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New Year’s Resolutions for a Successful 2010

by Jeri Kagel, M.Ed., J.D.

It’s a new year! Time to get back in shape after all the holiday merriment or all the lying around being couch potatoes. Now too is the time for the (obligatory) New Year’s resolutions.

We all deal with New Year’s resolutions differently. There are those who don’t make them because they are tired of breaking them. For those who do make resolutions, there is something of a typical range – folks without any intention of following through, others intending to “stick with it” (but secretly thinking that doing anything for a short time is good enough!) and those who begin the New Year with the hope of actually making good on their resolutions. (This third group tends to be in the minority!)

More often than not, any disappointment that arises from the failure to keep a resolution is over in a short time with the promise that “next year will be a better time to . . . (you fill in the blank).”

Here are some New Year’s resolutions I’d like to suggest to my attorney/litigator friends. I hope they resonate with you and add to your success in 2010.

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Sink or Swim? Tax Considerations for Financially Stressed Debtors

by David M. Cox, Esq.

We seem to be cursed to live in interesting times. Many business concerns are facing serious cash flow issues. Money problems bring about marital strife, and financial issues surrounding divorces and business separations are more difficult in times where assets are more difficult to sell. Homeowners are walking away from their homes in the face of unemployment and mounting mortgage debt. Many investors have entered into real estate deals that have gone sour. In troubled times, debtors often neglect tax issues until it is too late to take advantage of some relief provisions in the tax code.

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Preparing Your Witness for Deposition

by Jeri Kagel, M.Ed., J.D.

You’ve received a Notice of Deposition. No problem. As usual, you’ll prepare the witness for his or her deposition as a way of damage control. You’ll take time the afternoon before, or the morning of, the deposition to talk to him or her about the “Golden Rules” of the deposition: “The goal is to get out of the deposition without hurting the case, so don’t volunteer information!” or “Don’t be scared by the overbearing attorney!” or “Don’t be fooled by the nice attorney!”

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The Honorable Mark A. Scott Speaks at the Sept. Family Law Section Breakfast


Mark A. Scott

by M. Debra Gold

As the new Family Law Section of the DeKalb Bar continues to grow, Judge Mark A. Scott spoke before the largest turnout yet at the Sept. 3 breakfast meeting. Judge Scott sees himself as a nontraditional judge and notes that some of the other judges may better define the circuit and where it is going. Nonetheless, he felt honored and pleased to have the opportunity to address the group as he has been designated as the liaison between the DeKalb Bench and the DeKalb Bar Family Law Section.

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What Tort Reform Means to Georgians

by Rachel Elovitz, Esq.

Between 1997 and 2007 medical tort costs in the United States reportedly doubled from $15 billion to $30 billion.1 During that same period, the median jury award in medical liability cases tripled from $157,000 to $487,000.2 By 2003 America’s civil justice system reportedly cost $246 billion, $845 per citizen or $3,380 for a family of four, the most expensive civil justice system in the industrialized world, according to the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA).3 In just three years (between 2000 and 2003), tort costs reportedly increased 35.4 percent.4 Over the last 50 years, U.S. tort costs have exceeded the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2 to 3 percentage points.5 America, according to ATRA, has a grossly ineffectual civil justice system that “returns less than 50 cents on the dollar and less than 22 cents for actual economic loss to claimants.”6 This reality has inspired legislative action in Georgia and resulted in various reforms since 2000.

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THE SHADOW CURSOR: Corpus Juris Fabulae (A Body of Legal Fables)

We need a new body of imaginary law. This is because rules of logic and common sense are rarely codified or reported. But sometimes it seems that they need to be.
Those legal professionals who attempt to convey common-sense concepts to lazy or uncomprehending lawyers, or to distracted or overloaded judges, too often feel that they are engaging in what amounts to a sisyphean struggle up the steep, slippery, and syllogistic steps of what should be an intuitively obvious argument – the dead weight of the listener in tow.

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Attributing Blame: The Psychology of Blame and Its Use in Trial Strategy

by Jeri Kagel, M.Ed., J.D.

When something bad happens, it is human nature to want to blame something, or more often, someone. Identifying a source for blame provides closure for past wrongs, gives a sense of present control, and often eases fear of future harm. In a trial, be it civil or criminal, jurors are asked to determine blame. Twelve people who are strangers to each other, strangers to the parties, and strangers to the situation on trial must decide who or what is to blame, and the degree of blameworthiness.

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