Burke Lasseter

Local: 478-287-6969 Toll Free: 844-287-6969

Local: 478-287-6969 Toll Free: 844-287-6969

March 2015 – Warner Robins Personal Injury Blog

Is Pregnancy A Serious Injury? Kind of.

By: Kelly Burke 03/30/2015

Ruh Roh. Did the Georgia Court of Appeals just say that pregnancy and childbirth is an injury? Yes they did. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. As Judge Dillard (Disclaimer – besides being a brilliant judge he is a friend of mine) said in his concurrence, “context is crucial.”pregnant

The case involved a factually consenting but legally unconsenting young woman (L.F.), age 13, who was impregnated by her 30-something boyfriend (Stephen Kendrick). In case you didn’t know, the age of consent in Georgia is 16 years old. Under 16, one cannot legally consent to sexual relations absent marriage. The child believed she was in a romantic relationship with Kendrick. Don’t all 13 year olds think it’s “love”? Alas, Kendrick, being the adult, should have known better. He wasn’t thinking with his brain and continued his relationship with the girl even though the father tried to break the two up. The girl ran away with Kendrick and nature took its course, resulting in the girl becoming pregnant.

The boyfriend was charged with aggravated child molestation, with the pregnancy being the injury required to get the “aggravated” part of the statute. Aggravated child molestation gets one a sentence of 25 years to life, but statutory rape only gets ten years. Big difference, so the “injury” part of the charge was important. Fulton County prosecutors went for the homerun and got it.

The case went to trial and the jury found Kendrick guilty. Judge Russell, a fine jurist who has rejected my eloquent arguments on a few occasions, gave Kendrick a life sentence plus two years. I like the extra two years. It’s like icing on the cake.

The Court of Appeals held that childbirth is painful, or at least her two day delivery was painful. So even though the girl made the conscious decision to deliver the baby, since she could not consent to sex in the first place, the resulting pain of childbirth constituted an “injury” for purposes of the statute. And that is where Judge Dillard made the decision to explain himself. Being a “pro-life” lawyer, judge and human, Judge Dillard wanted to make sure that everyone understood why he agreed that in this case, the “injury” of pregnancy and child birth was appropriate. Hence his “context is crucial” comment. I agree completely with his sound reasoning and that of the entire Court of Appeals panel. What the Supreme Court does with it, who knows?

Oh yeah, as a result of the jury’s decision, we will be providing housing for the boyfriend for the balance of his life sentence.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.

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Happy Valentines Day! Now DIE!!

By: Kelly Burke 03/21/2015

A not terribly sympathetic victim provides this week’s look into the admissibility of cell phone records in a criminal case in Georgia. A nice lady, Lynitra Ross, worked with a co-worker, Stacey Schoeck. Mrs. Schoeck confided in Ross that she wanted to have her husband killed because she thought he was molesting her boys. Ross said that she just happened to have a boyfriend who did that work “on the side.” Now me, I’ve got lots of acquaintances, but to my knowledge, none of them do contract murders for hire. Ross however, has a more varied range of friends than I.

bloody valentineThe deal was made for an Impala car and $10,000. Ross’ boyfriend, a dude named Coleman, would do the killing. Schoeck bought the gun and gave Coleman the plan. Mrs. Schoeck gave Coleman the Impala and $8,900. Coleman however declined until paid in full, abiding by the age old maxim, “no honor among thieves.” Mrs. Schoeck paid up and the deal was put into motion. Poor ol’ Mr. Schoeck was gunned down, as planned, on Valentine’s Day in a hail of bullets.

As with many such escapades, the deal wasn’t quite as faultless as planned. Coleman didn’t make it look like a robbery and he left tire tracks. But mostly, there were way too many phone calls and text messages between all of them. The PoPo, doing a good and thorough job, obtained consent from Mrs. Schoeck to search her cell phone. She had nothing to hide, right? I mean, surely she removed Coleman and Ross from her contacts list, right? Nah, she left them in her contact list. The police requested a cell tower “dump” of the local cell towers. A “dump” is when the police get records of ALL of the phone calls that went through that tower for a defined period of time. As a result of that dump, the police find phone calls from Ms. Schoeck, Ross and Coleman. Now I’m not a cop, but if I were, I’d sure want to take a look at anyone that the victim’s spouse was talking to around the time of the spouse’s murder. So the cops did just that. And guess what? All those text and phone calls between Ross, Schoeck and Coleman were there. Ms. Schoeck, under the intense lights of interrogation, ended up spilling the beans on Ross and Coleman.

So Ross goes to trial. Her complaint was that the cops didn’t have a warrant for the cell phone dump. She cited to some federal law that purports to protect those records, but that law says that if someone violates your privacy in that manner, you have a civil remedy but suppression of your stupid phone calls in a criminal case is not an option. The other issue that she lost on is what we call “standing.” That is, did Ross have the legal right to complain? And the Court said no. You see, the records belong to Sprint, not Ross. It’s no different than a cell phone bill, which also isn’t protected. The contents of the call, what was actually said, is protected and the police needed a warrant for that. But Mrs. Schoeck caved way before the police had to go that far.

So is Ross serving a life sentence for merely putting Schoeck and Coleman in touch with each other? Certainly it was enough to just put them in touch, but Ross’ text message “Happy Valentine’s Day” telling Schoeck of the completion of the murder probably hurt Ross’ case with the jury.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.

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We Are All Good For Something

By: Kelly Burke 03/14/2015

So many people get offended these days. Wearing one’s feelings on one’s sleeve is the popular thing to do I guess. Like most of you though, I don’t get too excited about people making assumptions about me. In the past year, I’ve been a bell man, a car valet, a Walmart associate, a ski guide, a police officer, a court bailiff, a Lowe’s associate, and a shuttle driver. All very noble professions and worthy of my time. However, each time I was assumed to be one of the above, the person making that assumption was wrong. Each time it was an honest mistake. The person making that assumption meant no ill will toward me. Each time I was not offended. Where possible, I offered my advice or helping hand to the person. It doesn’t bother me to help the lady at Walmart get something off the top shelf. When a tip was offered, I decline it.

One evening, my friend Ady called me. She owns Hong Kong Express, a Chinese takeout/delivery restaurant, and was looking for some fill-in drivers as a couple of her drivers were sick. She wanted recommendations for young men to do the job, but on a Saturday evening, good luck with that. My wife, daughter and I substituted as drivers that night. It was actually fun. When offered a tip, I declined and asked them to simply pay it forward next time they had a chance. Nothing wrong about being a delivery driver, it’s paid the rent, car payment, tuition and food bill for many a driver.

You’ve got to figure I’m getting to a point, so here it is. There are no demeaning professions, occupations, jobs or vocations. Everyone has a skill, an aptitude or a gift they can bring to society. Can’t drive? Stuck at home? Work for a suicide hotline, unless you are an emotional cripple, then maybe not. Work the phones for a volunteer organization. Do something!

I’ve made the mistake, from which I’m reformed, of telling my kids that if you don’t get your education, you’ll end up working at McDonalds. The McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc did a pretty good business when you think about it. The McDonald’s manager is applying skills every day that the electeds in Washington could sure learn from. That burger flipper? He’s working his way through school, with circumstances that might seem pretty tough to some, but he perseveres. The young lady working the counter? She’s learning skills that can guide her for life. The local fast food restaurant pumps lots of money into the economy through property and ad valorem taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes, wages and advertising.

Two things that irritate me though. When young men come to court and can’t (won’t?) pay their child support because (fill in a reason). Oh, they’ve got excuses. But what is coming out of their mouth is just that, an excuse. Courts have little sympathy for not paying child support, which is good. What to do with them? Harder yet.

The other thing that irritates me is when a cashier can’t make change. Each one of my kids knows the exact amount of change that they are due when making a purchase. My dad taught me, I taught my kids. We have become so dependent on the machine that when it fails, too many of us are lost as to what to do next. That being said, I used to know everyone’s telephone number, but no more. I don’t even know my license plate numbers anymore. Use it or lose it, I guess.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.

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