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Stethoscope & Gavel

The Basics of Medical Malpractice and Negligence

Medical malpractice is defined as improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a medical professional. Negligence is defined as a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. It is important to know and understand what these terms mean for anyone who comes in contact with medical professionals. As a patient, it is your responsibility to make sure you are aware of your rights when dealing with medical professionals.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Stethoscope & Gavel

Medical malpractice occurs when errors are made in the treatment of a patient. This can occur for many reasons, but some of the primary ones are as follows:

  • A doctor making an incorrect decision, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  • A medical professional practicing medicine outside of his or her field.
  • Failure to obtain the proper consent required by law.
  • Negligent treatment of a patient.

When any of these situations arise, the patient has the legal right to sue the appropriate medical professionals. In Arizona, according to the statute of limitations, a patient has two years after the cause of action accrues to file a medical malpractice case. Arizona does not limit the amount awarded for recovery of damages, as it is unconstitutional according to the state constitution.

What Is Negligence According to Arizona Law?

Negligence is a form of medical malpractice. It occurs when a doctor does not care for a patient in the way he or she should. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Expectations of a patient are two-fold: Doctors and hospitals are expected to provide medical treatment with all the knowledge and skill at their command, and secondly, they will not do anything to harm the patient in any manner either because of their negligence, carelessness, or reckless attitude of their staff.” When one of these expectations is not being met, it is possible that negligence has occurred. Negligence cannot be committed by a careful person who is being mindful and thoughtful in their duties.

One way a doctor can be guilty of negligence is failing to obtain the proper consent. Patients are required to give informed consent before procedures are performed unless they are not able to do so. In that case, usually a family member or delegated person is able to provide consent for the individual. In emergency situations when no one is available to provide consent, there is implied consent to save a person’s life unless the patient has documentation indicating other instructions, such as a DNR.

In conclusion, it is important to keep yourself well-informed as a patient. Knowing what to expect from your doctor and understanding his recommendation is not just important, it is your right in the state of Arizona. Staying educated and informed will ensure that you are getting the best care possible and that you have not fallen victim to medical malpractice.

Judge in Court Making Ruling

Victim’s Rights in Arizona

Judge in Court Making Ruling

The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier are strong advocates of victim’s rights and will fight diligently on your behalf if your rights have been violated.

There has been a lot of discussion in the local and national press about victim’s rights. It all started after Judge Hatch of Coconino County was sentencing David Evans a former DPS officer for sex abuse. During sentencing, Hatch stated to the victim: “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you.”

That statement caused a local and national clamor for Judge Hatch to resign since the statement seemed to blame the victim for being sexually abused. The victim and victim advocate groups called for Judge Hatch to make an apology which she later did. This case is a prime example of why the Arizona Constitution and Arizona Revised Statutes created laws protecting victim’s rights.

The Arizona Constitution, Article 2, Section 2.1. Victims’ Bill of Right states that a victim of crime has a right to “be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse, throughout the criminal justice process.” This is just one of many provisions of the Victims’ Bill of Right, the whole text can be found here.

The Arizona Revised Statute defines a victim as “a person whom the criminal offense has been committed, including a minor, or if the person is killed or incapacitated, the person’s spouse, parent, child, grandparent or sibling…”, the relevant statutes can be found here, under A.R.S 13-4401 through 13-4441.

Being a victim of a crime can be a traumatizing time and there are many resources available for victims to protect their rights. If you are a victim of crime you can visit Victim Witness Services of Coconino County at their website. You may need an attorney to help protect your right as a victim. The Law Office of Gonzales & Poirier represents victims of crimes throughout the criminal process and we can assist in navigating you through these tough times. Call us at 928-774-5400 if you need assistance.

Man Involved in De Facto Arrest

De Facto Arrest: State v. Boteo-Flores

Man Involved in De Facto Arrest

If you’ve been the victim of a de facto arrest and need legal representation, contact the Law Office of Gonzales & Poirier today for a free consultation.


The Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled that a lawful investigative stop under Terry v. Ohio can become a de facto arrest under certain circumstances. In State v. Boteo-Flores the defendant was detained as a suspect in a stolen car case. Officers detained Boteo-Flores for thirty to forty minutes in handcuffs awaiting detectives to interrogate him.

Terry v. Ohio allows officers to briefly detain an individual who they have reasonable suspicion to believe is involved in a crime. However, the Arizona Supreme Court found that the initial detention of Boteo-Flores was justified but found that a valid Terry stop can become a de facto arrest or illegal arrest.

The Supreme Court noted that the detaining officer was justified in handcuffing Boteo-Flores because the officer was alone and did not know if Boteo-Flores was armed. The Supreme Court eventually found a de facto arrest because “the continued use of handcuffs when there was no ongoing safety threats or flight risk transformed the valid Terry stop into a de facto arrest.” State v. Bohto-Flores, CR2011-0180. An investigatory detention when there was no ongoing safety threats or flight risk transformed the valid Terry stop into a de facto arrest.” State v. Boteo-Flores, CR2011-0180. An investigatory detention must be reasonable given the totality of the circumstances and the detention must be temporary and last no longer than is necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop. Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 500 (1983). The use of handcuff does not transform a Terry stop into a de facto arrest but the prolonged use of handcuffs when the suspects does not pose a safety threat or flight risk suggest a de facto arrest.

If you have been arrested and believe that your rights were violated by the police contact the Law Office of Gonzales and Poirier at 928-774-5400 or toll free at 855-774-5400 and ask to speak with Matt, Tony or Daniel.

Older Man Smoking Marijuana Joint

The Rule of Corpus Delicti

Older Man Smoking Marijuana Joint

Joseph Connell, a former police officer with the Flagstaff Police Department, was fired after admitting to smoking marijuana in the past, but a judge ruled corpus delicti in the case.

Joseph Connell was a former officer with the Flagstaff Police Department and was fired for his admission of smoking marijuana with a “hot chick” at the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival in 2011. Although, Connell would pass subsequent drug test he was ultimately fired from the police department for violating Peace Officer Standard and Training (POST) and Flagstaff Police Department standards.However, the Arizona Daily Sun reports that Connell will retain his POST certification allowing him to serve as a peace officer in Arizona; thus, allowing Connell the ability to look for a job as a police officer in Arizona.

Ultimately, the administrative law judge allowed Connell to retain his POST certification because the state failed to prove that Connell smoked marijuana. Although, Connell admitted to smoking marijuana there is no physical evidence proving that what Connell smoked was in fact marijuana. The administrative law judge was applying the concept of corpus delicti to the case. The term corpus delicti is latin for the body of the crime. The concept of corpus delicti provides “that before the state can use a defendant’s incriminating statement at trial, the state must provide evidence independent of the confession or admission that tends to indicate that the defendant committed the crimes charged.” State v. Daugherty, 173 Ariz. 548, 551, 845 P.2d 474 (Ariz. App. Div. 1, 1992). The rationale behind Arizona adoption of the rule of corpus delicti was the understanding that “confessions may be untrustworthy because of involuntariness (due to improper police conduct) or unreliability (due to the mental instability of the accused). Id. at 551.

Arizona and other jurisdictions developed the concept of corpus delicti from English Common Law. English Courts had many famous cases where an alleged murder was executed based on their confession, soon after the execution the “victim” would suddenly reappear. Thus, English Courts required independent evidence of the murder, the corpus delicti, i.e. the corpse of the murdered person presented as evidence.

Similarly, the corpus delicti rule has been applied to confession in Arizona. Confession in Arizona are admissible “only when the state establishes the corpus delicti—‘the body of the crime’—by presenting evidence that is sufficient, independent of the confessions, to warrant a reasonable inference” that the charged crime has occurred and the defendant is responsible.” In Connell’s case, corpus delicti would require that AZ POST prove with additional evidence that Connell smoked marijuana, such as urine testing, witnesses and/or additional physical evidence. Read the full Arizona Daily Sun Article here.

If you believe that your rights have been violated by the police department and your confession was not voluntarily contact the Law Offices of Gonzales and Poirier at 928-774-5400 and ask to speak to one of our attorneys Matt, Tony or Daniel. We assist people throughout the State of Arizona and have offices in Flagstaff and Cottonwood, Arizona.

Daniel Tom, Esq.

Equality Sign with Male & Female Hands

Civil Rights

Equality Sign with Male & Female Hands

Gonzales & Poirier, PLLC serves as a voice for victims of discrimination, abuse of power, and negligence, but most importantly, we stand up for those that cannot fight for themselves.

The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier is committed to justice for all people. Our firm serves as a voice for victims of discrimination, abuse of power and negligence. We give hope to the disenfranchised that have little expectation of justice by giving them access to quality legal representation. Most importantly, we stand up for those that cannot fight for themselves.

Justice for All:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) prohibits discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, based on race, sex, color, religion, and national origin. Specifically, Section 703(A) made it unlawful for any employer to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions
or privileges or employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” In addition, Title 42, Section 1983, of the United States Code, provides that it is illegal for a police officer to deny the Constitutional or federal rights of any person. A police officer’s responsibility is to uphold the law and protect individual’s civil rights.

The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier take cases involving civil rights violations and police misconduct seriously. Our experienced attorneys stand up to government, especially when one’s rights are being violated. There are many variations of civil rights cases. These cases involve police misconduct, employment discrimination, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and violations of the First Amendment (freedom of speech and religion), Fourth Amendment (right against searches and seizures), Eighth Amendment (right against cruel and unusual punishment) and Fourteenth Amendment (rights to due process and equal protection).

Police Misconduct involves cases of excessive police force, unjustified deadly, negligent use of police dogs, false arrest or detention, racial profiling, and jail abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, Arizona has had its fair share of police misconduct or abuse. The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier have had a multitude of cases involving police misconduct. Most recently, our firm has handled cases of false arrest, racial profiling and false detention. We have been successful in receiving settlements prior to litigation.

Civil Rights Violations & Police Misconduct

Employment Discrimination cases in Arizona are governed under the Arizona Civil Rights Act, which provides that it is unlawful to discriminate against any individual because of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability. This Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Discrimination includes the following:

  1. Failing to hire individuals or promote individuals for discriminatory reasons.
  2. Firing or demoting individuals for discriminatory reasons.
  3. Providing an individual with different pay, benefits, or other terms and conditions of employment.
  4. Segregating workers based on protected characteristics like race or gender.
  5. Sexual harassment, hostile work environment or harassment.
  6. Engaging in or tolerating harassment because of race, color, national origin, religion, age or disability.
  7. Pregnancy discrimination.
  8. Failing to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals.
  9. Failing to make corrections when harassment or retaliation are reported.
  10. Treating employees differently or retaliating against such employees because they have complained about discrimination.

Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. To be protected under this Act, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. A person is considered to have a disability with they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

The First Amendment protects our freedom of speech. Citizens of the United States may freely express any belief or idea, even if controversial or unpopular. The First Amendment also protects our religious practices. Our freedom of speech is only limited in certain instances such as speech that provokes imminent unlawful activities, slander, speech that is obscene or considered to be a hate crime. The attorneys at the Law Office of Gonzales & Poirier defend the First Amendment with vigor and zealousness. We believe that the First Amendment is the cornerstone to our freedom.

The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, requiring that law enforcement obtain consent from the person to be searched, or a warrant supported by probable cause. Such warrants need to particularly describe the place to be searched, and persons and property to be seized. Should law enforcement fail to obtain consent or a valid warrant, all evidence obtained by the search may be excluded under the exclusionary rule. The Fourth Amendment also protects individuals against arrest if the officer does not have probable cause. However, when an officer has “articulable suspicion” that crime is underway, the officer may investigate by stopping the individual for a short time and may frisk the person for weapons. This is known as a Terry Stop. Moreover, an officer does not violate the Fourth Amendment by merely approaching individuals on the street or in other public places and asking questions if these individuals are willing to listen.

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment for federal crimes. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars States from inflicting such cruel and unusual punishment for State crimes. The US Supreme Court has held that excessive physical force against prisoners may constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

The Fourteenth Amendment sets forth the due process and equal protection clause. The due process clause provides that no state shall make or enforce any law which deprives person of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The due process clause also makes the Bill of Rights applicable to states. When states may substantive laws or regulations, the Fourteenth Amendment may invalidate such laws under the doctrine of substantive due process. The Fourteenth Amendment also prohibits states from denying any person the equal protection of the laws. In essence, states cannot treat similar situated people differently. This applies to sex, alienage, illegitimacy, wealth, or other characteristics.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of police misconduct or a civil rights violation, call the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier today at (928) 774-5400. You may also email us at, or message us from our website at We handle cases in Flagstaff, Holbrook, Winslow, Williams, Sedona, Cottonwood, Prescott and other parts of the State. Our initial consultation is free.

A lot of law firms might claim to fight for your civil rights but we actually do represent citizens whose rights have been violated by the government. Here is a small example of our prior case involvement, as reported by the Arizona Daily Sun and the Arizona Republic:

Title: So. Beaver lawyer cites racism, to read the article click here.

Title: 4 schools to close, to read the article click here.

Title: Suit likely if South Beaver closed, to read the article click here.

Title: FUSD set to vote on school closure, to read the article click here.

Title: Flagstaff smoke shops continue smoke-free, to read the article click here.

Title: Parents, teachers, students and administrators may learn Tuesday evening which schools the Flagstaff Unified School District plans to close, to read the article click here.


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