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MRR Continues Growth in Columbus with Addition of Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas

Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Assumes Of Counsel Role in Firm’s Columbus Office

Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., LPA is pleased to announce that Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas has joined the firm’s Columbus office as Of Counsel in the Public Sector & Business Law Groups. Douglas joins MRR to lend his extensive knowledge of the public and private sector landscape in Ohio, along with his depth and breadth of experience as an Ohio Supreme Court Justice, having served three terms on the high court from 1985 to 2002.

Joseph F. Nicholas, Jr., MRR President and Managing Partner said of Justice Douglas’ addition to the team, “Andy is very well known and highly respected for his deep and far-reaching understanding of the many types of issues faced by our public sector and business clients. We are honored to have him on board and look forward to be able to call on his knowledge and experience that will surely benefit our clients.”

His many accomplishments include serving as special counsel to the Attorney General of Ohio, nine-time elected Toledo City Councilman, as well as working as an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio Dominican College and the University of Toledo Community and Technical Colleges. Justice Douglas served in the U.S. Army Infantry and Signal Corps, from 1954-1956, where he obtained the rank of first lieutenant. He also was a partner with the law firm of Winchester & Douglas in 1960 where he practiced law in Toledo and Lucas County for 20 years, before being elected to the 6th District Court of Appeals in 1980.

Since 2009, Douglas has focused his practice on Complex Litigation, Business Law, and Public Sector Law.

He is a member of the Ohio State, Columbus, Lucas County, and Toledo Bar Associations, in addition to the American Judicature Society, National Political Honor Society, The North Toledo Oldtimers’ Football Association (Trustee), and The Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association. Douglas earned his law degree from The University of Toledo – College of Law.

Over the course of his three terms on the Ohio Supreme Court, Justice Douglas published more than 900 judicial opinions, and he was regarded by many of his colleagues in the legal profession as one of the most intelligent and best-prepared members of the high court during his service.

“His unique understanding of federal government and judiciary procedures along with his reputation within the State and Columbus area are strong assets for our firm,” said Doug Holthus, MRR’s Columbus Office Administrative Partner. “We are thrilled to have him on our team.”

MRR Sponsors 2018 WELD Leadership Conference

MRR  is proud to sponsor the Women For Economic and Leadership Development’s (WELD) 2018 Leadership Conference “Acceleration of Change” at Otterbein College in Columbus on Thursday, June 7.

Partners Tami Hannon and Lisa Gentile will attend this sold out conference where MRR is the featured sponsor of the breakout session, ” Connect on Purpose: Building Meaningful Relationships.” Nearly 600 attendees are expected to attend this blockbuster event.

Visit www.weldoh.org for more information.

David M. Smith Promoted to Partner at Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder

Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder, Co., L.P.A. (MRR), is proud to announce the promotion of attorney David M. Smith to partner. David is based in the firm’s Cleveland office.

David joined MRR in 2013 as an associate. He focuses his practice on civil rights and government liability, and employment and labor law, as well as representing clients in a wide range of general liability matters including business disputes. Mr. Smith regularly represents clients in State and Federal Courts throughout Ohio, before the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and has successfully represented clients in arbitrations under the American Arbitration Association and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services.

“We are very proud of David’s accomplishments and extremely pleased to welcome him as a partner,” said MRR Managing Partner and President Joe Nicholas. “We look forward to his ongoing contributions to the firm and our clients.”

In addition to his current work, David has considerable experience handling commercial and residential real estate matters, contract disputes, appellate proceedings and administrative appeals. He began his legal career as the City of Cleveland Heights’ Assistant Prosecutor/Assistant Law Director.

Mr. Smith is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the Defense Research Institute, where he serves as the Civil Rights & Governmental Committee Membership Chair. A graduate of Heidelberg University in 2002, David went on to earn his J.D. from Cleveland State University – Marshall College of Law.

 

MRR sponsors Kentucky League of Cities 2017 “City Employee of the Year” Award

The Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) has announced its annual awards for Elected City Official of the Year, the City Employee of the Year and Enterprise Cities Awards for innovative city programs and projects. The winners were recognized on October 4 at the KLC Conference & Expo in Covington, Kentucky.

The City Employee of the Year Award, sponsored by Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder (MRR), brings recognition to an exceptional city employee who performs at a distinguished level to improve his or her local government and community. This year there was a tie resulting in two winners, Simpsonville City Administrator David Eaton and Georgetown City Attorney/Chief of Staff Andrew Hartley. 

MRR provides a $500 donation to the charitable choice of each winner.  To view the short awards video, click here.

Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder’s Christina Vessels Admitted to Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel

Christina Vessels(Lexington, KY – April 28, 2016) – Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder (MRR) is pleased to announce that partner Christina L. Vessels (Chrissy) has been admitted as a member of the invitation-only Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC). Established in 1936, the FDCC is composed of recognized leaders in the legal community who have achieved professional distinction, and is dedicated to promoting knowledge, fellowship, and professionalism of its members as they pursue the course of a balanced justice system and represent those in need of a defense in civil lawsuits.

“Not only is Chrissy a skilled attorney, she is a remarkable person who commits her time and expertise to great local and national organizations like the FDCC,” said Joe Nicholas, MRR President and Managing Partner.

Ms. Vessels focuses her practice on insurance defense and coverage, professional liability defense, bad faith and extra contractual litigation, governmental liability, and appellate law. She represents a wide variety of clients including individuals, small businesses, and national corporations. She is AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale Hubbell Law Directory and also has been named a Kentucky Super Lawyer “Rising Star” since 2013.

In addition to her FDCC membership, Chrissy also belongs to the Defense Research Institute (DRI), where she serves on the Government & Municipal Liability Committee (Publications Chair and Women in the Law Liaison), and on the Insurance Law and Women in the Law Committees. Active in a number of professional organizations, she is a member of both the Kentucky Bar Association and Fayette County Bar Association, in addition to the Kentucky Defense Counsel. Chrissy earned her J.D. from The University of Kentucky College of Law, and her B.A. from Western Kentucky University.

 

Law Enforcement Blog: Use of Force Policies and Procedures: Lessons from the Big Apple

By: Christina L. Vessels, Esq.

Last October, the Office of the Inspector General for the New York Police Department published a Report entitled “Police Use of Force in New York City: Findings and Recommendations on NYPD’s Policies and Practices.” The Report focuses on five aspects of use of force within the NYPD: (1) trends; (2) reporting; (3) de-escalation; (4) training; and (5) discipline.

There are several significant findings in this 62-page Report. Perhaps most notable is the Report’s conclusion that “NYPD’s current use-of-force policy is vague and imprecise, providing little guidance to individual officers on what actions constitute force.” The OIG’s recommendation is for NYPD to adopt a more precise use-of-force Patrol Guide procedure that includes greater clarity on what is meant by “force,” “excessive force,” and “deadly force.”

The Report also states that NYPD’s current procedure for documenting and reporting force incidents needs improvement. There is currently no centralized, uniform use-of-force reporting mechanism, and there are problems with the way officers are describing incidents of force after they occur. NYPD officers often fail to use sufficiently descriptive language that properly captures the specifics of an encounter. The Report suggests the creation of a new reporting form in which officers articulate the type, nature, and seriousness of resistance exhibited by the citizen that preceded and necessitated the use of force. Officers are also urged to reference whether other officers used force and the timing of the use of force.

These are just some highlights. You can find the Report in its entirety here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/oignypd/assets/downloads/pdf/oig_nypd_use_of_force_report_-_oct_1_2015.pdf

If an independent agency were to closely examine your Department’s use-of-force policy, what conclusions would it draw? How can your policy be improved?


For questions or more information on “Use of Force Policies and Procedures: Lessons from the Big Apple,” contact:

Christina L. Vessels  – MRR Lexington
Phone: 859.899.8515
Fax: 859.899.8498
Email: cvessels@mrrlaw.com

MRR’s Columbus Office Expands with Addition of Partners Doug Holthus and Elisabeth “Lisa” Gentile

Holthus.Gentile PR PhotoMRR is pleased to announce the addition of two attorneys to its Columbus office. The new lawyers joined MRR on January 18, 2016. They represent clients in a number of practice areas, including medical defense, auto and commercial trucking, insurance coverage and bad faith, restaurant and retail defense, corporate law, public sector law, civil rights and government liability, real estate, and professional and product liability.

The attorneys joining MRR are Partners Doug Holthus and Elisabeth “Lisa” Gentile.

“We are thrilled to expand our services in Columbus with the addition of these highly talented attorneys,” MRR President and Managing Partner Joseph F. Nicholas, Jr. said. “Both Lisa and Doug bring to the firm expertise in a number of practice areas, a set of exceptional legal skills, and a client-focused commitment to excellence.”

Founding Partner Todd M. Raskin also noted that it’s a homecoming for Lisa Gentile and the firm couldn’t be more pleased to have her back on the team. She began her career at MRR as a law clerk.

“Both attorneys’ backgrounds allows for MRR to respond to demands from clients requesting the greater depth and expertise necessary to service their increasingly sophisticated legal needs,” stated Mr. Nicholas. “The strengthening of MRR’s Columbus office will allow the firm to better serve and develop new clients on a regional level, while continuing to provide a full range of legal services through its collaborative practice model involving more than 38 lawyers in three offices.

MRR Ohio Legislation Update: December 18, 2015 – December 31, 2015

Notes from the Senate:

  • S.B. No. 256 was introduced to generally require law enforcement agencies to maintain a policy designed to eliminate biased policing and status-based profiling

For questions or more information on MRR’s Ohio Legislation Updates, contact:

Stacy V. Pollock  – MRR Columbus
Phone: 614.324.0163
Email: spollock@mrrlaw.com

Stacy Pollock 8860

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Getting Social – How Law Enforcement Can (And Should) Be Using Social Media

By: Curtis M. Graham, Esq.

There is no question that social networking websites have changed the way we live and connect. These sites have also presented opportunities and challenges for law enforcement departments around the country. From community outreach to criminal investigations, it is clear that law enforcement officials have a valuable new tool at their disposal. However, it is critical that they understand how to properly use these sites and avoid common pitfalls.

A recent survey found that Facebook is the most fruitful social network for law enforcement, followed by YouTube. The various social media outlets can be searched when law enforcement officials suspect that a particular individual may be openly boasting about criminal activity or posting incriminating photographs or videos online. Officials may also receive tips through their department’s home page which can then be followed up on. If there is an urgent situation (such as a credible threat of violence), officials may file an emergency request with the site to access information. However, many sites have their own legal teams to review requests and the standard for having such a request granted is very high.

The creation of a sound internal policy is the first step toward using social media to an agency’s benefit. Drafting this policy will require consideration of a number of issues, the most important being compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The logical starting point is the Fourth Amendment, which provides that every person has the right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” of their “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” Officials should be mindful that the degree of Fourth Amendment protection is almost entirely dependent upon the location from which information is seized, the method of its collection and the type of information obtained. Another source of guidance is 28 CFR Part 23, which is a standard for law enforcement agencies that operate federally funded, multijurisdictional criminal intelligence systems. The purpose behind the regulation is to protect individuals’ privacy and constitutional rights during the collection, storage and dissemination of criminal intelligence information.

Each social networking website features its own unique characteristics; this means a one-size-fits-all approach to drafting a policy should be avoided. However, it is always a good idea to be educated about privacy settings and terms-of-service requirements that seem to apply across all platforms. As just one example, photographs that are posted on public, unrestricted profile pages are treated differently than information on pages viewable only by “friends” of the user when it comes to privacy expectations.

With the abundance of information now available online, law enforcement agencies must take steps to ensure that they are following the law when they gather and act on that information. A thorough social media policy can go a long way in achieving that goal.


For questions or more information on “Getting Social – How Law Enforcement Can (And Should) Be Using Social Media,” contact:


Curtis M. Graham  – MRR Lexington
Phone: 859.899.8516
Fax: 859.899.8498
Email: cgraham@mrrlaw.com

MRR Article: Long Term Experience Need Not Apply!

Can Requesting Certain Experience Levels Expose You to Liability for Age Discrimination?

By: Tami Z. Hannon, Esq.

We’ve all seen the ads – “seeking a candidate with 5 – 7 years of experience” or “seeking entry level candidates.” But at some point do these ads put you and your company at risk for a claim of age discrimination?  That was just the issue recently addressed by Ohio’s Tenth District Court of Appeals in the case of Ceglia v. Youngstown State University when the Court was called upon to determine whether a request for a “mid-career level” applicant was code for age discrimination.

In that case, Youngstown State sought an applicant for a full-time instructor position. The plaintiff, who had over 20 years of experience, applied for the position. When he was not interviewed or selected for the position, the plaintiff asked why. He was told that the University was looking for “mid-career” applicants and not “someone who had been around for a long time.” Neither of these requirements was expressly stated in the job posting. Instead, the University chose to hire a 44-year old applicant who had little prior teaching experience.

The plaintiff sued alleging age discrimination. The Court of Claims dismissed the case, finding that the search committee had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for not offering the position to the plaintiff in light of alleged past performance issues. The plaintiff appealed. The Tenth District Court of Appeals reversed the decision, finding that it was a question for the jury as to whether “mid-career level” and not wanting “someone who had been around for a long time” was actually code for age discrimination.

In addressing these issues, the Court reasoned that these comments created an inference that the Committee denied the applicant the position because of his age, despite the Committee’s statements that they were referring to career experience. Further troubling to the Court was the fact that the position was awarded to someone who was NOT a mid-career level individual. While the Court did not ultimately determine whether there was in fact discrimination, the Court found that there was enough evidence to present the case to a jury. In other words, the court was not willing to dismiss the case without going to a full trial.

So what can you do to protect yourself from similar claims?

  • Clearly state what qualifications are being sought in the job posting. Make certain any specified qualifications are related to the position being sought and the needs of the organization.
  • Focus on the needs of the position, not the qualifications of the candidate – especially qualifications that can directly relate to the age of a candidate. For example, rather than “mid-career level” applicant, use phrases such as “entry-level position” or “mid-level position” to refer to the job level.
  • Interview applicants that fit within the parameters of the stated requirements and qualifications for your job. If you are listing a requirement in your posting, the individuals interviewed and selected should fit within those requirements.

In light of developing and changing laws, it is always a good idea to constantly review hiring procedures. If you have any questions or concerns about your practices or policies, please contact MRR and we would be happy to review those with you.


For questions or more information on “Long Term Experience Need Not Apply!,” contact:


Tami Z. Hannon  – MRR Cleveland
Phone: 440.424.0009
Fax: 440.248.8861
Email: thannon@mrrlaw.com