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The Invest Georgia Exemption: How Intrastate Offerings or "Crowdfunding" Can Help Start and Grow Georgia's Businesses

​By Nicholas P. Flint

Who would have thought that Georgia would be a pioneer of the crowdfunding movement? Georgia was just the second state to enact a regulatory framework to allow crowdfunding under the new federal exemptions from security registration for intrastate offerings. Through this legislation, Georgia has provided a valuable tool to its businesses to raise capital from in-state investors.

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SBA Loans in Wake of COVID-19: What Your Business Needs to Know

By Andrew T. Smith

As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 18, 2020, Gov. Kemp announced that Georgia has received an official statewide disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
This declaration will provide assistance in the form of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to impacted small businesses throughout Georgia. 
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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Impact It Will Have on Your Business

By Anthony Cammarata Jr.

This article was published in the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News on March 20, 2020: Tribune Ledger News - FROM THE BENCH & BAR.

As our nation faces the implications of the unprecedented crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, the federal government has now enacted legislation that could greatly affect your business. President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Act into law late Wednesday evening It is the second bill passed this month designed to blunt the pandemic's impact. In addition to expanding unemployment insurance benefits, increasing Medicaid funding, providing free coronavirus testing, and delivering additional nutritional assistance for a variety of low-income assistance programs, the Families First Coronavirus Act also includes two emergency paid sick leave and childcare leave programs.

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New Emergency Rule Regarding Mandatory Filing for Partial Unemployment Claims

By Anthony Cammarata Jr.

In light of the economic effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on businesses statewide, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has adopted an emergency Rule 300-2-4-0.5, effective March 16, 2020.

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FCW Statement on COVID-19

Our office is open and maintaining normal operations to ensure you that we are here to provide support, guidance, and assistance should you need it during this unprecedented crisis. We are closely monitoring the situation and are fully committed to supporting you in the coming days and weeks. Please review the statement below and feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information. Thank you again for placing your trust in Flint, Connolly & Walker for your legal needs.

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Small Business Owners Need Cybersecurity Protections

DATA AND CYBERSECURITY FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

It is rare today to read the daily news without seeing yet another instance of a large company experiencing a major data breach or hacking and consequently facing the threat of high-cost litigation. What many overlook, however, is that small businesses are just as susceptible, if not more, to the risks of cyberattacks. A recent study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that almost 50% of small businesses have been victims of a cyberattack, and that more than 70% of all attacks target small businesses. Even more concerning, the study found that approximately 60% of those small and mid-sized businesses that suffer a cyberattack go out of business after just six months.

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Doug Flint Named to Super Lawyers List

 Flint, Connolly & Walker is pleased to announce that its senior partner, Doug Flint, has been selected to the 2018 Super Lawyers list.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information, visit www.superlawyers.com.

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David Walker on property tax assessments and potential savings

Printed in Cherokee Tribune on December 3, 2017

Knowing Your Rights About Property Tax Assessments Could Save You Money

In most Georgia counties, the deadline for paying real property ad valorem taxes occurs in December of each year; however, many Georgia property owners are not aware of certain opportunities, which occur much earlier in the year, that they can use to potentially reduce their property tax burden.

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Welcome, Anthony Cammarata, Jr.

 We are excited to welcome our newest associate attorney, Anthony Cammarata, Jr. to Flint, Connolly and Walker. Anthony is pictured (second from left, front row) at the swearing-in ceremony on November 6 with Chief Superior Court Judge Jackson Harris at the Cherokee County Justice Center.

Anthony graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law. He is proud to call Cherokee County home. Anthony grew up with his parents and two younger sisters in Canton, Georgia and graduated from Cherokee High School. Anthony is licensed to practice law in all Georgia State Courts.

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Michael Bain advises insurance reassessment

Printed in Cherokee Tribune September 2, 2017

My mother recently mentioned that her homeowner's insurance premium had gone up. She has lived in the same house for thirty years, and although housing values in her neighborhood have recovered since the economic downturn, values have not appreciated much since she and my father bought their house as a new construction in the 1980s. My mother's comment piqued my curiosity, prompting additional questions about the details in her insurance coverage. Her insurance company valued her house for coverage purposes at more than $20,000 over that which any house in the neighborhood has ever sold, and over $100,000 more than the estimated value of her house. Additionally, the wooden shed in my mother's back yard that could be purchased from a home improvement store today for $1,500, was valued by her insurance company at $30,000. While her insurance company had reasons to justify the rise in coverage on her house, the reality of the situation is that my mother would likely never rebuild her home in the event of a catastrophe, and the extent of insurance coverage was unnecessary. In short, my mother had too much insurance coverage for her needs. The gradual increases in insurance coverage over time led to an increase in premiums, and for years she never gave her insurance coverage a second look.

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When DOT comes knocking, know your rights

Printed in Cherokee Tribune June 11, 2017

 When the State selects property for a highway project – whether it is a widening project, a new roadway, or a change to an existing roadway – the owner of the property affected by these plans has some very important concerns.

What can be done to stop this process? Does a property owner have to accept what the government offers for the property? The project that is being planned will seriously affect private property owners – what can be done about this?

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Doug Flint explains the importance of succession planning for small business owners in January’s issue of Cherokee Tribune

The backbone of the American economy is small business. Most small businesses in the U.S. are family- owned and many have been in existence for decades. One of the most challenging tasks I have faced in my career as a business lawyer has been developing strategies to help families arrange for the transfer of their business to others — be it a child, another family member, or another party, to ensure the survival and continuity of the business. This short article will touch on some of the main issues that a lawyer and his/her client should consider.

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In the August issue of the Cherokee Tribune, David Walker discusses changes to federal overtime rules

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL"), under the direction of the Obama Administration, announced dramatic changes to its regulation of the employer and employee relationship. Regardless of one's ideological opinion of these new mandates, the newly introduced government intervention will necessarily pose real and present consequences for many employers and employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") was originally introduced in 1938, and currently any business: (i) that has more than 2 employees and more than $500,000.00 in annual revenue, or (ii) is engaged in "interstate commerce", is subject to DOL mandates instituted under the Act. Effectively, the definition of "interstate commerce" has been expanded by the federal courts to include virtually any business activity in the U.S.

Since the FLSA was enacted, it has been utilized as a vehicle for the Federal DOL to create regulations regarding minimum wages, weekly work hours, and other facets of the relationship between employees and employers. While most people have a general familiarity with the "minimum wage" and "overtime" rules for hourly wage earners, less are familiar with the regulations that affect "salaried" employees. Nonetheless, as a consequence of these new government mandates, it is important that business owners and managers, human resource managers, and salaried employees take the time to develop a full understanding of the impact of these new changes.

Beginning on December 1, 2016, any salaried employee who is paid less than $913.00 per week ($47,476.00 annually) will no longer be exempt from entitlement to overtime pay for work in excess of 40 hours per week. Given that the overtime exemption was previously extended to employees making $455.00 per week ($23,600.00 annually), studies estimate that on December 1, over 4 million salaried employees will become eligible for overtime pay – overnight. While the new regulations have been touted as an immediate pay increase for affected employees, some analysts caution that – much like the unforeseen consequences of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – the unilateral decrease in exemptions may instead result in a reduction in the amount of income, hours, and advancement opportunities available to salaried employees who are currently exempt.

It must be noted that the amount of salary paid to an employee is only 1 of 2 tests for determining whether a salaried employee is exempt from overtime regulations. In addition, after December 1, employees making more than $47,476.00 per year will only be exempt if they also qualify under one of the following exemptions: (i) executive duties (such as management and supervisory duties and the ability to participate in decisions regarding the hiring, firing, or advancement of other employees); (ii) administrative duties (consisting of non-manual and independent work directly relating to the business operations of the employer); (iii) outside sales (in which the employee is regularly engaged in sales activities away from the employer's place of business); or (iv) "highly compensated employees" (meaning, those employees who have managerial duties and who earn more than $134,004.00 per year). Interestingly, the federal government also decreed that salaried attorneys, doctors, and teachers are exempt from the foregoing minimum wage protections.

While it is impossible to detail the nuances of these new regulations within the confines of this rather short column, the effect that these new regulations will have on small, medium, and large businesses and their employees cannot be overstated. Employers who wait until December 1 to address these new changes will suffer substantially increased liability and risk. In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in FLSA-related lawsuits by employees against employers as plaintiffs' lawyers have increased their advertising and efforts to expand this area of litigation. Moreover, if a business is found to have violated the FLSA, the penalties can be severe. Consequently, an employer who fails to adopt adequate strategies to ensure that it is in compliance with the new regulations may likely find itself an unwitting defendant in such a suit.

These new regulations present considerations for employees as well. As employers endeavor to respond to these new regulations by implementing lawful measures (such as requiring employees to "clock-in" and "clock-out", converting employees from salary to hourly status, reducing employee hours and limiting their ability to perform work outside of the office, as well as any number of related measures), in an effort to reduce their exposure and ensure compliance with the new rules, employees may find themselves unhappy with the new federal regulations. In order to limit the resulting strain, employers and employees should communicate in advance of the December 1 deadline to ensure that each has a full understanding of what new measures might be implemented to address the changes.

Employers and employees alike are advised to take the time to investigate the details of these new regulations, consult with their professional advisors and human resources departments, and develop a full understanding of how they may be affected by these new directives.

David L. Walker, Jr. is a partner with Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP. He focuses his legal practice to collaborate with business owners, mid-sized and closely held corporations, as well as real estate owners, developers, and contractors. David has a depth of knowledge in the areas of construction law, contracts, probate law and estate administration, and various matters related to the business operations of employers and business owners. 

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Article by Andrew T. Smith published in Cherokee Tribune

From the December 6, 2015 edition of the Cherokee Tribune.

Buyers in the market to purchase a home in the near future should know that the traditional real estate closing process has recently been revolutionized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB"). While these changes may not be apparent to first-time homebuyers, individuals who have purchased homes in the past should not expect to have similar experiences in the future. There is a myriad of new rules and regulations that will affect buyers, sellers, closing attorneys, agents, and lenders going forward, and the Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP team thought it prudent to inform prospective buyers on what to expect as the closing day approaches.

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CFPB “Know before you owe” rules

 A quick reference guide for real estate professionals

By now, most professionals in the real estate industry know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") has implemented sweeping changes to the real estate industry. But for many realtors the question still remains, "How will it impact me?" With these changes upon us, the Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP team wants to work with you to make sure everyone is aware of the changes.

Any residential loan originated on or after October 3, 2015 is subject to the new rules and forms set forth by the CFPB. These rules replace the Good Faith Estimate ("GFE") and early Truth-In-Lending Act (TILA) Disclosure with the new Loan Estimate form. The familiar HUD-1 Settlement Statement and final TILA form will also be replaced by the new Closing Disclosure form. By consolidating these various forms into just two instruments, the CFPB's alleged goal is to ensure that borrowers who are purchasing homes truly understand the financing involved with purchasing a home.

Additionally, the new rules implement strict timing requirements with regard to these forms. The CFPB determined that borrowers would be better served by having time to review the new Closing Disclosure prior to signing their loan documents. As a result, these rules require that borrowers have three business days after receipt of the Closing Disclosure to review the form and its contents prior to signing loan documents at the closing table. However, this three day review period only starts upon "confirmed receipt" by the borrowers. In theory, long gone will be the days where you and your clients anxiously wait in a closing attorney's lobby without HUD-1 approval, wondering if the transaction will be approved by the bank and the closing will proceed. With these new rules, you should know at least three days ahead of time whether or not the closing will occur on the date stipulated on the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

So what do you need to do? First and foremost, as with any new federal government program, you should certainly anticipate an adjustment process where administrative errors and other issues may need to be addressed. Secondly, remember that these rules are new to everyone – including lenders! Buyers should be provided ample time in the contract to close the purchase of the home they are buying and/or selling. Real estate professionals seem to agree that an additional 14 days from previous time frames to close upon execution of the Purchase and Sale Agreement may be best. Thirdly, borrowers must confirm receipt of the Closing Disclosure form. Without that confirmation, closings will only continue to be delayed. Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you are well versed to explain these new changes to your clients to ensure their lender is acting in accordance therewith.

If you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, please call us at 770-720-4411. Our team is here to help you and your clients through successful and worry-free closings.

Andrew T. Smith is an associate attorney in the law firm of Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP in Canton, Georgia, where he conducts residential real estate closings.

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Another successful seminar hosted by FCW

 On September 10th, Flint, Connolly and Walker, LLP hosted a second continuing education seminar for Georgia realtors. Thanks for a wonderful group of attendees, and to Downtown Kitchen for delicious food and drink! If you have any questions about the upcoming real estate closing procedures required by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") regulations, please contact us for more information.

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Second real estate seminar coming up soon

 Flint, Connolly and Walker, LLP will host a second, free continuing education seminar for Georgia realtors on September 10, 2015. Changes to real estate closing procedures required by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") regulations that go into effect on October 3, 2015 will be revealed. Register through the Cherokee Association of Realtors, or contact us for more information.

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FCW Realtor’s Continuing Education Seminar

Partner Douglas Flint discussing changes to real estate law

 Last week Flint, Connolly and Walker, LLP held a continuing education seminar for Georgia realtors. Its purpose was to provide insight into the changes to real estate closing procedures required by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations that go into effect on August 1, 2015. Our speakers included attorneys Douglas Flint, David Walker, and Andrew Smith.

We thoroughly enjoyed meeting and speaking with all of our attendees.
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Building Blocks for Starting a New Business

The prospect of starting a new business can be viewed as both a daunting and exciting task. Any entrepreneur who decides to embark on such a journey must first make several decisions about what type of business is best for his or her particular situation and needs: whether to organize the business as a sole-proprietorship or one of the many types of corporate entities available under the law. It is a rare occasion when it is advisable to operate as a sole proprietorship, because such an election poses the greatest exposure for potential personal liability and offers the fewest opportunities for beneficial tax treatment of the business income and expenses. Many small businesses benefit by being organized as either a Subchapter-S corporation or Limited Liability Company, and determining which entity will best fit one's needs will be based largely upon individual circumstances and business pursuits.


Almost any business involves some kinds (even if not formalized) of contractual engagements with customers and vendors. While many entrepreneurs are eager to "hit the ground running," a business owner who fails to use well-crafted written contracts may create significant unintended problems and liabilities for the business, as well as unrealistic expectations from its customers. Drafting and incorporating customized contracts into the new business operations from the outset is an inexpensive way to ensure that both the business and its customers or vendors have a clear understanding – or at least a clear framework for understanding – of the terms and conditions that will govern their business relationship.


Unfortunately , some individuals, even those having the greatest entrepreneurial ambitions, are frequently deterred from their pursuits by the mountain of municipal, county, state, and federal rules and regulations that directly influence their business and the viability of their business model. A new business owner must be acutely familiar with Workers Compensation rules, Department of Labor Standards, EPA requirements, healthcare mandates, IRS restrictions, and a host of other regulations which are adopted and expanded on a daily basis. Ignorance of the law – even law that is counter-intuitive to the basics of logic – is almost never an excuse for failing to abide by it. It is therefore critical for a new business owner to comprehend the legal landscape that will affect his or her business.

For individuals who intend to partner with others in a new business, it is imperative to establish a well-drafted set of rules – either in the form of bylaws, an operating agreement, or a partnership agreement – to clearly and explicitly govern the company's operations and each partner's respective rights and obligations. Too often people go into business with each other on a wave of optimism, making unreasonable assumptions about the plans and expectations of their partners or co-owners. These misplaced assumptions can result in dissent, disagreement, even strife, and potentially the demise of the business. Nonetheless, in many cases, these problems may be avoided by simply establishing ground rules on the front end that will explicitly govern the roles, rights, liabilities, and benefits each owner of the business will be expected to bear. While optimism is a necessary element to starting a successful business, it is also critical to have contingencies in place to confront the possibility that things will not go as planned.

Yet another consideration for an aspiring business owner is to determine what will happen to the business if he or she dies, or becomes disabled. Too often entrepreneurs fail to account for such a possibility, and such an oversight can result in an unnecessary waste of business assets and heartache for remaining family members if the business owner(s) has not established an adequate succession plan. The need for such a plan is even greater when the business has multiple owners, because an ownership interest in a business will pass through probate like any other personal asset unless a pre-existing contractual agreement binds the parties to a separate course. Accordingly, without a well-organized succession plan, co-owners of a business could find themselves as joint owners of a business with complete strangers overnight. Such an outcome rarely benefits any of the parties.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of the legal issues that confront a business owner, it serves to highlight just some of the considerations which must be accounted for in order to responsibly and successfully establish a profitable and valuable business.

David L. Walker, Jr., is a partner in the law firm of Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP in Canton, Georgia, where he represents businesses and individuals in various legal matters.
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Civil Case Preview–What to Expect in a Civil Action

 The average person does not have direct experience with our nation's legal system—especially the processes and procedures by which civil cases are handled in our courts. Uncertainty and a lack of understanding can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for people. It is for this reason that Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP seeks to inform its clients who find themselves involved in a civil case in our courts.


There are many various exceptions to the generalized summary offered here and this article is provided to explain the civil procedure part of the legal system to non-lawyers. Should you be interested in more specificity about exactly what to expect in your case, please directly consult your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer you can get one at https://deanhineslawyer.com/family-law-attorney-dayton-ohio/.

A civil case begins with a Complaint, which is what many people call a lawsuit. In the Complaint, a plaintiff (the person who filed the suit) states his or her problem or case against one or more defendants (the person whom the plaintiff claims did something wrong). A Complaint will describe the factual and legal grounds that the plaintiff has for bringing a lawsuit against the defendant.


After filing, the Complaint is then served on the defendant, usually by hand-delivering a copy of the Complaint to the defendant at his or her residence. This is normally done by the sheriff's office or a county marshal. In the State Court system the defendant usually has 30 days to file an Answer. He/she will admit or deny the allegations made by the plaintiff and assert defenses (such as prior payment, or that the claim is legally barred by some other legal doctrine). If no Answer is filed, the plaintiff is entitled to a judgment by default.

With the Answer, the defendant is also allowed to file a Counterclaim against the plaintiff. In other words, the defendant can sue back against the plaintiff by stating that it was the plaintiff who did something wrong. Counterclaims take many forms, depending on what kind of liability the defendant claims the plaintiff has.

Sometimes after the Complaint and Answer, it will become evident that other persons or parties should be present in the case. An example might be an instance where there was a three-car auto accident and two drivers operated their cars negligently, but only one was sued. In such a case, the defendant may file documents to add other parties to the case. Once the Complaint and Answer are filed, the issues for the case are formed. The issues that are disputed between the parties are the ones that are decided by the court.

When the issues are formed, the parties will typically engage in discovery. Each party has a right to ask written and oral questions and request information from the other side. The purpose of this exercise is so that each party may attempt to learn more about the facts and theories relied upon by the opposite party, the evidence and documents that support their case, and the names of witnesses who might have seen or heard important events relating to the case. Discovery can sometimes be a complex and lengthy process—usually dependent on the intricacies of the case. Likewise, extensive discovery is often a very expensive aspect to the litigation of a case. The lawyer and legal staff time involved can be quite considerable and other costs, such as travel and the expense of court reporters to take down depositions, can drive the costs of litigation up.

In addition, the parties to a lawsuit are able to obtain information from others in the discovery process (such as a doctor who treated the plaintiff's injuries, or a witness to an agreement). This is typically achieved through the use of the subpoena power of the courts.

Discovery usually continues for six months from the time that the Answer is filed, but is sometimes extended to a longer period when there is difficulty getting the necessary discovery completed within the initial six-month period. Cases in federal court proceed on a slightly different and usually shorter schedule.

Sometimes lawyers file motions with the court in order to have the case decided without a trial. There are several different types of motions that can accomplish this result but all of them seek to force an early end to the litigation. Not all cases are suited to having motions of this nature filed. Usually, these motions are filed when one party contends that it is entitled to prevail in the case no matter what a judge or jury might conclude about the facts. An example of this might be a Motion for Summary Judgment filed in a contract case where one party is able to show that a contract was never officially entered between the parties.

Often, the court will insist that the parties participate in a supervised effort to settle their case without a trial. This is usually done with a mediator who will act as a neutral third party to try to help the sides come to a compromise agreement. The mediation process is often very helpful even if the matter is not completely settled at mediation (mediations do have a high success rate for settling civil cases). Often, even if a case is not settled at mediation, the parties are able to settle part of their case or narrow the issues that will need to be eventually tried in court.

If the case is not settled or ruled on by the court prior to trial, the case may proceed to the trial stage. Trials may be held before a judge or a jury. Either party in a civil case is entitled to demand a jury trial and if such a demand is made by anyone, the case must be tried by a jury.

The court will usually require that the parties submit a Pre-Trial Order which identifies certain basic aspects of the trial that will take place. It serves as a sort of road map for the trial so the court and all parties will have the basics available to them: witnesses, the evidence to be used at trial, the lawyers who will try the case, and a basic summary of the factual and legal issues for the trial.

At the trial, each side will present its case to the judge or jury. If the plaintiff fails to show all of the necessary facts to prove his or her case, the defendant will be entitled to a ruling, or a Directed Verdict, in his or her favor. Likewise, if the defendant fails to set up sound defenses or legitimate facts to controvert the case presented by the plaintiff, then the plaintiff may be entitled to a Directed Verdict.

If neither party is granted a Directed Verdict by the judge, then the case will be submitted to the jury (or the judge if the case is a non-jury trial) and the facts will be decided based on a preponderance of the evidence—which means that there is more evidence in favor of the person receiving the verdict than the opposite party. This burden of evidence is sometimes described as "which story is more likely" or "who proved at least 51 percent of the evidence that persuades the judge or jury."

Once the judge or jury returns its verdict, the verdict becomes the Judgment of the court. In general, all parties have a right to appeal a court's final judgment. Usually the only issues for an appellate court to decide are whether or not the trial court made any mistakes in its handling of the case. On appeal, the case will not be re-tried or started over. Only if the Appellate Court finds an error and remands the case will the case be re-tried, which would be back in the trial court.

Douglas H. Flint is senior partner in the law firm of Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP in Canton, Georgia, where he represents and assists both businesses and individuals with their legal matters.
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