Law Offices of Gabriel H. Avina

Los Angeles Personal Injury and Criminal Defense Lawyers


Friday, July 20, 2012

UC Berkeley Agrees to Settle with Photographer

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the University of California, Berkeley has agreed to settle with David Morse, a photographer, for $162,500.00.  David Morse was arrested by the UC Berkeley police when he was photographing a protest which took place outside the University Chancellor, Robert Birgeneau's, mansion.

Morse said that he was illegally detained and his camera and photographs were illegally seized by university police.  Without admitting guilt or fault, the University of California Berkeley has agreed to settle with David Morse.  Also, a part of the settlement the University will be changing their procedures towards journalists and  photographers, and train their police officers to better handle situations by training them to not target journalists and photographers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Deposition Tips

A party chooses to hold a deposition in hopes of obtaining valuable information to use in their case.  Depositions are comprised of questions and answers, where the party who requested the deposition usually asks the questions and the opposing party answers.  Depositions have to be under oath and are recorded through audiotape and/or video recording.  Understandably so, one may not know what to expect at a deposition, especially if he/she has never been to one.  However, there is no reason to worry. We, at the Law Offices of Gabriel H. Avina, have come up with a few tips on what to expect in order to help you through the deposition process.
  • The deposition starts out with the person operating the recording device stating:
    • His/her name and business address;
    • His/her employer's name and business address;
    • Date, time, and place of the deposition; 
    • Name of the case;
    • Your name;
    • Who's deposition is being taken; and
    • If there are any stipulations of the parties.
  • Remember you will be under oath, so the administration of the oath will be recorded.
  • After the preliminary statements are taken and you have taken the oath, the questions regarding the case will begin.  
  • As long as the deposition does not take an extraordinarily long time, the time for how long they can last varies, so be prepare to be in a deposition for an hour or two. 
  • After the questioning has finished, concluding remarks are given by the operator and the deposition will be over.
  • When the deposition is over, if you want a copy of the deposition you may request a transcript. 
For more information you can visit our Personal Injury and Criminal Defense pages.

Friday, June 1, 2012

George Zimmerman's Bond Revoked: Credibility and Impeachment

This afternoon news outlets have reported that George Zimmerman's bond has been revoked for deceiving the court regarding his finances and the fact that Zimmerman possesses a second passport.

Los Angeles attorney  Gabriel H. Avina says that this incident could be significant as the prosecution of George Zimmerman moves forward because it could be used by prosecutors in future proceedings to impeach Zimmerman.

Impeachment in legal proceedings is the process of discrediting the a witness, for example by catching that witness in a lie or demonstrating that the witness has been untruthful in the past. When an attorney impeaches a witness during questioning before the court, this results in undermining the credibility of the witness in the eyes of those charged with determining the facts of a case (either the jury or the judge in a bench trial). When the credibility of a witness is undermined, this casts doubt on the accuracy or authenticity of the evidence from that witness.

As George Zimmerman's case moves forward, the prosecution may be able to find ways to use the misrepresentations of Zimmerman to the court in this bond incident to impeach Zimmerman's credibility before the court or before a jury. The prosecution could use this incident as a useful tool to cast doubt on Zimmerman's version of events in this case.

Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Personal Injury Attorney

Motorcycle accidents are different from most personal injury accidents. Not only are motorcycle accident causes and liability sometimes different than other types of accidents, but also the type and extent of property damage and personal injury that result from motorcycle accidents differ from other types of accidents. Property damage to motorcycles and personal injury to the rider can often be more extensive than other types of accidents.

If you have been injured in a traffic accident, legal representation can help you recover adequate compensation for your injuries. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, then a lawyer who understands motorcycles can better understand how your motorcycle accident occurred and the extent of the damage to your motorcycle. 

Los Angeles lawyer Gabriel H. Avina has been riding motorcycles since before he could drive a car. Starting on dirt bikes as a kid, Gabriel now owns only motorcycles, which he rides daily. As an attorney who rides motorcycles himself and has been involved in motorcycle accidents himself, Gabriel understands motorcycle accident issues, such as liability, mechanical and structural damage to motorcycles, and the extent of injuries to the rider that can occur.

If you would like more information, call (323)299-1664 or email to set up a FREE consultation with Los Angeles personal injury attorney Gabriel H. Avina.

*For more information see our Personal Injury page.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Our First Amendment Right to Record Police Officers

In the last couple years, issues of whether individuals have a constitutional right record police officers, and whether the police may prevent such recordings or later destroy recordings, has become increasingly prominent.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division has affirmed the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth  Amendment rights of citizens to record police officers in the public discharge of their duties. In an opinion letter issued on May 14, 2012  in regard to the ongoing litigation in Sharp v.  Baltimore City Police Department, the DOJ stated that the individual right to record officers who are publicly executing their duties is a First Amendment right. Relying on Glik v. Cunniffe, the DOJ letter states “Recording governmental officers engaged in public duties is a form of speech through which private individuals may gather and disseminate information of public concern, including the conduct of law enforcement officers.” (DOJ letter, page 2.)

Also in this letter, the DOJ and set forth recommendations for police policies to give law enforcement officers clear guidelines to allow them to perform their duties without violating this right. According to the DOJ opinion letter, with regard to the recordings of private citizens, police policies should:

  • Affirmatively state that individuals have a First Amendment right to record police officers; 
  • Include examples of the places where individuals can lawfully record police activity, for example individuals not only have the right to record in  public parks and public spaces (like sidewalks, streets and locations of public protests,) but also the right to record on private property where an individual has  a right to be present (including, but not limited to his or her home);
  • Include examples of the type of police activity that may be recorded;
  • Advise officers that they "may not  threaten, intimidate, or otherwise discourage an individual from recording police officer enforcement activity or intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices" (DOJ letter, page 5);
  • Instruct officers that they must not search and seize a camera or recording device without a warrant, except  in limited circumstances (DOJ letter, page 5);
  • Instruct officers that even if a warrantless seizure of a camera or recording device is permitted (because there is probable cause to believe that the device holds a contraband or evidence of a crime, there is a exigency or exception to the warrant requirement, and seizure is for a limited time period), there can be no search of the recording device without a warrant (DOJ letter, page 9).
  • Prohibit officers from "destroying recording devices or cameras and deleting recordings or photographs under any circumstances"(DOJ letter, page 5);
  • Define and provide examples for the narrow limitations of the First Amendment right to record: "A person may record public police activity unless the person engaged in actions that jeopardize the safety of the officer, the suspect, of others in the vicinity, violate the law, or incite others to violate the law" (DOJ letter, page 6).
  • Include other provisions to clarify the role of the officer's supervisor, the guidelines for consent to searches, seizures under exigent circumstances, among other things.

Read the rest of the May 14, 2012 DOJ opinion letter from Sharp v.  Baltimore City Police Department for more information. This is an area of law that will continue to develop.

In addition, here is some background information on the litigation Sharp v.  Baltimore City Police Department. On May 15, 2010, Christopher Sharp recorded his friends' violent police encounter at the Preakness with his cellphone, and the Baltimore police seized and searched the phone. Christopher Sharp filed against a complaint the Baltimore Police Department, and this litigation is ongoing.

If you need legal representation call (323)299-1664 or email to set up a FREE CONSULTATION with Los Angeles attorney Gabriel H. Avina.

*For more information see our Criminal Defense page.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

California Jury Instructions are a Free Online Legal Resource

If you are involved in civil or criminal case, Los Angeles lawyer Gabriel H. Avina recommends the California Jury Instructions as a good and FREE resource to help you understand the law. The jury instruction forms are composed by the Judicial Council of California to be a concise and plain language description of the law as applied to all types of civil and criminal cases. The court uses these jury instruction forms as templates to instruct each jury before deliberation on the law as applied to the case that jury heard.

Since these jury instruction forms are a plain language description of the issues that a jury ultimately decides, they are a good reference to understand the legal and factual issues that are important to your case. Judges and attorneys routinely use these forms as a reference 
for both civil and criminal cases.

These forms are also a rich legal resource because below the template instructions there are also notes on “Directions for Use” and “Sources and Authority,” which explain how the instructions should be understood and used, as well as references to the related statutes and case law.

The Jury Instruction Forms from Judicial Council of Californian can be found FREE online on the California Courts website.

The civil jury instructions include forms that cover personal injury topics for car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pain and suffering, and negligence, among other topics. These civil forms also include topics in contract law, insurance law, discrimination law , civil rights, damages and more. The criminal jury instructions cover felony criminal cases and misdemeanor criminal cases, including Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

If you need legal representation call (323)299-1664 or email to set up a FREE CONSULTATION with Los Angeles attorney Gabriel H. Avina.

*For more information see our Criminal Defense page.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer

Los Angeles lawyer Gabriel H. Avina is experienced in practicing personal injury law and can help you successfully litigate or settle your personal injury case, including injuries that result from any of the following:

car accident
truck accident
motorcycle accident
pedestrian accident
bicycle accident

As soon as an accident happens, you should keep your rights in mind. Even an injury that does not seem bad immediately after the accident, can later develop into a more serious injury than you could have anticipated. According to Los Angeles lawyer Gabriel H. Avina, starting immediately after an accident, there are a number of steps you can take to preserve your personal injury claim:

1. As required in all traffic accidents, exchange information with the other parties involved in the accident.
2. Use a cellphone or other camera to take photos to document your injuries or property damage.
3. Consult a doctor.
4. Consult an attorney to get personalized advice that specifically fits the facts of your accident and your personal injury claim.

Gabriel H. Avina not only has helped numerous clients involved in auto accidents successfully recover so that they are compensated for their personal injuries, but he has litigated his own personal injury. Gabriel understands the challenges and concerns that arise as both a personal injury lawyer and a personal injury plaintiff.

Call (323)299-1664 or email to set up a free consultation with Los Angeles personal injury attorney Gabriel H. Avina.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why the Florida Law in Trayvon Martin's murder is not the Problem.

It's hard not to get angry about the homicide of Trayvon Martin.  After all, some stupid guy shot a kid and seems to have gotten away with it for now.  But one thing to note about the Florida gun happy law is that it is not the problem.  The problem is that the police department simply misinterpreted the law. 

Here's the Florida law:

"A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." Florida Penal Code 776.013

First, it is clear that George Zimmerman is stupid and crazy.  No question.  But was he "not engaged in an unlawful activity?"  No!  Imagine Trayvon Martin as a blonde teenage girl.  And some 28 year old guy starts following her with an armed gun and approaches her.  If she ended up dead, would the Officer have arrested Zimmerman?  Absolutely.  So what makes Trayvon different?  He's a black kid.  And for the Officer to not suspect something from the end result of Trayvon's death is more revealing of the Officer's prejudices than what actually happened.  

Second, the Florida law clearly states that Zimmerman, "has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death..."  Here too, the Officer's misinterpretation of the law illustrates his incompetence.  The operative word is "reasonable".  That means that the conduct covered by the deadly result must have not been unreasonable.  

For example, Zimmerman couldn't have shot Tryvon because he believes all black people with hoodies are bad or up to no good.  This would be unreasonable, thereby eliminating the protection of the Florida Statute.  But that's exactly what happened.  Rather than conduct a thorough investigation, the Police Department simply accepted Zimmerman's account of what happened and didn't second guess how "unreasonable" Zimmerman's account was.  

Again, this is not a failing of the gun crazy Florida law.  It's the fault of a Police Department that lacks the common sense needed to interpret the law and the backbone to contradict the initial investigation by the reporting Police Officer.  

So why hasn't Zimmerman been arrested yet?  Because everybody wants to save face.  The Officer, the Police Department, the Mayor.  

Black kids be damned.   

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Importance of Seeing your Doctor after an Accident

Many prospective clients come to me with severe personal injuries and want to recover what they are entitled to from an accident several weeks after an accident.

Here's the problem - they never went to a doctor or sought medical care after the accident.  This is a mistake.  If you are involved in a car or motorcycle accident, you must see a medical professional.  Sure, you may feel fine at first or even okay after a few days.  But many injuries take longer to surface and manifest themselves.  This is especially true with auto accidents that cause some type of nerve damage.

Trying to "tough it out" will only preclude you from a significant portions of the pain and suffering compensation that you are entitled to.  The insurance company for the driver who was texting when he rear-ended you does not care about you.  The insurance company will try to pay out as little as possible and if you do not have your injuries documents, you will not get all the compensation you are entitled to.

Go see your doctor.  Even if you don't think it's a bad injury.

*For more tips visit our Personal Injury page.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Muhammad Ali is 70! Happy Birthday.

For those who don't know, Muhammad Ali is the greatest athlete of all time.  It's not even up for debate.  It's a fact.  The man not only fought some of the biggest and hardest punchers in the history of boxing, he also took on a racist society and the U.S. Supreme Court.  And won!

Check out Time's Photo Gallery on his 70th Birthday.