On June 29, 2017, the House approved and sent to the governor, Senate Bill 828 which will require large employers in certain industries to provide advanced notice to employees of their work schedules. This new law will affect only retail, hospitality, and food service establishments with 500 or more employees worldwide. Affected employers will have to provide their employees with seven days advance notice of their shift schedules. Affected employers will also need to make a good faith effort to provide new employees with an estimation of the average number of hours the employee can expect to work in a month. It is expected that the governor will sign the bill into law.
Everyone should have insurance, and being insured does, in many ways, help us sleep at night. However, as with many contracts (and remember, an insurance policy is actually a contract), disputes sometimes arise. It is not unusual for there to be a dispute regarding the interpretation of insurance contract terms. And, with insurance contracts, those disputes are often about coverage. That is, the insurance company may claim that, even though you have insurance, your claim is not covered. This can be frustrating.
To end this series of sabbatical articles, I return to the beginning: That is, the beginning of the rule of law enjoyed by both England and America.
The year was 1215. King John was the reigning monarch of England, and it was not going well for him. Born on Christmas Eve, 1167, he has been called a lecherous traitor, a depraved tyrant and a hopeless leader in war. It is no wonder that his subjects rose up against him.
Like his predecessors, King John ruled using the principle of “force and will,” making executive and sometimes arbitrary decisions on the basis that the King was above the law.
In contrast to the established courts and courtrooms in London, justice was once delivered to the outlying rural areas of England by horseback. For example Cambridgeshire had three towns which hosted periodic courts called “assizes.” The word “assize” refers to the sessions of the judges who traveled across the seven circuits of England and Wales, similar to the original concept of circuit courts in America. Abraham Lincoln was known to have traveled on such circuits during the time that he practiced law in Illinois. In England, these assizes were still active until they were abolished by the Courts Act of 1971, which replaced them with a single, permanent Crown Court.
Trial resumed with the banging of the gavel at 10:30 a.m., the traditional starting time for court in England. An American court would have ordinarily started at 9:30, or even earlier. Indeed, in my experience, I have often been in court, ready to go by as early as 8:30.
The Crown’s first witness for the day was the CCTV detective. England is awash in CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras. Although the use of CCTV dates back as early as the 1960s, the IRA bombing in Bishopsgate, London in 1993 resulted in the construction of a “Ring of Steel” around the capital, with CCTV cameras playing a major role. And, by 2011 there were an estimated 1.85 million CCTV cameras in use in the UK. These cameras are often very useful in criminal investigations in England.
Just before the proceedings started, the Detective-Sergeant in charge of the murder investigation provided me a short summary of the facts of the case: Two young men, both age 15 at the time of the crime, were charged with the stabbing death of one Shaquan Fearon on September 3, 2015. Just after 6:00 pm on that date, Scott and Dyer attacked Fearon and his companion, Junior Inneh, stabbing both, and killing Fearon.
Everyone has seen an American courtroom on television or in the movies. And, we have seen American lawyers walk freely about the courtroom, sometimes standing right up next to the witness. English Barristers never walk around the courtroom, and never move up next to a witness. Therefor, it should be no surprise that English courtrooms differ in many ways from American courtrooms.
We entered Courtroom No. 9 from a foyer on the third floor reserved for Barristers, witnesses and court personnel. Members of the public who wished to observe the proceedings could access a viewing gallery from the fourth floor. This prevented the general public from mingling with the court officials and witnesses. In an American courtroom, the public, the parties and the court personnel all congregate together.
As we finished our coffee, Sarah Whitehouse, my sabbatical facilitator, said it was time to go to court. We fetched our umbrellas and headed off to the Central Criminal Court located in the famous courthouse, The Old Bailey.
The Old Bailey is a venerable building. The site on which it stands was the principal west gate of the Roman City of Londinium. At the time of the Norman Conquest, circa 1066, the gate was being used as a prison, and during the 12th century the gate was rebuilt, and renamed the “New Gate.”
Today is a big day for Briton; voters will decide whether to remain in the European Community, or leave it. As I have been traveling through England on my sabbatical these past few weeks, this question has loomed large in the media, in the pubs and around kitchen tables.
My wife, Vicki, and I arrived at the home of our friends, Bob and Jill, yesterday, on the eve of the vote. Bob and Jill are solid citizens, retired, with five lovely grandchildren. They live in a small community near Cheltenham in the West of England. They are, I think, typical of the people whose views I’ve heard while traveling. They are just not sure which way to vote.
Early morning rain was falling steadily from the gray London sky as I made my way to the Holborn Street underground station. It was the first day of my sabbatical, and I was keen to make the most of it. I got off the train at St. Paul’s and made my way to the barrister’s chambers at 21 College Hill. As I stepped through the door, I was met by a clerk who took me directly upstairs to the Board Room, and introduced me to Sarah Whitehouse, QC (Queen’s Council), the English barrister who had graciously agreed to facilitate my sabbatical.
Barristers are specialists in courtroom advocacy. They practice independently, but generally form together into “chambers,” similar to an American law firm, except each barrister practices independently. Unlike in America, barristers in the same chambers may represent clients opposed to each other in court.