Prison Time for Not Wearing a Seat Belt?


Could you imagine going to prison for not wearing your seat belt? That might be the case in New Jersey after a recent ruling from the state’s supreme court. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that failure to wear a seat belt or to require minor passengers to wear them could result in criminal charges and prison term, according to USA Today.

This ruling comes after a car accident in which the driver and the passenger were not wearing seat belts, leading to the death of the 16 year old passenger. The court said that the seatbelt law is, “clearly intended to protect public health and safety,” and if it is broken, it can be used to support criminal convictions under the law.


This ruling is not without controversy as it raises some serious questions about responsibility under the law. From a criminal law perspective, Attorney Benjamin Van Severen explains:

“Obviously the intent of the law is to promote public safety.  A $20 fine for not wearing a seatbelt (or $10 fine in Wisconsin) does not have enough teeth to scare individuals into wearing seat belts.  However, the larger issue is do we really want to make the driver responsible for ensuring that each passenger is wearing their seatbelt?  At some point, the passenger should be deemed old enough to make a conscious decision whether or not to wear their seatbelt.  If they decide to take the risk and not wear a seatbelt and then the vehicle is in an accident, I’m not sure we should be faulting the driver for their death solely on the fact that the passenger chose not to strap in.”


Wisconsin State Bar Elects Attorney John A. Birdsall to the Board of Governors


John A. Birdsall, president of Birdsall Law Offices, S.C., was elected to the Milwaukee district of the Wisconsin State Bar Board of Governors and will begin his service in July. The Board of Governors manages and directs the affairs and activities of the State Bar of Wisconsin. Birdsall will be one of the twelve governors part of the Milwaukee District. Birdsall is also the only attorney on the board to exclusively practice criminal defense law.

Birdsall brings a history of leadership along with this unique perspective as he is currently on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Criminal Law Section of the State bar of Wisconsin. Birdsall also serves on the board of directors at the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee.

The State Bar of Wisconsin – A Day With the Experts in Criminal Defense

The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Pinnacle Program and program director, attorney John A. Birdsall, will present a CLE seminar focused on criminal defense. “A Day with the Experts in Criminal Defense” seminar will take place Friday, June 13, 2014 in Madison, WI.

CLE events are designed to further legal education and hone your expertise as an attorney. John A. Birdsall is proud to be a part of this seminar and continue his personal tradition of education.


About the Seminar

The prosecution can seem pretty intimidating in a criminal case – with a virtual army of police, investigators, forensic scientists, and medical experts arrayed against your client. On the other hand, as in football or chess, these’s an equal and opposite defense to every prosecutorial move. This CLE seminar will further your understanding of criminal defense and hone your skills as a defense attorney.

Along with John A. Birdsall and the panel of criminal defense experts, you’ll

  • Unlock the mysteries of a typical DNA report as well as the laboratory procedures, technical language, and the strengths and weaknesses of the conclusions
  • Be aware of the common problems with the eyewitness identification and learn how to challenge the reliability of eyewitnesses
  • Recognize the contributing factors to unreliable child forensic interviews and learn specific methods to challenge the prosecutor’s experts
  • Learn the risk factors leading to false (and not so false) confessions, how to analyze them, and how to challenge them in court


Register today online by clicking here or by phone at (800)-728-7788




4 Tips for Law School Graduates

ImageAs spring is upon us and law schools are coming to a close, another crop of young lawyers are celebrating graduating and the beginning of their law careers. While there will almost never be a shortage of attorneys, there is however a shortage of jobs. Milwaukee has become a saturated market that is full of talented attorneys, with more and more entering the bar each year. With that in mind, attorneys Matthew Meyer and Ben Van Severen, shed some light on what it takes to land that first job out of law school. Matthew and Ben are both graduates of Marquette University Law school and attorneys at Birdsall Law Offices, S.C.

  1. First and foremost, it is important to build a solid network. Not only will this help you find that first job but it will pay dividends in the future. Focus on both relationships with experienced lawyers and your peers. “It’s the main reason I had a job as soon as I was licensed,” adds Matthew Meyer. 

  2. Cast a wide net when looking for a job. The idea is to get your name out there and taking every opportunity to do that will help you find success.

  3. It is also important to stay focused on the search. It is easy to get discouraged when sending out multiple resumes without any responses. Stay true to the job search and the right fit will come.

  4. Make sure you put in the work. Whether it is preparing for an interview or designing your resume, make sure you put some time into it. Being fully prepared is always a good look. “I think that this also extends out to working your first job.  Unfortunately the six-figure jobs we all hope to have aren’t as prevalent anymore. Sometimes you’ve got to work hard and make only a tiny bit of money the first few years before you start to see successes,” says Matthew Meyer.



Educating Milwaukee on Criminal Defense


One of the biggest hurdles that people face when charged with a crime is that they do not understand the typical criminal procedure. Being charged with a serious crime like drug possession, homicide, or sexual harassment is not something that anyone anticipates so there is a lack of knowledge of how to handle the situation. Not knowing how to properly handle the situation can lead to making false statements that the police can deem incriminating.

Milwaukee attorney John A. Birdsall believes education and understanding the implications of a criminal charge are one of the first steps in a successful defense. When the defendant is familiar with what they are being charged with, exactly what it means, and what to expect, the defendant can have a clear mind to begin their defense. From this idea, Birdsall Law Offices S.C. has made four new websites devoted to educating people on various criminal charges and how to handle them. The four sites are devoted to DUI defense, sex crime defense, homicide defense, and drug crime defense.

We invite you to check out the sites below and educate yourself. However, always contact a lawyer as soon as possible when charged with a criminal offense.







Milwaukee Attorney John A. Birdsall Joins the Rotary Club of Milwaukee


In October 2013, Attorney John A. Birdsall was inducted into the Rotary Club of Milwaukee. Founded in 1913, the Rotary Club of Milwaukee is an organization made up of some of the city’s most influential and successful leaders. Their mission is to better the Milwaukee community through addressing issues of poverty, illiteracy, clean water, environmental improvement, hunger, disease, and many more. “Over the past 100 years, we’ve made Milwaukee and the world a better place to be, with a history of service that is unmated in the community,” said President Rick White

Each Tuesday Milwaukee business and community leaders come together at the War Memorial Center for lunch to listen and learn about the key issues affecting the Milwaukee community. John was officially introduced at a Tuesday lunch meeting as he was recognized for his contributions as a leader in Milwaukee law. The Milwaukee Rotary club is part of a worldwide network of over 1.2 million men and women who are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of people in their communities and the world.

John was drawn to the Rotary Club when he discovered it was a service organization dedicated to improving the Milwaukee community that he loves. The Rotary Club fits perfectly with his personal tradition of volunteerism. In addition to contributing at their weekly meetings John is volunteering his time as a mentor for children of the Milwaukee Public School system.

Attorney John A. Birdsall Admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court


On Nov. 4, 2013, Attorney John A. Birdsall traveled to Washington D.C. to be admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Admittance to the bar of the United States Supreme Court is a great honor for any lawyer. John is particularly proud of this accomplishment. While it is rare for a case to reach the United States Supreme Court, this honor is a validation of John’s experience and dedication which has made him one of Wisconsin’s best criminal defense lawyers. In order to receive this honor, a current member of the Supreme Court Bar must file a motion of nomination and then that motion must be granted by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.