Justin O’Dell Delivers Sunshine at Marietta High School

Justin SunshineJustin O’Dell delivered a little sunshine today to fellow Kiwanians at Marietta High School as he shared inspiring testimony from a Mother in the Family Dependency Treatment Court program. Some smiled and some cried as he read from a hand-written letter he had received. As a founding member of Reconnecting Families, Justin is able to participate in providing support services to families who are in the drug treatment program. The program recently held it’s 8th graduation commencement and it continues to provide accountability and meaningful alternatives to the traditional judicial system for these families.

To learn more about Reconnecting Families and ways that you might volunteer your time and resources, visit www.reconnectingfamilies.org.

Justin O’Dell Serves on 2013 Cobb Diaper Day Committee

Cobb Diaper Day 2013Did you know that food stamps do not cover personal hygiene products like diapers? Can you imagine being forced to choose between feeding your family and buying diapers for your little ones? Cobb Diaper Day collects donations of approximately 50,000 diapers each year  for low-income families so that they don’t have to make that choice. Justin O’Dell is one of the founding members of Cobb Diaper Day and was honored to read a proclamation from Governor Sonny Perdue at the first Diaper Day event.

As a member of the 2013 event committee, Justin continues to support the diaper collection that helps ease the burden for hundreds of families. Start a collection in your neighborhood and bring the donations to one of the drop-off points during September and October or join us on the Marietta Square at 5:00 pm on October 28th for a community-wide collection. You may drop off your diaper donations at our offices at 506 Roswell Street, Suite 210 in Marietta  prior to October 28th:

  • For more information on how to start a collection in your neighborhood or at work, go to www.cobbdiaperday.com.

“Often times it is the little things in our lives that make the biggest difference” – Barbara Hickey, Cobb Diaper Day 2013 Committee Chair

Motorcyclists Killed in Car Wrecks

By Justin O’Dell

In recent weeks, Atlanta has seen a rash of car wrecks and accidents involving motorcycles.  Motorcycles are often involved in automobile incidents due to other drivers failing to see or properly yield to the motorcycle.  Since the motorcycle offers less protection than an automobile, motorcycle riders are much more likely to suffer serious injury.  Cases involving serious injury present complicated legal issues and should not be handled without the assistance of legal representation.

In the two situations occurring most recently, one of them reports that alcohol was not a factor.  Both charges report an arrest for second degree or misdemeanor vehicular homicide.  This charge means that the unlawful or negligent conduct was not one of the listed offenses for felony vehicular homicide (such as driving under the influence or drugs or alcohol (DUI), reckless driving, eluding a law enforcement officer, passing a school bus).  These offenses all involve a degree of intentional or reckless conduct.

The nature of the charge can affect the settlement of the case.  Reckless and intentional conduct, as opposed to negligence, can support recovery of punitive damages and attorney’s fees.  It is also important to understand complicated issues related to insurance coverage.  Even if the party at fault has limited coverage, good legal representation can trigger uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.  It will also be important that the lawyer involved protect the recovery against claims of subrogation brought by health insurance, hospitals and others involved in the treatment and recovery from the injuries.

In other words, if you or someone you know is injured in one of these incidents, it is imperative that they contact a lawyer immediately!



Leslie O’Neal Selected for Leadership Cobb 2013-2014

Leslie headshot outside_9797_10x13Congratulations to Leslie O’Neal for being selected to the Leadership Cobb class of 2013-2014! Leslie will join 44 other diverse and qualified individuals to participate in this leadership development program sponsored by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. Through various programs and retreats, Leadership Cobb enhances personal and professional growth while participants gain awareness of current issues, community resources and the social, political and economic needs of the community.

Playing by the Rules

dp-on-this-date-in-history-andrew-jackson-kill-001On this day in 1806, 2 attorneys in Nashville rode from their homes to Kentucky where dueling was legal and settled their differences with pistols. On this day, Andrew Jackson emerged the victor in a duel with Charles Dickinson who had supposedly printed libelous statements that Jackson’s wife, Rachel, was a bigamist. It seems that defending her honor was at the root of most of the 13 different duels that Andrew Jackson won. Though he earned a reputation as a hothead, he went on to serve 2 terms as President of the United States. He maintained that he was just playing by the rules.

So, today we give thanks for a justice system that has evolved!
(Photo credit: www.dailypress.com)

Justin O’Dell Featured as a Leader of Cobb

Community recognition is a great honor for any professional because it validates success in achieving goals and establishing reputation. Not only has Justin O’Dell been recognized in the legal community, but he is also honored to be featured in Cobb In Focus magazine’s May/June issue as a Leader of Cobb. Justin devotes time and resources to various non-proft organizations and civic groups in Cobb County because he believes strongly in the founding mission of O’Dell & O’Neal Attorneys – to serve clients and community. Read Justin’s story and you will understand his devotion to his community and appreciate his eagerness to serve clients who find themselves in difficult circumstances.

Justin ODell Cobb In Focus profile

Justin O’Dell at 2013 Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Stars Reception

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn March 21st, Justin attended the 2013 Georgia Super Lawyers and Rising Star Reception at the Mason Murer Fine Art Studio in Atlanta. Justin was honored as one of the 100 Rising Stars in Georgia for 2013. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor. The selection for this respected list is made by the research team at Super Lawyers.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-­‐phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

Pandora’s Inbox

Justin Leslie at table croppedCommunicating with Represented Parties

Part 2 of 3

By Justin O’Dell & Leslie O’Neal

In Part 1 of Pandora’s Inbox, counsel for Arcadis employees inadvertently sent an e-mail intended for the employees to Arcadis. Arcadis then failed to notify employee’s counsel of the error, and instead used the privileged information in their counterclaim. Following this activity, the ABA issued two advisory opinions on August 4, 2011 addressing the use of e-mail communications with counsel.

ABA Opinion 11-459 addresses the duty of counsel to protect the confidentiality of e-mail communications with clients. It states in summary:

A lawyer sending or receiving substantive communications with a client via e-mail or other electronic means ordinarily must warn the client about the risk of sending or receiving electronic communications using a computer or other device, or e-mail account, where there is a significant risk that a third party may gain access. In the context of representing an employee, this obligation arises, at the very least, when the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the client is likely to send or receive substantive client-lawyer communications via e-mail or other electronic means, using a business device or system under circumstances where there is a significant risk that the communications will be read by the employer or another third party.

For most litigants, the most common issue involves the sending or receiving of e-mails through a company provided e-mail account or accessing e-mails through a company computer.  Most mid to large sized companies are required to monitor and secure employee e-mails for regulatory, compliance or insurance related purposes.  Most employees are deemed to consent to the monitoring and review as a condition of employment.  In 1999, the ABA concluded that a lawyer does not violate the duty of confidentiality by merely sending a non-encrypted e-mail.  ABA Op. 99-413 (1999) (“Protecting the Confidentiality of Unencrypted E-Mail”).  The decision was based on the presumption that an e-mail account contained a reasonable expectation of privacy.  That expectation is diminished, however, when the account is knowingly monitored by an employer.  The opinion notes that the case law thus far indicates a wide disparity as to under what circumstances such e-mails will be considered privileged.

The ABA opinion provides that, until presented with information to the contrary, one should assume that all employer e-mails accounts are monitored.  As a result, an ethical obligation arises given a significant risk that the communications will be read by the employer or another third party.   The ABA recommends that the attorney warn the client, at a minimum, of the following:

  1. The client has engaged in, or has indicated an intent to engage in, e-mail communications with counsel;
  2. The client is employed in a position that would provide access to a workplace device or system;
  3. Given the circumstances, the employer or a third party has the ability to access the e-mail communications; and
  4. As far as the lawyer knows, the employer’s internal policy and the jurisdiction’s laws do not clearly protect the privacy of the employee’s personal e-mail communications via a business device or system.

In addition, the ABA concludes that in these circumstances it may also be required that the lawyer specifically refrain from communicating with the client via an employer account and instruct the client to act likewise. Part 3 of Pandora’s Inbox will look at the duty a lawyer has when in receipt of copies of e-mails.

March Madness for Leslie O’Neal

Leslie in court cropped.Successful Appeal in Venable v.
Parker Cited by Michael Jordan

On March 4, 2013, basketball legend Michael Jordan was served with a paternity action here in Georgia.   Upon being served with the lawsuit, Jordan immediately asked for the Court to dismiss it, noting that the Plaintiff’s son had already been the subject of a custody, visitation, and child support order in the Plaintiff’s divorce from her former husband.  Jordan’s attorney argued that because paternity had already been established through that divorce decree, the issue could not be revisited.  Jordan’s attorney quoted Leslie O’Neal’s Venable case, stating “Courts of this State have repeatedly held that ‘public policy is not advanced by the disestablishment of legitimacy and paternity’. Venable v. Parker, 307 Ga. App. 880 (Ga. App. 2011).”  Shortly thereafter, the Plaintiff dismissed her lawsuit.

Ms. O’Neal has been hired often to assist clients who are unhappy with the result of their trial and feel that the trial court made a mistake in its final ruling. Prior to the cited Court of Appeals decision, Leslie represented Ms. Venable, a mother in a paternity action in the Superior Court of Cobb County.  Following the trial court’s ruling, Leslie pursued an appeal on Ms. Venable’s behalf to the Georgia Appellate Courts.  On February 16, 2011, the Georgia Court of Appeals found in Ms. Venable’s favor and reversed the trial court’s decision.  The Court of Appeals ruling in Venable has since been cited frequently in cases and law review articles as legal authority on the issue of paternity.

To learn more about the paternity action, refer to the AJC’s article here:  http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/paternity-suit-against-michael-jordan-dropped/nWwcC/


Pandora’s Inbox

Justin Leslie at table croppedCommunicating with Represented Parties

Part 1 of 3

By Justin O’Dell & Leslie O’Neal

The widespread use of e-mail by lawyers and clients has opened a “Pandora’s box” of ethical issues and traps for the unwary.  Whereas litigators opine that the “E” in e-mail stands for Evidence, bar associations are finding that it also stands for “Ethical Violations.”  A lawyer in California recently learned the distinction in Terraphase Engineering, Inc., et al. v. Arcadis, U.S., Inc., (N.D. Cal. 2010).

At Arcadis, a group of employees were preparing to leave the company to form their own competing company.  Prior to litigation, the employees’ attorney attempted to send an e-mail to his clients, but due to “autocomplete” accidentally sent the e-mail to Arcadis.  The e-mail found its way to in-house counsel who then forwarded the same to outside counsel.  Neither notified the employees’ counsel, but instead used the e-mail as a basis for the Counterclaim ultimately filed in the lawsuit.  The employees’ counsel realized that the information could not have been known but for the e-mail and questioned counsel for Arcadis who admitted receiving and reading the privileged information.

The employees’ counsel filed a Motion which sought only to prohibit Arcadis from use of the privileged information.  Arcadis fashioned many arguments, including a particularly inventive claim that the rules of professional conduct did not apply because there was no active litigation between the parties at the time the e-mail was sent.  The Court ultimately went beyond the Plaintiff’s request and disqualified Arcadis’ outside counsel.  In addition the in-house counsel, who reviewed the e-mails, ordered Arcadis to dismiss its counterclaim without prejudice, to re-file the pleading with new counsel and awarded $40,000.00 in fees to the employees.

Not surprisingly, the use of e-mail was the subject of two of the 2011 ABA advisory opinions.  Issued on August 4, 2011, Opinion 11-459 addressed the duty to protect confidentiality of e-mail communications with a client and 11-460 addressed the duty when a lawyer receives copies of e-mail communications with counsel.  In Parts 2 and 3 of “Pandora’s Inbox”, we will take a closer look at the impact of these 2 ABA advisory opinions and the issues confronting the use of email communications between attorney and client.