Columbian University Neuroscientist Makes a Great Case Against the Drug War

NCAJ member and criminal attorney Jerry T. Hannant, who practices in Wilmington, NC, recently shared an article on Dr. Carl Hart, a neuroscientist and professor of psychology and psychiatry, who gave a compelling TED talk about his research into addiction and how his findings have impacted his view on the U.S. Drug War.

For more on Dr. Hart’s findings and Jerry Hannant’s law practice, click here

I was the victim of a crime – why aren’t the police helping me more?

We receive many calls and emails from victims of crime, mostly sexual assaults, who say the police are not doing enough to investigate the crime and bring the perpetrator to justice.  They want us to make the police take action.  Sometimes a lawyer can help the victim in this situation.  However there is a lot that crime victims can do to help members of law-enforcement do their jobs better in these situations.

First, it is very important to report a crime right away.  This is necessary for the preservation of evidence while it is fresh.  If you were raped, do NOT take a shower or wash your clothes!   Many women feel so disgusted by what has happened to them that the first thing they want to do is bathe. This can destroy essential evidence that investigators need.  If you have been raped or assaulted, you should go to the hospital immediately.  Emergency department personnel have a set of evidence-gathering tools called a “rape kit” that helps them gather hair, fiber, and DNA evidence.  The results are submitted directly to law enforcement.

Victims of sexual assault often hesitate to come forward, and every victim needs to decide for herself what she feels strong enough to do.  Just understand that the sooner you report a crime, the better equipped law enforcement officers will be to help.

Second, it is very important to tell the investigator every detail you can think of. Often, due to societal pressure, victims of sexual assault feel shame about what happened to them, and sometimes they leave out crucial details that they may thing make the crime more demeaning.  Later, they may contact the investigator with more facts.   It is much more helpful to law enforcement if all the facts are provided early on.

Third, if you are struggling to get the support you need, whether from law enforcement or from any other service provider, there are resources to help you.  There are many professionals whose job it is to help victims of crime.  One source of support in our state is the North Carolina Victim Assistance Network.   Another organization providing support and referral services is the National Center for Victims of Crime.   In some situations victims of crime can pursue civil remedies against the perpetrators.

The law firm of Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC regularly represents victims of crime in cases against service providers, schools and other institutions that have failed to protect children and adults to whom they have a duty of care.  For more on this firm, visit

Debt Collection A to Z: L is for Letter

A staple of the debt collection industry is the dunning letter. Dunning refers to the letter’s mission to influence the debtor to pay up lest face consequences. Generally speaking, sending such letters is legal but there are guidelines as to what must and must not appear.

On the “must” side are usually:

  • warnings that the letter is a communication to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose
  • statement of the name, address, and contact phone number for the collector
  • statement of the account on which collection is sought as well as the amount claimed due
  • in the first letter to the debtor, a statement of the debtor’s right to obtain validation of the debt

On the “must not” side are:

  • threats of violence or physical harm to the debtor for failure to pay
  • threats to take action the collector either cannot or does not intend to take
  • false or misleading information about the collector’s status
  • false or misleading information about the nature or amount of the debt

Despite these rules some collectors create their own rules and policies and abuse the collection process. In these cases action is warranted and too often the collector will intimidate the debtor into thinking nothing can be done. Click here to learn a few tips and tactics on dealing with debt collectors. There are state and federal laws regulating debt collection and it is worth consulting an experienced attorney if you believe you have been subjected to letters or other communications and actions that violate these laws.

John T. O’Neal is a practicing attorney with the O’Neal Law Office in Greensboro, NC who focuses his practice in Personal Injury/Wrongful Death, Consumer Law (includes Auto Dealer Fraud/Vehicle Issues and Debt Defense Lemon Law), and various types of Civil Litigation handling cases across North Carolina. A long-time NCAJ member, he is a former Chair of the NCAJ Consumer Areas of Practice Section and a two-time Ebby Award winner. 

Can I receive Workers’ Comp and Disability at the same time?

The short answer is, Yes, you can receive both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time. But most often, the Social Security Administration will reduce the amount of SSDI benefits if you are also receiving workers’ comp. Typically you cannot receive more than 80 percent of pre-disability wages, if you are receiving workers’ comp as well.

If you have suffered a job-related injury, then you deserve compensation to help you get the medical care you need, as well as rehabilitative care and replacement of the wages you lose. The experienced workers’ comp and SSDI attorneys at the Ricci Law Firm know how to handle these cases and pursue the benefits that you are owed. Attorney Brian M. Ricci is even a bar-certified specialist in Social Security Disability law.

If you live in or around Fayetteville, Charlotte, Raleigh or Greenville, NC, and want to know more about recovering workers’ comp and Social Security Disability, please call the Ricci Law Firm at (855) 444-9764 for a free consultation. Our attorneys have lengthy experience securing workers’ comp and SSDI benefits for our clients.