Monday, October 21, 2013

Bringing Children to the Law Firm

We know how exhausting being a parent can be. We encourage moms & dads to bring their children with them when they visit our office. We have play areas set up throughout our lobby and conference rooms. It's a service we've offered for a long time.

Tucker Griffin Barnes
Charlottesville & Lake Monticello

 Our "Bringing Babies to Work" video:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

You have the right to be silent – so long as you say so, out loud.

In the recently decided Salinas v. Texas, (No. 12–246. Argued April 17, 2013—Decided June 17, 2013), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a defendant cannot exercise his right be silent by – well, by being silent.*

In order to be silent in a constitutionally protected way, we must give a loud and hearty shout-out to the Fifth Amendment privilege. We must, in fact, say something like “I want to exercise my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination”. Perhaps the cops on TV should start telling people: “You have a right to tell me you don’t want to tell me anything, but not a right just not to tell me anything.” Except, what would they do with the next line – “Anything you say can be used against you”?

The intellectual gymnastics of modern U.S. courts in gutting the rights of American citizens in criminal cases are truly mind-bending. How is anyone who did not graduate from Harvard or UVA Law supposed to function, let alone the poor and uneducated? And who was the Bill of Rights intended to protect anyway?

This absurdity in the law I will meet with my own. On the back of my business cards is written:


I do not consent to any searches. I do not waive any of my rights. I hereby assert my rights under the U.S. Constitution, Virginia Constitution, and other applicable law, including without limitation: free speech, assembly, freedom from unreasonable or warrantless searches, seizures, detention and arrests, due process, counsel, privilege against self-incrimination, speedy trial, bail, and equal protection. We are not having a voluntary conversation or encounter. I do not want to make any statements. I want an attorney.

I wanted to add “Have a Nice Day!” but my office manager wouldn’t let me. (Probably wise.) There are occasions when it is beneficial to talk to the police – (usually AFTER you have a lawyer, and a written “proffer” agreement signed by the Commonwealth’s Attorney) – but when the poor kid with the 4th grade education and 25 cents in his pocket doesn’t want to answer the officer’s questions on the street corner at midnight, he shouldn’t have to publish a legal treatise in order to “say” so.

*To be fair, there have been other cases with this holding in the past, just based on different factual circumstances. I just can't believe it every time I read it....

Andre Hakes
Criminal Defense Attorney
Tucker Griffin Barnes
Charlottesville, VA
Andre's bio:

Friday, July 05, 2013

Bed Bug Bite in Landlord-Tenant Dispute

From - July 2013 Settlement News

Bed Bugs Bite in Landlord-Tenant Dispute

Bed bug, by Wikipedia user Piotr Naskrecki, licensed by Creative Commons

Once bitten, twice shy
Inattentive landlords and hotel owners: consider this a warning. Those tiny bugs that congregate around your sleeping quarters can become more than just a pain in your hind quarters. After the well-publicized infestations that occurred in the Big Apple and several other large cities across the United States, people and the civil court system have become far more cognizant of these pesky nuisances. In one of the more eye-opening verdicts, an Annapolis woman was awarded a windfall settlement of $800,000. The jury who heard the case was clearly intending to send a not-so-subtle message to negligent property owners.

The plaintiff in this case, 69-year-old Faika Shaaban, moved into a home owned by the defendant in late 2011. Shortly following her arrival, she levied a bedbug complaint to the landlord Cornelius J. Barrett and West Street Partnership, which fell upon deaf ears. What followed in the subsequent months, aside from heavy calamine lotion usage, was Ms. Shaaban moving her complaint up the chain of command. The city authorities proceeded to legitimize Ms. Shaaban’s indictment and ordered Mr. Barrett to hire a licensed professional pest control contractor. Refusing to be pushed around by City Authorities, Mr. Barret balked at the orders and eventually sent Ms. Shaaban her walking papers. Adding insult to bug bite, Ms. Shaabans infested belongings were nicely assembled curbside, and select items were looted.
What the jury took exception to was the gross disregard Mr. Barrett and West Street Partnership had for Ms. Shaaban’s claims. What can be taken away from this is that tenants have every right to live in an inhabitable area, and landlords not heeding the complaints of the tenant and not attempting to legitimately remedy the situation like the bed bugs could come to bite you in the behind.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Avoiding the Police at Foxfield Spring Races

This blog is sponsored by Tucker Griffin Barnes, Attorneys at Law.


This weekend marks the 35th running of the Foxfield Spring Races at the historic steeplechase course located in Albemarle County. Next week is even more special, however, because it marks the 35th run of the Foxfield Spring Prosecutions in the Albemarle County General District Court.

I have my fixture card in hand, and I’m personally betting the Trifecta of:

WIN: Underage Possession of Alcohol
PLACE: Drunk in Public

though it’s equally possible Indecent Exposure will make an appearance (those porta-potty lines can be long), as well as disorderly conduct.


1. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. Every year there are students and adults who cruise into the open arms of the police on Old Garth Road after the event. Don’t be one of those people. Get a designated driver, or don’t drink! No kidding – Besides getting a criminal charge, and maybe going to jail and/or losing your license for a year — you could kill yourself, or someone else.

2. DON’T DO OTHER STUPID STUFF. Like cleverly smoking a joint out behind the porta potties, or giving the cops a fake name if they ask you for ID. C’mon, y’all – the cops have had lots of practice, and they’re much better at this game than you are. Have fun at the races, but don’t break the law.

3. IF YOU SCREW UP, SAY: “I WANT A LAWYER” AND NOT MUCH ELSE. Again – the cops have been arresting people at Foxfield for decades. You’re (hopefully) on your maiden hurdle. Who do you think will win the battle of wits here?

a. take any field sobriety tests.
b. blow in the hand-held breathalyzer at the scene.
c. tell the police how much you had to drink, or anything much besides your identifying information (name, address, date of birth, social security number, show them your license).

Ain’t the Bill of Rights grand?

Andre Hakes
Criminal Defense Attorney
Tucker Griffin Barnes
Andre’s Bio
Charlottesville Criminal Defense Attorney - Andre Hakes

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Founding Partner, William D. Tucker, III, earns "Client Distinction" award from Martindale-Hubbell.

The attorneys and staff of Tucker Griffin Barnes are extremely pleased to announce that founding partner, William D. Tucker, III, has earned the prestigious "Client Distinction" award from Martindale-Hubbell.  This honor was made possible by Mr. Tucker's clients who recognized him for his Communications Ability, Responsiveness, Quality of Service and Value for Money. 

Less than 1% of the 900,000+ attorneys listed on and have been accorded this Martindale-Hubbell honor of distinction.

Tucker, as he likes to be called, has over 30+ years of experience in the Charlottesville real estate communtiy.  As most local real estate agents and clients will confirm, Tucker always returns your call and knows how to create solutions for even the most difficult real estate problems.

Tucker Griffin Barnes
Charlottesville, VA (434-973-7474)
Tucker's Bio:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Real Estate Tip 7-2013: President's Day (Feb 18, 2013)

All local Clerk's Offices and Banks will be closed on Monday, February 18th for President's Day. In addition, many other offices (attorneys, surveyors, and title companies) will also be closed for this National Holiday.

For closings, this means that if the deed needs to be recorded before the Buyer can occupy, try to schedule the closing for Thursday February 14th, or, as a last resort, early on Friday the 15th. If the deed is not recorded by Friday afternoon, the Buyer may have to wait until Tuesday to occupy.

Possible Alternative Strategy: Arrange for the Buyer to get his keys once the Buyer has signed all of his loan documents and delivered his money to the closing attorney.

Contact me at 434-951-0858 or if you have questions.
Bill Tucker
Tucker Griffin Barnes
Charlottesville, VA (434-973-7474)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Governor frees wrongly convicted man

Gov. Bob McDonnell issued a conditional pardon late Tuesday that led to freedom for a North Carolina man who has served four years in prison based on false accusations.

The release came after hasty legal and investigative work by lawyers for Montgomery and by the governor’s staff.

Johnathan Montgomery was released on conditional clemency based on his agreement to file a writ of actual innocence within 30 days and to remain under state supervision while the writ petition is pending.

The request for a conditional pardon was received at 10 p.m. Monday night, according to the governor’s office. Over the next 20 hours, the governor’s staff reviewed two taped interviews with Montgomery’s accuser, court records and transcripts, prison records, and the police case file on the accuser’s recantation. McDonnell staffers interviewed the Hampton commonwealth’s attorney and the police department, the pardon recites.

McDonnell called Montgomery at 5:15 Tuesday afternoon to advise him of the pardon. He was released later that evening.

Montgomery’s case led to calls for reform of Virginia’s so-called 21-day rule barring any trial court relief from a criminal judgment after 21 days have passed.

Interesting article.

Tucker Griffin Barnes
Charlottesville, VA (434-973-7474)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Parental rights in case of assisted fertilization birth

By: Frank Green
Richmond Times-Dispatch

A Virginia Beach man's effort to win parental rights over his biological daughter who was conceived via in vitro fertilization is set to be argued before the Virginia Supreme Court this morning.

William D. Breit, the girl's father, declined to comment Monday. The now 3-year-old boy's mother, Beverly Mason, who is challenging a Virginia Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Breit, could not be reached Monday.

Their dispute stems from an interpretation of Virginia law that sperm donors cannot claim parental rights in assisted fertilizations — even when the mother agreed the donor is the father — if the two were not married at the time of conception or birth.

Among other things, the law says a donor "is not the parent of a child conceived through assisted conception unless the donor is the husband of the gestational mother."

But the Virginia Court of Appeals held that the interpretation of the law given by the Virginia Beach Circuit Court "results in a manifest absurdity."

"Such a narrow reading of the assisted conception statutes fails to accord harmony with — and indeed all but negates — the ability of a known biological father, chosen by the birth mother, to establish parentage," the appeals court panel held.

Walter S. Felton Jr., chief judge of the appeals court, wrote that the lower court decision ignores the intent of the General Assembly to ensure that all children born in Virginia have a known legal mother and father.

The opinion noted that the law was enacted following a 1990 Virginia case in which the husband of a woman artificially inseminated with sperm from an anonymous donor was the father of their twins for purposes of legitimacy, inheritance and birth certificates. But the parental rights of the sperm donor could be legally terminated only by formal adoption of the children by the husband, the 1990 case said.

According to the appeals court opinion last December, Breit, a lawyer, and Mason were not married but were living together in a long-term relationship several years ago and wanted to conceive, but they were unsuccessful in having a child through sexual intercourse.

In October 2008, a physician successfully achieved fertilization using sperm and eggs retrieved from the couple, and the embryo was then transferred into the mother. The two continued to live together during her pregnancy.

In June 2009, just before the baby was born, Mason and Breit signed a written custody and visitation agreement, prepared by Mason's lawyer, that provided Breit with reasonable visitation said to be in the best interest of the child.

The day after the child was born, the parents executed a sworn acknowledgement of paternity agreement naming Breit the biological father. They also agreed the daughter would have a hyphenated last name consisting of their surnames.

They jointly mailed out birth announcements and continued to live together, and Breit kept the baby on his health insurance. Then in August 2010, Mason cut off all contact between the child and Breit.

Breit filed a petition for custody in Virginia Beach and a petition to determine the child's parentage and establish custody and visitation. He argued that the mother's earlier acknowledgment that he and she were the parents created a binding parental relationship.

Mason asked that Breit's petition be dismissed under Virginia law, which she says bars a sperm donor from asserting parental rights to a child conceived through assisted conception — unless he was married to the mother.

She argued the acknowledgement of paternity agreement they signed was void because it was contrary to General Assembly's intent to divest all sperm donors of any parental rights.

Breit lost in Virginia Beach Circuit Court, where the judge decided that as an unmarried sperm donor, Breit was barred from establishing parental rights. Breit appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Breit argued the primary purpose of the law was to divest sperm donors of legal rights and responsibilities in cases where married couples are infertile and the donor remains anonymous.

Mason contended that in passing the donor law, the General Assembly's intent was to strip sperm donors of parental rights and responsibilities for children born as a result of assisted conception.

In ruling in Breit's favor, appeals court judges noted it was the first time they had been asked whether state law prohibits a known sperm donor not married to the mother, but who signed an acknowledgment of paternity, from establishing parentage.
Mason appealed, leading to today's hearing in the Virginia Supreme Court.

Interesting article.

Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C.
Charlottesville, VA (434-973-7474)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pallet may not be "open and obvious"

By Deborah Elkins Virginia Lawyers Media
Published: October 15, 2012

Tags: Judge Glen E. Conrad, Negligence, U.S. District Court - Western District

A woman who tripped over a pallet that supported a doughnut display can try her negligence claim against defendant store; a Charlottesville U.S. District Court denies the store’s summary judgment motion claiming the hazard was open and obvious.

Each of the cases cited by defendant to support a theory of contributory negligence has significant distinguishing characteristics from the case at hand. In each of two cited cases, the plaintiff clearly would have recognized that the object itself should be avoided. In this plaintiff’s case, however, it is not so certain she would have recognized the danger presented by the pallet even if she had seen it. Based on her prior experience, she had no reason to think it was possible to catch her foot on anything under the cardboard bin.

Nor can it be said, as a matter of law, that the danger of entangling a foot on the underside of a display bin is necessarily open and obvious to a person exercising due care. By the very nature of merchandise displays, customers are encouraged to stand close to the container to allow them to retrieve the goods. Even if a patron was aware that a display bin was supported by a pallet, an ordinary person might not consider it likely she would have her foot caught on the underside of the pallet simply on account of approaching the bin and removing items for sale.

Virginia case law supports such a result. The Supreme Court of Virginia has said it is not enough that an object be plainly visible to constitute an open and obvious hazard, the plaintiff must also have reason to appreciate the nature of the harm posed by the object.

At this point in the proceedings, any doubt about whether a reasonable person would have recognized the nature of the harm must be resolved in plaintiff’s favor. Defendant has failed to overcome the general presumption under Virginia law in favor of having a jury determine whether a hazard is open and obvious.
Summary judgment for store is denied.

Cunningham v. Delhaize America Inc. (Conrad) No. 3:12cv00002, Sept. 27, 2012; USDC at Charlottesville, Va. VLW 012-3-492, 8 pp.

Good information.

Tucker Griffin Barnes
Charlottesville, VA (434-973-7474)

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

UVa law prof grades condidates' 'rhetoric'

Google image
By Deborah Elkins Virginia Lawyers Media
Published: October 9, 2012
Tags: Elections, Law Schools

CHARLOTTESVILLE – If only President Obama had had Molly Bishop Shadel on speed-dial last week, the debate might have gone differently.

During one of those podium pauses when Obama was looking down, Shadel could have texted back suggestions that might have fired him up to deliver his final remarks with a bang, not a whimper.

Shadel, a University of Virginia law professor who teaches rhetoric, finds political figures’ remarks a fertile source for illustrating her talks on how to persuade an audience. Her Oct. 5 presentation to the Virginia Association of Law Libraries started with an analysis of a turgid talk by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, whose body language openly tracked a teleprompter as he tried to explain the federal bailout.

Had Geithner been keeping his eye on his audience, he might have noticed their eyes glaze over as his remarks bogged down in jargon and acronyms. Speak in plain sentences, in a straight line, Shadel said.

“Simplify your language. Choose the word that’s easy to say, the word we know,” rather than a technical term whose ultimate precision may be lost on your audience.

When preparing to persuade, start with a written script, but practice enough so you can rely only on a few notes as prompts, once you’re in front of your audience. When drafting your script, don’t start at the beginning, but in the middle because it’s the heart of your speech, Shadel suggested. Brainstorm, outline and refine, until the main message is solid. Then you can craft an introduction that catches people’s attention and draws them into your argument. You can polish your final draft by focusing on anecdotes and metaphors, and other “sensory language” that develops strong imagery to capture audience members’ imaginations.

Trial lawyers know that if they develop a “theme” during trial, they can drive it home to a jury with a powerful refrain. One of the more potent examples is Johnnie Cochran’s use of “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” at the 1995 murder trial of O.J. Simpson.

Shadel drew on her theatrical training to highlight pacing. “Actors call it ‘finding the beats,’” she said.

Pausing before hitting that refrain is the simplest way to make it register with your audience. Moments of silence are not necessarily deadly, they can help your audience re-engage and refocus on what you’re saying. Pauses are more comfortable when a speaker is grounded in a physical stance that projects power: looking straight out at the audience, feet slightly apart and hands at rest but poised for bold gestures.

Shadel, who blogs at “Tongue-Tied America,” had praise for both presidential candidates’ debating styles after the first debate, posting that the debate provided “substantive exchanges” as well as “some terrific moments of rhetoric.”

Friends and foes alike panned President Obama’s Oct. 3 performance, and Shadel predicted on her blog that Romney’s performance “is likely to inspire President Obama to bring his ‘A’ game” to make the next match-up “well worth watching.”

Very Informative.

Tucker Griffin Barnes
Charlottesville, VA (434-973-7474)