavoided.

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  • What is a Will?

    Ed Shaw Law Blog Jan 22, 2015 | 10:59 am

    A Will is a document in which a person specifies who is receive his orher property upon death, designates the person who will be responsiblefor the probating the estate, designates a guardian for minor childrenand addresses estate taxes.  One common misconception is that having aWill avoids probate.  Probate is the legal process for  of transferringthe assets of one who has passed away (“decedent”) that were owned asthe decedent’s separate property and do not transfer to others throughtitling or contractual designations (i.e., a life insurance policy) . Having a Will does not avoid probate and is essentially an instructionto the probate court.  However, having a Will does make the probateprocess less complicated and likely less costly.

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