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Texas Voter Registration for Midterm Elections 2018

In honor of election day tomorrow, The Benton Law Firm is providing this interactive visualization of voter registration in the state of Texas. Click on the map below to explore voter statistics for the 2018 midterm elections, including the average voter’s age and Hispanic voter percentages for each Texas county.

12 TV/Movie Lawyer Quotes You'll Never Forget

Hollywood does a wonderful job making the work of an attorney appear glamorous. Some of the images are true to form; we really do work all hours of the night on cases when we need to and sometimes litigation can be as dramatic as the best television representation. Here are 12 quotes from some of our favorite Hollywood depictions:

1. A Few Good Men (1992)

Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson): [during court proceedings] “You want answers?”
Kaffee (Tom Cruise): “I want the truth!”
Col. Jessup: “You can’t handle the truth!”

2. My Cousin Vinny (1992)

Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci): [in opening statement] “Uh. Everything that guy just said is bullshit. Thank you.”
DA Jim Trotter: “Objection. Counsel’s entire opening statement is argumentative.”
Judge Chamberlain Haller: “Sustained. Counselor’s entire opening statement, with the exception of ‘thank you,’ will be stricken from the record.”

3. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck): [closing statement] “…Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I’m not idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system. That’s no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality! Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review, without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision and restore this man to his family…”

4. Erin Brockovich (2000)

Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts): [In a settlement meeting with corporation lawyers] “So before you come back here with another lame ass offer, I want you to think real hard about what your spine is worth, Mr. Walker. Or what you might expect someone to pay you for your uterus, Ms. Sanchez. Then you take out your calculator and you multiply that number by a hundred. Anything less than that is a waste of time.”

5. Legally Blonde (2001)

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon): [at trial proving a connection to the real defendant] “Exactly. Because isn’t the first cardinal rule of perm maintenance that you’re forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm at the risk of deactivating the ammonium thioglycolate?”

6. Chicago (Musical) (2002)

Billy Flynn (Richard Gere): [during testimony regarding client, Roxie Hart] “I object! My client has never held a diary! And even if she did, this would be…invasion of privacy, and violation of the fourth amendment, and… and illegal search without a warrant!”
Roxie Hart (Rene Zellweger): “Yeah, AND she broke the lock!”

7. Law and Order (1990)

Narration at opening: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

8. Boston Legal (2004)

Alan Shore (James Spader): “Objection, your Honor. You can’t preface your second point with ‘first of all.’”

9. The People vs. Larry Flint (1996)

Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton): [closing statement] “I’m not trying to suggest that you should like what Larry Flynt does. I don’t like what Larry Flynt does, but what I do like is the fact that I live in a country where you and I can make that decision for ourselves.”

10. The Firm (1993)

Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise): “I discovered the law again. You actually made me think about it. I managed to get through three years of law school without doing that.”

11. Double Jeopardy (1999)

Bobby (Jay Brazeau): “I’m a lawyer. What we think isn’t supposed to matter.”

12. Philadelphia (1993)

Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks): “It’s that every now and again – not often, but occasionally – you get to be a part of justice being done. That really is quite a thrill when that happens.”

Scariest Car Accident Movie Scenes

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and injury in the United States, so when we see them on the big screen, it hits close to home. Here we list Hollywood’s scariest car accident movie scenes according to our team at The Benton Law Firm.

Disclaimer: Some of these clips are graphic in nature and contain mature content or language. Use your discretion before viewing.

1. Final Destination 2

Though the franchise has its eye-roll inducing moments, the opening car crash scene has us watching through the gaps in our fingers. Like all horror movie franchises, we wanted to yell, “No, do not do it!” but all you can do is sit back and watch the fiery wreckage claim its first victim.

2. Carrie

After the infamous blood-soaked Carrie leaves her senior prom, she is confronted by her bullies in their vintage Pontiac. Using telekinesis, Carrie swiftly brings the car to an abrupt halt, killing the driver. She sends the remaining passenger headfirst through the windshield. It may not be a metal-on-metal collision, but it is enough to keep us up at night.

3. Death Proof

Kurt Russell plays a sadistic stuntman who repeatedly smashes his victims with his 1971 Chevy Nova. In one scene, he lashes out at a group of unsuspecting young women jamming out in their cars. The result is terrifying.

4. Christine

Stephen King sure knows how to make us lose sleep. While the spirit of a homicidal maniac trapped in the body of a car may seem like a snooze fest, the king of horror teaches why kindness is always the best option. When antagonist Moochie Welch tries to destroy Christine, she retaliates in swift and gory fashion.

5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

It does not take a prophet to deduce that this movie is full of cringe-worthy moments and stomach-dropping scenes. In the opening act, a car chase takes out a cow and wreaks some serious roll-over havoc, delivering the panicked victims straight into the arms of the vicious killer.

6. Vanilla Sky

One of the worst moments in movie-watching is realizing what’s going to happen before the main character does and being powerless to stop it. Enter Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky, where the unhinged girlfriend takes her unsuspecting beau (Tom Cruise) for a wild ride. We realize her intentions to commit murder/suicide long before the passenger, and all we can do is watch it happen.

7. Casino Royale

We love that Bond’s first real outing as 007 has him destroying his shiny Aston Martin before we can even see its fancy ejector seats. His love interest lying in the middle of the pavement made us all gasp and watch what happened next through squeezed eyelids.

8. Premonition

In this pseudo-thriller starring Sandra Bullock, the protagonist awakens to discover that her husband was killed in a car accident the day before. Shortly after, however, she returns home to find him alive and well. Bullock then gets caught in a time loop where she has to relive the experience over and over, like a worst-fears take on Groundhog Day.

9. Adaptation

We know it is coming, and somehow that makes it even harder to watch. Known for its simplicity and realism, Adaptation shows us how life can change in just a few seconds.

10. Transformers 3

Any Michael Bay movie featuring battling robots is sure to set some budget-breaking explosive car crash records. In the third installment’s most popular scene, a robot fight makes us never want to take the highway again.

Hollywood may spend millions making car crash movie magic, but we know that a car accident is no fairy tale. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, feel free to contact us.

Top Boating Anthems

There is no better way to relax and unwind than by spending a day on the open water. Pack your sunscreen and your refreshments, but leave the playlist to us. Here is our list of the best boating tunes:

1. “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock. You do not have to spend your summertime in northern Michigan to appreciate the devil-may-care sentiments about the year’s best season.

2. “Pirates of the Caribbean” Theme. The soundtrack from the blockbuster Disney hit is sure to put you in the mood for a swashbuckling time on the high seas. Just remember to bring your rum.

3. “Let It Be” by The Beatles. This one is perfect for letting the cares of the world melt away as the shore fades from sight. You might want an encore as you return from your voyage to confront the real world again.

4. “Come Sail Away” by Styx. This classic rock epic is a self-explanatory requirement for any complete boating playlist. Urgency or not, setting any open course to maritime bliss is not complete without this song.

5. “Redneck Yacht Club” by Craig Morgan. Not every seafarer’s dream requires a 45-footer with a martini in hand. Sometimes all it takes is a vessel that floats and a cold beer to make your own personal yacht.

6. “Knee Deep” by Zac Brown Band. This crooning medley featuring Jimmy Buffet will please country fans and pop lovers alike.

7. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper. This quintessential summer anthem is the cure for what ails you. Whether it is a cruel gym teacher or a nagging boss, leave your class and principles behind for the day.

8. “Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes” by Jimmy Buffett. Face it; no boating playlist is complete without the grand parrot head himself. Just as the sights of the shore start to fade from the horizon, your cares from the world start to melt away as you pop in this song.

9. “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. A song does not have to be specifically about boating to be a worthwhile addition to a nautical playlist. This crooning number by the iconic Redding is a classic anthem for summer.

10. “Surfin’ USA” by The Beach Boys. This oldie always screams summer fun. Its catchy beat makes it a popular surf tune.

11. “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy, Days of Summer” by Nat King Cole. This classic has an anthem we can get behind. Soda, pretzels, and beer, anyone?

12. “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams. Whether it is your “first real six string” or just your first time out on the water for the season, this tune evokes the kind of nostalgic vibe perfect for a day on the water.

13. “Summer Nights” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. Perfect for a sunset cruise, this song from the “Grease” soundtrack is sure to make you want to bring your poodle skirt out of storage.

14. “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” by Bryan Hyland. This 1960 hit details the perfect outfit for wearing on the stern to catch some rays – just bring the sunscreen.

15. “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus. Regardless of her current image in the press, the former Hannah Montana star has produced at least one infectious summer anthem.

16. “Float On” by Modest Mouse. This 90s indie rock band made its mark with this hit, which adds a bit of edge to any playlist.

17. “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet. Sometimes you just need a song where the biggest problem the singer faces is a blown out flip-flop.

18. “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by The Eagles. This should be the way everyone feels once they get out on the water.

19. “Soak up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow. Take a break from the testosterone with this crooning hit from the country superstar.

20. “Let the Good Times Roll” by The Cars. Enough said.

Grab your vessel and some refreshments, and take to high seas! What are your favorite boating songs?


Top 7 Movies That Influenced Public Opinion

Part of the wonder of Hollywood is its ability to create meaningful discourse about important topics that face us as citizens today. Take a look at the top seven movies that got us as a nation talking:

1. All the President’s Men

This film adaptation of the famed coverage of the Watergate scandal got citizens from both sides of the aisle talking. After a pair of journalists from the Washington Post exposed President Nixon’s abuse of power, enrollment in journalism schools increased. Democrats were less likely to say that there should be restrictions on the press, while Republicans were more likely to say that there should be limits to what journalists should be allowed to write. Either way, the public began to demand more transparency from its public officials – a sentiment that carries on today.

2. The Day After Tomorrow

Yes, the movie was scientifically unsound and laughable in its premise, but there is some evidence to show that the movie about a climate-change induced end of days had some bearing on public opinion. According to Yale researchers, the film sparked a concern about climate change within the American public. This study found that 83% of surveyed movie-goers said they were “somewhat” or “very” concerned about climate change, compared to 72% of non-watchers.

3. Malcolm X

The Spike Lee biopic has had a profound effect on attitudes towards race relations and concerns about racial discrimination. Researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder found that the film was “quite powerful in altering political attitudes,” according to a study published in the Journal of Politics in 1997. Watchers were more likely to be aware of discrimination and be concerned with it as a major political issue.

4. American Sniper

The biopic featuring sharpshooter and real-life Iraq war veteran Chris Kyle produced a hailstorm of controversy. The right praised the portrayal of Kyle and his heroic actions serving his country, while portions of the left felt the film glamorized his attacking of Iraqi insurgents, including children. The University of Michigan cancelled a screening of the film after a petition by students said they felt it condoned anti-Muslim sentiments, but the decision was later reversed due to backlash. No matter the side, the film got the American public talking about the mental and human costs of war.

5. Brokeback Mountain

The story of two ranchers and the secret love they share, Brokeback Mountain addresses the issues surrounding closeted homosexuality. Celebrated by gay-rights activists for its portrayal of homosexual love in an industry that prizes traditional ideas of masculinity, the movie broke box office expectations, grossing over $83 million. Released in 2005, its critical reception was positive in that it highlighted issues affecting the gay community long before same sex marriage was legalized.

6. Food, Inc.

This documentary from the minds of Eric Schlossler (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) takes a hard look at the questionable ethical practices surrounding the agricultural giants’ production of meat, dairy products, and crops. A modern take on Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” Food Inc. had consumers questioning the processes by which we get our food in America today.

7. Concussion

Will Smith’s depiction of Bennett Omalu, a forensic pathologist who discovered NFL players suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) (which leads to suicide), is already generating buzz. The film pits the testimony of NFL players suffering from long-term trauma due to repeated brain injuries against the denials of the National Football League, and it is sure to spark conversation about ethical treatment of athletes, as well as improved concussion protocols for players at every level of the game.

Did we miss something? What movies do you think affect public opinion? Let us know in the comments.

6 Best Movie and Television Attorneys

Hollywood loves lawyers. From the big screen to the small screen, we highlight some of our favorite litigators from Tinsel Town.

1. Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird

Gregory Peck won an Oscar in this 1962 adaptation of the great American novel. Finch, a lawyer known for his unyielding sense of justice, fights to defend Tom Robinson, an African American accused of murder in the antebellum south. Driven by his steadfast rectitude, he defends his client to the best of his ability, in spite of the racial constraints of his time. Though Finch has recently come under heavy fire, he remains one of the most influential characters of the 20th century – and is even a source of serious legal discourse.

2. Lt. Daniel Kaffee, A Few Good Men

This 1992 military courtroom drama places Tom Cruise, a green military court martial, in the position of defending two Marines accused of killing a colleague. Known for his reputation as a pleas bargainer, Kaffee decides to take the case to court after uncovering inconsistencies in testimony during investigation. Made famous by the line, “you can’t handle the truth,” A Few Good Men is the story of the intricate chain of command and what it means to be a soldier.

3. Joe Miller, Philadelphia

Denzel Washington portrays a personal injury lawyer in this 1993 drama, one of the first mainstream films to address the stigma of HIV/AIDS. Tom Hanks plays the plaintiff, who is a high-ranking corporate lawyer who loses his job after a colleague recognizes a lesion on his forehead consistent with a complication from AIDS. Miller, a germophobe, at first declines Hanks’ case for fear of contracting the disease. Eventually, Miller overcomes his fear and takes on the firm that wrongfully terminated his client. A tale of discrimination and overcoming fear of the unknown to deliver justice, Philadelphia was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

4. Michael Clayton

George Clooney shows his cynical side in this 2007 film about the darker side of agribusiness. Clayton, deemed a “fixer” because of his knowledge of legal loopholes, is brought in to defend a class action lawsuit against U-North, a large agricultural conglomerate. Clooney is pulled into a web of deceit as he struggles to find the answers to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the previous lawyer on the case. Confronted with the evidence that U-North was knowingly using a carcinogenic agent on its crops and battling his own personal demons, Clayton has to decide whether or not he should make a stand.

5. Jack McCoy, Law and Order

Portrayed by Sam Waterson, McCoy is one of the longest running lawyers to grace the small screen. So popular that his character was named a “Living Landmark” by the New York Land Conservancy, McCoy is known for his tendency to go rogue. A passionate fighter for justice, McCoy has been found in contempt of court and accused of mocking a witness to achieve his ends.

6. Saul Goodman, Breaking Bad

From his cheesy tagline “Better Call Saul” to his bench ads, Bob Odenkirk’s tongue-in-cheek portrayal of criminal lawyer Saul Goodman makes him a somewhat comic element in the otherwise dark AMC series Breaking Bad. As an attorney for Walter White, Goodman is often portrayed as a flamboyant, over-the-top lawyer who is hard to take seriously. Behind the charade, Goodman is actually a highly competent litigator who uses legal loopholes to his advantage to secure favorable outcomes for his clients.

Did we give you something new to watch this weekend? Grab some popcorn and fire up Netflix, because these are performances you will not want to miss.

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