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Avvo Interviews Corso Law Group Founder on Martin Shkreli Case

Martin Shkreli is one of the most talked about men in America right now. In his recent appearance before a congressional committee, Shrekli pleaded the fifth when asked questions about highly increased drug prices.

Christopher Corso, founder of Corso Law Group weighed in on the national controversy and if Martin Shkreli had the right to plead the Fifth in such a serious case.

Does the Fifth Amendment even apply in this situation?

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens from self-incrimination, stating that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” As Shrkeli’s hearing was not a matter of criminal inquiry, was his taking the Fifth an appropriate response?

“[The Fifth Amendment] covers any statement that would tend to give rise to criminal liability on the speaker’s part,” says criminal defense lawyer Christopher Corso, founder of Corso Law Group. “Mr. Shkreli fully had the right to plead the Fifth.” The hearing was more about the ethical than the criminal implications of Shkreli’s actions, but Corso says it comes down to who’s making the determination about what was and was not legal.

“Until you’re with attorneys, you may be [unwittingly] adding information,” cautions Corso, “Answers that may perhaps—even in a miniscule way—open yourself up to criminal liability is a problem. Therefore, he is able to plead the Fifth.”

Did Congress intentionally try to make Shkreli look bad?

Bottom line: No matter what you think of Shkreli, he was not improperly invoking his constitutional rights. “As somebody that advocates for the constitution,” says Corso, “I would say no, the 5th Amendment was not abused.”

Read the full article here: http://stories.avvo.com/rights/did-martin-shkreli-have-the-right-to-plead-the-fifth.html

Maricopa County Attorney Bans iPhones for Prosecutors

Maricopa County Attorney Bill MontgomeryWith Apple fighting the FBI about unlocking the San Bernardino’s shooters iPhone and creating a backdoor for the government to unlock all iPhones, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said today that his office will no longer provide iPhones to prosecutors and other employees.

“Apple’s refusal to cooperate with a legitimate law enforcement investigation to unlock a phone used by terrorists puts Apple on the side of terrorists instead of on the side of public safety,” Montgomery said. “Positioning their refusal to cooperate as having anything to do with privacy interests is a corporate PR stunt and ignores the Fourth Amendment protections afforded by our Constitution.”

Citing privacy concerns, Apple is standing up to the U.S government and the National Security Agency by not allowing them backdoor access to all iPhones.

With citizens around the nation using their iPhones for private conversations, photos, music, notes, calendars, contacts, finances and health, government access to iPhones could be viewed as an invasion of privacy.

A Legal Perspective on the Government’s New Gun Plan

A new gun plan was recently presented by the government, proposing new rules and increased regulations for gun control. Despite political differences on the freedoms of gun control, the legal perspective of gun laws is separate, important topic.

Here’s a summary of what these new, potential gun laws could mean legally.

The proposed requirements seek to change the status of a “gun dealer”. A gun dealer will no longer be categorized by the number of armed weapons they sell but instead by the “totality of the circumstances”, looking to change the way in which firearms are sold, according to The Wall Street Journal.

According to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the new rule is focused on those selling guns online saying, “It’s really an internet loophole. Gun sales are moving online.”

Will this be fair to certain individuals? If prosecuted for not following the regulation due to disagreeing with the proposed status, one has the opportunity to present the government’s criteria as that of “too vague”.

Assessing the mental health of a person prior to them purchasing a gun is another key factor in the proposed plan. The White House stated the Social Security Administration will implement regulations, working to help the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) distinguish those who have mental health concerns, preventing them from purchasing a gun.

The problem here is this piece would require new laws, not just new regulations. Additionally, those who would be identified as mentally ill, might be wrongfully identified at that, resulting in an entirely separate issue of taking away the rights of those who should be allowed the right the purchase a firearm.

Lastly, The White House seeks to fix the current problem of those bypassing restrictions, purchasing guns through trusts and corporations.

Lynch addressed this in saying, “The trust loophole is something we’ve been looking into for a long time.” Legally, despite stronger restrictions and regulations with this type of ruling, a person who fits into this category but still wants to purchase a firearm could go to court to challenge their purchasing status.

As this complex, proposed new gun plan arrives, Texas too is adjusting to a new normal, Open Carry. The new gun has caught many Texans off guard, especially causing confusion for Texas law enforcement.

Kevin Lawrence, executive director of of the Texas Municipal Police Association said, “ What authorities do the officers have? We need to get that clarified as much as possible so the officers know what’s expected of them going into any given situation.”

In these situations, where a new and different law is now active, it takes time to understand how things will work. With others besides law enforcement exposing open firearms, citizens wonder the intention of each gun holder. The new law has also forced businesses to make a decision on whether they allow those carrying openly in their stores.

If a business chooses to not allow guns inside their doors, they must post a 30.07 sign, banning handguns on their property.

Some business have adapted other regulations, such as Walmart, where when employees see someone openly carrying a gun, they must tell their manager who then asks the gun holder to see their paperwork.

Overall, as the nation sees changes in gun laws, it’s important for citizens to recognize and understand their rights.

Corso Law Group Founder Offers Small Business Advice

I was recently interviewed by CBS Small Business Pulse, in which I discussed eight important things to know when owning a small business.

“Fraud can be difficult to navigate with small businesses since the owner cannot oversee every detail even though each piece of information is important and must be accounted. Background checks for employees, internal check systems and written training manuals can help secure that the businesses owners have enough implementations in place to keep themselves further away from these potential liabilities.”

“Identify when the small business needs legal help and seek guidance from a specialized professional. If an issue has already escalated, there is still time to work with an attorney to begin the reparative process step by step.”

“For small businesses that work with sensitive or confidential information, small business owners need to do everything in their power to keep that information protected. It is their responsibility to ensure clients and customers feel like they can trust the business.”

“When it comes to hiring for small businesses, owners should do everything to find employees that are the right fit. Conduct background checks and schedule multiple interviews to get a good understanding of character and work ethic.”

“A common instance of fraud that occurs within small businesses has to do with employees succumbing to outside influences or allowing their emotions to get the better of them. For example, if a business relies on just one person to manage credit cards, that person could easily have access to commit fraud.”

“Recognize activity or behavior that may appear illegal, and be proactive about meeting with an attorney before a minor issue becomes a devastating legal situation.”

“Cybersecurity is crucial, especially when it comes to passwords. Do a thorough inspection of where extensive security measures are necessary. Small businesses do not always possess an inside department or outside company that manages their online security, but that does not mean their content and data is any less important to the success of their business.”

“Trust is a key component for running any business successfully, but for a small business owner, being able to trust and oversee all employees just isn’t realistic. By hiring proactive and experienced management, small business owners will have less to oversee individually and more qualified professionals to help keep track of everyone’s actions.”

View the full article here: http://cbspulse.com/2016/01/07/8-legal-pitfalls-business-owners/

New Transportation Regulations Lead to Continued Changes in Trucking Industry

The trucking industry is changing how its drivers record their hours for the first time in a long time with a newly implemented government rule announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, established to help truck drivers combat fatigue. In the past, truck drivers have been required to keep a paper log of their hours, but the new electronic logging device rule (ELD) is set to change everything.

The electronic logging device is designed to record the driver’s time on the road through monitoring miles driven, the movement of the vehicle, engine hours and the location of the driver more effectively.

Approximately three million commercial truck and bus drivers will be required to record their hours using the modern logging device, intended to also establish a safer environment over all for truck drivers.

The electronic logging device (ELD) will also allow companies in the trucking industry the opportunity to track their driver’s required mileage progression. Drivers feel that with this ability, companies will force their drivers to fulfill their mileage requirement even if they are too tired to drive.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association doesn’t agree with the new rule, suing the Safety Administration in hopes of banning it. The association believes the rule is no more effective than recording hours manually and the cost of the new technology to the trucking industry is not worth its service.

According to the Safety Administration however, the electronic recording device is set to save an estimated net savings of $1 billion a year, specifically through paperwork reductions. The Safety Administration additionally estimates that it will save 26 lives and prevent 526 injuries annually.

The rule will go into effect in early 2016, but will give companies two years after the effective start date for them to begin implemented the device. A new transportation law will also go into effect, allowing some 18 to 20 year-olds to be able to drive trucking vehicles across state lines.

This controversial law has caused concerned for some, but arrives as many current truck drivers are gearing towards retirement. According to industry leaders, they say they will hire 890,000 drivers over the next ten years to replace those leaving. Due to also a shortage, truck driver’s salaries will also continue to increase.

With all the changes occurring in the trucking industry, we understand that the law can be difficult to navigate if you find yourself in a challenging spot. At Corso Law Group, we understand that the last thing a truck driver needs is a CDL ticket or a complication with the law. To schedule a free consultation with one our experienced Houston criminal defense attorneys, please call (713) 231-0499.

Arizona’s Civil Forfeiture Laws Receive Poor Grade

Arizona’s civil forfeiture laws rank as some of the worst in the country, with a D- rating from Policing for Profit, a national report card grading these laws in every state by The Institute for Justice.

What is Civil Forfeiture?

If police believe that a person’s property could be linked to criminal activity, they can seize the assets in question to use as evidence during a trial.

These laws are considered controversial because even if no one is charged or convicted, law enforcement can keep up to 100 percent of the seized assets unless, depending on the state’s specific laws, the owner can prove his or her innocence in the case.

Arizona’s D- Grade for Civil Forfeiture Laws

In order for the government to seize property in Arizona, it only has to show that the property is more likely than not linked to a crime.

Another contributing factor to the state’s low grade is the law’s requirement of innocent property owners to bear the burden of proof. Essentially, you are considered guilty until proven innocent. This means you must prove your innocence if you want to get your property back.

Due to considerable fees associated with filing to get items back, many are discouraged to even try. For example, an Arizona woman had to pay a $304 filing fee just to gain the right to challenge the seizure of her assets in court.

The Problem with Asset Forfeiture

Why would law enforcement want to keep seized assets even if no one was charged? According to the FBI, the purpose of asset forfeiture is to, “undermine the economic infrastructure of the criminal enterprise.” By taking away assets and property linked to a crime, police aim to discourage criminal activity and make it less profitable for those involved.

Although criminals and innocent property owners may never see their seized assets again, certain parties are definitely profiting from these laws.

Last year, Arizona earned $36 million in forfeiture revenue, and a significant proportion of this money paid for salaries and overtime for law enforcement officers.

From 2000 to 2014, the state collected $412 million in forfeiture revenue, with 28 percent, or $62 million, of that total spent on “administrative expenses,” which includes benefits, salaries and overtime, The Arizona Republic reports.

Currently, local and national organizations, including the Institute for Justice, are hoping to reform Arizona’s forfeiture laws.

Violent Crimes on Game Day: Are Football Games Dangerous?

How safe is it to be a fan at a football game? With emotions running high due to team loyalties, tense rivalries and alcohol consumption before and during the game, what seems like a fun sporting event can end in serious legal trouble.

Recently, three San Francisco 49ers fans were charged with felony assault for brutally beating a Minnesota Vikings fan after a Monday night game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

In 2014, Arizona police arrested two men on assault charges, and stadium security removed several others involved in the two fights that took place in the upper decks of the Cardinals stadium in Glendale.

While these incidents sometimes fly under the radar of stadium security, who can be overwhelmed by 70,000 screaming fans, others are taking notice.

An investigative report on stadium crimes by Seattle news station, KIRO-TV, reviewed approximately 10,000 incidents over two-and-a half seasons, finding hundreds of felony and misdemeanor crimes had occurred during this time.

KIRO-TV also revealed that the National Football League (NFL) keeps a detailed crime record for each stadium on game day, but doesn’t always share this record with police in hopes of protecting certain teams.

The NFL is reacting to growing awareness of violent fan crimes by facilitating communication between each franchise and local law enforcement and stadium security to focus on crowd safety, The Arizona Republic reports.

Currently, most NFL teams have a hotline fans can text to notify stadium officials of concerns and problems during a game, but is this enough to keep thousands of fans in line during a heated game?

Next time you’re watching your favorite team, be aware of escalating arguments, potential fights and drunk drivers.

Our attorneys know from experience that assault and DUI are common charges in Arizona after a big game or event.

Paradise Valley Drone Ordinance on Par with New FAA Regulations

Soon after Paradise Valley passed a drone ordinance of its own, the first of its kind in the Valley, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced new regulations for drone owners, and now council members in Phoenix are weighing drone restrictions for the city.

Residents of Paradise Valley are allowed to use drones privately on their own property without restrictions, but are not allowed to use the devices on private property without permission. Those who do so could be charged with trespassing.

In terms of commercial use, the Paradise Valley ordinance states that Arizonans must register their devices with police first, a rule that aligns with the FAA’s new drone regulations.

The FAA requires registration on a government website for all drones weighing more than .5 pounds. A unique identification number will be issued, which then must be written or attached to registered devices.

Officials from the FAA hope these restrictions will minimize an inundation of drones and keep drone owners accountable for their use of this technology, while others, including officials from the Academy of Model Aeronautics, said these regulations cause unnecessary burden to drone owners, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Phoenix City Council is considering proposed rules regarding the uses of unmanned aircraft systems within the city, as well as guidelines for how Phoenix agencies should use drones, according to The Arizona Republic.

The proposed ordinance by Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Michael Nowakowski focuses on protecting privacy and limiting government surveillance.

Sections of the proposed regulations include prohibiting:

  • Operating a drone within five miles of an airport without permission.
  • Using a drone as a weapon or operating a drone recklessly, including the usage of these devices to kill birds or animals.
  • The usage of a drone to knowingly record or view another person without consent in situations prohibited by state law.

Regulations for drone use are still very new. Depending on what city council members in Phoenix decide, these rules could be a helpful tool in protecting privacy and ensuring public safety or they could interfere with development of drone technology.

Defense Attorneys Challenge TrueAllele DNA Interpretation Software

Defense attorneys around the nation are questioning the legitimacy of the DNA interpretation software, TrueAllele, which is used by law enforcement in at least six states to assist in separating and identifying DNA evidence.

Attorneys are interested in how TrueAllele’s software works to ensure that clients aren’t wrongfully linked to crimes based on the system’s interpretation of their DNA.

According to DNA experts, DNA from multiple people can intermix on anything including gun grips, clothing and victims, The Wall Street Journal reports. These mixtures can be complex, making it difficult for labs to sort out, resulting in inconclusive evidence more than half of the time.

Only seven out of every 100 crime labs nationwide were able to correctly separate a complex DNA mixture, according to a study by the Commerce Department.

To protect their clients from incorrect DNA matches, attorneys such as Noah Geary, are challenging TrueAllele’s reliability and methodology. Geary is the lawyer for Michael Robinson, who TrueAllele linked to the fatal shooting of two men in Pennsylvania after a crime lab deemed DNA from the evidence provided was too complex to analyze.

A judge denied Geary’s request to review TrueAllele’s codes, and it is unclear whether the defense will file an appeal. Robinson could be sentenced to death as a result of these charges.

The developer of TrueAllele, Mark Perlin, continues to refuse requests to review the system’s source code, but is offering defense experts guided tests on a limited set of data.

Issues with TrueAllele aren’t the only doubts regarding the reliability of forensic methods recently. Defense attorneys and experts have also faced problems with flawed hair forensics and bite-mark evidence.

 

Christopher Corso Discusses What It Takes to Be a Successful Leader

Recently, I was interviewed by TruPath, an executive search firm, as part of their company’s “Executive Interview Series”. They asked me a range of questions where I opened up about the culture at Corso Law Group, highlights and hardships in my career and my leadership philosophy that’s helped bring Corso Law Group and our clients to where we are today.

Take a look: http://bit.ly/1lcsS7q.

What’s most exciting to you at this point in your career?

After nearly 10 years in the industry, it’s rewarding to see which systems within your business are working successfully. As the head of a company, there’s a lot of trial and error in the early stages, but after a few years you realize what works for you and your team. For me, I’ve had great success as a mentor to my attorneys, and it’s been very exciting to watch them progress with the firm over time.

Give me an example of when you inspired people with a vision.

Our team understands that it’s our mission to care about the whole person, including their families, not just the case. The vision I project is showing my staff the positive outcome of treating every client with the utmost respect and care.

How do you build “culture” within your organization?

Unlike some law firms, the attorneys and legal professionals at Corso Law Group work individually and as a group to produce the best outcomes for each case. The entire firm knows about every case, which allows our attorneys to be interchangeable. Each of us has our own strengths and levels of experience to contribute, so we sit down together to look at every angle and analyze all the facts. This not only helps build a solid defense for the client, but also allows us to perform as a team and build strong relationships within the firm.

How would you describe your leadership philosophy?

You have to cater to each member of your team differently. You have to recognize that everyone has different strengths and different weaknesses, making them valuable in different ways.

I also make a point of leading by example. In our industry it might be easier for an owner to pass along the hard cases to an employee but that’s not how a successful team runs. You have to stand in the shoes of your employees and work together.

What’s the greatest compliment you’ve ever been given in your time as a leader?

I recently spoke with one of our newer attorneys, who has 20 years of legal experience but is still learning the ins and outs of how we do things at Corso Law Group, about a few mistakes he had made. We sat down together and I gave him advice and guidance on how to correct those errors and move forward. To me, this is more important than becoming upset about the mistakes that were made.

After, he told me how refreshing it was to actually come together and identify his mistakes, learn how to improve and avoid making the same errors in the future instead of just being scolded or chastised. That really puts things into perspective for you as a leader about what truly matters to your team.

Tell me about how you’ve scaled your organization. What was a defining moment or decision you made that put you on that path?

Decisions about the types of cases I take on and how I project myself as an attorney define my business everyday. Over the years, these moments have helped create a set of core values that I believe in deeply. Once we realized our philosophy worked, we knew it could be implemented anywhere.

Share with me one of your greatest accomplishments while being incredibly resource disadvantaged.

My greatest accomplishment comes from the most emotionally and financially taxing situation I’ve experienced in my career. In the middle of starting the expansion of Corso Law Group in Houston, there was a breakup in the firm’s original partnership, leaving me as the sole proprietor.

During this time, employees were leaving and the finances of the project were affected due to the break-up. I honestly wasn’t sure if the new business would ever come together.

While it was very difficult, I was ultimately able to open the Houston firm by believing in my leadership style and values. I feel accomplished knowing that we’ve overcome these challenging times, and it’s rewarding to see both locations doing very well.

How do you invest in yourself to increase your impact?

As the founder of Corso Law Group, it’s important to me to stand out as a leader by being heavily involved in my field. Currently, I belong to the American Bar Association, the Arizona Bar Association, the Maricopa County Bar Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, all of which allows me to improve the legal education of myself and my staff by staying updated with the rapid changes in our industry.

How does consistent learning and curiosity show up in your organization?

The minute you believe you know it all is the minute things start to go downhill. None of us eliminate the will or desire to stop learning about our industry and this business. You have to know that you don’t know everything, and that goes for everyone in an organization.

What’s one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs who are just starting to hire C-Level talent?

There are two pieces of advice I would give. First, make sure their goals and mindset align with the culture of your business. You need a leader who is on the same track as the rest of the team. Second, identify people who complement the skills you lack so they can pick you up and catch you when you need it.

How do you attract the best and brightest?

The way to create an outstanding team is to offer the best and the brightest attorneys an environment where they can thrive. We have a sound infrastructure at Corso Law Group that is stable and organized. We’ve honed in on a unique system that focuses on teamwork as well as constant learning and improvement.

Demonstrate that you, the leader of the company, are focused on providing the optimal environment for each of your employees, and you’ll attract the right kind of people to your organization.

If you could go back to when you were just starting out at your organization and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you tell yourself?

While I truly believe that each mistake is part of the learning process, I would have told myself to avoid taking the easy route. Looking back, it can be tempting to accept instant gratification, but hard work and dedication to your goals will always lead you down a better, more significant path.

To schedule a free consultation with Corso Law Group, please call (480) 471-4616.