October 2011 Archives

Hell's Angel, Kevin Augustiniak, Pleads Guilty to Murder

A member of the world famous Hell's Angels motorcycle club plead guilty to murder in an Arizona court:

Kevin J. Augustiniak, who pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder, was originally indicted in 2003 on suspicion of murdering Cynthia Garcia in October 2001 with other members of the motorcycle club, then dumping Garcia's body in the desert...  

Augustiniak, 33, and other members of the gang met Garcia, 44, at a party at the gang's Mesa clubhouse in late October 2001. As the party went on, members of the club began to think Garcia was being disrespectful, so they beat her until she was unconscious, "stomping on her head repeatedly," according to court documents.

("Mesa Hells Angel guilty of murder- Plea made in brutal killing of Valley woman in 2001" by JJ Hensley of the Arizona Republic)

As reported in the story, the murder investigation against Mr. Augustiniak was part of a larger investigation by federal agents against the Hell's Angels entire organization. The federal government is essentially treating the Hell's Angels as a organized crime syndicate. 

While this may sound like a standard Hollywood movie about motorcycle riders in Arizona, it is all too real. My hope is that both federal and state law enforcement do not begin to assume anyone who rides a motorcycle is a criminal or prone to violence. 

Arbitration in an Arizona Motorcycle Accident Case

If someone is hurt in an Arizona motorcycle accident case, or any accident case for that matter, and the case is set for arbitration, what does that mean? Does that mean whatever is determined at the arbitration hearing is the end of the case, and that there will not be any trial?

In Arizona, arbitration is a procedure by which the parties can postpone or sometimes avoid litigation in the trial courts. Arbitration can be one of four different combinations: binding, non-binding, mandatory, and non-mandatory. For example, in Maricopa County Superior Court, which includes the metro Phoenix area, if the dispute is for an amount less than $50,000.00 arbitration is mandatory but non-binding. That means an arbitrator must rule on the matter before it can proceed to civil trial.

But even though it is not mandatory, it is not binding. It is not binding because if one party, or both for that matter, disagree with the ruling, can appeal the arbitrator's decision. However, if the appealing party does not do at least 25% better than the arbitrator's ruling, the appealing party is liable for the non-appealing party's fees and costs.

If an arbitration is binding, that means the result of the arbitration is final and there is no appeal. That usually occurs when the parties agree to binding arbitration either in a contract or as a method to resolve the matter.

Many people confuse the word mediation and arbitration. They are not the same thing. Mediation just means a third party will try to help the parties resolve the matter, but he does not have any power to force a decision or enforce any ruling.