Don’t steal from the elderly and diminished. It’s elder abuse.

The Judge asked from the Bench: “Why isn’t this Elder Abuse? I’m glad you called the police” after a real estate agent got a woman with dementia to sign over her $230,000.00 house to her son, for $60,000.00. Important enough ruling to make Metro Jury Verdicts.

Byrd & Byrd successful in returning home to elderly woman with diminished capacity.  As reported in the March, 2019 issue of DC Metro Verdict Search, Byrd & Byrd trial attorneys Timothy Leahy and Patricia Cleary urged the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County to return Waltraut Ciccone’s home to her estate after she was approached by a real estate agent who befriended her and then arranged for her son to purchase the $230,000 home from Ms. Ciccone for $60,000.  In addition the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County jury verdicts article ordered the defendants’ to pay the sum $25,000 subject to an accounting for legitimate expenses.


Posted in Profiles | Leave a comment

Don’t mess with Texas – or a Judgment against you anywhere!


Although I’m a Maryland and D.C. attorney a recent Texas child support case makes the point that you should never ignore a lawsuit and probably need an attorney to deal with it or any judgment that is ever entered against you.

A Texas man, Gabriel Cornejo, was recently ordered to pay his ex-girlfriend $65,000.00 in back child support for a child that is not biologically his even after a DNA test last year proved he is not the father.

People get default judgments against them all the time, ususally because they didn’t file an answer to a complaint or didn’t show up for court.

More frequently than you’d think someone comes into my office with a judgment, that they didn’t know about, against them for thousands, or tens of thousands, of dollars. Often this is because the Plaintiff claimed to have served them with the Complaint but really didn’t. This can happen when someone with a similar name is served or the process server claims to have served anther individual “living” with the defendant.

In Maryland, interest accrues on the judgment at the rate of 10% so a $20,000.00 judgment becomes $22,000.00 just one year later. In two years its $24,000.00, and in three years . . . You can imagine how the number grows for a judgment that catches up to you years later.

The Texas case involving $65,000.00 in back child support from 2003 is because an ex-girlfriend claimed there was no way that Cornejo was not the father of her child although he was not present for any 2003 hearing on paternity or support.

Cornejo claims that he never knew about the child support order until last year when he took a paternity test to proved he was not the child’s father. Allegedly there are court documents that “suggest, but don’t prove,” that Cornejo was served a subpoena years ago about the child support, but the court entered judgment anyway.

The lesson for anyone with a default judgment is that you can fight it, even years later, but the longer you wait the harder it will be to prove you weren’t served. In Maryland, evidence that you knew about the judgment, or found out at some point, can start the clock ticking for a reasonable amount of time after which no judge will let you try to vacate the judgment.

If you find out that there is a judgment against you, don’t stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away. Take action sooner rather than later as the problem, judgment, and interest, will only get worse.

Posted in Profiles | Leave a comment

Corroborating Witness No Longer Required for Maryland Divorce

If you are seeking a divorce in Maryland it might surprise you to learn that up until October 1, 2016 couples were required to have a corroborating witness testify as to their divorce grounds. To get a divorce based on a 12-month separation the corroborating witness would have to testify in court that the divorcing couple had not spent even one night together or resumed marital relations in those last 12 months. If they had done either of those things the couple could not get a divorce and would have to start over. One problem with the corroborating witness requirement, at least for a divorce based on a 12-month separation, was that it was impossible for a witness to truly know that a couple had been separate and apart as the witness did not have the couple under 24-hour surveillance. Section (B) of Maryland Family Law Sec. 7-101 was deleted and eliminated the requirement that a corroborating witness testify.

The change in Maryland divorce law effectively made it easier for couples to get divorced. Some argued against the change, as a matter of public policy, as it made it easier for couples to divorce and discouraged attempts at reconciliation. However, the change is consistent with Maryland’s recent efforts to make it easier to get divorced including recently adding a no-fault ground for divorce based on just a mutual agreement between the couple resolving all their marital issues.

Posted in Profiles | Leave a comment

More Red Light Scameras in Montgomery County

Image result for red light cameraIt’s hard for people to take the time off from work to fight malfunctioning speed and red light cameras which have fines ranging from $40 to $75 dollars. But if we don’t, or don’t get our elected officials to remove these revenue generators we’re going to have more drivers victimized like what is happening in Montgomery County right now.

Montgomery County has turned off a red-light camera at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Seminary Road following a 7 ON YOUR SIDE I-Team investigation. But, calls have now surfaced for the county to reimburse drivers for thousands of tickets and nearly $350,000 in fines, which some say should all be paid back because of how the camera is timed.Maryland State Highway Administration policy mandates yellow light times be a minimum of three and a half seconds. this light is just under three seconds. Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation’s had 19 months to retime the light. It hasn’t, and the camera continued to issue tickets. Montgomery County had no problem breaking the law about the camera contractor not getting a fee per ticket. Montgomery County still values raising cash over the law


Posted in Profiles | Leave a comment

A Caution:  Underage Drinking, Adult Responsibility, Thanksgiving & Other Good Times

Image result for underage drinkingThanksgiving is a time when family and friends get together to say thanks for all the good things in our lives. Parties are good things in our lives. Someone may drink too much. If alcohol is served, we have to be aware of when we ourselves may have drunk too much and should not drive an automobile. Nobody wants a good time to turn into a tragedy.

People are used to thinking about their own level of drinking in part because the consequences of an alcohol related accident can result in criminal charges and injuries to themselves or others involved in the accident. However, people may not think how they might be responsible for somebody else’s drinking and accidents. Maryland has long resisted dram shop laws making bars and restaurants responsible for drunk patrons who cause injury after drinking at that bar or restaurant. However, Maryland Courts have recently extended liability to adults who allow minors to drink on their property.

You may have heard of people who allow minors to drink at their home, perhaps on the theory that ‘they are going to drink somewhere at least they are safe at my home.’ Anyone who rationalizes underage drinking in that way may find themselves criminally and civilly liable for the damages caused by underage people who drank at their home. Maryland Criminal Law § 10-117(b) states that an adult may not knowingly and willfully allow an individual under the age of 21 to possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at their residence unless under subsection (c) the person under 21 is a member of that adult’s immediate family.

Public policy underlying this potential criminal and civil liability is that underage persons are not solely responsible for drinking alcohol on an adult’s property because they are not competent to handle the effects, or fully understand the effects, of alcohol.

To make sure we enjoy Thanksgiving, or any other good time, remember to give thanks for those who encourage all of us to protect ourselves and our children.  Don’t forget  to encourage everyone to be safe and responsible.

Posted in Profiles | Leave a comment