Preparing for a deposition - Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

What you Need to Know when Preparing for a Deposition

When a lawsuit is initiated, the parties have the right to conduct a formal investigation to obtain more information about the case before the trial begins. This process is known as “discovery”. There are several different types of discovery. Some of the most common include document requests, written questions (interrogatories), and the oral statements of witnesses, also known as “depositions.”

A deposition is similar to testifying in court, except that there is no judge or jury present. It is an oral statement that is provided by the witness under oath, and it has two primary purposes; to learn what the witness knows, and to preserve the testimony of the witness. The deposition is intended to provide the parties with all of the facts before the trial begins, so there are no last-minute surprises. Depositions allow each side to find out who all of the witnesses are and what they will say at trial.

Depositions do not take place at the courthouse. Usually, they are taken at the office of one of the attorneys. A court reporter is present at the deposition to record a word-for-word transcript, and some are videotaped. During the deposition, the attorney asks a series of questions about the deponent’s knowledge of the facts of the case. In some cases, there may be limitations on what subject matter the attorney is allowed to ask about.

The deponent does not ask any questions, they are only required to answer truthfully all appropriate questions that are asked. The deponent can also have his/her attorney present for the questioning. Depositions can be for as short as 10 or 20 minutes if the attorney only has a handful of questions for the witness. On the other extreme, they can potentially go on for several days if a witness is more deeply involved with the case.

Depositions can be a nerve-wracking event for witnesses being questioned, especially if they have very little prior litigation experience. There is a very good reason for this. Depositions are very serious, and numerous cases have been won and lost over a few careless words by a witness who was not properly prepared.

Preparing for a deposition is a team effort between you and your attorney. Your attorney should advise you beforehand about the details (e.g., time, location, specific purpose, etc.), how you should conduct yourself, and how to prepare.

Here are some important things you need to know in preparing for a deposition:

It is of the utmost importance to take plenty of time to prepare and practice for your deposition. Your lawyer should provide you with a series of questions you are likely to be asked. You may not get those exact questions when you are deposed, but they will probably be similar. You can practice with your attorney, on your own, or both. The more time you spend practicing, the better the chances of a successful outcome.

Remember when you are answering questions that you are not there to convince anyone of the strength of your argument or how great your claim is. You are there to provide information in the form of answers to the attorney’s questions, that’s it. With this in mind, provide clear and direct answers. Avoid rambling and giving long explanations. Remember that you are under oath, and everything you say will become part of the case record. Be polite, but only provide answers to the questions you are asked.

Though your words are not intended to persuade, a good impression can be helpful in establishing your credibility and likeability. As mentioned in the previous point, be polite and respectful to the opposing counsel. Do your best to maintain your composure and not become angry or irritated, even when you are asked a question you do not like, or you are offended by. Be on time, dress nicely, and give the opposing counsel every reason to believe that you are a respectable and credible witness.

Answer the questions accurately and truthfully to the best of your ability. Avoid making guesses or giving the opposing counsel any other opportunity to claim that you were not truthful. This may mean answering some questions with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. It is much better to say you don’t know or don’t remember than to make something up. Also, be careful about providing absolute answers unless you are totally certain about your answer.

Along these same lines, be sure to listen carefully to the entire question before answering. In addition, if the attorney presents documents or other information about a question, be sure to review the information thoroughly before you give your answer. Finally, if, during the course of the deposition, you realize that you made an error with one of your answers, inform your attorney so the record can be corrected or supplemented.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Law Firm

Contact the experienced and skilled attorneys at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short for all of your legal needs. We can be reached at (334) 821-3892 or online through our website contact form.

restraining order lawyer in Alabama

What Do I Do if My Spouse Violates a Restraining Order or Temporary Injunction?

When a couple gets married, they usually have great hope and optimism about the future. Unfortunately, some relationships grow sour, even to the point where one of the spouses becomes increasingly violent. When domestic abuse occurs, the victim often has no other choice but to take legal action. The best legal mechanism for an abused spouse is a protective order.

What is a Protective Order?

Also known as restraining orders, protective orders are court orders that provide legal protection for individuals who have been harassed, threatened, or physically abused. The order instructs the abuser to stay away completely from the victim, and to stay away from others in the household (if applicable). For example, if you have a temporary protective order (aka temporary injunction) against your spouse, your minor children may also be covered by this order.

Under the Alabama Protection from Abuse Act (PFA), a civil protective order can be obtained against the victim’s spouse, partner, or parent of children they have together. If it is an emergency situation, the court may be able to grant a temporary protection order the day the victim files in court.

A temporary injunction is valid for two weeks, and a hearing should be scheduled within that two-week period to decide whether or not to finalize the protective order and decide related issues as well. A final protective order can be issued at the hearing, which is usually valid for one year unless the court specifies a different period of time.

A protective order can include several provisions (as needed) to provide the appropriate relief to the abused party. These include:

  • Requiring the abuser to move out of the home shared with the victim. This may require a police escort;
  • Ordering the abuser to stay away from the home, work, and/or school of the victim and any minor children;
  • Prohibiting the abuser from threatening, harassing, or abusing the victim, minor children, and/or other household members. This may include prohibition of various types of communication;
  • Awarding temporary custody of children of the victim and abuser who are under the age of 18;
  • Prohibiting the abuser from contact with the children except when legally authorized (most likely under a supervised visitation arrangement);
  • Preventing the abuser from selling jointly-owned property or hiding assets;
  • Requiring the abuser to pay the victim’s legal fees incurred to obtain the protective order or injunction.

One thing a protective order does not do is dissolve a marriage. Although the order can force the abuser to move out of a shared residence, the marriage is still valid until you file for divorce. In this regard, the order functions similarly to a legal separation.

What Happens When a Spouse Violates a Protective Order?

While a protective order gives legal directives to a domestic abuser, there is no guarantee that the abuser will adhere to these directives. There are harsh consequences, however, if an abuser chooses to violate the order. In Alabama, a first-time violation is a Class A misdemeanor with fines of up to $6,000 and up to one year in county jail. A second-time offender receives a minimum of 48 continuous hours in jail, and a third-time offender receives a minimum of 30 days in jail. The abuser can also be found in contempt of court for violating the order.

If your spouse violates a protective order or temporary injunction, you can initiate the enforcement of the order by reporting it to law enforcement and contacting your attorney to file a petition for contempt of court. From there, the abuser may be arrested and charged with a Class A misdemeanor. However, the authorities may decide on a different course of action based on how egregious the violation was. For example, if the abuser is sending repeated texts begging you to reconcile, that is not likely to be treated as seriously as the abuser showing up at your front door belligerent and making threats.

If you are in immediate danger from a protective order violation, call 911 or the police right away. If you need a safe place for you and your children to go, call the Alabama Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline any time 24/7 at 1-800-650-6522.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Family Law Attorney

No one deserves to live in fear of threats, harassment, or abuse. If you are in this situation, contact the skilled and compassionate attorneys at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short, LLP at (334) 821-3892 for legal help. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.

How to stay informed about your case - Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

How to Stay on Top of Your Case after you Hire a Lawyer

The first step toward resolving an important legal issue is to hire a reputable attorney. Many legal matters are too complex for an individual to deal with on their own, so it often makes sense to obtain experienced legal counsel. A lawyer can give you the legal guidance and direction you need to bring your case to a successful conclusion.

Your attorney can handle the important tasks that need to be completed to resolve your legal issue. These may include obtaining the facts and evidence necessary to put together the case, preparing contracts and other legal documents, deposing witnesses, calling in expert witnesses, negotiating on your behalf, and of course, litigating your case. Since your lawyer has handled numerous other cases like yours, you are able to leverage their extensive experience and in-depth knowledge to overcome common pitfalls that you would likely run into on your own.

Although your lawyer does most of the work, this does not mean that you should check out of the process and leave everything up to them. You need to stay involved and do the things you are asked to do in order to ensure a positive result.

There are several things you should do to stay on top of your case after you hire a lawyer, here are some of the most important:

  1. Reveal everything you know about your case

If you want to get your legal matter resolved, you need to tell your attorney everything you know about the case; this includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Just giving your attorney a partial picture of what is happening (or worse, giving them false and misleading information) will only hurt your case. The whole truth is almost certain to come out anyway, so the best thing you can do is inform your attorney right away. This will allow them to fully address all pertinent issues well ahead of time.

  1. Tell your attorney right away when you learn something new

As you go along, new information may come to light. As soon as you find out something new that pertains to your case, let your attorney know about it. Oftentimes, the success or failure of a case can hinge on one or two important details. This is why it is critical that your attorney is informed about any new information as soon as possible. Do not assume that, just because you are aware of something, your attorney is too. Be proactive and make sure your attorney is informed.

  1. Follow through on everything you commit to doing

At the beginning of your case and often while the case is progressing, your lawyer may ask you to take certain actions that will help move the case forward. Examples may include obtaining a medical exam, obtaining various pieces of information, verifying information, and similar tasks. If/when your lawyer asks you to do something, follow through on it as soon as possible. This will help ensure your case goes more smoothly.

  1. Follow up with your attorney regularly

You should choose a lawyer who is responsive and provides frequent updates on the progress of your case. But if you haven’t heard from them for a while, don’t be afraid to follow up with them to ask how things are going. You should be able to follow up by phone, text, or email, depending on which mode of communication you are most comfortable with. Keep in mind that your lawyer may be at a hearing or with another client, so you may not always get them on the phone right away. However, you should expect to have your call returned in a reasonable amount of time, generally 24-48 business hours.

  1. Ask Questions

One of your attorney’s main jobs is to explain things to you clearly so you can understand them. If you are ever confused about something, do not be afraid to ask questions. A responsive attorney will be happy to answer your questions to help ensure that everything is clear to you and you are both on the same page.

  1. Be careful how much you tell about your case to others

In today’s digital age, information travels fast. And when you are dealing with a sensitive legal matter, the last thing you want is for the whole world to know about it. While your case is ongoing, a good rule of thumb is to speak about it only to your attorney and any close family members that you can fully trust to keep the matter confidential. Do NOT discuss your matter with those who might spread it around. And above all else, avoid posting anything about it on social media.

Arrested off campus - Contact Haygood Cleveland Pierce & Thompson

Can I Get Kicked Out of School If I am Arrested Off Campus?

It’s your first year of college. You’re getting acclimated to your new surroundings and just starting to understand the realities of campus life. You put in long hours in class, at the library, and maybe working a part-time job. When you get some free time, you decide to let loose a little and take part in some of the off-campus festivities. That is where things take a bad turn. You are attending a party off-campus, when things start to get out of control. The police arrive, and they arrest everyone who hasn’t fled out the back door. What happens next? Can you get kicked out of school for your off-campus arrest? The short answer to that question is “maybe”, depending on the circumstances and how you handle the situation. If you have been arrested in an off-campus incident, contact the campus proceedings attorneys at Haygood Cleveland Pierce & Thompson, so we can work with you to make sure your rights are protected.

What Happens after an Off-Campus Arrest?

When you are arrested as a college student, it is generally the same process as if you are not in school. You are taken to the police station, booked on whatever you are charged with, and maybe spend a night or two in jail. At this point, it is important for you to be polite to the arresting officer. The police do not know who you are, and they may be inclined to think the worst of you. If you are respectful to them, it will go a long way toward favorably resolving the situation. If the police charge you with a crime, it is strongly advised that you contact an experienced Alabama criminal defense attorney</a> who specializes in working college students. A seasoned attorney can thoroughly review the facts and evidence in the case and put together the most effective legal defense.

Will My School Find Out About My Arrest?

It is highly likely that the college or university you attend will eventually find out that you were arrested – even if it was off-campus for something totally unrelated to your academic life. In many college towns, the local police have a written agreement known as a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) between them and the university to report all incidents involving one of the school’s students. Even if there is no formal agreement, it is often common practice for the police to let the school know about an arrest. Bottom line: if you are arrested off-campus, assume that your school will find out and prepare to deal with the consequences of a disciplinary proceeding.

Will My School Kick Me Out for My Off-Campus Arrest?

Many incidents that result in an off-campus arrest are violations of a university’s code of conduct. Examples may include drug possession, hazing, vandalism, sexual assault, public intoxication, DUI, burglary and trespass, and many others. Some schools are stricter than others and may issue harsher punishments for code of conduct violations. For example, a private religious school may throw you out for anything alcohol-related, while the same violation could be considered minor at a public university.

There are a wide range of administrative sanctions a college or university may impose if you are determined to be in violation of the school’s code of conduct. Some examples include:

  • Probation
  • Loss of Certain Privileges
  • Several Hours of Service on Campus
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

In the most serious cases, a school might kick you out if you are arrested off-campus. It is important to note that this could happen even if you are found not guilty or the criminal charges against you are reduced or dropped. School administrative proceedings operate outside the criminal justice system, and the standard of proof for the university to impose sanctions is lower than in a court of law. In a criminal proceeding, the standard is “beyond reasonable doubt.” For a school code of conduct violation, the standard may either be “clear and convincing evidence” (highly probable) or in most schools, “preponderance of evidence” (more likely than not). Each school has their own set of policies and procedures and determines their own standard of proof for code of conduct proceedings. When a school moves to expel a student, they often schedule the hearing quickly hoping the student is unprepared. If this occurs, get in touch with an experienced Alabama lawyer right away so your rights and interests are fully protected.

What Other Consequences Are there for Being Arrested Off-Campus?

Expulsion may be your primary concern after an arrest, but there are other important consequences to be aware of as well. An arrest becomes part of your criminal record, and even if you remain in school, you may encounter other problems down the road. For example, you could potentially lose your financial aid and student housing. You may also have difficulty obtaining employment and/or admission to a graduate program. All these issues must be considered in dealing with both the school administrative proceeding and the criminal case. An attorney with in-depth knowledge of both types of proceedings can analyze the big picture and develop the most effective defense strategy to mitigate the situation as much as possible.Contact an

Experienced Alabama Campus Proceedings Attorney

If you have been arrested in an off-campus issue or if you have been charged with any time of crime, you should immediately contact an experienced Alabama Criminal Defense attorney to make certain your rights are protected. Contact the skilled Criminal Defense attorneys at Haygood Cleveland Pierce & Thompson at (334) 821-3892, or online, for an initial consultation.

Top Causes of Truck Accidents in Alabama - Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

Top Causes of Trucking Accidents

Top Causes of Truck Accidents

There are many potential causes of trucking accidents, and it’s important to go into them because truck accidents are more likely to cause death than those involving smaller vehicles. This is because large trucks can weigh twenty to thirty times more than smaller vehicles. In addition, due to their large profile, smaller vehicles can underride trucks, causing severe injury or death.

In 2013 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported large truck crash statistics from previous years. In 2011, there were over 273,000 such crashes. Of these there were 3,341 fatalities, 60,000 injuries, and 210,000 crashes with property damage only. The estimated costs of these accidents was over $87 billion.

Causes of Trucking Accidents

Trucking accidents can be caused by operator error, weather/road conditions, and vehicle conditions. In each of these categories one or more factors may be present. Let’s examine each category in detail.

Operator Error

In the category of operator error many factors may be present such as poor driver training, poor vision, impairment from drugs or alcohol, fatigue, driving longer than allowed, poor judgement, distraction, blind spots, unfamiliarity with the road, and the like. According to a study conducted in 2007 by the FMCSA, four categories of operator error for accidents involving large trucks were found:

  • An error in performance such as overcompensation, poor directional control, or panic.
  • Non-performance such as falling asleep, being disabled by a medical event such as a heart attack or seizure, or being physically impaired for another reason.
  • Poor decision-making such as misjudging the speed of other cars and trucks, following too closely behind other vehicles, or driving too fast for the road conditions.
  • Poor recognition meaning that the driver may have been distracted by something either inside or outside of the vehicle, was inattentive, or failed to assess the situation correctly.

Consider these statistics to understand how many trucking accidents are caused by operator error: 23% of the accidents studied in this report were attributed to the driver traveling too fast for the conditions; 22% were attributed to being unfamiliar with the roadway; 17% were caused by over-the-counter drug use; 14% to inadequate surveillance; and 13% were caused by fatigue.

Also in this category are accidents caused by operator error of drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident such as:

  • Pulling in front of a trucker too quickly or too closely.
  • Driving to the right of a truck that is making a right turn.
  • Unsafe passing.
  • Driving between large trucks.
  • Improper merging into traffic causing a trucker to swerve or brake quickly.
  • Making a left turn in front of an oncoming truck.
  • Driving in a trucker’s blind spots.

Weather/Road Conditions

When the weather is hazardous or road conditions are even a little off from normal, accidents with large trucks are much more likely due to their size, weight, required stopping distances, and their shape. As an example, due to their size large trucks require 20 to 40 percent more stopping distance than a smaller vehicle would need. In slippery conditions this is even more of a problem.

In this category according to the FMCSA study, 20% of the accidents studied were caused by roadway problems. Weather and road conditions that can cause trucking accidents might be:

  • Snow accumulation that causes poor visibility and slippery roads
  • Icy roads that make roads slippery and dangerous
  • Rain/downpours that cause poor visibility, hydroplaning or slick roads when stopping quickly
  • High cross-winds that can make it difficult for large trucks to stay on the road or in their own lane
  • Poor visibility due to the rising/setting sun and darkness at night
  • Road construction
  • Traffic congestion
  • Suddenly stopping traffic/traffic jam
  • Large potholes or improperly maintained roads

Vehicle Conditions

Various vehicle conditions can also be to blame. For example, according to the FMCSA report mentioned above, 29% of the accidents were caused by brake problems. Here are some vehicle conditions that can occur:

  • Shifting cargo in the back of the truck
  • Poor or malfunctioning brakes
  • Loss of brakes
  • Stuck gas pedal
  • Poor visibility due to improperly functioning windshield wipers or lack of washer fluid.
  • Poor tire traction
  • Tire blowout

Were You Involved in a Trucking Accident in Alabama?

If you were involved in a trucking accident and feel it may be due to operator error or some other preventable cause you may need legal advice as to know to proceed. Contact us at Haygood Cleveland Pierce & Thompson or by phone at (334) 821-3892 to speak to someone about your situation and see what we can do for you.

Carry permits on Alabama college campuses - Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

Can I Carry A Concealed Weapon on the Auburn University Campus?

With the recurring shootings on school and college campuses in recent years some favor the right to carry a concealed weapon on campuses while others feel more gun restrictions are necessary. As the topic has been addressed, certain states have allowed students to carry a concealed weapon, while others have banned students, faculty and others from doing so. Other states allow college and university campuses to decide individually.

According to a study conducted by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, campus shootings increased from 12 to nearly 30 in just 5 years, from the 2010-11 school year to the 2015-16 school year. There have nearly 200 shootings on campuses since 2001 with the highest number of incidents occurring in California, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. Let’s explore what the laws are in different states as well as on the Auburn University campuses.

What Do the States Say?

States That Allow Some or All To Carry a Concealed Weapon on Public Campuses

Most recently Georgia and Arkansas joined the states that allow you to carry a concealed weapon on campus. They join Tennessee which allows faculty to carry a concealed weapon on campuses, but not students and the public. In addition Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, and Idaho allow faculty, students, and others to conceal and carry weapons.

States That Don’t Allow You To Carry a Concealed Weapon on Campus

Although all states allow its citizens to carry a concealed weapon if they follow the law, 16 states ban the conceal and carry on campuses. These include:

  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • Florida
  • California
  • Louisiana
  • North Dakota
  • Wyoming
  • New Jersey
  • South Carolina
  • Michigan
  • New Mexico
  • Nebraska
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Missouri

States Where Individual Institutions Decide

The remaining 23 states allow individual colleges and universities to decide and put forth their own policies for conceal and carry of weapons on campuses or at campus events.

Can I Carry A Concealed Weapon on the Auburn University Campus?

Since Alabama is a state where individual colleges and universities decide if someone can carry a concealed weapon on campus, Auburn University has decided against this. According to their Dangerous Weapons and Firearms Policy, “Auburn University prohibits the possession and use of any dangerous or potentially dangerous weapon(s) or instruments, including but not limited to those described below, on all University properties, with limited exceptions.” The weapons listed include all types of firearms, the frame of firearms, a firearm muffler or silencer, or ammunition. It also includes non-culinary knives including fixed or lock blade, but not regular pocket knives or tools that would appropriately be used on campus. The list goes on to ban:

  • Stun guns
  • Tasers
  • Air guns
  • Bow and arrow
  • Swords
  • Brass knuckles
  • Crossbows
  • Fireworks or explosives

The only exceptions to this policy would need to be approved in writing by the Executive Director of Campus Safety and Security for educational, demonstration or job related purposes.

The policy states that it applies to all members of the university including faculty, staff, students, visitors, contract workers, and guests at any campus facility or event. However the policy does state that employees may possess a properly maintained firearm “in a personal vehicle in a manner consistent with Alabama law,” which includes possessing a valid concealed weapon permit. The policy specifically states that “students may not possess firearms at any time on campus (except as expressly authorized by the Executive Director of Campus Safety and Security). The policy does not apply to law enforcement officers while on duty.

Would You Like to Know More About Your Gun Rights in Alabama?

Questions about concealing and carrying a weapon or possessing a gun in your vehicle can be confusing in some cases. Although there are different views about which is better, it is important to know your rights in the state of Alabama. If you have had issues with carrying a gun or need more information contact us at Haygood Cleveland Pierce & Thompson or by phone at (334) 821-3892 to speak to someone about your situation and see what we can do for you.