In a personal injury case stemming from a motor vehicle collision, a recent mediation with a retired Judge resulted in a top offer of $10,000 from State Farm Insurance Company. The case was tried in Virginia Beach Circuit Court for 2 days resulting in a jury verdict in the amount of $150,000. State Farm made a final offer of $20,000 during the first day of trial, but it was rejected and the case was tried to verdict. In addition to paying the full amount of the verdict, Michael Goodove also held State Farm responsible for court costs. State Farm hired a local orthopedic surgeon to testify that our client’s injuries were not accident-related. Goodove established through cross-examination that State Farm’s expert had received excessive compensation and uncovered the expert’s relationship with State Farm and other insurance companies. The trial team consisted of Michael Goodove and Elizabeth Ufkes.
For more than two months, police and bail bondsmen have searched for 23-year-old Cameron Paul Crockett, who didn’t show up for sentencing after a jury convicted him of manslaughter in the drunken-driving death of a friend.
Now, federal authorities say they’ve joined the hunt.
The U.S. Marshals Service, which works to find fugitives believed to have crossed state lines or fled the country, is investigating Crockett’s case, spokeswoman Carolyn Gwathmey said Wednesday in an email. The marshals’ Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force and its International Investigations Branch are involved, she said.
Mike Rowland of Lucky Seven Bail Bonds, who posted Crockett’s $20,000 bail, on Wednesday in Circuit Court received another 150 days per state law to find the fugitive before possibly forfeiting the money.
“We’re steadily working on it,” Rowland said. He declined to comment on where he believed Crockett might be.
Meanwhile, Crockett’s friends and family have launched a campaign professing his innocence on YouTube and Facebook. A Facebook profile that appears to belong to Crockett has changed several times since his disappearance, including the profile photo changing once before being deleted.
Crockett has maintained he was not driving the night of Dec. 28, 2008, when 20-year-old John “Jack” Korte Jr. died in a crash on Wolfsnare Road.
In October, Crockett’s insurance company settled a wrongful-death suit with Korte’s family for $150,000. They initially had sought $10 million.
“I can assure you that the family was never motivated at all by any of the monetary aspects of it,” said Michael Goodove, the Kortes’ attorney. “This allowed them to force somebody to accept accountability and to give them some closure, which has been long overdue.”
Then, on March 1, a jury found Crockett guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Korte’s death. Although he did not show up for sentencing four days later, the jury recommended he serve five years in prison, half the maximum.
The conviction was Crockett’s third on charges connected to Korte’s death.
A judge threw out an earlier manslaughter conviction when the jury couldn’t agree on a sentencing recommendation.
Crockett still is awaiting trial on additional charges in the case, including drunken driving and intimidating a witness.
Now he’s also charged with misdemeanor and felony failures to appear. The misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail; the felony, five years in prison.
If Crockett fled the state, he also could face federal prosecution.
Prosecutors unsuccessfully tried several times to convince a judge to revoke Crockett’s bond, arguing he had violated his release conditions, said Macie Pridgen, a spokeswoman for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
Although Crockett had to surrender his passport, he still could have hopped a flight to another state or country, said Steve Sterling, director of airport operations at Norfolk International Airport. He said airlines are required to check only that a passenger is not on the Transportation Security Administration’s no-fly list.
“I’m certain that people who have warrants against them fly all over the country all the time,” Sterling said. “There’s not a system in place to check a wanted status on someone when they fly.”
Crockett’s attorney, Andrew Sacks, said Crockett has not contacted him since he didn’t show up for court.
“We’re extremely disappointed that Mr. Crockett has still not presented himself,” Sacks said. “We strongly urge him to do the responsible thing, so that his case can be appropriately concluded.”
Kathy Adams, 757-222-5155, firstname.lastname@example.org
For another year in a row, Michael Goodove and Franklin Swartz have been selected as 2012 Super Lawyers. Michael Goodove was selected as a Super Lawyer in the field of Plaintiff’s Personal Injury. Franklin Swartz was selected as a Super Lawyer in the field of White Collar Criminal Defense. Only 5% of Virginia attorneys are chosen every year and Goodove and Swartz were selected based upon evaluation by other top lawyers and independant research of the candidates. Goodove and Swartz will be contained in the 2012 Super Lawyers Magazine as well as in hte 2012 November/December issue of Hampton Roads magazine.
On January 1, 2012, Swartz, Taliaferro, Swartz & Goodove, P.C. relocated to its new law office building in historic downtown Norfolk. The firm continues its practice in the areas of personal injury, criminal and trial law. The new address is 220 West Freemason Street, Norfolk, VA 23510. We are located on the corner of Freemason and Duke Street in historic downtown Norfolk and handle cases all throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are located within blocks of both the Norfolk Federal Courthouse and the Norfolk Circuit, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts.
People with their first DUI conviction could have to pass a breath test before starting the engine, if laws pass the Va. General Assembly and are signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Senate Bill 378 and House Bill 279 require a person with one DUI to blow into an breathalyzer before the car can start. Right now, that’s only required for repeat offenders or when a person’s blood alcohol level is above .15 percent.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving Virginia says the bills were drafted twice to increase the chances of getting at least one passed.
Governor McDonnell supports the bill as a “common-sense measure to make roadways safer and reduce DUI-related injuries and deaths,” a spokesperson said.
“It eliminates judicial discretion when it comes to the cases of low BAC (blood alcohol content) first-time offenders,” argues Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade organization that represents more than 250 restaurants in Virginia.
Longwell worries the legislation could eventually lead to breathalyzers in all vehicles.
“There is technology that has already been developed that is already in the implementation phase that is much more sophisticated that detects alcohol through air in the cabin of the car through low light lasers,” she notes.
Attorney and MADD member Mike Goodove states the bills won’t infringe on the rights of drivers with no DUIs.
“We’re talking about the people who have been convicted of a DUI and they want a restricted license,” he explains.
If the General Assembly passes legislation and the governor signs it, the law would take effect July 1.