VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2 2 VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE SEPTEMBER 2021 SEPTEMBER 2021
NEBRASKA PARALEGAL ASSOCIATION
VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2
ININTHIS THISISSUE: ISSUE: From the President ..... 1 From the President ..... 1 From the Editor ........... 2 From the Editor ............ 2 Save the Dates ........... 2 Save the Dates ........... 2 Spring Seminar ........... 3 NALA News ................. 3 NALA Conference District I News.............. 4 Recap ......................... 4 District II News............. 6 District Updates .......... 6 Get to Know .................. Justice for All .............. 5 New Members ...... 7/15 Article: For ManufacturArticle: ........................ ers ................................ 88 Article: .......... Relay for COVID Life ............. 1116 Student Education Award and CP Scholarship Winners ............. 12 New Members.......... 14 Article: Dismissed ... 17 Article: Cyber Security from the President.... 20 Getting to know your Board ........................ 22 Article: Balance of Privacy, Public’s Right to Know ......................... 24
FROM THE PRESIDENT: ANGEL YOUNGER, ACP Hello September! The summer seems to have flown by! I was very happy to be able to spend time with friends and family all summer. It was definitely an improvement from last summer. My family took an end of the summer road trip to Virginia Beach, VA which was very interesting with two small children. This was the first time we attempted anything over 5 hours so I was pretty anxious but glad to be making special memories with my children. I’m sure there will be lots of stories to tell later. I was so glad to see all of you at the Fall Seminar (both virtually and in person). It has been way too long since we have been able to gather in person. The CLE Committee worked incredibly hard to plan our first hybrid seminar and we had a great variety of speakers and topics. The last several months have proven difficult to navigate through this pandemic but we have done the best we could. I want to thank all of the Board of Directors for being innovative and keeping our seminars going. I also want to thank all of the members for being patient and understanding, as we navigated through all the unknowns. As my term as President comes to an end, I want to thank all of you for allowing me the opportunity to serve in this capacity this year. NePA has always been very important to me since joining in 2006, so this is truly an honor. I wish the circumstances of the last year could have been different, but we all made the best of it. I have learned so much being on the Board of Directors the last couple years. I had such a great group of dedicated paralegals to learn from. I appreciate all of them and their devotion to NePA. Being on the Board of Directors is such a rewarding experience and I encourage all of you to join a committee or run for office. I am passing the gavel over to Amy Maduka and I’m excited to see everything Amy accomplishes and for starting my new role as Past President! Thank you all for an amazing year! I’m looking forward to seeing what next year brings.
REGISTER FOR EVENTS AT: http:// nebraskaparalegal.org Upcoming Board Meetings (5:30-7:30pm): October 12, 2021— TBD **If you’d like to attend a board meeting, email President@NebraskaParal egal.org for details.
VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2 FROM THE EDITOR
I hope everyone enjoyed this summer! I can’t believe that the year is more than half way over.. Where has the time gone? I have continued to work half in the office and half at home during the pandemic, but I can’t wait to see everyone in person very soon this fall. I know we are all looking forward to getting more involved! As always, feel free to reach out to any of our board members with questions, suggestions, or concerns. If you have corrections regarding this issue or have suggestions for future content, please forward them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE MEMBERS Casey Grennan, CP, Chair Kimberly Brown, ACP Kim Hansen Amber Roberts, ACP SAVE THE DATES
October 27, 2021: District Lunch (Virtual) - Cliff McElroy, Military Paralegal November 10, 2021: Diversity & Inclusion Event (Virtual) February 16, 2022: District Lunch In Person & Virtual (Scott Conference Center) - Emojis in the Workplace, Matt Mahon of Ricoh
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SPRING SEMINAR RECAP Thank you to all who attended NePA’s virtual 2021 Spring Seminar on April 23, 2021! A big shout out to the CLE Committee for getting this organized and executed. We had some great speakers and topics including many related to the pandemic. Ryan Sothan, Outreach Coordinator at the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office spoke on identity theft, protecting information and strategies you can use personally to make sure your data is secure. Randy Stevenson joined us from Baird Holm, LLP to discuss COVID-19 vaccine considerations for employers and the impacts in the workplace we’re starting to see from the pandemic. Marlon Lofgren and Kristen Krueger of Koley Jessen spoke on stimulus loans and explained the differences in eligibility for each. Matthew McKeever of Carlson Burnett presented on cryptocurrencies and Donna Robinson of Baird Holm, LLP finished out the day with Adobe tips and tricks. As always, we couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful sponsors. Sam DelSenno of Avalon, Tom Woodrome of Capitol Services and Tina Mauch of Great Plains Reporting spoke for a few minutes each on their respective companies. NePA gave away twelve $25 gift cards as door prizes. Capitol Services gave away a $100 gift card and Great Plains gave away a $300 Coach gift card! A huge THANK YOU to our sponsors. We had about 80 members who registered. The NePA membership meeting was also held. The sessions were all recorded and are available for on demand watching.
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NALA CONFERENCE RECAP: KIM HANSEN Thanks to the Nebraska Paralegal Association (NePA) Board, I was one of the lucky winners to attend NALA’s virtual online paralegal conference free of charge. It was supposed to have been held in Louisville, KY this year, but unfortunately it had to be held online as it was in 2020. Sessions were pre-recorded and then the speaker was available live at the end of each session to answer questions posted in the chatroom. I attended the following sessions and have provided a brief takeaway from each one.
Opening Session – 1,446 attended this year’s online session, which shattered last year’s session number of 951. I hope that this online session will be an option in the future as well as attending in person. Avoiding the Unauthorized Practice of Law – Barbara P. Burke, Ph.D., JD. Avoid crossing the “you should…” or “you need…” line. According to Ms. Burke, the only “you should” statement is “You should hire an attorney.” Annual Membership Meeting & Awards Presentation – Janie Boswell, ACP was inducted into NALA’s inaugural Hall of Fame and Laurie Vik, ACP was honored as a recipient of the Affiliated Association award as nominated by NePA. Anatomy of a Complex Murder Case – S. Mario Lorello, JD. Criminal law is not my line of work, but participating in such sessions is always interesting. This was a case study of a homicide investigation and prosecution of a murder by poisoning. CP Review – Torts was presented by Jill Francisco, ACP and Past President of NALA. CP Reviews are always good refresher courses. Internet Law – Enforcing Online Contracts – Daniel Tepstein, JD, Chief Litigation Counsel for Verizon Media Group. It should come as no surprise that hardly anyone ever reads the Terms of Service (TOS) on a website before clicking “I agree.” To be enforceable, was the TOS reasonably communicated, accepted and understood by an everyday user (and not a data scientist or lawyer)? The most commonly challenged provisions are jury trial waivers and arbitration clauses. Unconscionability is another factor. Consider where the TOS appears on the website. Is it lengthy or buried deep in the contract? How long is the term? Affiliated Associations Annual Meeting & Exchange Presentation – Houston Paralegal Association presented a session on hosting a successful CP Review course using technology, especially Zoom. Spoliation of Social Media Evidence – Alicia Mitchell-Mercer, ACP and newly installed Continuing Education Council Chair on the NALA Board, packed a lot of information into this 1½ hour session. We all know by now and were reminded again that just because a social media post is deleted, it isn’t destroyed forever. Methods of establishing best practices before spoliation occurs were also highlighted. How far can we go in advising a client about “cleaning up” his/her social media pages? It is advisable to have the client write down all social media accounts and inform them their accounts will be monitored during the course of the case matter.
As noted above, NePA was well-represented at this year’s meeting sessions. Congratulations to Janie Boswell, ACP, Laurie Vik, ACP for their accomplishments and to Bridget Stuhr, ACP who was installed as NALA’s Affiliated Associations Director. Kim Brown, ACP, completed her term as Continuing Education Council Chair and I want to congratulate her as well for her service. Thank you again to the NePA Board of Directors for this opportunity. Next year’s conference will be held in-person in Phoenix, AZ from July 14 – 16, 2022. I hope you will be able to attend, whether in Phoenix or online (if that option remains). It is well worth the time and investment.
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DISTRICT UPDATES Elder Law - May 26, 2021 On May 26, 2021, we had the pleasure of listening to Tim McCurdy from St. Louis speak on Elder Law. Tim spoke at the At Home NALA Conference last year, and we were lucky he was available to speak to NePA at our Combined District I & II Luncheon Event this year. Elder Law is considered the fastest growing area of law due to 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, and 65 is not the same today as in years past because people are living longer. Tim called it the “Silver Tsunami.” Based on this, there are many decisions that will most likely need to be made regarding the elderly, such as how to prepare financially for medical needs through Long Term Insurance or a Long Term Savings Plan. VA Benefits and Medicare also play a huge factor in this process, with very specific eligibility requirements as well. More than likely, most of us will experience some aspect of this legal process due to needing to help elderly loved ones. Many of the options Tim spoke about are very expensive, and his advice was to hold off as long as possible before moving into a long term care facility, whether it’s independent living, assisted living or memory care. Also, a person’s assets play a huge part in getting Federal assistance, so having an attorney who practices in the area of elder law could be essential in navigating through this process. Overall, Tim’s presentation was very informative and was a real eye opener for what most of us may face in our futures.
Save the Date: October 27, 2021: Distrist Lunch (Virtual) - Cliff McElroy, Military Paralegal (CLE) February 16, 2022: District Lunch In Person & Virtual (Scott Conference Center) - Emojis in the Workplace, Matt Mahon of Ricoh (CLE)
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VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2
ARTICLE: FOR MANUFACTURERS STRUGGLING WITH LABOR SHORTAGE, TIME TO REVIEW BACKGROUND CHECK PROCESSES As COVID-19 restrictions continue to relax, manufacturers are facing an ever-tightening labor market. Amidst supply-chain disruptions and computer chip shortages, human capital is proving to be increasingly scarce. Many manufacturers are struggling to fill open positions. While some manufacturers are turning to automation as a solution to the labor shortage, other companies are grappling with the decision of whether to hire workers they may have traditionally excluded from manufacturing positions, such as workers with a history of criminal convictions or who test positive for medical or recreational marijuana use in states where it might on certain minority groups. Employers are alstill be permissible to do so. ways cautioned to review existing “neutral” pol“Ban the Box” icies to ensure they do not have a disproporSome jurisdictions have enacted “ban the box” tional negative impact on a particular group, legislation, designed to remove criminal history to minimize risk of discrimination claims. as a barrier to employment. Such laws require employers to consider qualifications first when An additional best practice for employers makconsidering a person’s eligibility for employ- ing decisions based upon a criminal history recment. Practically, a “ban the box” legislation ord is to conduct an individualized assessment requires employers to assess when in the appli- (and certain jurisdictions have mandated this cation process they can ask job applicants step). The EEOC, in its 2012 guidance, introabout prior criminal records. Some statutes per- duced the “Green factors” by stating that emmit the inquiry after the first in-person interview, ployers can support a practice that potentially for example, while other jurisdictions require otherwise has a disparate impact by showing waiting until after an employer makes a condi- they considered: tional job offer. The Fair Chance Act, which takes effect December 20, 2021, prohibits fed- 1. The nature and gravity of the criminal offense eral contractors from asking job applicants (s); about criminal records before extending a con- 2. The time that has passed since the conviction or completion of the sentence; and ditional job offer. 3. The nature of the job held or sought. Still, employers have to be mindful of equal employment opportunity concerns when conduct- See Green v. Missouri Pacific Railroad, 549 F.2d ing background checks, especially for criminal 1158 (8th Cir. 1977). history. In the past, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been con- An employer also must consider the many fedcerned that even if an employer has a job- eral, state, and local laws impacting the decirelated reason for a background check, such a sion-making process, some of which mandate practice may tend to have a disparate impact individual assessments or notices.
VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2
ARTICLE: FOR MANUFACTURERS STRUGGLING WITH LABOR SHORTAGE, TIME TO REVIEW BACKGROUND CHECK PROCESSES Continued ing processes to determine whether any adjustments can be made in the background check process to minimize risk and assist in facilitating the staffing of open positions. Manufacturers can contact a Jackson Lewis attorney with any questions about background checks, workplace drug and safety policies, employee onboarding processes, and other preventive practices.
Businesses conducting background checks using third-party consumer reporting agencies also must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires companies to follow certain technical “consent and standalone disclosure” requirements prior to obtaining a background check report for an applicant. FCRA also addresses the steps manufacturers must take in the event of an “adverse action” based upon a background check report. Marijuana Manufacturers may shy away from hiring employees who test positive for marijuana use out of safety concerns. While employers may still prohibit impairment and use during work hours, some states prohibit basing employment decisions on marijuana use during non-work hours, and others prohibit pre-employment marijuana tests. Medical marijuana presents another challenge, as some states may bar employers from utilizing positive tests based on medical marijuana usage for adverse job actions. Background check laws are constantly evolving. The tight labor market, a significant challenge, presents an excellent opportunity for manufacturers to review their current onboard-
©2021 Jackson Lewis P.C. Reprinted with permission. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Focused on labor and employment law since 1958, Jackson Lewis P.C.’s 950+ attorneys located in major cities nationwide consistently identify and respond to new ways workplace law intersects business. We help employers develop proactive strategies, strong policies and business-oriented solutions to cultivate high-functioning workforces that are engaged, stable and diverse, and share our clients’ goals to emphasize inclusivity and respect for the contribution of every employee. For more information, visit https://www.jacksonlewis.com.
This article first appeared on July 22, 2021 at Jackson Lewis, written by Shannon L. Miller and Patrick O. Peters, Reprinted with permission. Get more information at www.jacksonlewis.com.
VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2
RELAY FOR LIFE RECAP: The Nebraska Paralegal Association sponsored the “Legal Beagles” team to participate in the 2021 Relay for Life of Greater Omaha for the benefit of the American Cancer Society. This year’s event was held on Saturday, July 17, 2021, at Stinson Park in Omaha, NE. The theme was “The Magical Kingdom of Hope.” I was thrilled to have several teammates attend the event: Andria Bell, Tina Mauch, Bridget DeLeo, and Amber Roberts. Unfortunately, following the opening ceremony and the Survivor and Caretaker Laps, the rain started! It was very light at first and we were able to stay dry under our canopy. However, that didn’t last long. We were soon notified to leave the area for fear of lightning so we headed over to Voodoo Taco for something to eat and to dry out. An hour or so later we headed back to the event where Amber Roberts arrived just in time to help us dismantle our campsite. Sadly, all of the luminaria were ruined and we were unable to participate in all the fun activities the Relay Committee had planned. Of course, even though more rain was anticipated and the event was cancelled, the rain never materialized. Despite the weather, the Legal Beagles team raised over $2,600, and the event exceeded its goal of $100,000 and raised $113,852! Additional funds were raised as the silent auction committee decided to hold an online auction with the many wonderful items they had donated, including our beautiful Coach bag and wallet graciously provided by Great Plains Reporting. Thanks again for all your wonderful support of this community event. Hopefully the weather will cooperate better next year!
VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2 CERTIFICATION UPDATE:
STUDENT EDUCATION AWARD WINNERS: Natalie Sterns - Metro Community College Briseyda Garcia - College of St. Mary CERTIFIED PARALEGAL SCHOLARSHIP WINNER: Kelsey Skey Remember that the Nebraska Paralegal Association wants to invest in your future! Visit our website to learn more about scholarships offered to help members obtain the Certified Paralegal and Advanced Certified Paralegal designations: https://nebraskaparalegal.org/scholarships.php
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VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2
ARTICLE: [DISMISSED]: First Lawsuit Filed Challenging Private Employer-Mandated COVID19 Vaccine the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the petition, the hospital system implemented a policy on April 1, 2021, which would require vaccination of all covered employees, and was to be implemented in phases. The policy permitted employees to submit required documentation for exemption based on either a medical condition or sincerely held religious beliefs. The petition asserts that defendants have been arbitrarily denying exemptions.
On June 12, 2021, the hospital’s motion to dismiss this lawsuit in its entirety was granted. The Court found that the hospital’s policy of mandating the COVID-19 vaccine aligned with its business of saving lives without spreading the virus, and that employees were free to accept or refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. The Court explained that if employees refused, they would simply need to work somewhere else, and that the policy was not a violation of law. Specifically, the Court found there was no violation under Texas employment law because there was no illegal act employees were forced to commit. Additionally, there was no violation of public policy, based on Supreme Court precedent and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) guidance, which confirms the ability of private employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID19. Lastly, the Court found that the plaintiffs had misconstrued the federal law regarding emergency use authorization and that such does not apply to private employers. On May 28, 2021, 117 unvaccinated nonmanagerial employees from Houston Methodist Hospital filed a lawsuit to challenge the hospital’s vaccine mandate in Jennifer Bridges et al. v The Methodist Hospital. This appears to be the first lawsuit against a private employer mandate of
As alleged, the first phase of employees to be vaccinated included management personnel. Those who did not receive the vaccine by April 15 were to be placed on a two-week suspension, however, executives and managers were 100% compliant and no leave was necessary. As further alleged, after Phase I was complete, the hospital allegedly informed all nonmanagers (Phase II employees) that they would need to be vaccinated by June 7 or provide proof of vaccination by this date. Failure to comply with the policy would result in a 14-day suspension and, if still out of compliance, employment termination. In their petition, plaintiffs take aim at the emergency use authorization status of the vaccine, claiming that employees are being forced to be “injected with an experimental vaccine.” They also go as far as to liken the vaccine policy to medical experiments in Nazi Germany concentration camps and claim that this is a violation of the Nuremberg Code. Count One alleges wrongful discharge under a public policy exception to the employment atwill doctrine under Texas law. According to the petition, Sabine Pilot provides that employees may sue for wrongful termination if they are fired for refusing to perform an illegal act. Plaintiffs claim that the hospital system is requiring plaintiffs to commit and engage in an illegal act and
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ARTICLE: [DISMISSED]: First Lawsuit Filed Challenging Private Employer-Mandated COVID-19 Vaccine Continued have been discharged for this reason. The petition does not allege what exactly the “illegal act” is that plaintiffs are being required to commit. Count Two alleges violation of a federal law related to certain products approved for emergency use; 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3. Section (e)(1) (A) provides that individuals being administered a covered product must be informed of the option to accept or refuse administration of said product, and of the consequences of refusing administration, as well as informed of the potential risks and benefits. Plaintiffs claim that the hospital violated (e)(1)(A), including by not permitting plaintiffs to refuse the vaccine while continuing employment, and by failing to advise plaintiffs of the “known and potential benefits and risks of such emergency use of the product, and of the extent to which such benefits and risks are unknown.”
Contact us For questions on vaccine policies or other COVID-19-related questions, please reach out to Natalie Holden, Jenna Brofsky, Lowell Pearson or your Husch Blackwell attorney.
Plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief by asking the Court to find that 21 U.S.C. § Your Comprehensive COVID-19 Legal Resource 360bbb-3 preempts the vaccine policy and prohibiting the hospital from enforcing the policy. Since the pandemic’s onset, Husch Blackwell has continually monitored state-by-state orders What this means to you regarding capacity, masking, vaccines, and more. We regularly address your FAQs and proyou with easy-to-use COVID-19 It does not appear that the federal statute ex- vide tools about returning to work and navigating pressly prohibits a private employer from requiring vaccination as a condition of employment. federal programs. Contact our industry-specific Further, the federal agency tasked with enforc- legal teams or your Husch Blackwell attorney to ing federal antidiscrimination law, the EEOC, plan through and beyond the pandemic. has clarified that employers can require COVID19 vaccinations for their employees on the same This article was originally published on June 3, 2021 by Husch Blackwell with the title, [DISday this suit was filed. MISSED]: First Lawsuit Filed Challenging Private As more employers begin to mandate vaccina- Employer-Mandated COVID-19 Vaccine tion, particularly in the healthcare industry, this lawsuit will be one to watch.
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VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2
ARTICLE: CYBER SECURITY FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT
President Biden signed an Executive Order in May 2021 directing federal agencies to take several proactive steps to help the nation defend against cyber security attacks. The Order is drafted with very specific implementation steps, which is a departure from prior orders. Prior executive orders were often purposefully vague, leaving the exact cyber security implementation steps to the agencies. President Biden’s order includes specific requirements for multifactor authentication, Zero Trust Architecture, and encryption, among other requirements. The Order begins with a policy statement that sets the overall theme and tone for the remainder of the Order. This strong policy states that “prevention, detection, assessment, and remediation of cyber incidents is top priority and essential to the national and economic securi-
ty.” The Order then details specifics for implementing this policy. First, the Order requires contractors and subcontractors (“contractors”) of the government to share threat and attack information with government agencies. Currently, many contracts limit what data these contractors share with the government. The requirement to share direct threat information with agencies will provide a great deal of intelligence for crafting a national strategy to address identified vulnerabilities and threats. This information sharing will be required through forthcoming specifics that will require actions, such as the collection and preservation of threat and attack data according to agency requirements. Contractors will then be required to share the threat and attack data collected in an industry standard format with named agencies that will address the is-
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ARTICLE: CYBER SECURITY FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT CONTINUED sues. Finally, contractors are also required to tems, which includes threat activity, vulnerabilicollaborate and cooperate in any ensuing in- ties, and agency responses. The CSRB will bevestigation into such threat and attack data. come a government-wide review board to ensure all attacks and threats are known and Next, the Order requires agencies to advance shared throughout the government and all toward a Zero Trust Architecture (“ZTA”) and agencies learn from the after-action reports. requires ZTA when using specific platforms known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Plat- From a forward looking approach, the Order form-as-a-Services (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as- requires the government to employ all necesa-Service (IaaS). ZTA is a holistic approach to sary resources to maximize the detection of vulthe security of a platform requiring verification nerabilities and threats to its agencies. Notably, of connections to and access of the plat- the Order directs the Cybersecurity and Infraform. This will extend to cloud services used by structure Security Agency to provide recomthe government and contractors. The imple- mendations within 30 days of the Order’s date mentation of ZTA will also require multifactor au- for options to implement an Endpoint Detection thentication (MFA) and encryption of data at and Response (“EDR”) on all agency networks. rest and in transit. Each agency will be required This Executive Order had been in the works for to provide progress reporting as they implemonths, but is a very direct response to the ment these requirements. most recent attacks against the United States The Order also implements a software supply government and to significant national infrachain security framework in response to the So- structure, i.e. Colonial Pipeline and JBS. These lar Winds hack. As you’ll recall, the Solar Winds attacks demonstrated the vulnerability of critihack emanated from a vulnerability in a gov- cal areas of the United States’ economy to ernment software provider. The order requires cyber-attack, which was a sobering show of NIST to develop “standards, tools, and best the need to harden our infrastructure to such practices” to protect the software supply attacks. The implementation of the Order at the chain. Some of the specific requirements men- agency level is a new approach that will be tioned are separate build environments for soft- determinative as to whether the Order can or ware used by government agencies, auditing will reduce the number of cyber-attacks. Ultitrust relationships, and employing automated mately, the proof will be in the eating of the tools to maintain a trusted relationship in source pudding. code supply chains.  Executive Order 14208 of May 12, 2021, The Order then rounds out with both retrospec- ( h t t p s : / / w w w . f e d e r a l r e g i s t e r . g o v / tive and prospective government reviews to documents/2021/05/17/2021-10460/improvingaddress cyber security. From a retrospective the-nations-cybersecurity) (the “Order”). approach, the Order establishes a Cyber Safety This article first appeared on July 1, 2021 at Baird Review Board (CSRB). The CSRB will review all Holm LLP written by Robert L. Kardell . Reprinted significant attacks on government agencies, as with permission. Get more information at well as attacks on significant non-Federal syswww.bairdholm.com.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR BOARD — TYSON GIRARD
How did you end up in the paralegal field? I
Through a business law class that I took while pursuing my Associates Degree in Business Management. During the class, we participated in a mock trial project. I volunteered to be one of the “attorney” roles for the mock trial. After we completed the project, my classmates and professor told me I was getting my degree in the wrong career field and encouraged me to switch to the Paralegal Studies program. I did just that. Shortly after switching my degree, and on a complete whim, I landed my first job as a paralegal for a firm in Salina, KS doing criminal defense and family law work.
How did you become involved in NePA?
My boss encouraged me to join shortly after I started at my current firm. He thought it would be a great opportunity for me to grow my network of individuals in the legal profession in Nebraska.
What made you decide to join the Board?
After joining NePA and attending a couple events, I knew I wanted to become more involved in the organization. I had mentioned this to a couple members, and then was approached about becoming the Public Relations Committee Chair. I couldn’t help but jump at the chance to become more involved in our organization.
What has been the greatest benefit of being a member of NePA?
I have had quite a few wonderful benefits from becoming a member of NePA. The opportunity to expand my leadership skills, professional network, and friendships I have developed are my top 3 greatest benefits.
What advice do you have for those looking to enter the paralegal field?
You are going to work long, hard, mentally exhausting and stress filled hours; but it is so very much worth the blood, sweat and tears. As a paralegal you play a very integral role in a firm/attorney’s success. Be aware of your ethical rules and guidelines. You are going to run into good attorneys and bad attorneys. Likewise, you are going to have good clients and bad clients. Never compromise your own integrity. Nothing is worth losing your self-respect over. You literally have your client’s lives in your hands. Treat your position with the highest reverence.
What is your favorite part of your job? What I love most about criminal defense work is I get to dig into cases and find the missing pieces. I get to investigate alleged crimes, go look at crime scenes, investigate/interview potential witnesses, and dig up all the dirt that I can on individuals (including our own clients).
Any funny stories you could share?
At the last firm I worked for we transitioned from having physical law books in our library to using more online technology. We thought it would be a great way to free up some of our extra office space. We went through a room full of our old law books and decided which ones we wanted to keep and which ones we wanted to get rid of. I contacted numerous colleges and libraries to see if anyone would like to take the old law books as a donation for their libraries. Unfortunately, no one wanted them. We stacked them in a corner and asked our cleaning crew to dispose of them with our other paper recycling. It was a big job, which I didn’t expect to be completed in one night but thought it would take at least a couple days to have them removed. A couple weeks had gone by and the large pile of books continued to remain in the office – even after we had let the cleaning crew know that they books could go out with our other recycling they would pick up. After another couple of weeks had gone by, I decided to add a note to the stack for the cleaning crew that said, “Please remove these books with the recycling or we’ll make you read them.” The next morning after adding the sign, every book was gone.
VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2
ARTICLE: SPEAKER DISCUSSES BALANCE OF PRIVACY, PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW When does the right to privacy end and freedom of the press begin? That was the question raised by David McCraw, deputy general counsel for The New York Times Company, during a continuing legal education session co-hosted by the Nebraska Paralegal Association and ARMA. Drawing from a variety of examples, McCraw explained the circumstances in which a person’s or group’s right to privacy could be trumped by the news media’s right to publish and why they’d have a better chance of winning such an argument in Europe than in the United States. In the first example, Meghan Markle sued a British tabloid after it had printed a private letter that she had sent to her father, which her father had passed on to the tabloid. Markle claimed that the letter had been intended to be private and wasn’t meant to be shared with the public. McCraw said the case raises a number of questions regarding privacy: Who is at fault in this situation? Is the tabloid liable because it printed the letter? Is Markle’s father liable because he shared what was meant to be a private letter with the tabloid? Do you have the right to disclose a letter that was written to you? In this case, the British court found in favor of Markle, stating that she “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private” and that the articles had “interfered with that reasonable expectation.” McCraw explained that had Markle filed such a suit in the United States, she most likely would have lost. There is no explicit right to privacy in the Bill of Rights, he said. In another example, The New York Times sent a photographer into New York’s public hospitals last year to take pictures of what the coronavirus pandemic looked like for medical professionals. McCraw himself negotiated with the hospitals to secure access for the photographer. They worried what might happen if the paper printed a photo in which a patient could be identified. Other questions included: Does that patient not have a right to privacy under HIPAA regulations? Could the patient sue the newspaper for violating their privacy? The patient could certainly sue, McCraw said, but “the press is going to win unless the disclosure has absolutely no artistic or newsworthy value.” In 2016, when New York Times reporter Susanne Craig was sent an envelope containing three pages of then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns, McCraw was part of the legal team that had to determine whether the paper could legally disclose the tax information to the public. Once the reporters had determined that the documents were genuine – which they did by tracking down and speaking with the accountant who had prepared Trump’s taxes that year – the lawyers had to decide if it was permissible to publish them.
VOLUME MMXXI, ISSUE 2
ARTICLE: SPEAKER DISCUSSES BALANCE OF PRIVACY, PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW—CONTINUED “The Supreme Court has been clear that if news organizations receive those sorts of documents that are supposed to be secret legally, they did nothing wrong to get them,” then they are protected under the First Amendment, McCraw said. The person who originally provided the private documents to the paper, however, would be open to prosecution. “The courts in the United States have been deeply concerned about what they call the chilling effect or self-censorship and the public’s need to know,” McCraw said. “The courts have left in the hands of the press to make an ethical decision about what to do, to disclose and not to face legal risk if they have obtained the information legally and it’s truthful and it’s a public interest, even if it violates somebody’s privacy.”
In the United States, this would present a First Amendment issue, McCraw said, but some U.S. companies have voluntarily started allowing people to request that articles be removed if the article is no longer relevant. The question then becomes: Who determines whether an article is relevant or not? “Just because Google thinks that something’s no longer relevant, would you feel different if you were about to employ that person?” McCraw asked. “Maybe that article would tell you something if you were about to date that person, if that person was your kid’s bus driver or that person was a candidate for your local city council.”
McCraw spoke to members of NePA and ARMA through Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemMcCraw also touched on the use of technology ic. in maintaining one’s privacy. For more on NePA, visit nebraskaparalegal.org. In Europe, people enjoy “the right to be forgot- For more on ARMA, visit armanebraska.org. ten,” which allows a person to ask for an internet company to remove their name from search This article first appeared on February 26, 2021 terms they don’t want to be associated with. The right is contained in the General Data Pro- at the Daily Record written by David Gobitz . tection Regulation, more commonly known as Photograph by David McCraw. Reprinted with GDPR. For example, a person can ask Google to permission. Get more information at remove search terms linked to a news article www.omahadailyrecord.com/subscribe. about them, but the news article itself would remain available.