2053 Woodbridge Avenue - Edison, NJ 08817

Monday, July 02, 2007

NJ Laws Newsletter E183 April 3, 2005

In this issue:

1. Written wishes are key/ Terri Schiavo dies
3. Workplace Injuries- website article
4. CASES in MUNICIPAL COURT- This week's program:

1. Written wishes are key/ Terri Schiavo dies
The Home News Tribune daily newspaper on its front page on April 1 published a portion of an interview with Kenneth Vercammen, who recommended individuals sign Living Wills .


The name Terri Schiavo would be known only to family and friends, if only her family had been in agreement about how she should have been treated.
More than a medical story, similar to ones which occur daily under the media radar, her story was more of a family feud between Schiavo's husband and parents, who argued over the wishes she was unable to make known.
" No family should want to go through what that family went through," said Edison attorney Kenneth A. Vercammen. "The same people who were hugging each other years ago are now bitter enemies."
"Perhaps the only good thing that has come out of this is that we're talking about it,"............
Even better than talking about it, say health care providers, is putting thoughts on paper and selecting someone, and alternates, to act as a health care agent. To do so, said Vercammen, "takes a lot of pressure off families. These are hard choices. If you know what the person wanted, it gives you clearer guidance."
"It helps a tremendous amount. There is less disagreement among family members when they know in fact what the person wanted," said Dr. Teresa Schaer, who specializes in geriatric care at Saint Peters University Hospital in New Brunswick. However, she noted, decisions are often complicated by unforeseen factors. "Even when it's in written form, it is not always perfect in all situations," said Schaer, who said the hospital sometimes counsels families with its medical ethics committee, including doctors, social workers and clergy.
"We call in family members, and we listen to all their points of view, help them understand what is happening and help mediate any disputes. We never force our opinion: "We're stopping the ventilator whether you like it or not.' We mediate and help turn it into an agreement," said Schaer.
In a recent case involving a decision made at Saint Peter's, a person had severe bleeding on the brain, was in a coma with no hope of recovery, and was breathing only with the aid of a respirator. It was agreed the family member would not want to be kept alive knowing he would never wake up, according to Schaer.
"They would have prolonged the dying process, not prolonged the living" had they kept the person alive, said Schaer of the family members.
Not only can family members be relieved of pressure with so-called living wills, so, too, would health-care providers, whose industry recognizes one absolute: Everyone is going to die someday.
"Death comes in its own way, and everyone dies different," said Jill Zhou, the assistant administrator of the Barbara E. Cheung Memorial Hospice in Edison. "How each stage of the dying process will take place, no one knows."
The hospice accepts patients for whom "a cure is not possible," said Zhou. The only treatment is that which lessens pain.
The hospice does not mediate family disputes, such as the one which surrounded Terri Schiavo. "The family has to agree," said Zhou. "If they don't completely accept it, we can't admit their loved one."
Professor Norman L. Cantor of the Rutgers School of Law in Newark, an expert on legal and ethical issues in end-of-life care and the author of "Advance Directives and the Pursuit of Death with Dignity" (MIT Press, 1993), says the most important piece of advice he offers "is to name a trustworthy person as the agent who is going to be responsible for your care."
The second most important thing to do is discuss your feelings and preferences with that person, and if you know the physician who is likely to be your ultimate physician discuss the issues with the physician, too."
However, a document, no matter how elaborate, is limited in scope, making it important to assign a person to be a health-care agent.
"A piece of paper can only state what it states. It can't reason, discuss, think like a person can," said William Isele, the state Ombudsman for the Institutional Elderly.
The issue of advance medical directives — a term preferred in the health care industry to "living wills" — evolved from the case involving Karen Ann Quinlan, a 22-year-old New Jersey woman who went into a coma in 1975. A year later her parents went to court seeking to have her taken off her respirator. While they prevailed in court, their daughter lived another eight years before dying of pneumonia.
In 1984, Nancy Cruzan, then 24, was in a "persistent vegetative state" following an automobile accident. In her case her parents sought to have a feeding tube removed, based on conversations Cruzan had with a friend prior to the accident. The hospital opposed the parents. Missouri courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in favor of the hospital. Only after a Missouri judge was persuaded Cruzan did not want to he kept alive under those circumstances was her feeding tube removed. Like Schiavo, she survived 12 days before her death.
States began enacting laws involving end of life decisions. Though the drive began with Quinlan, New Jersey was one of the last states to act, adopting The New Jersey Advance Directives for Health Care Act in 1992.
While forms can be obtained online, Vercammen said that without an attorney's assistance a person can often make vague and contradictory statements. The typical cost of using an attorney is about $75.
......While end-of-life issues are often associated with the elderly, Schaer noted that the high-profile cases of Quinlan, Cruzan and Schiavo involved sudden medical crises of women in their 20's.
"We think of the need for advanced directives for our parents. You're not as prepared when it's your grown children," said Schaer."

If a Civil case cannot settle, and goes to the judge and jury, portion of the Model Jury charge set forth what a judge should tell the jurors, prior to making a decision.

Outline of what the judge tells the jury is set forth at http://www.njlaws.com/JUDGES_INSTRUCTIONS_TO_JURORS_IN_%20A_CIVIL_CASE.htm

1. Explanation of Nature of Case

2. Duty of Citizens to Serve as Jurors

3. Counsel's Right to Peremptory Challenges

4. Introduction of Parties, Counsel and Potential Witnesses

5. Identification of Potential Witnesses

6. Particularized Questions

3 New website articles:
Workplace Injuries

4. This week's program:
Thursday, April 7, 2005 - 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Clarion Hotel, Edison

Former Chair, NJSBA Municipal Court Section
Kenneth A. Vercammen & Associates (Edison)

Speakers include:
Municipal Court Judge Municipal Court Judge (Asbury Park, Bradley Beach, Brielle, Deal, Eatontown, Fair Haven, Manasquan, Neptune City, & Lake Como/ South Belmar))

Chief Prosecutor (Elizabeth)
Assistant Prosecutor (Woodbridge)
Murgado & Carroll (Elizabeth)

Brigiani, Cohen & Schneider
(East Brunswick)

Moore & Menzel (Point Pleasant)

This “nuts and bolts” guide to municipal court practice and procedure will prepare you to represent your clients in all types of cases that are heard in municipal court. An authoritative panel of experienced attorneys will be joined by a Municipal Court Judge to delve into a wide variety of matters that you are likely to encounter in Municipal Court.
• New laws and pending legislation
• Drunk driving (DWI)-State v. Foley and the Alcotest 7110 breath test machine
• License suspension
• Plea agreements in drug cases
• Driving while suspended
• Increased refusal penalties
• Assault
• Defenses to no-insurance cases
• How to impress the Court and not annoy the Court staff
• Forms motions and demand letters
• Criminal case law developments during the past year
• The rules of Professional Conduct-retainer agreements and professionalism
…and more

Tuition includes dinner and seminar materials.

• Trial Attorney Certification: 3.75 criminal credits pending
• PA CLE: 3.0 substantive and 0.5 ethics credits pending ($16 fee – separate check payable to ICLE must be submitted at the end of the program)
• NY CLE (Transitional): 4.0 professional practice and 0.5 ethics credits


Can't Attend?

Audio Cassette Tapes/Materials Item No. CP52505
CD/Materials Item No. CDP52505

New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education
One Constitution Square, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-1520
Phone: (732)214-8500 Fax: (732)249-0383 Email:
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Kenneth Vercammen, Esq.
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Edison, NJ 08817
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