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One of the most cited and celebrated rights in the United States of America is the right to a trial decided upon by a jury of one’s peers. When a person is facing criminal charges, they can elect to have a trial by jury, and their lawyer will defend them in court. While this is supposed to be a guaranteed right, oftentimes, many cases are resolved through plea bargaining with the prosecutor. Plea bargaining is basically a negotiation between defendant and prosecutor to work out a deal where the defendant accepts certain charges and their consequences, while the prosecutor offers to drop others. While plea bargaining can sometimes be the best case scenario, the New York Times has pointed out recently that overall, trials by jury are on the decline, and instead, most cases nowadays are being resolved through striking deals with the prosecutor, “behind closed doors,” as the article ominously suggests. The Times reported that in 1984 there were over 4,000 verdicts served by juries, and in 2015, that numbers has dwindled to fewer than half.

A Decline In Jury Trials

If the disproportionate divide between jury trials and plea deals is so large, what could have caused it? Where do these disparities come from? Supposedly fewer Americans are willing to serve on juries, and some New York judges are getting just a handful of criminal law trials in a year. In an article by Slate, it is also suggested that another issue that contributes to this decline in jury trials is heavy-handed prosecution. With so many statutes with just vague enough language, prosecutors can quite literally throw the book at defendants when it comes to determining charges. This means that the defendant, faced with an overwhelming number of charges, will be forced to choose between taking a plea deal that seems favorable compared to generate enough reasonable doubt in court for a multitude of charges. Trials are also presented to defendants as though they are gambles and last resorts, but only because trials are actually slowly starting to become those things themselves.

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Recently a popular smartphone app has been making headlines all across the world. The app is called Pokémon Go, a smartphone game that bases itself off of Nintendo’s long running franchise Pokémon. The franchise itself involves both a television show and video game series where a “Pokémon Trainer” travels the world collecting cartoonish and cutesy monsters known as “Pokémon.” The smartphone app is game intended to simulate this experience through “augmented reality,” meaning that the creatures will appear on phone screen using the camera, though not in real life. The app has gained immense popularity and its worldwide release has been incredibly well-received. The game is played using the player’s GPS unit in their phone, which will then populate their surroundings with Pokémon. Players will follow their map towards the Pokémon and then engage in a brief timing based mini-game to catch the Pokémon. This, of course, demands a lot of time for players to be looking down at their screens, and not paying attention to the world around them. Continue reading →

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Amusement parks are often the source of fun and great memories. Many offer rides, food, and other experiences that are fun for people of all ages. However, one thing rarely taken into account is the danger they can present to riders. Many people often see these rides as perfectly safe and functional, but there are many dangers associated with these thrill rides. In a recent study reported on by Inquisitor, roller coaster injuries happened on an average of about 4,000 incidents per year. Another study reported on by the publication showed that between 1990 and 2004 there were 52 deaths related to amusement park rides as well. Averaged out, the number of deaths is relatively low, however injuries are incredibly common. In fact, the report actually states that the danger from getting injured at an amusement park is higher than that of a shark attack. So much for safe and fun!

When An Amusement Park Ride Turns Deadly

In a recent incident, one of Kansas’s legislators lost a son in an unfortunate incident involving a waterslide-style rollercoaster this past month. Caleb Schwab, the son of Kansas representative Scott Schwab, was on a ride at Kansas City’s Schlitterbahn Water Park. The ride was the Verrückt, which the them park cites as the world’s tallest waterslide. The ride stands at over 168 feet, plunging riders through an initial drop, then at a rapid velocity sends them over another 50 foot hill. The ride itself reaches speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. All of these features seem incredibly thrilling and fun, however, these things also cost young Caleb Schwab his life.

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A recent motor vehicle accident in Bedford turned deadly this past weekend. In the middle of the afternoon, 911 responders were alerted to an incredibly serious accident. A car was overturned in the front yard of a home. The police report stated that the the car was speeding when it struck a utility pole, propelling the vehicle through the air, over the fece of a nearby house, and landing upside down. The car had three people inside, two were ejected from the car during the crash and received grave injuries, and the third was in the car, also with serious injuries. The three were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, and police shut dow the road for an investigation.

A Life-Threatening Accident Turns Deadly

While the three were being treated for their injuries, police identified the driver as Deng M. Chol Mabor. It was determined that he was under the influence of alcohol. He was to be charged with aggravated DWI, but something terrible and unexpected happened before the weekend was over. Unfortunately, over the weekend, one of the passengers did not survive his injuries at the hospital. This turned the case from an already complex DUI into a homicide case. In New Hampshire, DUI/DWI crimes are not normally charged at the felony level for a first offense, unless there are some extreme aggravating circumstances. The death of a passenger is one such example. Chol Mabor now faces charges of negligent homicide, aggravated DWI, and reckless conduct. Following his release from the hospital, he was taken to a local jail where he will await arraignment.

Negligent Homicide

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It’s hard to imagine an officer of the law ever getting caught for breaking the law. Unfortunately, for one officer from the University of New Hampshire’s police department, that’s exactly what happened. One morning this past June, Diane Scott, a University security professional and former officer, found herself in a predicament. Early in the morning, an officer, Ron Taylor, received a call to investigate a car accident in Canterbury. What he found was his former colleague, Ms. Scott, lightly injured, but able to recognize him. Officer Taylor quickly saw all the signs of a DUI. Scott was reported to have a clear scent of alcohol, and difficulty standing up, swaying constantly during her conversation with the officer. It was then that officer Taylor made the arrest, much to Scott’s shock, surprise, and dismay. Scott is reported to have denied Taylor’s arrest in disbelief. After being treated for her injuries, Scott was reported to have refused a blood test when asked, and to have continued to refute her arrest.

Later on, it was revealed that Scott had gone to court for an arraignment. She pleaded nolo contendere to a Class B misdemeanor DUI charge. Her sentencing resulted in a fine of $500 and a license suspension of nine months. In addition to the fines from the plea, she will also likely face additional suspension time for her test refusal from the DMV.

What Does A Nolo Contendere Plea Mean?

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Earlier this month, over 50 professional wrestlers filed a class action lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) alleging that the wrestlers are suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a form of permanent brain damage that results from the degenerative disease, as a result of repeated hits to the head.

The case is working its way through the system concurrently with a handful of other similar single and class-action cases against the WWE. This week, the United States District Court of Connecticut granted WWE’s motion for reconsideration to file a countersuit against four wrestlers in another, similar class action suit against the company.

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New Hampshire is a perfect place for boating; our state has over 400 public state-owned launch sites for boating, kayaking, or canoeing. But when boaters fail to follow safety laws and guidelines, boating can quickly turn from a fun to a dangerous activity.boating-accidents-in-new-ha

Earlier this month, a New Hampshire man was killed when in a boating accident upstate New York when his powerboat hit a rock. Allen Lighthall was boating with his 13-year-old son when the powerboat hit a rock in the lake, throwing his son into the water. Lighthall dove in after his son. Another boater in the area saw the accident and was able to rescue the 13-year-old, but Lighthall did not survive.

Also this month, a kayaker was fishing in Lake Massabesic when a powerboat struck him, expelling him kayaker into the water and causing serious internal injuries.

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An 89-year-old Texas woman is suing United Airlines after falling down an escalator, claiming that the company failed to provide the wheelchair assistance they had promised.

In February, Thelma Kiger arrived at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas after on her way home from a cruise with her niece. When Kiger departed from Los Angeles on her way to Texas, United employees escorted her to the gate with a wheelchair. The employees promised that she would be met with a wheelchair when she arrived in Texas.

Instead, an employee in an electric cart came to the gate for her and dropped her off near a set of escalators down to the baggage claim. Kiger was left alone and was not informed if anyone else would come to assist her. She attempted to take the escalator, but fell and landed unconscious at the bottom. Kiger suffered “four fractured ribs, a fractured pelvis, and injuries to her left shoulder, left arm, back and legs.”

The lawsuit alleges that United Airlines failed to follow federal and state statutes and regulations when they failed to provide adequate wheelchair assistance to Kiger.

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This week, a man in Austin, Texas was hospitalized after flying over the edge of a water slide onto a cliff below. He suffered a broken arm and fractured ribs, and had cuts and bruises on his back.

Waterpark rides can be incredibly dangerous, causing severe injuries like broken bones and nerve damage, or trapping young children under rushing water and causing drownings. Though waterparks must have slides and rides safety-approved before opening, many of these parks do not face routine safety inspections of the rides once opened. Safety inspections of already-opened parks tend to focus on the safety and cleanliness of the water at the parks, not on the safety and maintenance of slides and rides.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that every year, amusement park visitors take about 1.38 billion rides at fixed-site amusement parks. Those rides result in about 40,000 injuries and 357 deaths.

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Last week, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that General Motors (GM) cannot bar plaintiffs from suing the company because of GM’s bankruptcy filing. In 2014, GM was forced to recall 2.6 million vehicles over faulty ignition switches that caused over one-hundred deaths, close to three-hundred injuries, and thousands of claims of car devaluation resulting from the ignition switch defect. GM filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and transitioned from “Old GM” to “New GM” which was protected from, the debts and liabilities of the old company. The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that barring plaintiffs from suing GM for defects that originated under “Old GM” would violate the plaintiff’s constitutional rights to due process. Continue reading →