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August 2006

Date calculator (how to count days)

I've driven myself crazy counting days on calendars over my career.  Sometimes it is under extreme duress (i.e.:  I swear we are within our 90 day window on that A & P summons.....), and sometimes it was happy counting (i.e.:  Let's see, 8% interest on $250,000 for 728 days is.....)

Anyhow, here is a neat little internet tool, a "date calculator."  Simply insert the start date and the end date, and the computer counts the days.  I'm sure some of you "rain man" types can do it in your head, but this thing saves a lot of headaches and you don't have to keep reciting that poem, "30 days hath Sepetember, April June, and ...."
Now we can get the good news or the bad news faster.
Chris Nichols
www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984

Using two monitors on your computer

Any lawyer that wants to run a "paperless" law firm will want to invest in a second monitor for their computer.  This way, you can view a document, in full, on one monitor, and "type" on another monitor.  Froe example, you might have a page of some medical records open on one monitor while you compose a demand package to an insurance company on your word processor on the other monitor.
Most computers have a video chip that is already set up to support two monitors.  I use two monitors, one of which is my laptop.  If you use a lap top, all you have to do is plug the other monitor into your laptop and then go to "start", "control panel" and then select either "display" or the icon that represents your "video graphics card".  Mine says "Intel Extreme Video Card" but everyone's is diffrent.  You then will look for "extended desktop" and there will be a picture of two squares, with the numbers 1 and 2 in them.  You then drag and drop the displays into the configuration you want, i.e. which display is your "main" monitor and which is your "side" monitor.
I've been told that most vieo cards support this set up. 
If you have a desktop computer, you should have two plugs in the back for monitors.

Continue reading "Using two monitors on your computer" »

www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984

How to make a .pdf form fillable

I received this as an email question, but it is a great question for everyone.

I am trying to find a way to take forms in pdf format off the net and make them fillable.  If I downloaded and learned to use openoffice, would that work? 

My response:
There are different software programs that can do this.  For example, Adobe Acrobat (not reader) has a function that allows for .pdf files to turn into forms.  But you have to buy the program.
Here is a really cheap/free way that mostly works.  I did this with the AOC forms I use a lot, like summons and Civil Action Cover sheets.  For instructions, click below:

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www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984

State Employee Health Lien goes to Governor for signature

I just received the most recent report about the proposed changes to the NC State Employee's Health Plan Lien.  It's all good news.

2005 Technical Corrections Act Passes Vote

The 2005 Technical Corrections Act conference report (that contained the "technical" corrections for the lien) has been adopted by both houses, and now goes to the Governor for his signature. There seems to be nothing controversial in the remainder of the bill, so we don't expect a veto of any sort from the governor.

The technical  corrections act from last year is where the subrogation provision was inserted toward the end of the long session, because SB 983 was holed up in the house.  It was included in each version of the tech corr bill and passed by the respective houses, but there was never agreement on the bill BETWEEN the two houses.

Bill needs to be signed by Governor Easley

The latest action of the General Assembly is that needed agreement, and as soon as the Governor signs the bill, it will be law.  The language of the bill makes it "retroactive" to the initial passage of the lien legislation back in July of 2004, so we don't have to worry about having two "sets" of liens.

This is fantastic news and due in large part to the long term efforts of Holly Bryan and Dick Taylor at the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Chris Nichols

www.NicholsTrialLaw.com

www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984

Portable Technology tested

I just got back from a three day legal work trip in Akron, Ohio.  I had a lot to do there in a short period of time, so I was hoping that my multiple levels of technology would help me out.  Everything seems to worm just fine, and I learned a few things. About my Treo 650, my JVC Hard drive Camera, and my Nikon Digital Camera.

TREO 650 is old reliable

One of the main things is that I decided was that of all of my "stuff", my Palm Treo 650 smartphone is by far my most useful gadget.  While I had my laptop with me on the plane and during layovers, I consistently turned to the Treo to check my emails and my voice mails.  The lap top is great if you get stuck for four hours somewhere and can find a strong WiFi signal, but the Treo was just so much quicker and easier that when I had five minutes to  myself, I would monitor my emails and make a few quick responses, even if only to say "hey, let me get back to you in a day or two."

So how did my new video set up (JVC 30 GB hard drive camera and Nikon 6 mp digital camera) work?  Keep reading.........

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www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984

Request for Admissions about Depo testimony

     Some lawyers will send detailed Requests for Admissions to an opposing party after their deposition asking that statements from the depsoition be admitted or denied.  While this may seem redundant in some ways, I think it is a great technique to "cement" testimony that will be used in trial.  For example, the RFA may read:  "Admit or deny that you were 'looking to the left when [you] entered the intersection of Jones and Martin street.  (Defenedants deposition, June 6, 2006, page 22, line 12-13)".

     I think this is a great technique, and here is why:

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Can Trial Judges overrule each other?

Quick Answer:  No, one trial judge can not overrule another trial judge in NC.

Generally, one superior court judge cannot overrule another. Bailey v. Gooding, 60 N.C. App. 459, 461 (1983) (citing In re Burton, 257 N.C. 534, 126 S.E. 2d 581 (1962)).

The well established rule in North Carolina is that no appeal lies from one Superior Court judge to another; that one Superior Court judge may not correct another's errors of law; and that ordinarily one judge may not modify, overrule, or change the judgment of another Superior Court judge previously made in the same action.  Calloway v. Ford Motor Co., 281 N.C. 496, 501 (N.C. 1972) (citations omitted).

www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984

How To Choose A Lawyer

How to Choose A Lawyer:  The Insiders Guide

Ok,  I'm a lawyer so I suppose that I have a vested interest in writing an article about choosing lawyers.  But at the same time, I realize that I can't represent ever person in the world, and I see people choosing lawyers that I would not let represent my dog, Winston, if he got hit by a car.  So I'm going to tell you how I would pick a lawyer, or at least how I would advise Winston on how to get one.

Let's start out with the most important concept in the form of a brain teaser:   Imagine if ALL cars cost the same thing.  Let's say every new car in the world cost $25,000.  Which car would you choose to drive?  Porsche Boxter or Geo Metro?  Remember, they cost the same amount....

   or ?

This is not a trick question, but it is a concept most people fail to realize about lawyers, price.

PRICE.  Guess what?  For an injury case, all of us lawyers charge the same thing!  A one-third (33.3%) contingency fee is the standard charge for car wrecks and you will typically see a 40% fee for more complicated matters such as insurance coverage litigation, medical malpractice and nursing home cases.  A few (and I mean few) lawyers will charge 25%, but I caution you from choosing by price alone.  So guess what?  This is really good news.  Why? 

If all lawyers charge the same thing, you are going to pay the same price for a crappy lawyer as you will pay for an excellent lawyer.  So why not pick the best lawyer you can?  Even better, the best lawyer will not cost you any more than the worst, so you either get the best bargain (more good lawyer for your money) or the worst deal (really bad lawyer for the same money).  Pick the Porsche!

By the way, here are the basic qualities that I would look for in a lawyer:

  • Trial Experience
  • Personal Attention
  • Reputation among Lawyers
  • Use of Technology
  • Knowing my actual lawyer

With those goals in mind, here are nine things to consider:

Continue reading "How To Choose A Lawyer" »

www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984

Female teachers having sex with students

I keep reading about the ever increasing number of reported cases of female teachers have sex with their male (and female) students.  Everyone seems shocked by that fact, and I suppose that normally when one thinks of inappropriate teacher student relationships, they think of creepy male teachers and their female students.

The website World Net Daily  has compiled the summaries of all the latest female teacher cases in sort of a "mug shot" style article.

I used to work with a fantastic lawyer named Elizabeth Kuniholm who has a national reputation suing perpetrators of sexual abuse.  I have some experience working on these types of cases which are both tragic and complicated.  I can't quite figure out if there has been a rise in female molestation or if some other societal factor is playing a part here. 

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www.NicholsTrialLaw.com 1.800.906.5984