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The Pandemic and The New Legal Reality

New Legal Reality After COVID-19

These new events are re-shape and re-define our relationships with each other and by extension are legal relationship. This shutdown is one of those events.

Traffic Tickets

Ok, the good news first, the courts are for the most part closed. This does not mean that they are inactive. Most are still accepting faxes, recording cases, and of course police officers are still writing ticket with appearance dates on them. These appearance dates if ignored can still result in Failures to Appear, which can affect your ability to drive. So read the ticket carefully.

Our response is to accept traffic ticket cases, and respond to the courts by on line/ or phone text messaging. Most of these courts accept pleas and filings by fax. Notice no physical contact. What has been abandoned, or delayed are large docket calls, and mass dockets.  This does not mean that traffic tickets can be ignored. In our digital world life goes on whether we physically met or not. Ask your kids.

Actually, this lockdown puts more stress on the system which responds by ramping up digital reporting, and recording of your case and can result in computer guided issues.  All citations in most jurisdiction are digitally recorded and sent to DMV (Depart of Motor Vehicles) automatically. You can find yourself without a license now more then ever, even without fault or error on your part.

A Failure to Appear, while a civil violation is still recorded by the DMV, and can result in suspension of driving privileges, not to speak of the danger of the warrant for this violation resulting in incarceration. So please be careful.

Landlords & Tenant

A new day, a new relationship.

OK, we all know that the current situation is Chaotic. Some landlords are attempting to evict.

Residential Rent:

While tenants in houses and apartments are protected by “the tenant’s bill of right, See Texas Property Code Title 8, Chapter 92)

Also remember promises and arrangement with managers/ even landlords must be in a writing, we are essentially dealing with contracts here.

I highly recommendation you read your lease, know your rights, secure any modifications, waivers in a writing signed by all parties

Students Housing:

Students and those leasing for special reasons have some legal remedies and rights, Force Majeure / frustration of purpose.  I could write a whole book on any of these contractual legal theories, but sufficient to say here, they can allow you/ your son/daughter to end the lease, and have no major credit implications.

Commercial Property Rental:

Commercial tenants are not so blessed (business operations). Lockout, and seizure of inventory, and anything else in the locations is a real danger. If you are a business owner, you can find yourself, even after being allowed to go back to your office/ store / restaurant, having no place to return to. Recommendation. Read your lease. Keep in touch with your landlord, work out an arrangement in a writing, signed by all parties. Anything less is not effective.  All commercial leases demand modifications/ waivers/ adjustments in a writing / signed by all parties. Promises are nice, but a modification is what is going to keep you in business.

Business Contracts:

In the real sense of the word, this is a game changer for all commercial and business activity. All parties involved in legal transactions are having re define them and consider how this lock-down, and these health issues we are currently facing as a nation impact their commercial activities. This includes the business owner’s liability to 3rd parties, employees and customers.  This is not just a matter of re-opening, and doing what we did before. Those days are gone.  What must now be done is a legal review of business relationships and contract terms.  Reliance upon friendship and informal arrangement are ill advised. We are strongly suggesting that all commercial entities large and small review all written agreements, and obligations.  There will be massive restructuring and an almost immediate need to get a head of the trend, and the situation. Only those who do their due diligence and operate in advance of the coming return to some form of business activity, which will be different from what preceded this lock-down, will survive.


Disclaimer: The above article/blog is NOT offered as legal advice, or as an offer to represent anyone. No reader should rely upon the information and opinion in this article as legal advice. Such advice must be offered only based upon each situation and each client’s differences. and each demands specialized legal advice based upon individualized circumstances. This blog is only being offered as general information and is based upon the individual opinions and beliefs of the author.

About the Author

Steven Frankoff
Steven FrankoffAttorney at Law
As an individual attorney, I have been helping my clients solve problems and resolve issues since 1987. Ireceived my Juries Doctor (J.D.) from South Texas Collage of Law in Houston in 1986. Then in 1987 I received my Master of Law in international law and taxation from McGeorge School of Law. Today I look forward working with my clients to provide them the best help and expertise I have to offer.
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