Georgia Employment, Education, Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyers

Williams Oinonen LLC helps protect the rights of our clients who have been injured or harmed due to a wrong or injustice. We specialize in employment law, education, business disputes, injury & wrongful death. We fight to protect our clients' best interests and help them obtain the justice they deserve. Williams Oinonen LLC cares about each of our clients. The respect and aggressive advocacy we provide reflects the commitment we bring to winning their case.

July 31, 2014

Mario Williams Argues Before The Eleventh Circuit First Amendment Retaliation Against The Georgia Department of Corrections Wardens/Commissioners



Today the Daily Report featured an article on Mr. Mario Williams' oral argument before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Williams represents Delma Jackson, a woman who was retaliated against by the Department of Corrections wardens and commissioners and given indefinite denial of visitation to her spouse as a result of her alleged involvement at a rally at the state Capitol concerning the prison strike held to protest prison abuse.

The District Court held the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity for denying Jackson visitation rights after her husband discontinued his hunger strike. The judge declared that at some point the threat of any strike-related disruption disappeared.

Read more: http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202665294530/Prison-Hunger-Strikers-Wife-Denial-of-Visits-Unconstitutional#ixzz3AmbXsV8j

July 28, 2014

Good Georgia Lawyer Wins Georgia Court of Appeals Decision Affirming Jury Trial Win



Good Georgia Lawyer received a Court of Appeals decision victoriously affirming the jury trial verdict where Julie Oinonen represented a Northwest Georgia farming family. The Defendant appealed because he said that Plaintiff's counsel inappropriately showed a picture of a baby in the demonstrative exhibit. The baby was the rightful heir of Jerry Spain, a wonderful farmer who tragically died in a train accident.

To read the Court of Appeals decision which affirms the jury verdict decision you may read here: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ga-court-of-appeals/1673727.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FindLawGaCtApp+(FindLaw+Case+Law+Updates+-+GA+Court+of+Appeals)

July 28, 2014

Good Georgia Civil Rights Lawyer Wins Eleventh Circuit Appeal on Federal Claim for False Arrest and State Claims for False Imprisonment, Assault and Battery Against Fulton County Sheriff Deputy



Good Georgia Civil Rights Lawyer Mario Williams received an order from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Robert Kopperud v. Dexter Mabry denying the Defendant's appeal of the District Court's denial of summary judgment. The District Court denied qualified and official immunity for Defendant Deputy Sheriff Dexter Mabry who was sued by Robert Kopperud, represented by Mario Williams and Julie Oinonen.

This decision comes on the heels of several other appellate victories by Mario Williams, civil rights lawyer who regularly represents multiple civil rights victims who have been wrongfully killed or catastrophically injured due to civil rights violations such as excessive force.

This Wednesday, Mario Williams will be arguing before the Eleventh Circuit in oral argument on behalf of Delma Jackson who is suing wardens from the Department of Corrections in a retaliation First Amendment claim. Delma Jackson is the wife of a prisoner who has had her visitation to her husband taken away indefinitely as a result of exercising her First Amendment rights concerning issues of prison strike and abuses.

To read the Eleventh Circuit decision in the case of our client Robert Kopperud, you may view it here:http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca11/14-10232/14-10232-2014-07-28.html

June 8, 2014

Good Georgia Serious Injury Civil Rights Lawyer Represents Pregnant Woman Injured By Flash Bang Grenade



Good Georgia Serious Injury Civil Rights Lawyer Mario Williams represents Treneshia Dukes, a pregnant woman who was seriously injured with burns when a flash bang grenade landed on her bed while she was sleeping. Just this past week, the AJC reported how the Clayton County police were sued in this case as the media's focus has been on the use of these flash bang grenades.

Below is a copy of the complaint. It may take a minute to load on the web page but it is worth the read:

First Amended Complaint -T. Dukes by julie9094

June 1, 2014

Good Georgia Civil Rights Lawyer Mario Williams Will Argue Before Eleventh Circuit In First Amendment Case



The case of Delma Jackson vs. Wardens from the Department of Corrections involving First Amendment retaliation will be argued before the Eleventh Circuit on Ms. Jackson's behalf by Mr. Mario Williams this summer. The Defendants appealed the District Court's order.

Below is a copy of the complaint. It may take a minute to load on the web page but it is worth the read.

Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint - Jackson by julie9094

May 22, 2014

Good Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Represents Estate and Family of Lost Loved One



Good Georgia Wrongful Death and Civil Rights Lawyer Mario Williams represents the seriously injured and victims of wrongful death.

In this case, Mr. Williams represents the Estate of the deceased Melvin Williams (no relation) against the city of East Dublin.

To view a copy of the complaint, see below.

Amended Complaint Filed Copy-Williams by julie9094

May 21, 2014

Williams Oinonen LLC Congratulates Our Clients: Mayor Hardie Davis of Augusta and Senator Horacena Tate



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This election season Williams Oinonen LLC is proud to have represented winning teams and congratulate our clients on their success this election.

Congratulations to Senator Horacena Tate for her successful win serving the people of Georgia along with Senator Hardie Davis---who is now the new Mayor of Augusta, Georgia.

To find out the political consulting opposition research services Williams Oinonen LLC provides go to our website http://www.opponentresearchers.com for more information. Williams Oinonen LLC is Georgia's premier political consulting/opponent research firm.

Our firm focuses all aspects of a political campaign but we especially pride ourselves on:

*Conducting opponent research, identifying the competitor's key vulnerabilities, and developing strategies to defeat the opposition.
*Issue and policy research.
*Strategic communications development, message creation and delivery.
*Image marketing and creative use of all new media.
*Organizing community outreach.
*Writing and editing news releases, web page content, speeches and campaign materials.
*Preventative and reactive crisis management.

To quote one of our favorite Senator clients:

"Hands down, Williams Oinonen is the best out there. They played a vital role in ensuring a landslide victory. From offering priceless opponent research, to developing key strategies, to providing media and political advice----they are a tenacious and unstoppable pair and are the one "must have" you want on your team. Ethical, honest, and committed, they were always there for me when I needed them. If you are looking to win---call Williams Oinonen."


May 13, 2014

Good Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Files Suit Today



Good Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Mario Williams filed suit today regarding the wrongful death of Mr. Christopher Thomas. For more information on this lawsuit, please review a copy of the complaint below.

It may take a minute to upload onto the web page but it is viewable below:


First Amended Complaint-Thomas by julie9094

April 8, 2014

Floyd County Board of Education Member Terry Williamson Sued For Alleged Violations of Georgia Law



Floyd County Board of Education Terry Williamson was sued this week for alleged violations of Georgia law. If you have information concerning this matter, please contact Williams Oinonen LLC at 404-654-0288.

To read the lawsuit you may view here:

Lawsuit Against Terry Williamson

March 18, 2014

Good Georgia Employment Lawyer Discusses: "Do I Have A Case For Race Discrimination, Harassment, Hostile Work Environment?"



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Oftentimes, employees come to us because they believe they are being racially discriminated against and subjected to a hostile work environment.

Racial harassment is actionable (which means you can file a lawsuit because of it) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 where the conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment. See, e.g., Freeman v. City of Riverdale, 330 F. App'x 863, 865 (11th Cir.2009).

To establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment in the form of racial harassment, an employee must show that (1) he belonged to a protected group; (2) he was subjected to unwelcome harassment; (3) the harassment was based on his race; (4) the harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of employment and create a racially abusive work environment; and (5) a basis exists for holding the employer liable. See Miller v. Kenworth of Dothan, Inc., 277 F.3d 1269, 1275 (11th Cir.2002).

Oftentimes, the first three elements are easier to prove than the fourth. For example, it is easy to prove that you are African American and thus belong to a protected class; or that you were subjected to unwelcome harassment. Depending on the facts, one must prove whether the harassment was based on race.

However, it is the fourth element (the "severe and pervasive element") which can be most challenging. The Courts have held that to evaluate the objective severity of the alleged harassment, the court should consider "(1) the frequency of the conduct; (2) the severity of the conduct; (3) whether the conduct is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and (4) whether the conduct unreasonably interferes with the employee's job performance." Miller, 277 F.3d at 1276 (citing Allen v. Tyson Foods, 121 F.3d 642, 647 (11th Cir.1997)). No single factor is dispositive; the evaluation must take into consideration the "totality of the circumstances." Id.

In a recent case brought by the EEOC by an African-American employee, the Plaintiff alleged that the harassment--including his repeated use of racial insults and the word 'n-----,' spoken directly to the Black employee or made in his presence--was severe and occurred frequently over the entire course of his fourteen-month employment. "[R]epeated incidents of verbal harassment ... are indicative of a hostile work environment." Id. (ethnic slurs directed at plaintiff three to four times daily is severe and pervasive); see also Nichols v. Volunteers of America, North Alabama, Inc., 470 F. App'x 757, 761 (11th Cir.2012) (finding evidence that plaintiff encountered racially hostile behavior and language at work "on a daily basis" sufficient to create an issue of fact about whether harassment was severe or pervasive); In this recent case, the Court found that the Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to show that the harassment was severe enough to alter the terms and conditions of employment and create a discriminatorily abusive work environment. E.E.O.C. v. Titan Waste Servs. Inc., 3:10CV379/MCR/EMT, 2014 WL 931010 (N.D. Fla. Mar. 10, 2014)

To establish a prima facie case of disparate treatment--here, based on discriminatory discharge--an employee must show (1) that he is a member of a protected class; (2) that he was qualified for his position; (3) that he was subjected to an adverse employment action, and (4) that his employer treated "similarly situated" employees outside his class more favorably. Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1562 (11th Cir.1997).

The Eleventh Circuit's standard for discrimination claims requires an employee to establish an "ultimate employment decision" or make some other showing of substantiality in the employment context in order to establish an adverse employment action. See Crawford v. Carroll, 529 F.3d 961, 970 (11th Cir.2008) (citing Stavropoulos v. Firestone, 361 F.3d 610, 616-17 (11th Cir.2004); Ultimate employment decisions may include "termination, failure to hire, or demotion." Stavropoulos, 361 F.3d at 617. Conduct falling short of an ultimate employment decision must, in some substantial way, "alter the employee's compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, deprive him or her of employment opportunities, or adversely affect [ ] his or her status as an employee." Gupta v. Florida Board of Regents, 212 F.3d 571, 587 (11th Cir.2000) The level of substantiality required for a Title VII discrimination claim requires an employee to demonstrate he suffered "a serious and material change in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" in order to demonstrate an adverse employment action. Davis v. Town of Lake Park, Fla., 245 F.3d 1232, 1239 (11th Cir.2001).

Remember that if you suffer such an adverse employment action based on discriminatory reasons, you have 180 days from the date it last occurred to file an EEOC charge in order to preserve your right to sue.

Also if you suspect race discrimination is affecting you at work but you are simply not certain, it is well worth seeking legal consultation. Most importantly, if you believe that your employer is seeking to terminate you as a result of discriminatory motives, do your very best if possible to seek legal counsel sooner rather than later, especially if it is prior to losing your job. We can help.

March 12, 2014

Rights Of All Georgia Educators At Risk Due To Superintendent's Attack On Teacher Civil Rights, Constitutional Right To Due Process Through Fair Dismissal



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The Georgia State Department of Education's recent ruling that charter systems must comply with the Fair Dismissal Act was an enormous victory for Gilda Day and every educator throughout Georgia. Nevertheless, Northwest Georgia Superintendent Jeff McDaniel and his Floyd County local board's choice to appeal this statewide decision by arguing that no civil right applies single-handedly places at risk the rights of all Georgia educators in threatening to strip vital constitutional protections throughout the state.

The key to the State Board of Education teacher victory was the State Board's interpretation of the charter school statute, specifically the term "civil rights." An excerpt from the actual decision states: "[, the] Local Board contends that since the Fair Dismissal Act, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-940 et seg., is within Title 20, that it is not subject to the Fair Dismissal Act. The Local Board's assertion is without merit. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2065(b)(5) provides that charter systems are "[s]ubject to all federal, state, and local rules, regulations, court orders, and statutes relating to civil rights." The Fair Dismissal Act provides due process rights to certain school employees, which is a civil right. Thus, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2065(a) cannot be read so broadly as to violate the due process rights of school employees who are entitled to due process."

Mike McGonigle, Legal Services Director of the Georgia Association of Educators says the importance of this decision cannot be overemphasized in this new environment of charter-mania and he points out that GAE led the fight against the initial removal of fair dismissal and for its eventual restoration. "What fair dismissal means is the right for teachers, administrators, and support professionals to simply teach children in a learning environment that is free from the fear of retaliation and at-will termination. Contrary to what opponents have always said, fair dismissal does not provide lifelong employment opportunities for incompetent educators. Without fair dismissal protection, teachers are at will employees who could be subjected to reprimand and dismissal based on false or frivolous, unsubstantiated complaints or decisions. Fair dismissal does not protect bad teachers. On the contrary, it protects good teachers from discriminatory, biased reprimands, and unfair treatment," he said.

Ms. Day's appeal was drafted by Ms. Julie Oinonen and her partner Mr. Mario Williams of Williams Oinonen LLC. "Providing teachers with procedural due process is a constitutional right and essential to maintain quality teachers in an increasingly difficult and underpaid profession" said Oinonen. "Under the Constitution, the government cannot take away life, liberty or a property interest without due process---it is a constitutional right that not even charter systems are permitted to waive. What due process does is provide teachers with a fair hearing: the right to notice and opportunity to be heard so that a superintendent or administrator cannot unfairly or indiscriminately fire a teacher without just cause, for discriminatory purposes, or simply a personal vendetta. Gilda Day's courage and bravery has resulted in a victory for teachers throughout our state and a win for Georgia public education. It is a sad and scary day when Superintendent's decision to appeal not only wastes taxpayer's money through expensive litigation but now possibly threatens the rights of educators throughout our state of Georgia."

Unite in the fight---if you are an organization or an educator that wants to be involved in protecting public education from attack and protecting our teachers, please review the copy of the brief filed on behalf of our courageous educator. Questions? Contact 404-654-0288.

Stamped Copy of Responsive Brief Of Appellee Gilda Day

March 11, 2014

Good Georgia Employment Lawyer Answers: "Help! My boss is about to fire me and put me on a performance improvement plan. What can I do?"



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One of the main reasons many of our new clients contact our law firm is because they have heard how we were able to help save a friend or family member's job and they need the same type of help. Oftentimes, they believe their boss is about to fire them because they see the writing on the wall, for example, they have just been placed on a professional improvement plan or professional development plan and they know their boss is building a paper trail against them to set them up for termination.

If that describes your situation, one of the most important thing you can do is to retain legal counsel immediately. As we tell clients, it is often quite difficult to "unring the bell" once the bell has been rung, i.e. an employee has been terminated from their job. However, before this happens, there is often time enough for legal intervention.

As many of you know, Georgia is an "at-will" employment state also known as a "right to work state." This is really a misnomer as it should be called a "right to fire at will state." This means, barring a legal exception, your boss can fire you simply because he or she doesn't like you. That is reason enough as long as they not liking you doesn't have to do with them not liking a protected status, for example, your skin color or the fact you are pregnant. There are several federal civil rights laws that protect employees from such type of discrimination, the most well-known of course being Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against an individual regarding his employment because of an individual's race, color, religion, or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000 e-2(a)(1).

In sum, an employer cannot fire you for reasons that are based on a discriminatory motive, for example on the basis of your age, race, national origin, gender or disability without being in violation for various federal civil rights laws. Similarly, they cannot sexually harass you and then fire you because you refused to have sex with them, also known as "quid pro quo." If you are a public employee, they cannot fire you out of retaliation for "blowing the whistle" on certain issues that fall under the Georgia Whistleblowers Act. There are also whistleblower protections for those who work for private employees for very specific claims concerning fraud and federal funding. An employer also cannot fire you if they are breaching a term of your contract agreement, assuming you do have an employment contract--many employees do not. They cannot fire you because you take medical leave, assuming you qualify for protection under the FMLA (the Family Medical Leave Act.) If you are a public employee with a continued expectation of employment, then you have a right to a due process hearing. For example, tenured teachers have a right to a "fair dismissal hearing" under the Georgia Fair Dismissal Act.

So if you suspect your boss is setting you up for firing, what can you do about it? Is there anything you can do about it? The short answer is yes, many times we can help and have saved many Georgia workers from imminent termination. We have successfully negotiated for those in every walk of life, including high level chief executive officers, doctors, bus drivers, teachers, IT computer techs, university administrators, businessmen, insurance agents, and more--whether they have worked in the public or private sector. The common factor for all of these clients is that most of them came to us prior to getting fired. That allowed us to most effectively intervene---as we have explained, it is much harder (although not impossible) to "un-ring a bell."

What is most interesting is that we have often seen two types of psychological personalities in employees who are about to get fired. Those who are so stressed, traumatized, and anxious about it that they are paralyzed from doing anything and stick their head in the sand like an ostrich because they are so overwhelmed with fear. Regrettably and without fail, those are usually the ones who get fired. Then, there are those individuals who have the good presence of mind to seek legal intervention before it is too late. It is those who are in the latter group (rather than the former group) who stand a chance at either saving their job or buying themselves enough time to look for a safe landing employed somewhere else.

The primary piece of advice we can share is that you should trust your gut, i.e. your intuition. If you suspect your boss is trying to set you up for termination in your near future, unfortunately, chances are he/she probably is. Do something about it before it is too late. Calling us sooner rather than later increases your chances for a positive outcome.

January 12, 2014

Need A Good Lawyer: What To Look For?



justice-scales-gavel-fb.jpegChoosing a good lawyer to help you with a case, such as wrongful death, contract dispute, employment termination; asset forfeiture, and excessive force, can be very difficult.

Many blog posts advise you to make sure that (1) you feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose and that (2) the lawyer you choose has sound experience and understanding in the area you need representation in. While all that is true, there is one area that also demonstrates the quality of representation you will be obtaining to handle your case: your lawyer's willingness and ability to handle an appeal of your case in front of a higher court.

Foremost, you may not read a lot of blog posts that talk about handling an appeal of your case in front of higher courts, because that means something may have went wrong with your case in the lower court. But here's the reality: when you are going up against cities, school districts; law enforcement officials; public officials; big corporations; and hospitals--whether you win or lose at the lower court (trial court), one party is going to appeal, or threaten to appeal the loss, to the higher court (Appeals Court).

I emphasized "win or lose" because there exist two sides to an appeal. If your opponent appeals, that means you won at the lower court level. That also means on appeal, you have the favorable position of having the Appeals Court review the situation with a slant toward upholding your victory.

However, being in a favorable position on appeal does not mean the Appeal is any less difficult. Whether you are in a favorable or less favorable position, your lawyer must understand the appeals process, the various legal standards that must be known and followed, in order to make sure your victory at the lower court has the best chance of not being reversed by the higher court, or to make sure a bad result at the lower court is reversed in your favor.

In sum, making sure that your attorney is also a good appellant attorney increases your ability to get the result you want at the higher court level. But there is another reason that you should inquire about your lawyer's skill level in relation to appeals:

When your opponent knows that your attorney will both appeal and defend against appeals, successfully, your opponent knows your attorney will "fight to the end." This is of utmost importance because although you must have an attorney that prepares your case as if it's going to trial, the reality is that most cases settle.

negotiation1.jpgThe amount of money you are offered to settle your case depends on several factors beyond the significance of your injury. One of the factors your opponent will consider is how much time and money is going to be spent trying to stop you from winning.

Again, when the opponent knows your attorney is going to "fight to the end," meaning your attorney is going to appeal (and defend against appeals) with vigor and competency, you are much more likely to receive a settlement offer that you agree with, provided you have a reasonably strong case with respect to the facts of your case as they apply to relevant law. And that is what we do.

For example, Williams Oinonen LLC recently represented a gentleman in North Georgia who had his truck wrongfully forfeited by the government. The trial court judge ruled in favor of the state. Williams Oinonen LLC appealed the decision to the Georgia Court of Appeals, arguing that it was unconstitutional. The Appeals Court reversed theTrial Court's decision and our client was able to receive his $25,000 truck back.

A couple months ago, Williams Oinonen LLC won an appeal before the Georgia State Board of Education, ruling that an educator's non-renewal should be reversed, and implementing good law that impacts every educator throughout the state of Georgia.

In another incident this past year, Williams Oinonen LLC successfully won an appeal in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals involving a wrongful death, civil rights constitutional claim. In this case, our clients wrongful death claims were permitted to move forward within federal court.

Whether it is a $25,000 truck or a wrongful death, Williams Oinonen LLC is not afraid of appeals and not afraid to go the distance to fight hard and long. Because of this, we are grateful to be able to better serve our clients.

January 7, 2014

Shot By A Police Officer; Do you Believe Excessive Force Was Used; What To Do?



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Have you, or has someone you know, been shot by a police officer that resulted in death or serious injury to yourself or another? If yes, then you may be wondering what to do. Williams Oinonen LLC handles cases in which police officers fatally shoot or seriously injure people by the use of unreasonable deadly force. Unreasonable use of deadly force is commonly referred to as excessive force, meaning deadly force that was both not necessary and unreasonable under the law.

For the next couple of weeks, our law firm is going to post about deadly force in the context of "officer involved shootings." Today, we are going to discuss a few reasons why you must ensure that a lawyer is contacted as soon as possible, when you have, or someone you know has, been shot by a police officer in Georgia.

Before discussing that, however, you should know that police misconduct cases, especially ones that involve excessive force (for example, deadly force) are extremely difficult. The law favors police officers and courts throw out (dismiss) many cases against law enforcement, daily. But that does not mean your case will be thrown out. Everything depends on the facts and how those facts are applied to the law.

So today, our law firm will briefly discuss the most significant thing you can do to help ensure that the proper facts surrounding the death or serious injury of you or someone you know are gathered as fast as possible: contact an attorney.

Cases against law enforcement are often won (or lost) before a lawsuit is ever filed, so immediately contacting a lawyer who is experienced in handling police misconduct cases is vital for the following reasons amongst others:

1. If the attorney accepts your case, then that attorney will need to send out a "spoliation letter" to all relevant entities and people such as the police officer who used deadly force and the department the officer works for. The spoliation letter helps your case because the letter will ensure that the relevant entities and people are placed on "notice" to retain (not destroy) all evidence such as audio recordings, video recording, and certain documents.

As far as preserving potential evidence, without a spoliation letter, a police department may argue that their document retention schedule required them to destroy certain potential evidence that could have been relevant to your case. However, with a spoliation letter, your attorney will be able to argue that if the potential evidence existed at the time the Police Department received your spoliation letter, then that Department should not have destroyed the potential evidence. This is vital when going before a judge because if potential evidence was wrongfully destroyed, a judge may sanction (punish) the party that destroyed the evidence, and that obviously would help your case a lot.

But even the issue of who spoliated (destroyed) the potential evidence and what can be done to the party who destroyed potential evidence is very complicated. For example, say you only sued a police officer but someone from his Police Department (such as chief of security) destroyed your potential evidence. The issue gets complicated because neither the chief of security or the police department is a party to your case. You must have an experienced lawyer to address issues such as this one, and many more. Contact Williams Oinonen LLC today.

2. The sooner the attorney comes on the scene in Georgia, the better, because Georgia has a very powerful tool to help gather potential evidence in cases against police officers: The Georgia Open Records Act ("GORA"). GORA allows citizens to obtain publicly releasable information from (1) government institutions and even in some cases from (2) private companies who perform government work. So once you have an attorney, that attorney can begin gathering publicly, releasable information (such as an officers training profile and prior investigative reports from various agencies) that could be relevant to your case. Again, the sooner this process begins, the better, due to document retention schedules of public agencies, and other issues.

Also, you should collect every witness name you can, and give those witness names to your attorney ASAP. Your attorney needs this information because many times your attorney will want to get a sworn affidavit from the witness, or another statement, or simply talk to the witness. Sometimes, you may know of a witness that the police did not identify or know about, so it is vital that you get the names of all known witnesses to your attorney, ASAP. Providing witness names to your attorney is vital to you also because the better informed your attorney is, the more likely your attorney can properly assess the case and provide you with realistic expectations. Police misconduct cases, especially those that involve excessive force (for example, deadly force) can take years to resolve.
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That's it for today. In our next Blog Post about police misconduct, we will discuss how the law reviews an officer's use of deadly force. Contrary to popular belief, the law actually looks at the officer first, not at what the victim did (or did not do).

Contact Williams Oinonen LLC if you have been seriously injured by the use of deadly force or you know someone who has been killed or seriously injured by the use of deadly force (excessive force).

November 22, 2013

Georgia Education Lawyer Wins State Board of Education Appeal Reversing Teacher's Non-Renewal: Decision Impacts All Educators Throughout Georgia Concerning Charter Schools & Civil Right To Fair Dismissal Due Process Hearing



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Georgia Education Lawyer was proud to represent our courageous educator, Ms. Gilda Day. Ms. Day won her appeal before the State Board of Education reversing the Floyd County Local Board of Education's decision to non-renew her. This case has regularly drawn the attention of the front page of the Rome Tribune and can be reviewed here.

Ms. Day's appeal was drafted by Ms. Julie Oinonen and her partner Mr. Mario Williams of Williams Oinonen LLC. "Providing teachers with procedural due process is a constitutional right and essential to maintain quality teachers in an increasingly difficult and underpaid profession" said Oinonen. "Under the Constitution, the government cannot take away life, liberty or a property interest without due process---it is a constitutional right that not even charter systems are permitted to waive. What due process does is provide teachers with a fair hearing: the right to notice and opportunity to be heard so that a superintendent or administrator cannot unfairly or indiscriminately fire a teacher without just cause, for discriminatory purposes, or simply a personal vendetta. Gilda Day's courage and bravery has resulted in a victory for teachers throughout our state and a win for Georgia public education that is increasingly under attack by big money, outside interests who seek corporate takeover of our Georgia public schools."

"Today's State Board decision stating that charter schools and systems cannot waive the Fair Dismissal Act is a huge win for all teachers," stated Mike McGonigle, general counsel for the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE). McGonigle was referring to the reversal of the Floyd County Board of Education's decision that fair dismissal due process rights could be waived by charter schools.

The case involved Ms. Gilda Day, a GAE member, who worked for the Floyd County Schools, a charter school system. Ms. Day was appealing a non-renewal of her contract for the 2013-14 school year.

The key to the decision was the State Board's interpretation of the charter school statute, specifically the term "civil rights." An excerpt from the actual decision states: "[, the] Local Board contends that since the Fair Dismissal Act, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-940 et seg., is within Title 20, that it is not subject to the Fair Dismissal Act. The Local Board's assertion is without merit. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2065(b)(5) provides that charter systems are "[s]ubject to all federal, state, and local rules, regulations, court orders, and statutes relating to civil rights." The Fair Dismissal Act provides due process rights to certain school employees, which is a civil right. Thus, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2065(a) cannot be read so broadly as to violate the due process rights of school employees who are entitled to due process."

McGonigle says the importance of this decision cannot be overemphasized in this new environment of charter-mania and he points out that GAE led the fight against the initial removal of fair dismissal and for its eventual restoration. "What fair dismissal means is the right for teachers, administrators, and support professionals to simply teach children in a learning environment that is free from the fear of retaliation and at-will termination. Contrary to what opponents have always said, fair dismissal does not provide lifelong employment opportunities for incompetent educators. Without fair dismissal protection, teachers are at will employees who could be subjected to reprimand and dismissal based on false or frivolous, unsubstantiated complaints or decisions. Fair dismissal does not protect bad teachers. On the contrary, it protects good teachers from discriminatory, biased reprimands, and unfair treatment," he said.

The full text of the decision can be downloaded at http://pv.gae2.org/issues/fairdismissaldecision.pdf