Saturday, January 28, 2012

Free in Kentucky: Care Academy Strip Search Case Decision Overturned...

Free in Kentucky: Care Academy Strip Search Case Decision Overturned...: I begin writing this with an initial hesitation. In the back of my mind, the words, “Watch what you say” resonate with such magnitude that ...

Care Academy Strip Search Case Decision Overturned!!! Let's Get Ready for Trial!

I begin writing this with an initial hesitation.  In the back of my mind, the words, “Watch what you say” resonate with such magnitude that it really isn’t in the back of my mind anymore.  More like blaring in the front of my mind.  This initial hesitation is followed by a wave of guilt – because I write this for you – and it isn’t really fair for me to act like I’m going to give you every bit of raw truth about the judiciary and the law and then hold back on you.  So when you get to the point reading this, where you think – “That’s not what he really wants to say!”  Feel free to throw your hands in the air and yell obscenities.  Do it.  And judge me.  Some say “Judge me not, lest ye be judged.”  But I don’t.  Seriously, do it – it will make you feel better.  About yourself, about the fact that people have judged you in the past, etc.  So, go ahead.

The most honest I can be right now is to tell you that I am not going to tell you 100% of the truth in this blog post.  It will be the truth;* it will be nothing but the truth.  But it won’t be the WHOLE truth.

On with it.

So, yesterday I got an Opinion back from the Court of Appeals.  It is a favorable written Opinion about the Care Academy (hereinafter, at times when I get lazy, “CA”) strip search case.  Before I get too ahead of myself, let me give you a little bit of foundation about the Care Academy strip search case.

I have the honor and privilege of representing a boy (hereinafter, “SBJ”) who attended the Care Academy, a private school in Washington County.  His attendance at the CA was short lived.  The Care Academy was a school for children with behavioral problems, and special needs.  My client was not court ordered to be at the CA, and he was not a resident student.  He rode the bus to and from school.  Whilst at school one day, SBJ was called down to the “Ranger Room” with a group of 10-12 other boys, ranging in age from appx 12-14 years of age.  When the boys got to the room, several employees at the CA brought them in, 3 by 3, to strip search the children, fully nude, in front of each other.

Here is the Care Academy’s reasoning for the search (in terms expressed as objectively as my biased mind can express them):  One night before the search, a CA employee found a broken CD player.  We don’t know who found it.  We don’t know exactly where it was found, and we don’t have any record of anyone finding it.  But we promise that someone found a broken CD player.  Since a broken CD player was found, at night, in the residential student area, we decided that one of the students might have dismantled the CD player in order to make a homemade tattoo gun.  And the child who might have made a tattoo gun might be hiding the bulky, sharp, dangerous instrument in his anus.  So we strip searched all of them.  In front of other nude children.  And made them bend over, hold their genitals and cough.  Also, we gave them the "option" of participating in the strip search, so it was consensual.

The CA is unrepentant.

Our version of the story is this:  Who cares whether anyone found a CD player.  It is asinine to believe that grown adults actually came to the conclusion that based on a broken CD player and no other evidence of dangerous contraband, that a child may be hiding dangerous contraband in their anus.  And children cannot CONSENT to a strip search.  They are children.  You don't even let children give their own consent to taking  an aspirin in school, much less to a strip search.  The search was unreasonable, and even if someone believes that it was reasonable, they have to agree that the search could have been done in a less intrusive and less embarrassing manner.  At the very least, you can strip search them individually.  Failure to do so is Negligence.

I had a difference of opinion with the Trial Judge.  Judge Allen Ray Bertram, a Washington Circuit Court Judge, granted Summary Judgment AGAINST my client.  In order to do that, a judge must find that no genuine issues of material fact exist.  Basically it means that the judge felt like the facts were not in dispute, and that there was no way my client could possibly win at Jury Trial.  I took exception to his ruling.
Are your hands up yet?  Which obscenity did you choose?

Because of the ruling against us, I appealed the decision of the honorable Allen Ray Bertram to the Court of Appeals.  In my career as an attorney – not that I’m “old hat” at this job by any means – I have appealed about 25 cases.  I say this without actually looking back through my cases, and simply guessing off the top of my head.  Out of the 25 cases, I have asked for oral arguments on just about every case.  That means I request that the Court of Appeals take the time to listen to me rant about the case for 15 minutes (exactly) instead of just relying on my brief.  The Court of Appeals has granted my request for oral arguments precisely two (2) times.  The first was the Dr. Hall murder case (turned Man2 case), and the second was the Care Academy strip search case.

The Court of Appeals seemed to have the same difference of opinion with the Trial Judge.  They reversed and remanded the case back to Washington Circuit Court.  So now, at least my client looks like he will finally get his day in Court.  About 5 years after the strip search occurred.  Even in the judicial system, where the wheels of justice turn slowly, 5 years is kind of a long time. 

Throw your hands in the ay-er.  If yous a true play-er.  I don’t need to ask about the obscenities.  I know which one you chose.

The decision handed down by the Court of Appeals is cause for celebration.  It is momentous.  The Court of Appeals really stepped up to the plate and righted something that had been wronged.  But let’s not pop bottles just yet.  There is a lot of work to do on this case, and I’m foaming at the mouth just thinking about walking up to talk to the jury in this case.  What a beautiful day that will be.

On a side note – I am way too personally invested in this case.  Emotional attachment to a case is never a great thing.  More on that, later.

I have work to do.

*Appropriate use of a semi-colon like a Boss.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Free in Kentucky: Rebecca Simms: Little Sister, Louisville Divorce A...

Free in Kentucky: Rebecca Simms: Little Sister, Louisville Divorce A...: This last week has been pretty crazy. The firm’s name has changed from Gruner & Simms, PLLC to Simms & Reed PLLC, we are in the process of ...

Rebecca Simms: Little Sister, Louisville Divorce Attorney, Fierce Trial Lawyer

This last week has been pretty crazy.  The firm’s name has changed from Gruner & Simms, PLLC to Simms & Reed PLLC, we are in the process of adding a personal injury litigation wing to the office, and the firm has taken on about a hundred new car accident litigation cases.  For the most part, I have been enveloped in our new personal injury world. 

So, at this point I’d like to step back from that and talk about Divorce and Custody.  Family law has always been something that the lawyers at our firm have “dabbled in.”  However, until recently, we haven’t had a lawyer who focused solely on Family law. 

Notice the fact that I did not use the word “specialize” or “specialization.”  That’s because I can’t say versions of that word when talking about the areas of law IN WHICH WE FOCUS.  Because the Kentucky Bar Association won’t allow it.  “But Greg -” You might be asking – “isn’t that a blatant violation of attorneys’ rights to free speech?  And isn’t it an extremely insignificant difference between the words ‘focus’ and ‘specialize’?”  These are all good questions.  I’m glad you’re paying attention.  At this time, you might expect me to answer the questions, but I get the sense you already know the answers.

Anyway, Rebecca M. Simms (a lawyer from Marion County who happens to be my sister) has focused primarily on Family law for years now.  That’s why we at Simms & Reed, PLLC, are very proud to announce that she has joined the firm as an Of Counsel Attorney.  Rebecca graduated from Western Kentucky University, where she did quite well (to say the least) in nationwide speech and debate.  In fact, she achieved the status of Number 1 persuasive speaker in the entire nation.*  Her awards and accolades in the Collegiate Speech and Debate world are far too numerous to mention in this blog.

After College, Rebecca went on to excel at the University of Louisville School of Law.  After graduating, she has honed her legal skills and focused primarily on the art and science of Divorce and Custody law.

Ms. Simms will be practicing at Simms** & Reed, PLLC in the areas of Divorce – both contested and uncontested, Child Custody, Child Support, Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs) and Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs), Maintenance, Visitation, Adoptions, and just about any other little facet of Family law that you can imagine.  And she’s damn good at it.

It pangs me to say this, but my little baby sister is better at something than myself.  She understands the caveats and crannys of Domestic law better than I know, and certainly better than I care to know.  Rebecca’s clients praise her ability to get results quickly, and her fierce attitude in the courtroom.  Personally, I like the fact that she works her ass off, and when I leave at night, often times she is still here working.

If you have any questions about Divorce, Custody, or any other areas of law mentioned above, I'd like to invite you to visit Rebecca’s website at  Or feel free to schedule a free initial consultation with Rebecca Simms, Louisville Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer Extraordinaire, by calling 502.618.4949. 

Simms & Reed, PLLC.  Results.  As fast as the law will allow.

*America.  Lawyered.
**Nope.  She's not THAT Simms.  That is me.  Little sister still hasn't made it that far over big brother.  Yet.

Questions answered in this blog post:  Who is Rebecca Simms; how can I find a good Louisville Divorce lawyer; how do I find a good Louisville Child Custody lawyer; who can lower my child support payments; where can I find a good Louisville adoption lawyer;  is Rebecca Simms a lawyer at Simms & Reed, PLLC?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Free in Kentucky: Big Change! "Gruner & Simms" to Become "Simms & Re...

Free in Kentucky: Big Change! "Gruner & Simms" to Become "Simms & Re...: It is the dawn of a new day. The sun sets on one, and rises on another. Gruner & Simms, PLLC was a good thing. We helped a lot of people,...

Big Change! "Gruner & Simms" to Become "Simms & Reed"

It is the dawn of a new day.  The sun sets on one, and rises on another.

Gruner & Simms, PLLC was a good thing.  We helped a lot of people, and we changed some law for the better.  My partner, Melissa Gruner was, and is, one of the most up and coming litigators in this great Commonwealth.  She gets great results, and her clients sing her praises.  Together, we built something pretty great.  But now, after two and a half years, some significant expansion and about a dozen jury trials – Gruner & Simms, PLLC is about to make a big change.

My partner is moving on, and Sean M. Reed is stepping up to attempt to fill her large shoes.*

So – at this time, I would like to give you a sort of “State of Being” talk about the firm and where we are going.

Partner, and Louisville Personal Injury Lawyer, Sean M. Reed

First, let me tell you a bit about Sean Reed.  Sean is no stranger to the firm.  He was with this law firm before the firm even existed.  Sean began clerking for me and for some other lawyers at the office of Elmer George in Lebanon, Kentucky in 2008.  Since then, he has grown by leaps and bounds.

Sean is from Stanford, Kentucky – which is in Lincoln County.  After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University, he excelled at the University of Louisville School of Law.  Since being admitted to the Kentucky Bar, he has focused primarily on Personal Injury.  Although Sean has become proficient in Criminal Law, Domestic, Civil Litigation, and Administrative Law, his main passion is helping people who are injured recover money from insurance companies, in order to compensate them for the damages they received.  He is a true Louisville Personal Injury Lawyer.  He likes to make sure the little guys don’t get pushed around by the big companies, and he is damn good at it.

Barely in his 30s, Sean Reed is young, aggressive, and eager to establish his reputation on the Louisville car accident law scene.

The ladies also think he is easy on the eyes.

The firm will be re-named “Simms & Reed, PLLC.”  Currently, the firm is undergoing a degree of restructuring and our focus on the law will shift.  Instead of focusing primarily on Criminal Law, the firm will focus on Personal Injury Law.

Why Our Louisville Auto Accident Law Practice is Different

You’ve all heard of the big guys who do car accident lawsuits.  The great big firms that are more like factories than law offices.  You’ve seen them on television with cartoon robots and lions that roar at insurance companies.  A lot of those guys don’t practice law in a courtroom.  They’re more like paper-pushers.  Not that settling cases is a bad thing.  It can be very good to settle a case on terms where everyone involved ends up happy.

But sometimes insurance companies like to push people around.  The sad part is that they have the money and manpower to do it, and do it effectively.  When they make offers on car accident cases that are unreasonable, you need a lawyer who is aggressive enough to actually step into a courtroom.  That’s where we are different.  At Simms & Reed, PLLC, we have lawyers who are true “trial lawyers.”

Ask your law firm how many jury trials they tried last year.  That’ll give you a good idea as to whether you have a “real” trial lawyer, or whether you just have some paper-pushing factory of a law firm.

Where We Go From Here

For me personally, I will still practice Criminal Defense Law.  My time will be split between criminal defense litigation and car accident law suits.  But Simms & Reed, PLLC will still offer a vast array of legal services.  Our Of Counsel attorneys still offer Bankruptcy, Divorce and Custody, Intellectual Property, and Civil Litigation services.

Each week for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be giving you an introduction to each of the lawyers at Simms & Reed, PLLC.  I’ll give you some insight into who the lawyers are, and what they do.

The past has been good to us.  The future is going to be even better.

Simms & Reed, PLLC.  Results.  As fast as the law will allow.

If you have been hurt in a car accident, call the Louisville car accident lawyers at Simms & Reed, PLLC.  Do not speak to an insurance adjuster before you call us!  The initial consultation is free, so call a Louisville car accident lawyer today at 502.618.4949.  Your case is serious.  Make sure you have a real Trial Lawyer on your side.

*the current count of which under her desk is fourteen (14) shoes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Free in Kentucky: The Defamation Superhighway: Defamation on the Int...

Free in Kentucky: The Defamation Superhighway: Defamation on the Int...: This blog post is about the civil action of defamation. I get questions about defamation quite frequently – typically because of something t...

The Defamation Superhighway: Defamation on the Internet.

This blog post is about the civil action of defamation. I get questions about defamation quite frequently – typically because of something that someone said on the Internet. For a number of prime examples, feel free to check out the website "Topix." For those of you who are unfamiliar with the website, Topix is a place where people log on to anonymously defame each other.

To a degree, I say that in jest. The aforementioned website does have other uses, and it serves as a message posting board which could, in theory, provide for a quick dissemination of useful information.

It could also serve as a place to post what are essentially free local classified ads. But from my limited experience with the website, a good percentage of the postings have the purpose of spreading gossip.

That brings us to defamation. 

The question for today (submitted by an old buddy from high school) is, “If someone says something bad about me on the internet, does that count as ‘defamation?”  Ancillary issues will include how and when, if ever, does this involve criminal law.

You might be wondering: "Greg why are you writing about defamation?  I was under the impression that defamation was a civil case, not a criminal case?"  Defamation certainly is not in the realm of criminal defense. It is a civil action, generally brought when a plaintiff feels that it defendant has made (1) false, defamatory statements (2) about the plaintiff, (3) published to another person, and that said statements (4) caused damage the reputation of the plaintiff.*  As far as I know, the only remedy available for a plaintiff in a defamation suit, is money. There is no possibility that a civil defendant in a defamation suit could face jail time as a penalty in the civil suit.

*As lawyers, we refer to each of the parts of an action that the plaintiff must prove, as “elements” of an action.

So in short, defamation occurs when someone publishes false, defamatory statements about you, which injure your reputation.  Publishing can be anything from speaking the statements out loud to another, to videotaping the statements, to posting a statement on the internet for the world to see.  Slander is defamation that is only spoken.  Libel is defamation that is memorialized in some way, such as written, or taped defamation.  That brings us to some of the defenses.

Calling a Spade a Spade

If you call the town whore a “whore,” you have not committed the tortuous act of defamation.  First and foremost, TRUTH is a defense to defamation.  I don’t know why I put “truth” in all caps.  Or why I’m writing this instead of going back and putting it in lower caps.  Sorry.  I’m in a weird mood today.

Opinions are Protected

Opinions are not statements of fact which can be proven or disproved.  Thus, if you said, “I believe Becky is a skank.” you aren’t liable for defamation.  For everyone who has ever asked, finally we are answering the question “What is the difference between a skank and a whore?”  The difference is that “whore” refers to a prostitute who has taken compensation for sexual favors.  This is something that can be proven to be fact or disproven as false.  However, the idea that someone is a dirty “skank” is mere opinion.  Thus, to call someone a “whore” (if they are not, in fact a whore, and it damages her reputation) is defamation.  Calling someone a “skank” is not.

The Town Whore is Not Protected

If you ran around telling everyone that the town whore “had devious relations with the mayor” then you probably still aren’t liable for defamation.  At least not to the whore.  Maybe to the Mayor.  After all, the town whore’s reputation is such that it would be very difficult to smear.  And even if it were false that she had relations with the mayor, the dissemination of that type of statement may actually strengthen, rather than injure, her reputation.  Someone with no value to their reputation cannot be defamed.

The Answer to the Original Defamation Question

Yes, someone can commit defamation by saying something bad about you on the internet.  But it really depends on what they say.

Lastly, this whole defamation issue can, in fact, bleed into criminal law if the statements about someone are 1) repeated and for no purpose of real communication (in which case it may constitute harassing communications); or if they 2) threaten physical harm to someone (in which case it might constitute terroristic threatening).

P.S. Don’t call me for a defamation suit.

Questions answered in this blog post: Why do people think they can talk crap about me on the internet; is it defamation for somebody to post insults on topix; what are the defenses to defamation; what is the difference between slander and lible; if somebody calls me a skank on the internet, is that defamation; what is the difference between a skank and a whore; is it a crime to defame someone on the internet; where can I find a good Louisville criminal defense lawyer?