All About Scopes Trial

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Posted by JR Olson | Posted in Government, History | Posted on 28-05-2016

Almost 100 years ago, newspapers from all around the country captivated the public with their reporting of the most infamous trial of the century, involving a high school science teacher and Christian fundamental values. The case, the State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, took place in 1925 and pitted some of the best legal orators of the time against each other: Clarence S. Darrow, a leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and defender of individual rights against three-time Democratic presidential candidate, former Nebraska Congressman, and U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan.

Although the outcome of the case was fairly predictable, with Scopes being found in violation of the state’s prohibition on teaching evolution, known as the Butler Act (which was repealed on May 17, 1967), and fined the minimum amount prescribed by law ($100) the case has served as a touchstone in the ongoing debate regarding the separation of church and state and the role of religion in schools and other public places.

The Butler Act

A rise in the teaching of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species in Tennessee schools caused Christian fundamentalists to become concerned that children were being taught to not believe in God. This concern led the Tennessee legislature to pass the Butler Act, which was signed into law by then-governor Austin Peay on March 21, 1925. The law’s author was a state representative named John Butler, who represented the conservative rural district of Macon County.

The Butler Act, only two pages long (197 words), was simple in that it forbade the teaching of evolution at any level of schooling (i.e. university, normal, public, etc.) that received state funding. Anyone found in violation of the law would be fined no less than $100 and no more than $500. Governor Peay felt that the law would be rarely, if ever, enforced and signed it to mollify his conservative constituents.

ACLU Challenge to the Law

The ACLU, a leading organization in the defense of individual rights and freedoms in the country, sought to challenge the law after it was enacted. The organization needed look no further than a part-time substitute science teacher named John Scopes. Accepting an offer by the organization to cover his defense, Scopes was arrested on May 7, 1925, for violation of the Butler Act. In challenging the law the ACLU hoped to expose the hypocrisy of states that substituted education with religious doctrine. Even though the ACLU was unable to argue the case further before the U.S. Supreme Court (the verdict was overturned in 1927 by the Tennessee Supreme Court), the case was used to stop further attempts to enforce religious doctrine in the classroom.

The Scopes Monkey Trial and its Outcome

The trial began on July 10, 1925, and concluded on July 21, 1925, with Scopes being found guilty. Judge John T. Raulston of the 18th Tennessee District heard the arguments. A famous exchange between Darrow and Bryan on day seven of the trial saw Bryan accepting an unusually rare role from that of lead prosecuting attorney to witness for the prosecution. The exchange produced one of the trial’s most memorable moments and cast doubt on fundamentalism’s literal interpretation of the Bible and the role of science to question and put forth alternate theories of life. Darrow’s style of questioning, thought to be mocking the older Bryan (who died five days after the verdict was handed down), helped bring to light the need for questioning, science, and reason and cast Bryan as out of touch and uninformed.

Byline

Gilbert Madigan writes on a variety of complex legal topics such as Constitutional Law, Legal History, Consumer Rights, Evidence Law, Criminal Law and others as well.

A Look at Recent Accidents Caused by Texting

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Posted by JR Olson | Posted in News | Posted on 28-05-2016

According to the United States government, approximately 421,000 people were injured in crashes related to distracted driving last year. More than 3,300 of these accidents resulted in a fatality. Cell phones are a leading cause of distracted driving, despite bans on distracted driving in 41 states. Below is a review of some collisions that occurred while someone was texting while driving.

Anchorage, Alaska

Murphy Madison Gross, a 16-year-old male, was texting in 2012 when he ran a stoplight and plowed into Catherine Cope, killing the 27-year-old mother of two. In addition to the manslaughter charge, Gross was also charged with driving without a license, stealing his father’s car, and smoking marijuana. Cope’s husband and two of her husband’s co-workers were also in the car, but they survived their injuries.

Annapolis, Maryland

In March of 2013, Elizabeth Haley Meyers, 19, was texting when she attempted to cross Route 3. While making the crossing, she failed to notice 30-year-old Jonathan Roberts who was on his motorcycle. Witnesses said she was looking down at her cell phone when the crash occurred. Roberts died as a result of the crash. Meyers faces up to 10 years in prison and serious fines.

Essex County, New Jersey

On October 10th, a 35-year-old woman was not only driving with a suspended license, but also texting when she crashed into 58-year-old Carlos Carvalho. Jennifer Sahoye was traveling on Route 1 and Route 9′s express lanes when her texting led to her to cross into the oncoming lane. She hit Carvalho’s pickup, causing it to flip. Carvalho was ejected from his vehicle and died at the scene. Sahoye faces up to 10 years in state prison if convicted.

Haverhill, Massachusetts

In 2011, 18-year-old Aaron Deveau was texting when he slammed into 55-year-old Donald Bowley’s vehicle. Bowley died and his passenger received serious injuries. Deveau admits he made a huge mistake and wishes he could take it back, but he was still sentenced to in one year in prison and will have his license suspended for 15 years.

Kansas City, Missouri

Rachel Gannon, a 16-year-old from Kansas City, faces manslaughter charges after losing control of her car while allegedly texting. She crashed into 72-year-old Loretta Larimer while trying to get back on the road. Larimer’s 10-year-old granddaughter was also in the car and suffered minor injuries. Gannon was originally given a lenient sentence, but was arrested again after hosting a party and skipping her mandatory tutoring sessions.

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Stephanie Deloye, 24, was texting while making a turn at an intersection. She never noticed a pedestrian in the crosswalk, and she ran her over. The pedestrian, 57-year-old Malia McElveen, was bleeding and complaining of hip pain when witnesses went to help her. Officers arrived and found no brake marks. Deloye, who never left her car to check on the victim, claims her cell phone was in her lap, but that she had not used it since she left her home. Police checked phone records and found several text messages sent during the time of the crash. McElveen survived, but she was hospitalized with several pelvic fractures.

In 2007, Washington became the first state to pass a ban on texting while driving. Since then, 40 states have joined the list by adding their own distracted driving laws that cover text message bans. Despite these laws, only three states ban school bus drivers from texting. As of November, 2013, the only states with no text messaging bans on all drivers include Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

Byline

Skip Bailey writes on Auto Accidents, Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, Criminal Defense, Civil Procedure and other legal topics.

Note to Business Owners: Clearly Written Contracts Can Help Avoid Business Disputes

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Posted by JR Olson | Posted in Business | Posted on 27-05-2016

As a business owner, whether large or small, you are sure to have commercial contractors that you rely on to provide you with internal and external services. This could be anything from facilities and maintenance to inventory delivery or products and services that you require for your day-to-day operations. When your commercial and vendor contracts are not well written, it can lead to disputes and financial loss. Before signing a contract with outside parties, consider the tips below.

Clear and Specific Responsibilities and Expectations

It is imperative that all of your contracts clearly state the specific services, job duties, and responsibilities required of both parties in order for work to be complete. This includes time frames and exceptions to the rules. For example, if you have a commercial contractor who will provide services for your company every Monday, you need to identify how service will be modified on three-day holiday weekends. Also identify how communication will be provided if either party is unable to fulfill their job duties in the specified timeframe.

Terms of Billing and Payment

One of the advantages to having a contract is locking in prices. However, there are many situations that can arise in which a vendor bills more than was agreed upon in your contract. For example, if your maintenance provider has agreed to perform maintenance during general hours of operations for a flat rate, they may charge higher prices for after-hour, weekend, or last minute services. It is essential that both parties clearly understand what the billing will be for extenuating circumstances, or for services above and beyond the general contract. It is also important to determine what payment methods your contractors accepts, their frequency of invoicing, and the frequency in which you make payments.

Ability to Upgrade or Downgrade

Sometimes the contract you sign with a vendor no longer fits your needs, which requires you to upgrade or downgrade your services. For example, if you have experienced a large growth spurt and need to increase the frequency of service provided, you may be required to sign a new contract altogether. While most of your vendors will gladly upgrade your services, your new contract may require different terms and conditions. It is important to understand what upgrades are available and if your vendor is able to grow with your organization as you grow. On the flip side of this, if you have changed your business structure and no longer need your vendor services, or if you need to significantly reduce your services, ensure that you understand what options you have for downgrading your services.

Termination Procedures

One of the many advantages to signing a contract with an outside vendor is ensuring that the service or products they provide will give you the consistency you desire. However, there are situations that arise in which you may need to terminate your contract. Before you sign your contract, ensure that you understand termination procedures. Usually, termination procedures require a minimum amount of notice, a termination fee, or proof that your commercial vendor is no longer providing you with the level of service you expect.

Sometimes it is easy to become so focused on crossing things off of your to-do list that the details of vendor agreements and contracts fall through the cracks. Prior to signing any contracts, you may also want to enlist the expertise of your legal advisor.

Byline

Henry Triton writes on Business Law, Commercial Litigation, Contracts, Sexual Abuse of Children, Personal Injury and other complex legal subjects.