The unexpected suicide of Aaron Hernandez has thrust the ongoing civil proceedings into the spotlight. As the firm representing Ursula Ward, the mother of Odin Lloyd, Sheff Law had obtained, prior to Mr. Hernandez’ death, an order of the Superior Court granting summary judgment on the issue of liability. The Sheff Law Office is committed to the continued prosecution of this civil matter and fully intends to pursue remedies afforded by this order against the Estate of Mr. Hernandez.
The concept of abatement ab initio derives from English common law and was adopted by early states that formed the United States of America. The principle’s continued use in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is designed to ensure that all people receive full access to the legal protections guaranteed under United States and Massachusetts law, regardless of circumstances in the context of criminal proceedings.
It is important to separate this principle from a civil wrongful death judgment, which is decided at a lower threshold than a criminal conviction. In a criminal case, a jury must agree beyond all reasonable doubt that an individual committed a crime. In a civil case, either a jury or a judge weighs the evidence and only a majority opinion, in the case of a jury trial, is required to obtain a judgement. There is no relief from civil judgments for individuals who pass away (regardless of circumstance). This doctrine is limited to convictions obtained in a criminal prosecution.
This situation is different in many material aspects than the famous example of a civil judgment without a criminal conviction in recent years in the Goldman v. Simpson case, where O.J. Simpson was forced to pay $25 million in damages to the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson following a civil trial.. A criminal trial failed to convict Mr. Simpson of murder, but the civil court found the weight of the evidence pointed toward his guilt. In this case, Mr. Hernandez was found guilty in the criminal prosecution. The Sheff Law Office had obtained a finding of civil responsibility before Mr. Hernandez chose to take his own life.
We are confident that Ursula Ward’s claim will stand, and we are committed to a timely resolution of her case. To that end, we offer a friendly challenge to the New England Patriots: We want to provide the Patriots with an opportunity to become something more. Not just champions of football but champions of justice. We urge the Patriots to work with the NFL Players Association to voluntarily make these payments, of little consequence to the team, of tremendous assistance to these struggling and deserving families who are hurting.
Ursula Ward stands for all those victims who don’t have a forum to speak about their losses. She speaks for them. Hear her plea and become a source of support for victims of crime.
View the April 21, 2017, Press Conference
April 21st, 2017 | Posted in Blog