It’s OK to talk directly with public officials

first_imgSo long as it is not related to litigation; then you need to go through their lawyers Senior EditorLawyers are not constrained from directly approaching government officials unless it involves a matter in which the government agency is specifically represented by counsel, according to the Professional Ethics Committee.The committee ratified a Bar staff ethics opinion that had been modified by a subcommittee, addressing a question raised by a law firm. The firm deals with a financial regulatory agency and has four lawsuits pending on behalf of various clients.The firm wanted to know if it could approach agency employees directly, without going through the agency’s general counsel when representing clients on matters not related to the litigation.Aside from that question, the committee also rejected a proposed Bar rule to regulate lawyers when they outsource paralegal work to other countries and debated and ultimately tabled a question on whether a lawyer could own a nonlegal firm that attempts to negotiate a reduction in medical liens due when a client’s personal injury case is concluded.The staff opinion on approaching government officials analyzed Rule 4-4.2 It delineated three scenarios, and concluded, “Rule 4-4.2, as clarified by its comments, prohibits communications with protected employees about the subject matter of a specific controversy or matter on which an attorney knows or has reason to know that a governmental attorney is providing representation unless the agency’s attorney first consents to the communication. The rule does not prohibit an attorney from communicating with other agency employees who are not protected employees, nor does it prohibit an attorney from communicating with protected employees on subjects unrelated to those controversies in which the agency attorney is actually known to be providing representation.”The opinion defines a “protected employee” as one “who supervises, directs, or regularly consults with the organization’s lawyer concerning the matter or has authority to obligate the organization with respect to the matter, or whose act or omission in connection with that matter may be imputed to the organization for purposes of civil or criminal liability.” This definition is taken from the comment to Rule 4-4.2.The opinion also cautioned that attorneys must be careful not to discuss matters under litigation or likely to become the subject of litigation when they contact government employees.Committee member Jay Martus, a corporate general counsel, said the opinion, which had been reworked by a subcommittee, was more lax than the rule.“It says as a consequence the inquiring attorneys are not prohibited from communicating with decisionmakers on other topics,” he said. “The rule does require those parties in state agencies who are in fact represented by the general counsel, that the general counsel should be in a position to be consulted with before those state agency officials are contacted.. . . “What you’re doing is saying Rule 4-4.2 only applies when they have actual knowledge that the general counsel is involved in this specific matter. And that the general counsel can be avoided if the general counsel is not known to be involved in this particular issue.”In the private arena, Martus said, “If someone is known to be represented, you don’t go to that lawyer’s client, you go to the lawyer.”Others disagreed, noting the comment to the rule recognizes that there is a constitutional right in normal circumstances to discuss issues with public officials.“Isn’t there a distinction that we’re making here between the general counsel of a private corporation and the general counsel to a government body to which there are constitutional rights?” asked committee member Lee Haas. “Or how to deal with the general counsel who says you can’t meet with anyone from the agency because he represents the whole agency?”Bar Board of Governors members Larry Sellers said the committee should make sure that restrictions are not more severe for lawyers — when they are acting in a nonlegal capacity — than for nonlawyers, such as lobbyists, who regularly deal with government agencies.The committee eventually voted to approve the staff opinion, with minor changes, with Martus casting the only dissenting vote.On sending outsourcing paralegal services to other countries — a practice known as “offshoring” — a subcommittee headed by Martus presented a suggested rule. The Bar Board of Governors, after approving a PEC-approved ethics opinion, asked the committee to look at the issue further to see if guidelines or a rule change was needed.The committee recommended guidelines, which were approved by the board and are posted on the Bar’s Web site, and the subcommittee continued to look at a possible rule change.Martus said the proposed rule defined the offshore work as including only legal support services that do not constitute the practice of law. It would then require that the client give informed consent to sending the information overseas, that the lawyer investigate the qualifications of the person or company performing the work, and that the attorney has a responsibility to supervise the work.“In short, do an investigation, and get informed consent before you send the work to a jurisdiction that may have totally different rules,” he said.But other committee members expressed skepticism about the proposal.Committee member Bill Wagner said it was too complex and perhaps unneeded. Any rule should be limited to a requirement that the client be informed about the offshoring and its risks and give consent, he said.Committee member Tim Chinaris agreed, saying trying to write a rule on offshoring would be like trying to write a rule on using cell phones, e-mails, and other fast-changing technologies because it will always be behind actual practice. He said existing rules and the approved guidelines are adequate.Dore Louis, who served on the subcommittee, said he doesn’t think offshoring should be allowed, “but the rule is needed if that is going to happen.. . . It’s a rule that recognizes the problems inherent in sending a client’s information all over the world. In my opinion, it’s going to happen, but there needs to be a rule of professional conduct that addresses it.”Others argued the rule didn’t supply enough details, such as whether those doing the work in other countries should have to read and be familiar with Florida ethics rules, and whether lawyers should be required to make sure that happens.The committee, after extensive debate, rejected the proposed rules by a 9-17 vote.The medical lien resolution involved an appeal from an inquiry which asked “whether it was permissible [for a lawyer] to hold an interest in a lien resolution business that would resolve medical liens in personal injury cases and would bill out the use of that service as a cost to clients in personal injury cases.” A Bar staff opinion said that activity would be impermissible because it raised questions involving excessive fees, exceeding the allowed contingency fee schedule, failed to provide competent representation to the client, and implicated unlicensed practice of law issues.Martus said he was concerned that negotiations to reduce medical liens, especially with governmental agencies, could involve complex legal matters that would seem to raise UPL issues.Wagner said it would be difficult for a personal injury attorney to advise a client on settling a case if it was unclear how much the client would net because lien issues had not been negotiated. “To farm it out and charge the client more money seems unfair,” he added.But former Bar President Howard Coker, who attended the meeting to address the issue, said there can be benefits for clients.“Many times [settlement] companies have better lines of communications [with Medicaid, Medicare, and medical providers] than the attorney who calls up out of the blue,” he said. “We always make the attempt to reduce the liens, but what I’m concerned about is it takes an awful amount of time and it ties up the money. If the firm can do it quicker, then it’s in the client’s interest.”Dan Alvarez, representing the company proposing to do the lien negotiating and which asked the PEC for its opinion, said the company can hire people with expertise and contacts with government agencies and thereby expedite settling those liens.But after further discussion, the committee approved a motion to table the matter pending input from the Bar’s UPL office.The committee also considered a related ethics inquiry, which asked if an attorney could take a case to negotiate a reduction of medical liens under a reverse contingency fee contract. The committee, after discussion, voted to uphold the staff opinion, with a minor change: that such an agreement would not be ethical because attorneys typically agree to handle such lien negotiations under the original case contingency fee agreement, and, therefore, any additional fee for negotiating the lien would constitute an excessive fee.On another matter, the committee voted to recommend amendments to Rules 4-1.12, 4-2.4, and 4-8.3. Those amendments would specify that an attorney is exempt from the professional misconduct reporting requirement when the attorney gained the information when acting as a mediator, arbitrator, or other third neutral and in a setting that is privileged or confidential under applicable law.That recommendation now goes to the Bar Board of Governors for its review. August 15, 2009 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News It’s OK to talk directly with public officialscenter_img It’s OK to talk directly with public officialslast_img read more

Granting bail is a judicial discretion – Chief Magistrate

first_imgLocalNews Granting bail is a judicial discretion – Chief Magistrate by: – September 10, 2013 Share The decision to grant bail to an accused person and the bail sum is based on judicial discretion, Chief Magistrate Evelina Baptiste has said.According to the laws of the Commonwealth of Dominica, every person is entitled to bail. “Every case is different; every person that comes to stand bail is different, so the sum you’re going to set bail at will be higher or lower,” Ms Baptiste told Dominica Vibes. She explained that in considering a bail application, she notes whether the surety has sufficient control over the defendant to bring him to court, what kind of person the defendant is and whether the person will flee the jurisdiction if granted bail, among others.“I think it’s a judicial discretion. You also have to look at the nature of the offence, that’s how I approach it and that’s how I think it should be done,” she said. Ms Baptiste also noted that while the issuance of bail may appear to be simple, there is a process, a procedure and reasoning involved. “The starting point of all this is the right of the citizen. He might be accused of committing an offense, but the right to liberty is a fundamental right to every citizen, the liberty of the citizen is paramount,” she said. Therefore, she stated that the issue of bail should be examined carefully by the magistrate. Recently, attorney Gildon Richards was asked by magistrate Bernard Pacquette to leave court due to an argument that ensued between them after magistrate Pacquette asked the police prosecutor to propose a bail sum in a bail application made by Richards. Although, the chief magistrate reserved comment on the incident because she has not yet received any written report on the matter, she indicated that the operations of the court should be handled in a professional manner. “I am just concerned that things should not be done that would put the court in any disrepute, that’s what my main concern is,” Ms Baptiste said.It is not clear whether the parties involved; magistrate and attorney will submit an official report.There are generally five grounds which are considered by magistrates or judges when considering a bail application. These grounds are;(i) the risk of the Defendant absconding bail,(ii) the risk of the Defendant interfering with the course of justice,(iii) preventing crime,(iv) preserving public order, and(v) the necessity of detention to protect the Defendant.Dominica Vibes News Tweet Sharing is caring!center_img Share Share 25 Views   no discussionslast_img read more

No. 18 West Florida Confirms Spring Schedule

first_imgNo. 18 West Florida Confirms Spring Schedule Share Photo courtesy of Jim Hoque center_img PENSACOLA, Fla.- The No. 18 West Florida women’s golf team confirmed their 2011 spring schedule on Tuesday. The Argos placed inside the top 10 in each of their four fall tournaments and look to continue their success in hopes of their sixth straight Gulf South Conference championship.The Argos will compete in four tournaments this spring starting February 21-22 in Lakeland, Fla. at the Lady Moc Invitational hosted by regional opponent No. 2 Florida Southern. West Florida will then head north to compete at the Ann Rhoads Invitational in Birmingham, Ala. on February 27-28. On March 21-22 the Argonauts will compete at the Lady Eagle classic in Hattiesburg, Miss. and will conclude their regular season on April 11-12 in Troy, Ala. at the Troy University Invitational.The first post season tournament if the Argonauts qualify will be April 17-18 in Hot Springs, Ark. at the GSC tournament. For information on all UWF athletics visit Friendly Versionlast_img read more

Nicolas Estrup on BLAST’s separation from Astralis, CS:GO landscape

first_imgThings have changed drastically in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ecosystem in the past few months, with ESL and FLASHPOINT going to war in an attempt to produce a healthier scene for all.Where does BLAST, the tournament organiser that split from Astralis in mid-2019, fit into the evolving landscape? How did it turn public perception around with a single tournament? How will the aforementioned changes really affect CS:GO? Esports Insider spoke with Nicolas Estrup, Director of Product & Experience for BLAST, to get some answers.Photo credit: BLASTRFRSH Entertainment owning and operating both Astralis and BLAST led to comments and criticism from those in the scene, stating a conflict of interest as possible with the team competing in BLAST events. In a move that was seen as conceding to the peer pressure by some, BLAST and Astralis officially split in August last year.“Back in that whole transitional period, to the public, it may have seemed as if it happened in a very short amount of time,” said Estrup of the separation. “For us working there, it was always on the cards. Back in the period where popular opinion wasn’t always swaying in our favour, we always tried to be really transparent when it came to that. My whole team worked on BLAST ever since that we conceptualised it, we were a pretty big group of people that worked on nothing but BLAST, so we were pretty much already in two already.“There were different resources that went from one side to the other where it made sense, but for the majority of the time, we were pretty split up – especially in the last six months or so leading up to when the split actually happened,” he continued. “So when it came to doing it, I think the majority of staff felt the way that all the cards landed on the table made sense already.”In the months following the uncoupling of BLAST and Astralis Group, both companies seemingly did quite well. Could that be chalked up to the new lease of life, spared of public scrutiny, or was it just business as usual with the split having minimal impact?“For both parties, it was a fresh start,” Estrup explained. “A split like that is always tricky, you never know how employees are going to take it and public perception is a consideration also. The most important thing was to make sure that employees felt informed and making that a good transition was the first step. Even though we internally knew that we were split up already, for everyone working there it was just a weight off of their shoulders. It meant that all of a sudden, we’re all looking towards the same goal.”“It was business as usual when the split happened because the event structure was so well put in place, doing it after the split was just like any other event because we had the same people working on it,” he continued.With a clear divide already existing between the two properties while they were under one roof, it begs the questions as to how the working relationship is now. With Astralis competing in BLAST Premier, BLAST and Astralis Group have to cooperate with each other on a regular basis. “There’s obviously no Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor vibe,” joked Estrup. “I just think it was important to physically move away from each other. Not because we dislike each other, just to make operations a lot smoother and feel like a new beginning. The working relationship has been good.”“We always made sure at BLAST events that Astralis wasn’t favoured and we had to make that very clear,” he added. “There could be situations where Astralis would maybe get the smallest of the practice rooms in some hotels because we just didn’t want to send any bad signals. That was just the world we lived in the back then, where I think now we’re in a place where their demands to us as the tournament organiser is just as high as any other.”“Overall, it’s business as usual. There’s still good vibes all around.”Photo credit: BLASTChanging public perceptionThe aforementioned concern of a conflict of interest between BLAST and Astralis wasn’t the only issue plaguing the tournament organiser’s public perception. Utilising a format that was heavy on best-of-one matches, some argued that it didn’t allow for a fair and exciting competition between teams. Moving into 2020 however, especially following the BLAST Premier Spring Regular Season in London, UK, it’s perhaps never been better for the company in the court of public opinion.As Estrup explains, however, chances were in the pipeline for BLAST’s events for quite some time, utilising the knowledge gained from two years of operations to put its best foot forward going into the new year.“For a long time we knew that we wanted to change a lot of things for 2020,” he explained. “That was based on all the learnings from 2017 to 2019. All of that gave us even more knowledge on how we could operate, how we could change things for the better, and make it in a way where we still feel like we’re true to what we wanted to achieve. It’s easy to sit at home and think “Why can’t they change the format? Why can’t it be a five-day event now?” In reality, we booked the venue for only two days.”“Instead of rushing into changes and pleasing people immediately, we made a longer play and eased into what we then saw as being our 2020 format,” he continued. “Something that we’ve reflected on internally is we may have been in a place in 2018 and 2019 where we were very reactive. Not necessarily in a negative way, but just reactive where if someone said suggested something, we’d make crazy movements. That happened in Istanbul, we moved the event to not have to be on top of the exams after hearing from students.”It’s not just implementing learnings from the past two years that has allowed BLAST to alter peoples’ opinions on it, it’s purposefully gone out of its way to be more transparent. Speaking to Esports Insider is an example of such an effort, providing honest and clear answers to questions that are on the minds of many.“We’ve changed some of the ways in how we communicate externally, too,” said Estrup. “I was less vocal before, partly because we were just running so fast. What’s beautiful about the Counter-Strike community is that it’s ruthless, which is both beautiful and scary. It means that their love can go both ways. If we go and talk to well-established media, we’re probably less transparent than when I talk to you because that will go straight to the core demographic where we can be a bit more open because they expect that, they want that, and they respect that even more.”Photo credit: BLASTCS:GO’s evolving landscapeFLASHPOINT is dubbed the first team-owned league in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive environment, and ESL has established its Louvre Agreement with 13 partnered teams to provide better financial support to the organisations and players that inhabit the scene. With those two entities engaging in back-and-forth remarks and debates on social media, BLAST is no longer the primary target in public discourse.“Something that we felt like we did right was to come out as quickly as we could with our 2020 plan so that people understood it and knew what teams we were talking to,” Estrup said. “We just wanted to put everything on the table before it rolled out, we showed the new format and the new studio set-up, which was different than most others.What’s worth inspecting is BLAST’s position in the calendar in comparison to the two leagues that are vying for the top spot. Estrup believes that BLAST actually complements both FLASHPOINT and ESL, instead of competing alongside them.“I feel like we’ve ended up where we wanted to in the scene,” he told Esports Insider. “In 2018, part of our discussions was that having a league would be the reasonable thing. We later realised there wasn’t going to be a need for leagues, there’ll be plenty of them. We thought “Why don’t we just try to create a high level of competitive play in unique packaging?” to stand out from what else is going to come in the ecosystem.“With the setup we’ve made now and with ESL Pro League & FLASHPOINT, they play into our format,” he continued. “Where there are leagues being formed, we fall on top of that somehow. I think the UEFA Champions League is a good reference from the football world, there are plenty of leagues but they need somewhere to play where they can all clash.”Photo credit: BLASTThe importance of media rightsThe sale of media rights is not an anomaly in esports but, especially in CS:GO, a trend is emerging where ESL, FLASHPOINT, and BLAST are selling broadcast rights on a regional basis. Just in February, DAZN acquired the Brazilian media rights to BLAST Premier, for example.With ongoing discussions taking place in regards to monetising the industry, one that typically sees fans receive plenty of content for absolutely no content, Estrup believes that such deals will be crucial and commonplace going forward. “We all talk about how esports is going to be a financially stable ecosystem that can actually begin to thrive, I think broadcast rights plays a massive part in that,” he explained. “The more eyeballs we can get, the better it is for everyone.“On top of that comes the fact that eyeballs come at a cost,” he continued. “Having these partnerships and these companies wanting to buy-in costs and that’s where we make money. I think that is something which will increase rapidly and if you look at any of the traditional sports, the number one thing they make a ton of money on is broadcast rights. With esports, we’ve been in a weird but beautiful place where people just get everything for free.“The beauty of what we’ve seen in such partnerships is growth for ourselves, more eyeballs, and better broadcasts, but also more brand value to the players. Broadcast deals are a massive part of what we want to do.”ESI New York 2020 – Find out morelast_img read more

October spotlight shines on Jose Urquidy and Robinson Chirinos, Astros’ new World Series heroes

first_imgThe roster is full of stars and players known around the baseball-loving country. But the two players who have made arguably the biggest impacts on Houston’s two wins in Washington weren’t exactly household names heading into October. And that, folks, is part of what makes October so very great. The spotlight is an equal-opportunity star-maker.FOSTER: This World Series shows that nothing means anything in baseballJose Urquidy didn’t act much like a World Series hero after Game 4. While his teammates held court in the Astros clubhouse, the right-hander who threw five shutout innings in Game 4 sat alone at his locker, wearing the team’s “Take It Back” hoodie, his Astros cap on his head and Adidas trainers with three team-color orange stripes. As the star of the game was waiting for his turn in the interview room, he was scrolling through his phone, which had been bombarded with words of congratulations. “Yes, a lot of family was texting me and calling me about this game,” he told reporters. “There were messages in my phone now. But I know all my people are watching me now.”He scrolled so much that he even switched hands at one point, all while his catcher, Robinson Chirinos — himself an unexpected hero for the Astros in the two games in D.C. — heaped lavish praise on the pitcher from Mexico.“What can I say? You guys watched the game,” Chirinos said. “Those five innings, they were outstanding. Everything for him was working tonight. His fastball, his changeup were unbelievable. His slider got so much better the last four weeks.”In his five innings, he allowed only two hits, didn’t walk anyone and struck out four.“He was picking apart the zone,” Nationals catcher Yan Gomes said. “He was elevating the ball pretty good, mixing speeds. Just overall, pitched a good game, exactly what they wanted.” Urquidy had never pitched above High-A ball heading into 2019. He had a 4.09 ERA in Double-A and a 4.63 ERA in Triple-A. He made his big league debut in July but lasted only a month before he was sent down to the minors. He came back in September, posted a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings, and now just threw five shutout frames in Game 4.“What a day! Being the third Mexican to pitch in the World Series, being the second, I think, to win a game,” Chirinos said. “I know his family, his whole country of Mexico is proud of what he accomplished tonight.”MORE: Five defining moments from Astros’ Game 4 winThis World Series has an incredibly impressive collection of starting pitchers. Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke have five Cy Young awards and 12 other top-five finishes among them. Gerrit Cole, as mentioned, might win this year’s award. Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin finished outstanding campaigns for the Nationals.And yet, it’s Urquidy who authored the best start of the World Series. In his five shutout innings, he allowed only two hits, didn’t walk anyone and struck out four. “From the very beginning I thought he was calm, I thought he was in control of his stuff,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “His fastball had a little extra life to it. It’s had good life this postseason. And then he just came up with big pitch after big pitch.”When he was pulled after the fifth inning, the Astros had a 4-0 lead, thanks in part to the second home run in as many days by Chirinos, the 35-year-old catcher who signed with the club as a free agent last offseason. His Game 3 home run hit the foul pole down the left-field line, and his Game 4 home run — a two-run shot — went deep into the left-field bleachers to put Houston up 4-0 in the fourth inning. “I’m working so hard in the cage to be consistent, to make sure I put a good swing to the ball,” Chirinos said. “Last night, I told everybody here, I put myself in a good position. I was swinging at strikes, I was staying to the middle of the field and I did again tonight.“My first at-bat, I chased some changeups down, and I rolled over for a double play. My second at-bat, I was more calm. I took a slider down and in, a good pitch. The second one, the changeup was out. He was trying to go down and in and it went middle-middle and I was able to hit it out of the ballpark. I’m proud to help my team win.”MORE: Three takeaways from Game 4And a big part of helping the team win was working with Urquidy. “Obviously Chirinos has been incredibly important to me and he’s helped me out so much behind the plate,” Urquidy said. “He’s someone that I trust 100 percent with every pitch and he’s been an incredible help to me and to all the pitchers.” WASHINGTON — The star power in the Astros’ clubhouse is impressive. The 2019 AL Cy Young award will certainly wind up in Houston, either with Gerrit Cole or Justin Verlander. Jose Altuve is building a case as the best player in baseball history who stands 5-6 or shorter. Alex Bregman just might win the AL MVP award. George Springer shares the record for most consecutive World Series games with a home run. Carlos Correa was the No. 1 overall draft pick and an AL Rookie of the Year.  We talk a lot about “out of nowhere” performances by lesser-known players in October, and the truth is, that’s just on a national scale. For the players and coaches and front-office types — and the home-team fan bases — those players aren’t unknown at all.But it’s still nice to see a brighter spotlight give then more attention.“It’s awesome,” Jake Marisnick told SN. “You have so many guys behind the scenes who grind it out and those two guys were great for us, a big part of the reason we won today.”last_img read more

Salvation Army coffee helps from farm to mug

first_imgLaurie Hill, manager of the Salvation Army thrift store in Hazel Dell, serves up a free cuppa Cafe La V on half-price Wednesday. The coffee at the Salvation Army thrift store on Highway 99 is good. Really good.Not just flavorful, that is, but ethical too — supporting farmers and orphans in Pleiku, a Vancouver-sized city in central Vietnam that was devastated, deserted and virtually destroyed during the Vietnam war.“Any proceeds from this go back to Vietnam,” said the Salvation Army’s Maj. Jack Phillips, who operates a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program near the Portland International Airport. “The U.S. has a history with Vietnam.”The Salvation Army is getting into the direct-trade coffee business, Phillips said — maintaining a relationship and buying beans directly from Pleiku farmers, paying them more than they’d make on the open market, and selling the coffee and the beans at hundreds of Salvation Army thrifts in the western United States. The Portland area’s thrifts are among the first to start stocking and selling the coffee, according to area retail manager Steve Cermak, but if all goes well, the product may even make the jump to non-Army retail store shelves in the near future.And it all started, Phillips said, with too many mugs.“About 20 years ago, my wife and I were trying to come up with something to do with all these coffee mugs,” he said. The thrift they ran back then, which underwrote a rehabilitation program, was drowning in donated mugs. This was before coffee grew into today’s caffeinated craze, he said, and there just wasn’t much market for millions of mugs.Phillips pondered the fact that wives tended to shop with purpose while husbands got bored. He hit upon the following scheme: Sell the mugs for a dollar each, keep a pot of coffee going and encourage people to sip while they shop. Husbands would enjoy the bottomless cup while their wives browsed; at the end of their shopping date they could either return the mug or keep it.last_img read more