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Listening to President Obama’s incredible eulogy of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, I was suddenly compelled to understand the meaning of grace. Amazing grace. And when a friend sent me a blog post by someone who studies and writes about the meaning of grace in our lives, one of her definitions resonated. In her Washington Post column, writer Sarah Kaufman pointed out that grace is a state of compassion. It includes the ability to empathize, to feel what other people feel without experiencing what they experience, to hurt for the mother who loses her child, to feel the pain of those in pain, to feel the anxiety of others. To feel it and incorporate it and explain it to others. And then it struck me — this is the essence of our work in the law — at least the way we practice it in our law firm.

It is this feeling of empathy, this grace, that made many of us choose the law as a profession. My decision to practice law was deeply rooted in my commitment to help those who have been hurt, who have lost loved ones, whose children have been taken from them, who have lost someone they love, who have been injured themselves and have lost their freedom from pain, from worry, from embarrassment. The legacy of this commitment runs deep in my family as well as our law firm, Hersh and Hersh, was founded on this commitment as an essential part of our law practice. And now, as a third generation comes to our law practice, this legacy is carried forward.
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California drivers know that our laws prohibit the handheld use of a cell phone while driving. We are not permitted to either text and drive or talk and drive holding our phones. But one man who was cited for checking a map while in the driver’s seat has taken his citation up to the California Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District and thus far has won. The next stop for this case just might be the California Supreme Court. This issue has likely crossed readers minds prior to the case which we will discuss here. After all, what use are the maps on our phones if we cannot use them to actually get ourselves out of a jam when driving and in need of directions? Think about the days of paper maps, some of us might recall using those while in the driver’s seat. Obviously with great care.

For now, the law in California is that it is permissible for drivers to use their cell phone map feature while in the driver’s seat. The driver in the case was stuck in a traffic jam and when he picked up his phone to try to get out of that using his map function, he was cited by an observant California Highway Patrol officer. Although ticketed from this activity while in a traffic mess, the man argued that he should not have been cited. He lost his case in traffic court and then took the case to the Superior Court in Fresno and lost there as well. Some would have given up at that point, but this driver was not giving up.
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With more and more portable technology, Americans are prone to bringing their portable devices along with them when they drive. We are all well-aware that use of these devices can lead to distracted driving, which takes our attention away from the road. This in turn can endanger us, our passengers and pedestrians. As California accident and injury lawyers, we want our readers to fully understand the serious dangers that this activity poses, and urge drivers to stop these dangerous practices.

The most common forms of distracted driving are texting, cell phone use, eating or drinking, grooming such as make-up application, watching videos, adjusting radios or other devices, and the like. According the United States Department of Transportation, text messaging is the most alarming of all distractions because it “requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver.” Education on the dangers of this activity is the best protection against serious accident or injury.

Given the fact that this dangerous activity is something that every driver can avoid, it is really important that the public continue to be aware of just how unsafe this activity can be for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.