Year: 2012

Flagstaff Lawyer: Mere Presence Defense

Written by Bruce S. Griffen, Esq.

The “mere presence defense” – ignored (by prosecutors), underutilized (by defense attorneys). But does it work for Arizona criminal defense lawyers?

In the Flagstaff, and all of Arizona, criminal defense world, there commonly are situations where the “mere presence defense” has application. Prosecutors seem to have complete memory loss when it comes to this area of law. As concerns defense lawyers, this defense appears recognized but underutilized. The more important question, however, is whether the defense works. Consider the following three fact patterns:

1. A pickup truck is stopped on the highway for a traffic violation. The two people inside consent to a search. The truck bed is closed with a hard cover. No one has keys to the locked cover. 200 lbs. of marijuana are found inside. Upon being Mirandized, one occupant clams. The other adamantly denies any knowledge of any contraband.

2. Four teenagers out late at night in a vehicle. The car has a tail light out and is stopped by the police. Upon a routine check, the car comes back as stolen that afternoon. The driver, upon questioning, admits that the car belongs to his stepmother and he took the car without permission. He tells the officer, however, that the other 3 kids in the car, all friends of his, had no knowledge that the car was stolen. Under Arizona law, every occupant is presumed guilty of joyriding.

3. College party at a friend’s apartment. Some people are drinking. Some people are openly using recreational drugs. Police get called because a neighbor complains about loud noise. Police enter and in plain view, on the kitchen counter, they observe cocaine. After questioning of three people, which produces no information regarding possession/ownership, everybody in the kitchen is arrested.

These are real, and frankly, common fact patterns that we see at the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC. In every case, indictments were secured by the prosecutor at a grand jury proceeding. In every case, the prosecutor did not instruct the grand jury on the potential applicability of the mere presence defense.

The mere presence defense is easy to understand: it is simply a refinement of the well known “wrong place at the wrong time” dilemma. It is a classic Murphy’s law situation.

The defense technically reads as follows:

Guilt cannot be established by the defendant’s mere presence at a crime scene, mere association with another person at a crime scene or mere knowledge that a crime is being committed. The fact that the defendant may have been present, or knew that a crime was being committed, does not in and of itself make the defendant guilty of the crime charged. One who is merely present is a passive observer who lacked criminal intent and did not participate in the crime.

See Arizona Criminal Defense Jury Instructions.

So, while the prosecution doesn’t like to instruct a grand jury about the mere presence defense, the defense is absolutely available under Arizona law.

But is it viable?

Jurors, if they can relate to a defense, are more likely to accept it. For instance, entrapment, as a defense, is generally a difficult sell. Because you must concede wrongdoing in order to gain benefit of the defense, jurors seem generally predisposed against the defense. The same situation is often the case with self-defense. Even though the law may not require retreat, jurors commonly question the defense where there was a “walk away” alternative.

But haven’t we all been, at some time or another, in the mere presence scenario? Present when your brother or sister did something stupid. Your spouse didn’t clue you in on something he/she was doing wrong. Or the concerning situation where you are present when criminal conduct is ongoing (i.e., use of drugs) but you are consciously and purposefully not participating.

The point to be made is that the defense is underutilized and has a higher degree of possible success than is otherwise usually available.

Practical tip from Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC: if there is any significant fact that works against the mere presence defense, it may not be viable. For instance, your fingerprints on the marijuana packaging, in example # 1 makes the defense likely untenable. In fact pattern #2, a text message found on a passenger’s phone, which reads “I’m cruisin’ with Mike. We’re in this really sweet ride that he ripped off from his evil stepmother” certainly would not be helpful. As concerns case # 3, a positive urine test for cocaine might make the mere presence argument un-winable. So, if thorough investigation produces no factor significantly inconsistent with the mere presence defense, the defense should be viewed as one with significant upside and potential.

Conclusion

Carefully investigate the potential utilization of the mere presence defense. Prosecutors don’t like it because it is a jury-friendly defense… something we can all relate to.

Written by Bruce S. Griffen
Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC

How to Choose a Flagstaff Lawyer

What is a free legal consultation? What can you talk about during a consultation with a lawyer? How do you choose a lawyer in Flagstaff, or anywhere in Arizona, for your legal issues? We offer this article as part of our series on Free Legal Consultations in Arizona. This article does not contain legal advice. These are tips and pointers on how to go about choosing the right lawyer or law firm for your legal issue in Flagstaff or any part of Northern Arizona. We are a regional law firm in Arizona.

1. What is your legal issue?

Practical tip from Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC: Don’t hire a law firm that claims to do everything. Choose a lawyer whose expertise fits your legal issue.

If you read any part of our website, you will see that we are Flagstaff’s criminal defense and personal injury law firm. If your legal issue is not criminal defense, and not personal injury, you should be looking for lawyers who specifically handle your type of issue. Why? Because lawyers may be trained in multiple areas of law, but those who are experts in particular areas are more likely to handle your issue efficiently and effectively. Would you hire a dentist to perform knee surgery? Of course not. So, read the law firm’s website. See what they do best. Don’t hire a law firm that claims to do everything. And call the right lawyer for your legal issue.

2. Is it really a free consultation?

Practical tip from Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC: Make sure it’s really free. And make sure it’s a consultation, not a sales pitch. There are two parts to that question. When speaking with a Flagstaff or Arizona lawyer, you should feel free to ask direct questions. Is your discussion really free of charge? The better question, however, is whether you are really getting a consultation. How quickly does the lawyer ask you for money? Does the lawyer share any information about the law, or simply speak in generalities? Does the lawyer seem to be approachable and knowledgeable?

When you first speak with a lawyer, you can assess whether you and the lawyer communicate effectively. Are you comfortable? Is the lawyer answering your questions? You can sense if the lawyer is rushing you, or not knowledgeable about the law pertaining to your legal issue. Feel free to ask the lawyer, at your convenience, about rates and costs. But before you shop around for the cheapest price, remember: you get what you pay for. An experienced, sophisticated, successful trial lawyer may be worth the price… and may just get you a better result than a cheaper lawyer.

That said, don’t overpay. Also, when consulting with a lawyer, except in rare circumstances, your discussion is confidential and privileged. That means you don’t have to withhold any facts. The lawyer will need to know what is going on in order to effectively help you. If a lawyer does not ask for your version of the facts, there may be something wrong. Make sure you get a true consultation. If you didn’t learn anything about Arizona law or your legal issue, then you didn’t get a consultation at all.

3. What’s the plan?

Practical tip from Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC: Watch out for the sales pitch. Go deeper than that. Learn about your legal issue. If a lawyer simply scares you, or tries to impress you by speaking highly of himself or herself, think about whether the lawyer has a real plan to help you. The first thing we do at Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC after a legal consultation is come up with a plan. How are we going to attack this case?

For an injured person, we immediately plan an investigation and collect medical records so that we have the ammunition to secure a meaningful settlement down the road. For criminal defense, we strategize with our clients based on numerous factors. If you leave a legal consultation feeling like there is no plan for your case, something is wrong.

Don’t just pay a lawyer and hope for the best. Make sure he or she has a plan or strategy that is specific to your legal issue and the variables surrounding it. A truly free legal consultation should leave you feeling better about your legal situation, not worse. You should be more knowledgeable about the law. And you should have a gut feeling on which lawyer is right for you.

Flagstaff Injury Lawyers: Motorcycle Accidents

In personal injury cases, motor vehicle accidents (MVA’s) are often most serious when a motorcycle is involved. In this article, we discuss how we help motorcycle accident victims in Flagstaff and surrounding areas of Northern Arizona.

Injury cases revolve around the legal concept of negligence, which by law is broken down into four (4) parts: duty, breach, causation, and damages. When a person is injured or, sadly, killed in an accident, the first question is, “Why?” Who did it? Who messed up? There is no reason a person should be involved in a motorcycle accident. Someone must have made a mistake.

Our job as lawyers is to investigate and prove that you, or a loved one, deserves justice. We offer the complete package. When someone is hurt, we obtain their medical records and bills. We compile the data. We prove the case of negligence. And we push the insurance companies to pay up. If they don’t, we are expert trial lawyers.

Arizona, including Flagstaff, has specific laws and statutes relating to motorcycles. There are strict rules about carrying passengers on motorcycles.

Arizona law states that a person operating a motorcycle “shall ride only on the permanent and regular seat attached to the motorcycle” and that the motorcyclist “shall not carry any other person and any other person shall not ride on a motorcycle vehicle unless the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person.” See A.R.S. section 28-892.

There are other Arizona laws that explain that a person under 18 years old must wear a helmet on a motorcycle and that the motorcycle shall have a rearview mirror, seat and footrests. See A.R.S. section 28-964. There is also a “motorcycle safety fund” established by Arizona Revised Statutes, section 28-2010.

We are Flagstaff’s injury law firm. We are Flagstaff’s motorcycle accident law firm. To learn more about Flagstaff’s personal injury lawyers, just click on the link.

If you or a loved one is injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, call us immediately. We’ll start our investigation right away. And when it comes to insurance companies, settlements, and a lawsuit, you’ll want Flagstaff’s expert injury trial lawyers on your side.

 

Arizona Injury Law: Bouncers and Employees

“Never was anything great achieved without danger.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

Arizona police officers, bouncers, and security guards do not have the right to injure you, except under very specific circumstances. In this article, we share some insight into what happens when a person is injured by an employee of a business.

One of the most common “intentional tort” scenarios is when a security guard or a bouncer injures a customer or patron, or a police officer employed by a law enforcement department. A bouncer at a nightclub or bar does not have the right to injure people. Security guards do not have the authority to physically harm you. Bouncers and security guards may get a power trip as they attempt to control difficult situations. However, power trip or not, bouncers and security guards are not legally entitled to hurt you just because you are a patron of their business, even if you are causing some trouble. In rare circumstances, bouncers and security guards can use physical force upon you if it falls under a “justification” legally permitted in Arizona.

We can review your case to determine if the use of physical force against you was justified. In some cases, bouncers cause serious injury to customers and patrons. In those situations, you may be entitled to obtain money damages from the business for their employee’s (i.e., the bouncer’s) actions. In Arizona, if you are injured by an employee of a business (e.g., a restaurant, grocery store, Wal-Mart, bar, or nightclub), you may be able to recover damages from the business instead of the actual individual that harmed you.

This theory of liability is called respondeat superior liability.

Practical tip from Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC: If you are injured by an employee of a business, it is very important to make a good report of what happened. If the police or an ambulance are needed, utilize these services. Get all of the medical help you need. Find out who the witnesses are and make sure photographs are taken. Do not consent to an interview with the business owner or any representative of the business until you have a lawyer. Make an independent report with law enforcement (if appropriate), and contact us immediately so that we can get our investigators to work on your behalf.

Here is what respondeat superior liability means. An employer is responsible for the actions of its employee if the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment. To win a personal injury case based on the theory of respondeat superior liability, under Arizona law, you must prove that:

  1. The act was the kind that the employee was employed to perform;
  2. The act occurred within the time and space of the employment; and
  3. The act was motivated at least in part by a purpose to serve the employer.

There are two ways an employee and/or business can be responsible for harming a customer: intentional acts and negligence. Here we will discuss intentional acts that cause harm to another person. These are called intentional torts. The most common examples in our scenario of a bouncer attacking a patron at a bar or nightclub are the Arizona civil torts of “assault” and “battery.” To win a personal injury case involving assault or battery, under Arizona law, you must prove:

  1. The person intended to cause harm or offensive contact with you or to cause you to suffer apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact;
  2. The person caused you apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact or actually caused harmful or offensive contact; and
  3. You suffered damages as a result.

Practical tip from Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC: If you are injured by an employee of a business, such as a bouncer at a nightclub, contact us right away. We aggressively represent injured people and fight for justice. You shouldn’t have to pay your own medical bills when someone intentionally hurts you without justification. You are also entitled to compensation for pain and suffering.

We aggressively pursue personal injury cases in Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, Williams, Winslow, Holbrook, Kingman, and all across Northern Arizona.

Arizona Medical Marijuana’s Day In Court

Medical marijuana is legal in the State of Arizona. But the federal government’s archaic drug laws may undermine Arizona’s authority to permit the production, distribution, and/or use of medical marijuana.

Background

At the federal level, the drug cannabis (marijuana) is classified as a “Schedule I” substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. See 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. By their legal definition, Schedule I substances are deemed to have a high potential for dependency. Therefore, according to federal law, a controlled Schedule I substance has no medical use. A significant number of physicians, however, disagree with Congress on this issue.

Arizona voters passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act in 2010, permitting the use of medical marijuana within the State of Arizona. See A.R.S. § 36-2801 et seq. This law has no impact on the federal Controlled Substances Act. Instead, the law contradicts, for the most part, the federal law. However, Arizona citizens are not without support.

In October of 2009, President Obama’s Administration released a memo to its federal prosecutors encouraging them to not prosecute people who distribute marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with their state’s laws.

Arizona’s Medical Marijuana: Day In Court

Because Congress has been dragging its feet, there has been no amendment to the Controlled Substances Act. The possession and distribution of marijuana is a federal offense. So how can Arizona citizens pass a law saying otherwise? Well, that issue is being briefed and argued in Maricopa County Superior Court. See the article in the Arizona Daily Sun by clicking here.

You might be thinking… federal law is supreme… of course it supersedes Arizona’s wimpy state law… Well, think again. Actually, take a look at the U.S. Constitution. How often do you hear people talking about “free speech”, “freedom of religion”, and “search and seizure”? Those are all derived from the language of the Bill of Rights. But there is one very important amendment – the Tenth Amendment – that deserves serious consideration. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” That said, the U.S. Supreme Court has rarely declared a law unconstitutional on the basis of the Tenth Amendment. See, e.g., New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992).

In the modern era, the Court has only done so where the federal government compels the states to enforce federal statutes. The basic rule is: Congress cannot directly compel states to enforce federal regulations. Can we extend that to say that neither Congress, nor the Department of Justice, can compel the State of Arizona to honor, or not interfere with, the Controlled Substances Act? Does Arizona’s medical marijuana law actually “interfere” with the federal law at all? Why can’t the State of Arizona legalize marijuana and therefore not criminally prosecute anyone in the state court system for marijuana offenses?

That is essentially what is happening now. You can lawfully possess marijuana in Arizona under state law, but if you do, you are not immune to federal prosecution. But we all know the feds do not have the resources to target, arrest, and prosecute you for a small quantity of marijuana. We anxiously await the outcome of this overly dramatic legalization process. In the meantime, if you are arrested or charged with an Arizona or federal drug offense, call us today for aggressive and experienced criminal defense representation.

Flagstaff Underage Drinking & Drugs

The Flagstaff Police Department came out swinging in a headline newspaper article in the Arizona Daily Sun. (Read the entire article by clicking here.)

Sgt. James Jackson of the Flagstaff Police Department is quoted as saying, “The residents in this city are done being up all night . . . There’s gonna be strict enforcement on these violations of the quiet and peacefulness of a neighborhood.”

But what about your constitutional rights? What about the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”? Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Flagstaff police have been accused of over-broad, sweeping arrests of innocent people at these so-called “loud” parties. The police have been showing up with spotlights, paddy wagons, and have even gone so far as to obtain a search warrant to smash down the front door of a “party” house in full SWAT gear and then attack and arrest all of the partygoers. They spend hours arresting and booking these young adults into our jail. They cost taxpayers a fortune every weekend. And they make students out to be criminals.

In one case, the police officer arrested a person walking down the sidewalk who was not involved in any party. That is an unacceptable, inexcusable violation of that person’s constitutional rights. Meanwhile, somewhere else in Flagstaff, a person is dealing methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. But where are the police? They are busy doing “strict” enforcement of petty offenses.

Flagstaff Injury Lawyers: Comparative Negligence

Arizona’s personal injury laws favor comparable negligence (or contributory negligence) when more than one person is at fault for an injury and damages. This can be confusing when two or more vehicles are involved in a collision or accident in Northern Arizona, commonly referred to as a motor vehicle accident (MVA). That type of personal injury case leads to certain questions:

(1) Can both drivers be at fault? Yes. Sometimes both drivers are speeding, or one driver doesn’t use a turn signal properly and another driver fails to yield, causing a collision and injuries.

(2) What happens if both drivers are at fault?

That is where comparative negligence comes in. Arizona codified the comparative negligence laws in A.R.S. section 12-2505. According to the Arizona law, the defense of contributory negligence is a question to be determined by a jury in court. If there is contributory negligence, then “the full damages shall be reduced in proportion to the relative degree of the claimant’s fault which is a proximate cause of the injury or death, if any.” This means that if a jury determines that a driver is 25% at fault, but that another driver is 75% at fault, the driver who was 25% at fault shall be awarded damages in full, minus 25% of the total. It’s not fuzzy math – it’s personal injury law.

(3) If I am partially at fault for my own injury, should I give up?

No! Many people who are partially at fault can still be awarded damages. Recently in Flagstaff, a case went to a jury trial where a man slipped and fell on some ice, causing a serious injury to his leg, which subsequently needed to be amputated. The jury determined that the man’s damages were over $1 million, but that he was about 40% at fault. So the man was awarded the damages minus 40% of the total. He still walked away with significant damages.

Practical Tip from Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC: Always consult with a personal injury expert before you settle a claim with an insurance company. If you are being told that you were partially at fault, you can still “win” your case!

Drug Dogs & Searches in Arizona

In recent weeks in Northern Arizona, we have seen a surge of constitutionally questionable dog sniff cases, or “drug detection canine” cases.

The common scene is a person driving on I-40 or I-17 near Kingman, Seligman, Williams, Flagstaff, Winslow, or Holbrook (major target areas for drug dog cases). The officers pull the person over for trivial traffic violations, such as: illegal lane usage, speeding (sometimes 1 mph over the speed limit), unsafe following distance, or other trivial Arizona traffic law that is rarely enforced. The officers make the driver get out of the vehicle. The officers issue a “warning” for the bogus traffic violation and begin asking questions about drugs and illegal activity. The officers note nervousness or other “indicia” of drug trafficking. The officers then make the driver wait while they run a drug detection canine around the vehicle. The canine will breath heavily, snap its head around, bark, or claw. And with that, the cops grab your keys, open up your vehicle, invade your privacy, and pour through every personal item in your vehicle. If they find any contraband, you’ll be arrested on the side of the highway and jailed. This police process is ripe with constitutional violations.

And we love to fight back. Here are some things you should know.

Practical tip from Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC: If you are stopped for a trivial traffic violation, be polite, having your ID, registration, and insurance ready, and don’t be nervous. If the officer writes you a ticket or a warning, do not agree to speak about anything. Remain silent, but be cooperative. Do not agree to answer any questions about drugs or illegal activity. Once you have your ticket or warning and/or your ID back, ask the officer, “Am I free to leave?” If you are, then go. If he says no, exercise your right to remain silent. Do not consent to any search of your person or your vehicle.

A “sniff” by a drug detection canine of the air outside of a vehicle is not a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696 (1983). Nevertheless, Arizona prosecutors still have the burden of establishing probable cause for the warrantless search and seizure.

In another major drug dog case, Illinois v. Caballes, 125 S.Ct. 834 (2005), the Supreme Court held that the sniff of the exterior of a vehicle by a “well trained” drug detection canine during a “legitimate” traffic stop does not constitute a constitutionally cognizable intrusion upon legitimate privacy interests. But is the dog reliable? Why is a dark barking sufficient reason for the government to invade your private world against your will? Well, the State has to prove the dog is reliable and that the dog actually alerted to contraband. We have won “canine sniff” cases on several bases, including: handler cueing of the dog, bad alert, insufficient reliability of the dog, residual odor alert (which does not establish probable cause), lack of record-keeping on the dog, and many other factors.

Officers in Arizona cannot use dogs as a “free pass” to search any vehicle they want. But that’s what they are doing. To stop this unconstitutional behavior, we fight the validity of the traffic stop (bogus traffic violation), we demand information about the accuracy of the dog, and we challenge the actual dog alert and search in the court of law. The constitution may mean nothing on the side of the highway, but in court, your rights rule the day. And we’ll keep it that way.

Can Lance Armstrong and Barry Scheck Coexist?

Written by Bruce S. Griffen

For more than 30 years, I have been an in-the-trenches criminal defense lawyer. For more than 30 years, I have also participated in triathlons. I guess the connection is that competing in athletics was a way of relieving the stress of being a trial lawyer. I am not much on heroes. But I have had one in each of my passions. In the criminal defense world, it was lawyer Barry Scheck.

It was Barry Scheck because of the Innocence Project.

As most, both within and without the law know, the Innocence Project was, when really distilled down, a marriage of law and technology. We took technological/scientific advancement, DNA, and retroactively applied it to certain criminal convictions. DNA testing was able to be conducted on old forensic samples and, in case after case, proof secured that the individual was falsely convicted. This was great cause for celebration. It demonstrates that new technology can go back and correct fundamental injustice. (The Innocence Project is alive and well in Flagstaff at the Northern Arizona University Department of Criminal Justice.)

In my triathlon world, my obvious hero choice was Lance Armstrong. His talent, his cancer, his comeback, and his dedication to curing cancer, certainly makes for hero worship.

And then Barry Scheck nailed him.

The Innocence Project worked in reverse when it comes to Lance Armstrong. We took new technology, applied it to old blood samples, and were able to prove not innocence, but rather guilt. Seems to me this is a first: technological advancements reaching back, not to clear, but rather to convict. I’m not sure there’s ever been a time when DNA testing was conducted on an old case where someone was cleared rather than convicted. How would we feel about that? Is it okay, both socially and legally, to employ technology in that way?

The Lance Armstrong situation could, and perhaps should, create some debate. Die hard Lance fans have cried foul. They assert there exists a “statute of limitations” and that more than enough time had passed to leave Lance alone. Essentially, they claim that the reverse innocence project, which brought Lance down, was unfair and untimely. (The statute of limitations, for example, in an Arizona felony case is 7 years, except for very serious crimes the statute of limitations does not exist.)

We have legal concepts that help analyze this debate. We have ex post facto laws. Those are laws unfairly applied retroactively. But in this case, it was not a law that was applied retroactively but a technical/scientific process. The law that was (that you can’t blood dope) still is. In Lance’s case, we were just able to prove a violation with new technology. Philosophically, perhaps there is debate that new technology should not be allowed to be used retroactively to establish guilt. Again, a legal concept (double jeopardy) could be considered.

Lance was tested (more than 500 times) and he always passed. Shouldn’t his case be res judicata? A final legal concept has commonly utilized a distinction between a procedural and a substantive change in the law to determine whether the same can be applied prospectively as opposed to retroactively. Again, Lance supporters would say that it is patently unfair to take new technology and apply it in anything other than prospectively. I would argue that whatever legal theory you try to apply to the Lance Armstrong downfall, the same all fall short. In the final analysis, there should be no other test than truth.

Whether science should be applied retroactively, to possibly undo our heroes, misses the point. Sport is not more important than science. Science and sport are not more important than the truth. There is a line here: I am totally okay with using any type of medicine, chemical, device or contraption to cure cancer and enable someone, especially with Lance Armstrong’s talent, to have another shot at life and sport. It is not alright, however, to use the same win at all costs mentality when it comes to competition. In that arena, you can’t take anything you want to make you better.

So Lance can’t be my hero anymore. No hero of mine can lie to me. To me, there is no legal theory, defense or procedure that can save Lance. He didn’t just engage in blood doping… he is a dope. But I’m no dupe.

Flagstaff Injury Lawyer to Speak at General Assembly on Navajo Nation Indian Reservation

Flagstaff personal injury attorney Ryan J. Stevens has accepted an invitation to speak at the Shonto Chapter House, located northeast of Tuba City, Arizona, at their next General Assembly meeting.

Mr. Stevens will share legal insight on personal injury law applicable to all of northern Arizona, including on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation. Having practiced law in the courtrooms of the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Arizona state courts, and U.S. federal courts, Mr. Stevens has the range of knowledge and personal insight to bring complicated legal concepts to a welcoming stage. The American Indian reservations of northern Arizona present a complex set of state (Arizona), federal (U.S.), and tribal (Navajo Nation) laws. And the American Indian roadways often present a multitude of serious dangers that result in fatal or near-fatal motor vehicle accidents.

Law enforcement is stretched thin across the broad high plateau of northern Arizona, leaving roadways subject to people driving at high rates of speed. The most common causes of serious injuries and crashes are: speeding, drunk driving, and poor weather conditions.

Mr. Stevens will address members and non-members of the Navajo Nation from Flagstaff, Tuba City, Shonto, and more. He will discuss the ever-changing personal injury laws of Arizona, using cutting edge legal research to help bring to light the most important case law (i.e., Arizona Supreme Court and Arizona Court of Appeals decisions) of 2012.

When a person is seriously injured on the reservation, Flagstaff lawyer Ryan J. Stevens, along with experienced attorneys Bruce S. Griffen and Gunter Ziwey*, come to the aid of the injured and their families.

At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we understand the need for personalized and meaningful legal representation. We treat all people and all families with respect, dignity, and professionalism. And if someone has done wrong to you or your loved one, we aggressively pursue your claim to the maximum permitted by Arizona law. Our results speak for themselves. We pride ourselves in offering top level free consultations on all personal injury, car accidents, and wrongful death cases. We maximize results for our clients. And we comfort those in need by protecting and asserting their legal rights.

*Gunter Ziwey is admitted in Germany only.