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jamest
jamest, Private Investigator
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Investigator of criminal law cases, especially Florida law. Work with retailers, others, consultant
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Can criminal past (12 be brought up in personal injury case

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Hello Kat,I asked you a question a couple of days ago and was very pleased with your answer so here I am again. My brother just settled a personal injury law suit.They have offered him a settlement amount that was not at all acceptable. Well they went back and forth all day coming up with an amount that was better but still not completely fair. I am not just saying it because of "greed" as I had been through a personal injury suit myself years ago and I know "options" that were given to me. When he was talking to his lawyer about going to trial he "danced" around a bit and said no as they would bring up his criminal past. Now he did have a past but has been "crime free for over 12 years". If it is "in the past" can they opposite side do that? What does his past have to do with the current case? Short version of story is he was at a complete stop and a truck (company owned) slammed into him,pushed him into car in front of him and that car pushed into another. He had injury to his back. Ended up having surgery (which they are saying was "elective")and is still in pain.Their doctor said that the fusion (on his ribs) they did in surgery "healed fine". He did not do the surgery. Then they said they do not believe he is the pain all the time. He's also on constant medication. Which they said he doesn't need. Whew sorry back to my question can his criminal past be brought up if they had gone to trial? Oh this was all done in "mediation" and my brother's lawyer admitted he knew the mediator.Is that not a "conflict of interest"?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  jamest replied 6 years ago.
His past criminal convictions could enter in if it was used to impeach or cast doubt on his credibility. To what extent the other party may use these is up to the judge who makes rulings on admissibility of evidence. If the case is largely a he said she said case where credibility is a big issue, the other side could seek to get this information in. Normally it must be a serious crime or a crime of dishonesty, like a trespassing charge would be irrelevant to any matter of his background or credibility, and the judge would most likely exclude it, or child abuse charges while they may be serious, may be excluded because they are more prejudicial than helpful meaning they possess a risk of the court viewing the person as bad, but say nothing about the current state of affairs. Past crimes involving dishonesty or anything like that are usually admitted. The issues of the pain and surgery are matters of fact for a judge and jury to consider, they could hear testimony from both sides. His doctor would be compelled to testify auto why he believes he is still in pain, as doctors may not prescribe pain medicine for other causes, as they can with other medicines, opiate based pain medication may only be prescribed for pain. It is not necessarily a conflict of interest that he knew the mediator. People who work in this field usually know others who do as well, that along is not enough to be a conflict of interest, other facts must be shown that the mediator was not fair or that the attorney provided inadequate representation, then it may be conflict of interest.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
James,
Thank you for getting back to me. His past crimes were dealings with theft. So if someone has a criminal background they seem to be marked for life right?I mean this was 12 years ago. Is there no creditabilty there? When does your past become "irrelevant"? People change but it seems in the eyes of society and the law it doesn't matter.Look at the crooked judges and law enforcement that before they were caught these same people "sentenced and convicted" people that were doing the same thing they are. When they told him they would bring up his "past" it seemed more to bully him into settling for something he wasn't happy with. I mean he was working at a job he really liked and he can't go back to that same kind of work. Should'nt they be responsible for some of "retraining"?.They also told him they had 2 "surprise witnesses" that said the truck hit him because a red truck was weaving in and out of traffic. The traffic was at a dead stop on the freeway. There was no mention of a "red truck" anywhere in the police report.No mention of these "witnesses" was ever brought up. Also my brother told his lawyer that he had a friend that worked for the company that owned the trucks that hit him. His friend said he quit the company because they wanted him to drive "unsafe trucks" bad brakes, etc. When my brother mentioned this to his lawyer to use him as a witness his lawyer said no "we don't need him". I would think his lawyer should've done all he could to insure he was giving my brother the best reprsentation. There were some other issues with him also. My brother was suppose to have another MRI and his lawyer said no it's ok "we won't need it". At this point we are considering filing a complaint with the Bar Association. If for nothing else to maybe make us feel better.He takes Valium (for muscle spasm) and pain medicine the back pain. Sometimes he can hardly get up in the morning.This surgery he had the doctor told there was a 1 in 3 chances that it could effect his sexual performance,which it did. He can not have children now. They didn't take that into consideration at all. The other side said "their" doctor said there is no reason for him to be in pain. As for the mediator my brother's lawyer has known him since "school days". He didn't just know him through "business". I would appreciate any feed back you can give me on this. Thanks Much Debbie
Expert:  jamest replied 6 years ago.
Well if he has been clean for 12 years it is certainly a plus in his side and that is why we have people, judges and juries make these determinations, people who can consider the time factor, and take his past with his statements and determine what is true. So it doesn't mean he will never be credible it just means he will have that obstacle, which can be overcome. I do not think a criminal past 12 years ago of theft is a record so severe that it would render him forever incredible in the eyes of most reasonable people. I am not a doctor so i do not know what the mri would have shown, but i assume it could not have hurt his case. As to the safety of the trucks, this may not be admissible. Is his friend a mechanic, how failure is he with the maintenance records of the trucks, was his testimony relevant to the specific truck involved? Is his testimony reliable or is there a conflict of interest? I don't know if it was admissible, but what impact it would have had i cant say because it would depend on the answers he would give under cross examination. Valium is a benzodiazepine drug and an all around good sedative, anti-anxiety agent, skeletal muscle relaxant, which is why it helps with the spasms and is commonly prescribed in back injuries for this. of course they can find a dr who says he shouldn't be in as much pain as he says he is. Perhaps there was a miscommunication about what they goal was, when they attorney said we wont need it, i don't know if he was meaning that they would settle to keep the case out of court, or if he did not think the amount would change for the better. I am in no position to judge this attorney or the representation he gave. However, attorneys typically get a percentage of any court award or settlement. If it can be settled by phone negotiations in one day as opposed to a trial, who know how long, it is a faster buck for the attorney, and he can move to another case. Like for very little work i make this much, i work really hard and maybe only make a little more, that is the way some attorneys think, You can make a complaint, but i don't know how far it will go. Sorry i can not be more specific, but a lot of this is based on facts i don't know, and can only speculate.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
James,
Thank you for letting me "vent". He has had I believe 2 other MRI's during the time this had happened. The one that his attorney had wanted him to have and then said he didn't need I would think would've shown the final extent of damage and answered many medical questions.His friend I don't think was a mechanic but did know the trucks were not well maintained to safety regulations. Trucking companies are guilty of this all the time. I use to work for a trucking company and I know that they "take short-cuts" to get those trucks back on the roads. (I quit the company and was going to report them...BUT one of their own drivers reported them first!!) Their big thing is not to lose money. If they have to take time for "maintance" trucks are down and they've lost $. The lawyer could've at least brought up that fact and perhaps put some doubt about how well maintaned the truck that hit my brother was.His friend is creditable and still feel my brothers lawyer should have at least talked with him. I did hear from an attorney that said because the conviction was 12 yrs ago the lawyer should've filed a motion to limit use of certain testimony. It was ancient history and not relavant. We just feel the lawyer did not do every thing he could have. I am sure you hear this all the time. James I ned to know how to pay you. Thanks
Debbie
Expert:  jamest replied 6 years ago.
He has had I believe 2 other MRI's during the time this had happened. The one that his attorney had wanted him to have and then said he didn't need I would think would've shown the final extent of damage and answered many medical questions.
Indicates he was trying to settle, as opposed to going to trial perhaps? You be the judge. This is only relevant in trial to rebut their doctors statement that he should not medically be in as much pain as he is.

His friend I don't think was a mechanic but did know the trucks were not well maintained to safety regulations. Trucking companies are guilty of this all the time. I use to work for a trucking company and I know that they "take short-cuts" to get those trucks back on the roads. (I quit the company and was going to report them...BUT one of their own drivers reported them first!!) Their big thing is not to lose money. If they have to take time for "maintenance" trucks are down and they've lost $. The lawyer could've at least brought up that fact and perhaps put some doubt about how well maintained the truck that hit my brother was.His friend is creditable and still feel my brothers lawyer should have at least talked with him.
Of course they do not want to spend money maintaining their equipment, many companies do not. Many companies sacrifice safety for profits. The problem I see is that the scope of his testimony would be limited. He could not make a general claim that since the trucks he saw were not maintained, none of them were. He may lack expertise to determine proper maintenance, whereas they could put someone on the stand who is a master mechanic to lie out of his teeth about how much they do to maintain their vehicles, tout their safety record. so while his testimony was potentially useful, it may have been easily refuted, or show irrelevant.

I did hear from an attorney that said because the conviction was 12 yrs ago the lawyer should've filed a motion to limit use of certain testimony. It was ancient history and not relevant.
That sounds right, there should have been a motion to limit the scope of his record, so that it would not be overly prejudicial.
We just feel the lawyer did not do every thing he could have. I am sure you hear this all the time.
Many people are unsatisfied with their legal representation. There are many fine attorneys and many who are not, and finding one is trial and error. As i said many times the attorney will push for a deal in their best interest. Say they work on a 33% of judgment commission. If the settlement is $100,000 of course they would make $33,000, this is without going to trial. Say they do go to trial, and seek $200,000 which would double their profits, but their workload would increase 5 times at trial versus a settlement, in the time it takes to go to trial on one case, they could settle 10 with minimal work, and a guaranteed payment, where at trial there is always a chance they will lose.


To pay me all you have to do is accept one of the answers. it should list that above each of my posts.



James I ned to know how to pay you. Thanks
jamest, Private Investigator
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 372
Experience: Investigator of criminal law cases, especially Florida law. Work with retailers, others, consultant
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