We Were the First Paramedics at Pulse Nightclub. We’d Trained for Mass Shootings, and Now the Deadliest Ever Was Happening.
“We weren’t even supposed to be there.”

Joshua Granada(left) and Carlos Tavarez are photographed in front of Station 7 Firehouse in Orlando, FL. On the night of the massacre at Pulse, a gay club in Downtown Orlando, Carlos and Joshua were the first paramedics to arrive on the scene.

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Man who claimed girlfriend accidentally choked during oral sex found not guilty of murder

Richard Patterson acquitted by jury hours after hearing closing arguments

By Peter Burke – Local10.com Managing Editor, Michael Seiden – Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A South Florida man who was on trial in the 2015 choking death of his girlfriend has been found not guilty of murder.

Richard Patterson, 65, of Margate, was acquitted Monday of second-degree murder. His attorney, Ken Padowitz, argued during trial that his client accidentally choked Francisca Marquinez, 60, during oral sex.

The jury heard closing arguments in the morning and deliberated for a few hours in the afternoon before returning the verdict.

Patterson did not testify. Instead, the defense called on Dr. Ronald Wright, a former Broward County medical examiner, who said it was possible that Marquinez could have choked during oral sex.

Padowitz told jurors that the medical examiner’s autopsy report said the manner of death was undetermined.

Assistant state attorney Peter Sapak questioned why Patterson didn’t call 911 right away and reminded jurors of testimony from an ex-girlfriend, who said he told her that he choked Marquinez. He also re-read a text message that Patterson’s daughter said she sent him to him the day after Marquinez was killed.

The jury heard closing arguments in the morning and deliberated for a few hours in the afternoon before returning the verdict.

Patterson did not testify. Instead, the defense called on Dr. Ronald Wright, a former Broward County medical examiner, who said it was possible that Marquinez could have choked during oral sex.

Padowitz told jurors that the medical examiner’s autopsy report said the manner of death was undetermined.

Assistant state attorney Peter Sapak questioned why Patterson didn’t call 911 right away and reminded jurors of testimony from an ex-girlfriend, who said he told her that he choked Marquinez. He also re-read a text message that Patterson’s daughter said she sent him to him the day after Marquinez was killed.

Supreme Court rules in veteran’s favor in closely watched divorce settlement case

 

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday, in the case of Howell v. Howell, that a state court cannot offset the loss of a divorced spouse’s portion of a veteran’s retirement benefits when that veteran waives retirement pay in favor of disability pay. The issue has been hotly debated for years.

In 1991, a court awarded Sandra Howell half of Air Force veteran John Howell’s retirement pay when the couple was divorced. However, after becoming aware in 2005 that he was eligible for disability benefits, John, who had received a 20 percent disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, elected to waive $250 of his $1,500 a month in retirement pay, which is taxable, in favor of $250 monthly disability pay from the VA, which is not taxable. That reduced Sandra’s monthly divorce settlement by $125, so she went back to court, arguing that she should get half of what his retirement pay would have been if he had not opted for disability pay.

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld her claim in its interpretation of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, a law that regulates how military retirement pay may be divided up after a divorce.

The Supreme Court’s ruling Monday overturned the Arizona court’s decision.

Until 2003, disabled veterans had to select either their full retirement compensation from the Department of Defense or their VA disability benefit with a reduced retirement annuity. This penalty became known as the “VA offset.” Many veterans choose the offset, however, because disability payments are tax free. In the 2003 and 2004 defense authorization bills, Congress waived this offset in certain cases, and veterans with career-ending combat injuries or a disability rating of 50 percent or higher were allowed to concurrently receive both types of payments.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 55 percent of the 2 million military retirees are subject to the VA offset.

According to the Military Officer’s Association of America, a nonprofit organization that supports veterans and active-duty military, cases like this wouldn’t exist if Congress simply removed the VA offset and allowed for full concurrent receipt of retirement and disability pay.

“What this case illustrates is the unfair reduction in pay from DoD retired pay and VA disability compensation,” said Jonathan Withington, a MOAA spokesman.”Retired pay is provided for a career of military service; VA disability compensation is given for a service-connected disability.”

Adam Unikowsky, a lawyer representing John Howell, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in March that Congress intended for veterans to keep their disability pay, as it fills the gap for pay they will no longer be able to make in the future. The goal of protecting a veteran’s pay is not temporal in nature, he said, meaning it has nothing to do with whether the veteran is eligible for disability before or after the divorce.

He further argued that the U.S. Supreme Court had previously decided, in Mansell v. Mansell, that the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act did not permit state courts to treat retirement pay that had been waived to receive veterans’ disability benefits as something that could be divided.

Sandra Howell’s lawyer argued that this case was different because her ex-husband hadn’t waived his retirement pay until after the divorce settlement was finalized. But the Supreme Court ruled that state courts did not have the authority to take John’s disability benefits, regardless of its effect on his ex-wife.

 

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Automated post from Hancock Law Firm, PLLC – http://ift.tt/2jz9Oj9
May 20, 2017 at 11:21AM

Just finished a trial in a matter that was literally the most important thing in this entire world to my client. Sometime is feels heavy to carry these things on our shoulders but it’s the BEST when we can hand them back to a client who’s so happy with the outcome that he can’t speak but to softly utter the words “thank you.”

Very happy to be spending the next 2 days in this Interdisciplinary Training Group working on the Collaborative Divorce process with a fantastic group of attorneys, mental health professionals, financial professionals, life coaches, child specialists, and facilitators. This is the future. I wish that all of our clients could engage in this process to divorce in the most empowering and least destructive way for their families.

We aren’t located in Tampa, so we don’t get this magazine and we weren’t even aware of this until someone else showed us. We are incredibly honored to announce that our attorney, Autumn N. Hancock, Esq., was chosen by her peers as one of the top 5 attorneys in the general family law category and the ONLY one who is located in Pinellas County. It’s an honor to see Hancock Law Firm recognized among this list of incredible attorneys. Thank you so much for recognizing the hard work we are doing to take care our clients!