Friday, December 27, 2013

Criminal Law: U.S. Supreme Court To Decide Important Traffic Stop Case – Navarette v. California

By Mark Rankin

The United States Supreme Court will soon hear the case of Navarette v. California. The court’s decision could have a huge impact on traffic stop cases in state and federal courts.

According to the legal briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2008, Lorenzo and Jose Navarette were traveling a California highway in a pickup truck with four large bags of marijuana in the bed.  Unbeknownst to the brothers, an anonymous caller had alerted the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to a “reckless driver,” identifying the make and color of the pickup truck and providing license plate information.  A CHP officer spotted the Navarettes’ vehicle.  The officer did not observe reckless driving or any other illegal activity while following the vehicle.  Based solely upon the anonymous tip, the officer conducted a traffic stop.  The Navarette brothers were charged with transportation of marijuana.  After losing a motion to suppress, they pleaded guilty and were sentenced to probation and 90 days in jail.  The California appellate courts affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court will consider the case this term.

The main question presented by Navarette is: Does the Fourth Amendment require an officer who receives an anonymous tip regarding a drunken or reckless driver to corroborate dangerous driving before stopping the vehicle?

In Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266 (2000), the Supreme Court reaffirmed that law enforcement may conduct a stop only where an anonymous tip has a “moderate indicia of reliability” and a “tendency to identify a determinate person.”  The court in J.L. also rejected the state’s request to adopt a “firearms exception” to this rule, based upon the dangerousness of an armed suspect.  The court noted that such an exception would subject citizens to intrusive police searches based upon a mere “bare-boned tip about guns.”  The facts of Navarette provide another opportunity for the court to decide this issue ― this time examining whether there should be some exception for dangerous or drunk drivers.

Florida courts frequently find that an anonymous tip that is only corroborated by observing the physical characteristics of a driver or the make, model, and color of the vehicle do not justify a stop.  In Wands v. Dep’t of Highway Safety, 13 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 305 (Fla. 7th Cir. Ct. Jan. 27, 2006), the court examined facts similar to Navarette.  The officer in Wands had received an anonymous tip of a reckless driver but personally observed nothing illegal before conducting a stop. The court found there was not reasonable suspicion for the stop. In the DUI context, another Florida court made clear that an officer investigating a tip must observe “independent suspicious activity before they make a valid stop.”  State v. Goepfert, 15 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 305 (Fla. 6th Cir. Ct. Jan. 10, 2008).

The court’s decision in Navarette will have some bearing on any criminal case involving a stop based upon an uncorroborated anonymous tip. However, DUI cases may be most affected by the court’s opinion. Defense counsel should closely follow this case and preserve any arguments that could be supported by a reversal in Navarette.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Corporate Counsel: Delaware Chancery Court Upholds Forum Selection Provisions In Bylaws

By Jody P. Keeling

In a recent decision, Boilermakers Local 154 Retirement Fund, et al. v. Chevron Corp., et al., C.A. No. 7220-CS (Del. Ch. June 25, 2013), Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr., of the Delaware Court of Chancery upheld the statutory and contractual validity of bylaws adopted by a corporation's board of directors that specifically designate an exclusive forum for litigating disputes regarding the internal affairs of the corporation.  Generally speaking, a forum selection bylaw is a provision in a corporation's bylaws that designates a forum as the exclusive venue for certain stockholder suits against the corporation, either as an actual or nominal defendant, as well as its directors and employees. The plaintiffs in this particular lawsuit claimed that the forum selection bylaws were statutorily invalid because they were beyond the scope of the board's authority under the Delaware General Corporation Law and that the bylaws were contractually invalid because they were unilaterally adopted by the board without shareholder approval. Boilermakers Local 154 v. Chevron, at 1.

First, the court held that the forum selection bylaws are statutorily valid exercises of board authority under 8 Del. C. § 109(b).  Section 109(b) provides that the bylaws of a corporation "may contain any provision, not inconsistent with law or with the certificate of incorporation, relating to the business of the corporation, the conduct of its affairs, and its rights or powers or the rights or powers of its stockholders, directors, officers or employees."  The court found that the bylaws "plainly relate to the business of the corporation[s], the conduct of [their] affairs, and regulate the rights or powers of [their] stockholders." Id. at 4. Therefore, the court found that such forum selection bylaws were not invalid as a matter of statutory law.

Second, the court held that board-adopted forum selection bylaws are contractually valid if the corporation’s articles of incorporation allow for unilateral adoption or amendment of the bylaws.  The court concluded that the board-adopted bylaws were binding on the stockholders because, consistent with 8 Del. C. § 109(a), the certificate of incorporation gave the board the power to adopt and amend bylaws unilaterally and that 8 Del. C. § 109(b) allows bylaws to regulate the business of the corporation, the conduct of its affairs, and the rights or powers of its stockholders. Therefore, by purchasing stock in the corporation, the stockholders agreed to be bound by the articles of incorporation, which included the provisions that allowed for the unilateral adoption of the bylaws. In addition, the court noted that there are several ways that stockholders have the ability to check the board’s authority. For example, stockholders can repeal the bylaws by majority vote or withhold votes from certain directors at annual elections. Id. at 30-35.

The court’s opinion now clears a path for directors of Delaware corporations, when authorized by the certificate of incorporation, to adopt forum selection bylaws to limit a company’s exposure to duplicative shareholder class actions and derivative actions across multiple forums. However, this decision is still subject to review by the Delaware Supreme Court, and it is likely that it will be appealed.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Construction Law: Economic Loss Rule Still Applies To Products, Including Buildings

By Hugh D. Higgins and Jared E. Smith

When Tiara Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., 110 So. 3d 399 (Fla. 2013), was decided, many construction practitioners were concerned with the additional tort exposure implications.  Tiara dealt with whether the economic loss rule (ELR) would bar certain tort claims against an insurance broker where the parties were in contractual privity.  A divided Florida Supreme Court, however, passed over this narrow question and instead wiped out the contract ELR entirely.

Though uncertainty abounds in the wake of Tiara, two things remain unchanged:  The ELR still applies to products, and a building is still a product.  The product ELR prevents a plaintiff from recovering in tort when a product damages only itself and does not cause personal injury or damage to other property.

Twenty years prior to Tiara, the landmark case of Casa Clara Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Charley Toppino & Sons, Inc., 620 So. 2d 1244 (Fla. 1993), was decided.  In Casa Clara, homeowners filed suit against a concrete supplier because a faulty mix corroded the rebar, resulting in concrete falling off of the buildings.  The homeowners attempted to skirt application of the ELR by asserting a “home was different,” and the defective concrete caused damage to “other products” (namely the buildings themselves).  The court held that the tort claims were barred by the ELR because the “homeowners bought finished products — dwellings — not the individual components of those dwellings.”  Id. at 1247. 

Curiously, a red flag now appears on the Casa Clara decision, which denotes “no longer good for at least one point of law,” referencing Tiara, and the Westlaw summary states “the Supreme Court reced[ed] from Casa Clara.”  Yet, the admonitions of law school professors demand that we not blindly rely on case summaries or the color of case flags.
The Tiara court only receded from prior rulings “to the extent that they have applied the economic loss rule to cases other than product liability.”  Tiara, 110 So. 3d at 407.  Tiara generously cites and never expressly recedes from Casa Clara.  In fact, the court cites Casa Clara’s holding in its discussion of the product liability ELR.  Id. at 405 (“In Casa Clara, we held that the [ELR] barred a cause of action in tort for providing defective concrete where there was no personal injury or damage to property other than to the product itself.”) 

A recent Ninth Circuit Court opinion has upheld application of Casa Clara in the construction setting:  “Nothing in Tiara appears to alter the precedent set in cases examining the ELR in products liability action. ... [T]he finished product is the entire structure, not the individual units.”  Sienna at Celebration Master Ass’n v. Winter Park Constr. Co., Case No. 2009 CA 006474 CN (Fla. Cir. Ct. Sept. 4, 2013).  For now, Casa Clara’s broad definition of the term “product” appears to remain intact and should provide contractors and subcontractors a defense to basic tort claims involving construction of buildings. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Are Financial Affidavits Mandatory In Collaborative Cases?

By Joryn Jenkins

Collaborative professionals have long labored under the assumption that Florida law requires financial affidavits in every divorce case, even the collaborative ones.  However, in Salczman v. Joquiel, Florida’s Third District announced that financial affidavits are not necessarily compulsory. 776 So. 2d 986 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001).  In that case, there were no children, and neither party had requested any form of permanent relief from the other.

In many ways, Salczman resembled a typical collaborative case without children.  Both parties were financially secure when they married and, in anticipation thereof, with benefit of counsel and full disclosure, had executed an antenuptial agreement.  The agreement provided that, in the event of divorce, each would retain any premarital property, they would divide jointly titled property equally, and neither would be entitled to spousal support.

After just three years, the wife petitioned for divorce, averring that their antenuptial agreement should be fully enforced. She sought no financial relief. The husband admitted the wife’s allegations and requested that their only two jointly titled assets be divided equally, pursuant to their agreement. The parties then amicably disposed of those assets.

Later, the trial court entered a final judgment granting the dissolution and incorporating the antenuptial agreement, finding it fair and reasonable on its face and executed after full disclosure between the parties.  Further, the court found that the parties had distributed all of their assets and liabilities in accordance with their agreement and that no financial issues remained to be decided.

However, over their objections and simultaneously with entry of its final judgment, the court ordered both parties to submit financial affidavits.  The Salczman parties both appealed, arguing that because there were no financial issues to be determined, applying the financial affidavit requirement violated their constitutional right to privacy.  The Third District never reached that issue, however, concluding that the rule itself rendered its terms inapplicable.

Rule 12.285(d)(1) provides:

A party shall serve … in any proceeding for an initial or supplemental request for permanent financial relief … [a] financial affidavit in substantial conformity with Family Law Form 12.901(d) ..., which requirement cannot be waived by the parties.

Said the Salczman court:

It stands to reason then, that if a court in a dissolution proceeding under this rule is not being called upon to award any permanent financial relief to a party, financial affidavits are not required and are indeed wholly irrelevant to the proceeding.

Because neither party requested permanent financial relief, because the parties resolved equitable distribution prior to final hearing, and because their agreement was unassailable, there was absolutely no issue as to financial relief. Thus, filing financial affidavits served no purpose and the rule did not so mandate. (In Kelner v. Kelner, 970 So. 2d 933 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008), the Fourth District, on similar facts, but involving simplified dissolution, cited Salczman, ruling “parties to a simplified dissolution may waive the filing of financial affidavits under the circumstances presented here notwithstanding the language in rule 12.105.”)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Celebrating Pro Bono Week 2013

By Allison W. Singer

In 2009, the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service announced plans to launch the first National Celebration of Pro Bono.  Four years later, the celebration continues.  Each October, bar associations across the country join together to celebrate Pro Bono Week — a week of events designed to highlight the efforts of attorneys doing pro bono work in their communities, as well as to recruit additional pro bono attorneys to increase services to low-income individuals.  The Thirteenth Judicial Circuit has actively participated in the event since its inception and continued its support this year ― from October 20 to 26.

The Pro Bono Committee encouraged its members — which include the sections of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, as well as other voluntary bar associations — to host an event during or around the time of Pro Bono Week.  Leading by example on this front was the George Edgecomb Bar Association (GEBA), which hosted its annual Learn Your Legal Rights Community Workshop on September 28 at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

The workshop, which was intended to educate community members about their legal rights, attracted approximately 100 attendees.  For several years, GEBA has sponsored this event, at which its members present substantive courses on topics that disproportionately impact minority and low-income citizens, including employment discrimination, family law, personal injury, criminal law, and foreclosure.  Henry G. Gyden, the workshop co-chair and GEBA’s immediate past president, explained that this year GEBA added to its already impressive list of courses a presentation on the Affordable Care Act, as well as a screening of “Before the Law Was Equal,” the documentary co-produced by the HCBA’s Young Lawyers Division and Diversity Committee.

GEBA President Cory J. Person emphasized how seriously his organization takes its pro bono obligation, noting that it is part of GEBA’s by-laws and mission.  He praised his members for their efforts in creating an annual event that fulfills that mission by sharing with the community the breadth and diversity of members’ expertise.  He was especially grateful for the efforts of co-chairs Henry G. Gyden and Kamilah Perry, as well as Charles M. Holloman II and Clinton Paris.  The fall workshop was so successful that GEBA is planning a similar event for the spring of 2014. 

This is what it means to incorporate pro bono into our legal DNA.  Thank you, GEBA, for continuing to set the pace for pro bono in our community. 

Clerk Of The Circuit Court's Message: Betting On The Future With eFiling

By Pat Frank
I am not one to advocate rolling the dice, but when it comes to the issue of eFiling, to me there’s no better bet for the clerk’s office and our constituencies than putting our time, energy, and resources toward its implementation.
On April 1, all circuit civil, county civil, and family law pleadings filed by attorneys were mandated to be eFiled.  To put this in perspective, circuit civil alone received 3,500 pieces of mail each day.  That number has now dropped to 300 pieces of mail.
The dramatic decrease in paper received has made it so much easier to handle mail, sort documents, and file.  It has also reduced the workload for our mail services and record center departments.
Previously, circuit civil transported 2,000 files to and from the clerk and the judiciary.  Since most of the recent pleadings are now electronic, only 1,000 files are transported each month, producing savings in both operations costs and in records management.  Eighty percent of the pleadings that are being reviewed in court are now electronic, thus only 20 percent of the files remain paper files. 
In addition to greatly reducing the amount of time and paper, the transformation to eFiling also increases our accuracy.  When you receive thousands of documents each day, there is a far better chance of misfiling.  Staff used to spend hours searching for and locating a misfiled document.  With electronic filing, that is no longer an issue. 
With mail functions, sorting, and filing almost nonexistent, circuit civil is working with four fewer employees.  County civil has reduced its staff by two, as has family law.  Since attorneys eFile, customer service has now shifted from over the counter to phone and email customer service, so we are seeing reductions on that front, too.  Circuit civil has reduced its front-counter employees from five to two, and family law now has four employees instead of seven.
The most positive result of all is that we are far more responsive to our customers.  Before eFiling, it took two to three days before pleadings were available in the clerk’s system.  Now, 95 percent of pleadings are accepted and can be viewed the same day that they are eFiled.  Also, customers receive confirmation emails each time a document that has been eFiled is accepted.
In family law, 50 percent of new cases are eFiled.  Therefore, cashiering has been reduced by 50 percent there.  In circuit civil, staff performed an average of 300 transactions daily.  With eFiling, that number is now 130.  This is efficiency in both operations and accounting.
In the past, space ― or lack of it ― has been an issue in the clerk’s office, but with eFiling in effect, the reduction in paper, files, and staff has made more space available. 
I don’t know if we’ve hit the jackpot yet with eFiling, but from all indications, it is a winner for all of us.

Monday, December 9, 2013

State Attorney's Message: Don’t Text And Drive

By Mark A. Ober

In 2011, Florida had 2,398 traffic fatalities.   Hillsborough County was third in the state for the number of traffic fatalities, with 151 reported deaths that year.   Statewide, more than 700 of the fatalities were related to alcohol-impaired driving.   An even larger number of the fatalities were not caused by alcohol impairment.  Many of these tragic deaths were easily avoidable.  

Research into the causes of traffic fatalities has identified the dangers of distracted driving.  Distracted driving occurs whenever a driver engages in an activity that distracts the driver from driving safely; this can include texting while driving.  Nationally, more than 3,300 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving during 2011.   Educational campaigns to raise driver awareness about the dangers of texting and driving have been launched by numerous organizations, including the U.S. Department of Transportation  and AT&T.  

At the state level, some legislatures have passed laws to prevent texting while driving.  On October 1, the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law went into effect.  Florida Statute § 316.305 is intended to improve safety and help reduce the deaths and damage caused by texting while driving. See § 316.305, Fla. Stat. This law prohibits a person from driving while “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.” § 316.305(3)(a), Fla. Stat. Violation of this statute is punishable as a noncriminal traffic infraction. See § 316.305(4), Fla. Stat.

Although my office does not prosecute traffic infractions, a noncriminal traffic infraction may become part of a vehicular homicide prosecution.  In order to prove the charge of vehicular homicide, the state must show that the death of the victim was caused by the operation of a motor vehicle “in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to another.” § 782.071, Fla. Stat. Evidence regarding the driver’s behavior at the time of the crash is relevant to proving this offense.  This behavior could include texting while driving. 

Too many people are dying on our streets.  My office can only become involved once a crime has already occurred.  Every one of us can become involved in saving lives when we get behind the wheel of a car and make good decisions.  Help keep yourselves and the other citizens of Hillsborough County safe.  Don’t text and drive.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pivotal Appellate Cases In Workers' Compensation

By Irene Rodriguez and Anthony V. Cortese

There were three pivotal appellate decisions in workers’ compensation this year.  The Hillsborough County Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section has scheduled a luncheon seminar on December 11 where top local attorneys, including some of those handling these three important cases, will address these decisions and other pending appellate cases.  We invite interested attorneys to mark your calendars and join us at additional seminars on February 4, 2014, and April 23, 2014.

In Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, 1D12-3563 (1DCA, February 28, 2013), (Westphal I) affirmed, on other grounds, en banc, 1D12-3563 (1DCA, September 23, 2013) (Westphal II) the First District Court of Appeals attempted to correct the gap in indemnity benefits that occurs when statutory maximum medical improvement (MMI) occurs before actual MMI. In 1994, temporary benefits were reduced to 104 weeks from 260 weeks. After 104 weeks, an individual could receive additional full indemnity benefits only by proving entitlement to permanent and total disability on the date of actual maximum medical improvement from all work-related conditions.  The burden of proof was to prove a speculative medical and vocational condition at a speculative future MMI date, which is practically impossible.  Westphal I determined that to rectify this, the 104-week limitation should be unconstitutional and the prior statute, which allowed for 260 weeks of temporary benefits, should be reinstated prospectively. 

The ruling that the law was unconstitutional was revisited by the First District by an en banc panel.  Westphal II first ruled that the 104-week limitation was constitutional.  Westphal II then ruled that if a person is totally disabled at statutory maximum medical improvement, the person is entitled to permanent and total disability benefits. This is a major change in the law.

The other major decision in 2013 is Jacobson v. Southeast Personnel, 1D12-1103 (June 5, 2013).  In Jacobson, the question was about the constitutionality of the part of the statute that says that a claimant’s attorney may only receive a fee based on a percentage of benefits obtained on behalf of the claimant. The facts involved a situation where the claimant’s attorney was defending the claimant against a petition by the employer/carrier for costs after litigation.  The claimant’s counsel requested a retainer to be approved to allow a reasonable fee to be paid, and the judge of compensation claims refused.  The law is that a claimant’s attorney can be paid only a statutory percentage of benefits obtained.  In a cost claim against the claimant, the claimant cannot be awarded any benefits, so his or her attorney may not be paid. The court held the act unconstitutional at this time with regard to the defense of a petition for costs.
The changes in Westphal II will have a dramatic impact.  The willingness of the First District in Westphal I and Jacobson to consider the unconstitutionality of recent legislation may signal more to come in pending cases on appeal. 

President's Message: Good Grief! Why Can’t The Inspiration Last Longer Than The Promotions?

By Susan Johnson-Velez

On a recent evening over dinner, my son, Julian, and I were discussing how Christmas continues to “bogart” the end-of-year holiday season ― and with ever-increasing bravado.  With each passing year, Christmas seems to seize an unfair share of the attention ― red and green decorations can be seen well before the tricking and treating have even begun.  The veritable onslaught of all things Christmas sometimes makes Thanksgiving seem like a mere bump on the holiday highway as we speed toward the end of December.  At this point, you may be getting the very wrong impression that I do not like Christmas.  But that could not be further from the truth.  I actually love Christmas ― it’s my favorite holiday.  People are filled with feelings of warmth toward fellow man, hope, peace, and joy.  We often lament the fact that sometimes these feelings and the kind acts they engender can seem as seasonal as the decorations.  What if something in the season could provide a behavioral roadmap for the entire year?

I think the source of this roadmap might be found in some of the Christmas cartoon specials of my childhood.  A few of my favorites come to mind that could do the trick.  For those of you who don’t remember the plots or who don’t continue to watch them every year as I do, here’s a brief summary:

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS – Bitter and hateful because his heart is two sizes too small, the Grinch is irritated at the thought that the Who’s in Whoville will enjoy Christmas. He thinks the enjoyment comes from all of the toys, decorations, and feasts.  With himself dressed as Santa Claus, and his dog made to look like a reindeer, the Grinch tries to keep Christmas from coming.  He raids Whoville and steals everything he thinks makes Christmas, Christmas – the presents, the lights and decorations, and even the roast beast.  Instead he learns that Christmas does not come from a store … it means a little bit more.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER – A red-nosed reindeer who has been ostracized by all of the other reindeer (they used to laugh and call him names) teams up with an elf who wants to be a dentist and a prospector.  Together they tame the Abominable Snowman and find an island of misfit toys.  Rudolph leads Santa back to the island on that fateful, foggy Christmas Eve, and they pick up Charley-In-The-Box, the Cowboy-Who-Rides-An-Ostrich, the Spotted Elephant, and all the other misfit toys.  This Christmas, their individuality is going to be an asset.

CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS – Charlie Brown sees nothing but overwhelming materialism surrounding the season – even his dog, Snoopy, is not immune.  He struggles to find the real meaning of Christmas but is frustrated just about everywhere he looks, from the school Christmas play to the aluminum tree lot.  Finally, a little boy with his head wrapped in a blue blanket helps Charlie Brown discover the true meaning of Christmas.

So what course can these relics chart for us throughout the coming year?  First and foremost – it’s not about “the stuff.”  It’s about pretty much everything else but “the stuff,” and that’s what we should focus on.  Second – being unique can be a good thing; we should seek out and embrace the individuality in everyone.  And, finally – the very fact that we watch these cartoons reminds us of the value in being childlike (i.e., simple, trusting, and uncomplicated), at least on occasion.  I wish you safe and joyous travels as we embark on our journey toward the end of this year and the beginning of next.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Editor's Message: Ushering In The Holiday Season And New Year

By Rena Upshaw-Frazier

The holidays and new year usher in exciting times in the legal profession.  They offer an occasion to reflect on the year that has passed, time to enjoy our present moments, and the opportunity to look forward to new beginnings with the new year.  They offer a much needed respite from the sometimes hectic whirlwind of being immersed in the legal profession.  And although any time is a good time to make positive resolutions and implement changes in our lives, there is something about the uptick of a new year that compels us to want to be better versions of ourselves. 

In reflection, I hope that the improved economy and real estate market of 2013 brought positive changes and growth opportunities for your legal practice.  It has thus far been a superb time for the Hillsborough County Bar Association.  The organization has continued to exemplify and relish its mission of providing professional networking events and luncheons, continuing legal education classes, and opportunities to have genuine fun for local legal professionals.  We at the Lawyer magazine have enjoyed capturing, contributing to, and sharing those moments and the mission.  We look forward to celebrating with you as we move into 2014.

We hope that you embrace the current holiday season and the endless opportunities to participate in pro bono activities and charitable events.  Although we are all encouraged and would do well to give back to the community year-round, the holidays and new year bring with them a certain humanitarian spirit.  And the community’s festivities and celebrations sometimes serve to emphasize the circumstances of those in need or less fortunate.  Legal professionals possess unique skills and abilities that can serve to alleviate some of those circumstances.  Please find time to brighten someone else’s holiday, as it will inevitably brighten yours as well.

Of course, legal practices and careers do not stop merely because the holidays and a new year are upon us!  In fact, depending on the legal practice, some may be busier than ever during this season.  Thank you to all of the HCBA section chairs for gratuitously taking time out of their holiday schedules to continue to provide up-to-date information on new laws and nuances in the legal profession and for contributing to, or finding contributors for, the educational articles included in this season’s publication.  We hope that they expand your knowledge and enhance your career going into the new year.

Hopefully, your holiday season is not all work and no play.  There are no shortage of celebrations and festivities, such as the HCBA’s Holiday Open House, and they provide a great opportunity to get to know your colleagues and fellow HCBA members.  Take the time to celebrate all of your hard work over the past year.  In the words of Lee Ann Womack, “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”

Here’s to happy and restful holidays, a wonderful new year, and inspired new year’s resolutions.  See you on the other side.