Legal Issues Surround Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace

If you are a strenuous worker, you must be aware of workplace injuries. From minor and repetitive movements serious workplace injuries get developed. And this is called repetitive stress injury. It can make you feel excessive pain and incapable of doing routine tasks and simple works of daily life.

ergonomic workstation

This ridiculous ergonomic workstation is not something you need to do, but some focus on better mouse, keyboard and chair is.

Do you know what activities increase the possibility of repetitive stress injury? Let me tell you.

  • People who work on computer and make the same finger and hand movement with keyboard for long time tend to suffer from repetitive stress injury. The common problems are carpal tunnel syndrome (swelling of the wrist’s tissues), bursitis ( the bones’ cushions swelling), tendonitis (tears in the tissues joining muscles and bones) etc.
  • Repeated lifting or using heavy tools in construction or manufacturing industries can cause injury.
  • People who work in front of conveyor belt in any retail industry are in serious danger too. They lift, turn and pull numerous items per shift to scan the barcodes, and this can cause repetitive stress injury.
  • Butchers who cut and pack meat everyday, drivers who are into delivery assistance and passenger transport, musicians, mechanics also can suffer from stress injury. Their daily jobs are involved with repetitive moments of arms, fingers and hands.

Do not feel worried. Repetitive stress injuries can be recovered. Though the primary symptoms of such injury is a bit difficult to detect, the minute you realize the symptoms just inform your employer. There are some legal issues surround repetitive stress injuries in the workplace. Know these and get compensation benefits from your workplace.

Let’s have a look on how to get compensation benefits for repetitive stress injury.

Never think only for some particular incidents like accident, slip and fall injury etc. you will get the workers’ compensation. If you are suffering from repetitive stress injury, you are totally eligible for claiming the compensation. But to do this process, adhering all the legal guidelines, you need to consult a lawyer first. You need to prove that your injury happened while working. If you can prove, then you will be eligible to get compensation for all the medical costs, lost wages and more. Even when you start working again after treatment, you can be compensated for additional required medical expenses.

Hope, you’re feeling less worried after knowing about the workers’ compensation. But whatever the circumstance is, firstly you should try not to put yourself in the position of suffering from repetitive stress injury. Such injury leaves you with pain, discomfort and inability to work again. You can face some more serious injury from this as well.

The key ways to prevent repetitive stress injury are as mentioned below:

  1. Make sure the workplace is comfortably designed and suitable to spend maximum hours of your day. Always maintain a proper posture. Use advanced tools that can reduce the risks of repetitive stress injury.
  2. Know the proper technique to use the tools. Don’t strain your arm, wrist and fingers.
  3. Take proper rest. Take short breaks between work and do some stretching or freehand exercises to maintain the flexibility of your body.

Stay safe to prevent injury. A fit body and mind can help you work for a long time with the same efficiency.

What’s the Deal with Bailbonds? How do they work?

While I haven’t done a ton of criminal law in my career, I have some experience, and in that experience I’ve come to learn that knowing about bail bonds is essential. It is not something you would like to experience but it is something you must know because life is uncertain. You may be required to help a friend or a relative in need if they get arrested by the police. Law enforcement agencies arrest people on the basis of suspicion of a crime. The suspect is held by them until released on bail or until the end of their trial.

During the time the suspect is in custody, he is interrogated and made to record a statement, fingerprints, may be taken as part of the screening process and the suspect is now considered booked. It is tough to spend the time in custody until the end of the proceedings in a court of law so the law provides the defendants an option to get a bail and come to court trials without having to stay in remand.

How do they work?

When the bail is paid for the suspect, two things can happen

1. The money is held by the court until the end of the trail to make sure the suspect appears in each trial until the conclusion of the proceedings.

2. The suspect is released on bail, but it is still obligatory for him to attend the court trials.

The Bail Bondsman

Some people cannot pay the bail amount as it is pretty high. The right thing to do for the defendant or someone who acts on his behalf is to contact a bail bondsman.  There are different rules for different states and localities, I personally have some experience with Cobb County bail bonds as well as counties throughout North Carolina.

Roles of the Bail Bondsman:

  • The Bail bondsman takes the responsibility of the defendant until the end of the proceedings of the court. The defendant hereby pays only a small percentage of the bail money (10%) also known as premium and gets the bail.
  • The Bail Bondsman is now responsible and accountable to the court for the defendant to appear in all the trails and follow the court rules and regulations.
  • The Bailbondsman is backed by an insurance company who pledges to pay the full amount to court if the defendant doesn’t appear on any trial.
  • They may sometimes ask for a collateral in the form of a guarantee. This can be any big asset the defendant owns.
  • This professional also assists the defendant in every way because they get funded from the court after the conclusion of the proceedings. Therefore, they have their own interest in getting the defendent to court for every trial.

So, basically there are two types of bails: The Cash bail and The Bail Bondsman services.

Setting up the Bail Amount

The county bail boards at the state courts set the bail amount. You can see the bail amounts published early for public and law enforcement agencies in the newspapers and over the internet. The bail amounts are revised every year. They also greatly depend on the type and the intensity of the crime.

Bailable and Non-Bailable Offense

If the criminal offense is very grave, the bail may be denied by the court and the court may prefer to keep the suspect in jail until the end of the proceedings, considering him/her a threat to the public. One can always hire a criminal lawyer in that case; using credible sources can increase the chances of getting a bail when it seems impossible.

The Samsung Exploding Washer/Dryer and Lawsuit Implications

Samsung is one of the most successful tech companies out there. They have been doing a great job in the past decades, but some of its customers are facing real challenges with their washer/dryers. This is something that we will address here, so you should read on too.

Not On Time

Samsung has been recalling many of its top-loading washing machines, but the technology giant has not done this on time. The firm has taken months to recall these machines, and we want the company to do it earlier. But that’s life, in the end, we need to face this harsh reality these days too. The problem is that an Oklahoma man has just said that Samsung has not truly followed through on the firm`s recall of these machines. He says that Samsung is not doing the right job when it comes to finding remedies for this problem.

More Problems

Jerry Wells had to face a lot of problems because he wanted his washing machine just repaired as soon as possible. This was not the case, and he is just infuriated because of this problem. The man made a lot of appointments but no one showed up from the service department of the tech titan. This is important for us to bear in our minds, as things might not happen quite well from time to time for many people out there. We must also understand that this man is truly not alone, so we need to think about it now.

Related: Read more on this Spanish home review website: MejorCosas.Casa

Refusing to Repair

A lot of people also complained about the issues they had faced with Samsung. They said that the company refused to repair their machines, or the company also failed to do the job properly. Samsung might not even refund the money to many of its clients because the firm wanted to get their money. The company might have also said that many of its customers that their receipts were blurry, and this was the case for Mr. Wells. Many clients of this company also wanted that retailers step in and help them as soon as possible.

The Jet

Many of Samsung`s clients had to deal with machines that sound like a jet ready to depart. A lot of these machines slammed themselves over a lot of laundry rooms out there, and they are just on recall. This is a shame for many consumers out there who want the best for their lives, but Samsung is not doing the right job here. This company seems to be doing the wrong thing here, and we need to take this into consideration. But Samsung might be doing some things the right way because they are offering clients some sort of warranty extension.

Exploding Washing Machine from Samsung

A picture of the result of the explosion that Samsung washing machines went through.

Samsung has to do something about this problem, and they have to do it as soon as possible.  Competitors like Maytag and Electrolux Washing Machines were utilizing this info to crush Samsung in sales. Their customers rely on these machines to do some important chores in their households, and Samsung should be doing all that is required to recall these machines successfully over time. The customers of this company are not happy with the firm when it comes to repairing their machines these days.

When to Seek a Family Solicitor – Some Free Advice

Family Solicitor

If you’re going through relationship difficulties or planning civil partnership or thinking of cohabiting, then you may want to seek a family solicitor’s legal advice, you’ll need to ensure that you get the best one. If you’re getting married then perhaps you may want a prenuptial agreement in place first. While they are not as common in the UK and are not always recognized as legally binding, they can prove each of individual’s interests and wishes before they get married. Having said that here are more reasons you may need a family solicitors free advice.

Protect yourself and children from further abuse

If you’re subjected to domestic violence and would want to leave as soon as possible so as to protect yourself and children from further abuse, seeking legal advice from a family solicitor will help you get access to somewhere safe and be free from your hostile partner.

House or children involved in the relationship

You may have reached the end of your relationship and because there is a house or children involved. You may want to seek the legal advice of a family solicitor to ensure you get all that is entitled to you.

Want to make sure your marriage ends in a fair way

If you’re going through a divorce, then you’ll want to ensure your marriage ends in a fair way. You may be ending the marriage on bad terms or may simply have drifted apart, and there is nothing or nobody to blame seeking a family solicitor’s legal advice will help.

Financial advice after a relationship or a divorce

You may also need financial advice from a family solicitor after a relationship or divorce breakdown. This is because perhaps you’ll need to pay for your children’s maintenance or buy your ex-spouse a house after the divorce.

Conclusions

Apart from the above reasons why you may need a family solicitor’s legal advice you also need to know that they can help you in all sorts of circumstances and for that, I’ll recommend you seek the opinion of one.

Disputing Late Payments to Creditors in North Carolina

It’s common to be caught up in your busy life and fail to pay your bills on time. You might be having an unexpected emergency bill and fail to pay your credit card knowing very well that it can wait. Failing to pay a bill for 30 straight days makes it delinquent. Since payment history is about 35% of your credit score, it can greatly affect your overall score and this mark can stay on your credit card for up to 10 years if you do not do anything. Thankfully, most companies allow late payments and some of them even make it easy to remove the late payment error from your credit score. Here is how to remove the mark.

The Process of Disputing Late Payments

First, you should only dispute late payments if you really think there was an error. Being dishonest can put you in much more trouble than the late payment. Normally, all disputes pass through the credit bureaus. These credit bureaus allow you to call them, email them, or write to them. However, since they often need a lot of information, writing is the most preferable.late-payments

To save time, get screenshots and copies of the online transactions where you claim there was an error. You can ask the reporting agency for copies of the form or send your dispute with copies of any supporting documents. For records, always ensure that you keep copies of what you have sent. Also, indicate clearly in the report that you are trying to dispute and explain well why you think this information is not correct while requesting for investigation.

In case the bureau decides to make changes in your credit report, it must furnish you with a copy of the report and the results in writing. You can also ask that the corrected copy be sent to anyone who got your report. If you are a job applicant, you can have the corrected report sent to anyone who got employment reasons in the past couple of years.

Unless the creditor verifies the information, the credit bureau cannot put the disputed report in your life. If this is the case, it might write to you giving you proper information about the name and the address of the creditor. You can then dispute the information in writing so that there is a proof. Many creditors such as banks and other credit card companies have addresses that you can use to send the information. If it reports the information to the bureau, it must indicate that you disputed it. However, in case they cannot solve the problem, ensure that the credit bureau includes your copy of the report in future reports and in your files.

Once you have sent the letter of dispute, the reporting bureaus have between 30 to 45 days to analyze the dissolute and respond. If they do not respond then you can follow up. According to research, over 25% of reports might have errors hence it’s very important to file a dispute. If you are not sure about this, you can check whether you have late payments or not.

Bookkeeping Legal Issues for Small Business

 

Owning and running a small business is hard. There are lots of things to keep up with. You have to file taxes differently. You have to pay people if you are going to have employees. There are many legal issues you need to be aware of and avoid.

Tax Mistakes

Many people make mistakes on their taxes for their business. The process is exponentially more difficult than personal taxes you may be used.

They may not be required by the IRS, but they give you backup documentations for any deductions you claim. Keep a folder for the receipts. Honestly, you should go to a bookkeeper to assist in your ongoing business operations, there are many different small business bookkeeping services that you can make use of that will help you avoid excess work and focus on your core business (they are very difficult to do on your own). They can also do the job quickly and efficiently. Also, remember to track any expenses you can be reimbursed for.

You really need to keep good, detailed books of all money exchanged. This will make tax time much easier. The books will become more difficult as your business grows. Make sure you keep up with business regulations that affect you.

Partner Agreement

If you decide to take on a business partner, make a good, strong partner agreement. This can cause a lot of trouble if things go south between you and your partner. The agreement should cover several things. Include your goals for the business. Outline what happens if one partner doesn’t comply with the rules. Include a section on selling the business to outline what happens if either of you want to ever sell the business. Outline how much money each partner makes. Outline the role(s) and responsibilities of each partner.

Potential Legal Troubles

Many small businesses fail to set up the right legal structure for their company. It can open you up to liability if you don’t. You also need to have a shareholders’ agreement if you sell shares. You also need human resource guidelines if you have employees. You can get in trouble if you don’t have a handbook. You need specific guidelines for your employees’ jobs. Keep up with all of the laws surrounding employees. Decide if you want your employees to sign non-disclosure agreements or anything similar. Do not, do not, talk trash about your competition. Don’t do it publicly or anonymously. Be careful not to commit libel against them. Also, it just looks bad as well. You can compete civilly. If you have created something with this company, you should get patents or copyrights or trademarks. Keep your work your own. Be very careful if you are dealing with users’ information online as well. This can cause chaos if you get hacked.

When starting a business, make sure that you do plenty of planning before leaping into it. Make sure you are ready to take on the responsibility of a legal entity. Decide early on if you want to have employees or not. If you take on a partner, make an agreement between the two of you. Enjoy being your own boss and the freedom that entails.

 

Rental Laws in the South for Tenants and Landlords

Landlord-tenant laws differ from one country to another. In the United States of America, the rent laws are made to cover all the aspects of both the parties. Any violation of the laws gives extra rights to a landlord or a tenant.

Use and return of security deposit

The landlords decided a fixed amount called security deposit, which has to be deposited by the tenants at the time of making of the contract. This money is usually one month’s rent and is returned to tenants within 30 days after they move. It covers the damage occurring to the premises beyond normal wear & tear; if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying the rent, security deposit money gives the payment to the landlord in such case. If the tenant does not get his security money from the landlord, a lawsuit can be filled in the magistrates court.

The security deposit is used as an added layer of security, similar to a credit check, bank statements and references.  Some landlords also use things called lease guarantors, for more info on that check out no credit check rental source anchor your assets.

Withholding or reduction of rent by tenants

In the rental laws, tenants are legally entitled to rental property which has basic structural, safety, and health standards and also in in good repair condition. If a landlord is not able to take care of the maintenance of important areas like roofs, walls, pillars, etc., a tenant has a right to withhold the rent until the repairs are done. The time is also fixed within which the landlord has to fix the problem of the property. The rental laws also specify the limit and frequency of withholding rents by the tenants.

Unconditional termination of the tenants

The landlord has a right to ask for unconditional termination if the tenant violates the clauses of lease regularly, damages the rental unit, deals with drugs or some other specified reasons. The time given by the landlords varies according to the cause behind the termination. The time period can be extended in case of any emergency for the tenant.

Entry of landlords in the rental property

A landlord or his agent has right to enter the property to make necessary or agreed repairs, to show the unit to tenants or potential purchasers or repair persons, and to supply agreed or necessary services. In case of any emergency also, the landlord can enter the tenant’s home. A different case is also when the landlord believes the property has been abandoned by the tenant. If you have skipped out without returning the key or giving any notice, the landlord has legal rights to enter the premises.

The duties specified for the landlord and tenant

The rental laws in the South have mentioned the duties for the both landlord and tenant. The duties of landlord include provision of the rental agreement to the tenant, maintenance of the property in a habitable and fit condition, cleaning of the common areas, and the provision of heat and water. The duties defined for the tenants are clean and safe keeping of the premises, disposal of garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner and a reasonable use of ventilation, air-conditioning, heating, sanitary, electrical and plumbing systems.

In a single sentence the rental laws give landlords more responsibilities and the tenants more rights.

Question About Divorce Law in California

Dear Law Guy, When I married my husband, I was a little overweight, he was quite trim. Now I’m slim, and he’s put on the pounds and I want a divorce. I used to think he was the best I could do, but now I’m a brand new babe in the Bay Area and I want to see what I’m worth, if you know what I mean.   What’s the quickest way to get a divorce?

First off, because divorce, like marriage, is subject to state law, you should check whatever information I’m about to give you with a divorce lawyer in Oakland who will naturally be more tuned in to the particulars of divorce law in your home state. in California, all divorces are “no fault” divorces, which means you can request a divorce without claiming your spouse has done something wrong. (Be happy you don’t live in the 1800’s. Back then you could only get a divorce in California if your husband were impotent, extremely cruel, had deserted or neglected you, was habitually intemperate, committed fraud or adulter, or had been convicted of a felony.) You, as the first to file, would be the “Petitioner,” and your husband would be the “Respondent,” but the distinction is not that curcial. Divorce in California need not be mutual, meaning either spouse can file and obtain a divorce without the cooperation of the other spouse. You asked about the “quickest way to get a divorce.” No matter what, it will take at least six months for your divorce to be finalized. That’s the mandatory waiting period. If you want your divorce to actual become final as the six-month waiting period passes, you will want to settle your divorce case and implement the terms of your settlement within that time frame. Most divorces do not happen that quickly. In fact, they typically take a lot longer than the minimum six months. You can explain your situation to a lawyer – which with all due respect may or may not inspire them to work quickly. But even if it takes a while, you ought to be thankful that California divorce law is relatively simply. The default grounds for dissolution of marriage are “irreconcilable difference,” which are accepted as true at the word of just one spouse. If I were you, I might not go into detail about your superficial reasons for seeking the divorce, so as not to risk trying the patience of the judge. The other major piece of advice I’d give is to stay as civil as possible with your husband. While on the one hand he has no way of ultimately blocking the divorce, he can certainly drag it out considerably and make it much less pleasant. So, as much as possible, try not to make it personal. You might also think about what you’re willing to accept in terms of a divorce settlement. As the Petitioner, you have more of an incentive to accept a settlement which favors your spouse. He, or rather his lawyer, will be well aware of that, and may use that to chisel you.

Personal Injury vs. Impersonal Injury

Dear Law Guy, What exactly is a personal injury? And what’s the opposite – an impersonal injury? Can impersonal injuries warrant lawsuits? I’m asking because my neighbor drives me nuts for about a million reasons, most of them spiritual, but I’m wondering if maybe I could sue him. The sidewalk in front of his house isn’t well maintained in the winter and always winds up treacherous with ice, but also his house is painted an offensive color. My question is basically, do I have to actually go and break my ankle on his sidewalk or can I sue for the pure psychic distress that that his teal siding and cotton-candy shutters causes me?

The term personal injury covers harm to the body, mind, or emotions. The opposite of a personal injury is not an “impersonal injury” but rather property damage. As to your suggestion, tripping is among the most common personal injury claim, but I would of course never recommend that you deliberately injure yourself on your neighbor’s property. You never know how bad you could hurt yourself, and if the ethics of the situation doesn’t bother you, know that if someone found you googling the ins and outs of personal injury claims before your supposed fall, it would look bad and jeopardize your entire caper. And in fact, you could run into problems with your own insurance company, and there you’d be, potentially navigating a major injury, with sizable medical bills and loss of income. To make a long story short, do not do that. Bad idea. As to whether you could have a claim for an offensive house color, your only cause of action under the umbrella of personal injury cases would be negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED), but it’s a longshot. In theory, we all have a legal duty to avoid causing emotional distress in another, within reason. In practice, it came about as something to tack-on to a case of negligent physical harm. Then people began successfully claiming NIED in the case of negligent physical harm to a loved one. Then came NIED in the case of negligent property damage. Courts don’t typically like dealing with emotional distress as an intangible condition – and so it’s not easy to demonstrate without concrete effects to your life – such as a divorce that would have otherwise been avoided. We all suffer emotional distress at different times in our lives, and most of those instances are not compensable. So, techincally, your course of action would be to claim NIED, but in reality, you don’t have much of a claim at all and should perhaps consider planting some fast growing trees to block out your view of your neighbor’s house. What the cost for landscaping, it will be less than potentially bringing a losing claim against your neighbor – and it won’t sour your relationship (whatever its current state). The best defense is not to start a war with your neighbors.

Responsible for Loans after Divorce?

I reside in Winston-Salem, NC.  I was married to a woman for about six years in Davidson County, NC.  While we were both married we applied for and received funds from student loans.  I do not ever recall ever having co-signed for her loans nor did she co-sign for mine and upon divorce I did not assume any financial obligations for her debts.  Basically my best recollection was that the court order stated something like any property, loans, etc in my name remained mine and property, loans etc in her name remained hers.  It’s been about three years since the divorce and debt collectors are calling my parents and interrupting their lives.  They want my parents to give a message to my ex-wife or they want my contact information for me to give messages to my ex-wife.  My parents number is also on the do not call registry.  I have recommended they do not give them any information and report future calls to the FCC using their online form and under no cirumstances give them any information about me.  Is there any way they could pursue me for her debts?  I thought this was all taken care of when we divorced with the court order.  I am about to get married and my fiancee is thinking we will hounded by my exes debts for the rest of our lives and it’s quickly turning into a bummer.
You are not obligated to pay the loans (unless you co-signed), but why don’t you tell the loan companies how to get in touch with your ex-wife?  If you don’t know where she is tell them that.  Why should you run interference with with loan companies for your ex-wife.  The FCC won’t take any action here.  The do-not-call list does not apply in this situation.

 

Creeper or Peeper?

Last fall the neighbor behind us built a hideous shed that is two stories high with a window on the second “story”.  It is less than 6 feet from our back chain-link fence.  This is bad enough, but I wasn’t going to complain about it.  However, last weekend when the weather warmed up he and another adult friend had chairs up on the second story and were sitting with a perfect vantage point right into our backyard.  This window is only looking down into our backyard and nothing else.  I am very uncomfortable with this.  Is this legal?  First of all, should he have had a permit to build this huge shed, and secondly, is it legal to have this window so close to our fence to look down directly on us? 
Yes, your neighbor probably needed a building permit for his shed.  But provided he complied with setback rules, zoning and building codes I can’t think of anything that would prohibit him from having a window that looked directly into your backyard.  If you decided to, you could put up a barrier that would obstruct his view.  Maybe a few Leyland Cypress.  It is illegal (in North Carolina) for a someone to “peep” secretly into a room occupied by a another person.  So if he used the window for secret peeping he might be committing a crime.  But a backyard is not a “room.”
I can understand why this makes you uncomfortable.  You might try calling a code enforcement department and see if the building had a permit (permits are public record).  If there was no permit and a code inspector found a violation (violating a setback rule, for instance) the inspector could require it to be corrected.

Those to Trespass Against Us…

I have a business … which has a gate around almost all of it. On one end there is an opening that cars have been coming through, to spin donuts on our ball field in back. So I put up a barricade to try to stop this, and they just moved it, or found a way to drive around. So I put up no trespass signs, and put the barricade. But this time I put spike strips down to stop them before they started. A young guy came through the barricade in a big truck and run over the spikes and got four flat tires, and now wants to sue me for the tires. Should I pay him, or take him to court?
Interesting question with no simple answer.  While a property owner has the right to exclude others from his property and even use reasonable force to prevent someone from entering his property, in general you cannot set traps to catch trespassers.  The court might find that the spike strips (with no warning that they were present) were a trap.  That means you would be responsible for the damage to the tires.  Think about it this way: a landowner might decide to put up an electrified fence to keep out trespassers, but if the fence was not marked with signs, the owner might be liable for injuries to someone touching the fence.
By trespassing the driver was also breaking the law.  He could be prosecuted for trespassing and you could sue him in civil court.  However in a lawsuit for trespass you would only be entitled to nominal damges ($1 or so) unless you could show actual injury to your property.
I think right is on your side, but the law favors the trespasser.  So if I were the judge for your case I would rule that you had to pay for the damage to the tires, but unless the tires were brand new I would not hold you responsible for the full value of new tires.  I would rule that the trespasser owed you $5 for trespassing and I would order him not to enter your property in the future.
Remember though small claims court is about “rough justice.”  There is very little argument about the fine points of law.  A friend once told me that actual legal precedent carries about as much weight as a comic book in small claims court.  If I were you I would wait and see if he goes to the trouble to sue you.  Many people don’t bother.  If he does sue, counterclaim for trespass.  Then offer to pay for repair of his tires or the cost of used tires.
-LawGuy

It’s a bubble, boy

Life inside the judicial bubble much different for those on the receiving end of justice.  Two cases cases prove this.  In the first, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Resnick was pulled over and has since plead guilty to driving while impaired.  In the arrest video available on the web, she repeatedly asks the officer to let her go.  She mentioned that ruled with law enforcement on drunk-driving cases.  She also said that she had always believed that Supreme Court Justices should have highway patrol officers assigned as drivers. News reports say she had to be pulled over a second time after she drove off when the patrolman asked her to take a sobriety test.  The patrolman kicked it up a notch by calling his supervisor.  Far be it from me to suggest that if a young man had pulled away from a traffic stop, he would have gotten rougher treatment.  However he would have gotten rougher treatment.  Maybe much rougher if he was black or hispanic.
I don’t think that the officer should have tackled or cuffed the 65-year old woman.  But her experience was not what a typical DWI offender has.
The sentence she got was pretty typical for a North Carolina first-time DWI offender.  But unless you write off her actions on the day of her arrest as drunken ramblings, I disagree that she is fit to return to the bench and resume business as usual, as this editorial suggests.  After all she did repeatedly ask the officer to overlook the offense and suggested that she should get some consideration for the favorable rulings she made in the past.
Then there was Thomas Saylor, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice who tried to sneak a small knife on a plane after it was rejected at the screening station.  He tried to hide it in a carry-on bag and got caught.  The feds are not pressing charges but a local prosecutor is weighing his options.
In the judicial bubble people smooth the way for you, they are deferential, you get accomodated.  I wonder how life inside the bubble contributed to these two jurists thinking they could get away with something.
Law Guy

Never say never

My excitement about Blakely’s impact on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines was tamped down by my sense that the federal judges in my district seemed to like the guidelines most of the time.  Departures were rare except for “substantial assistance” situations and it often felt as though upward departures were more common.
In a sentencing this week, a client received a non-guideline “reasonable” sentence that would have been reversible when the guidelines were not advisory.  There were solid named grounds for departure under the Guidelines for aberrant behavior

and lesser harms.  Without considering any departures though the guideline range for my client was 24-30 months.  The judge sentenced him to one year and a day.

My first clue that this was an unusual case was when one of the Deputy Marshals in the courtroom at an early hearing thought that my client should never have been charged.  The sentence was firm but fair, a year in prison is a lot for someone who has never had a real brush with the law before.  Even though I think guideline sentences will be the norm here, it is good to have a safety valve.
The Law Guy

Whither private counsel?

Is a client better off with a salaried public defender or court-appointed private counsel?  My answer (one that clients hate to hear) it depends.  I expect that most states will shift to public defender dominated systems fairly soon.  My county had no public defenders when I began practicing here.  All criminal defendants who could not afford an attorney (about 90%) got an assigned attorney in private practice.  Most of the “street lawyers” in town were on the list.  The quality of those on the list reflected the same range of skill as the local private bar.
We were generally hostile to the idea of changing the status quo.  The amount of the fee was totally within the discretion of the trial judge.  I did occasionally get screwed when a judge felt a $50 fee was sufficient for the trial of misdemeanor trespass, even it took 6 hours to handle.  Those cases were the exception though.  I think our local judges understood that if they were too stingy with fees, lawyers would stop taking court-appointed cases.  Pro se defendants take a lot more time to get through the system.  Most attorneys on the court-appointed list thought we had a fairly good thing going. We figured that any changes would not benefit us.
Politically though that system’s days were numbered.  The fiscal camp was outraged at the amount of money being spent and the increases every year.  Essentially individual judges decided how much would be paid and just handed the bill to the government.  Each new prosecution brought an incremental increase because the state would have to pay a private lawyer for that particular case.  It was politically unpopular for millions to be handed over to lawyers.
There was also the quality camp.  That group was concerned about whether defendants were getting competent counsel.  While most counties had a method of screening lawyers for the court-appointed list, the most heavily weighted factor was length of experience.  There was anecdotal evidence of egregious incompetence, but it was not really possible to systematically evaluate just how well or badly court-appointed counsel were doing.  However the anecdotes were persuasive.
The fiscal camp likes public defender’s offices because the cost is fairly predictable from year to year.  The pay is comparable to what prosecutors and other government attorneys earn.  There is less political fallout because less money is going into the hands of “greedy attorneys.”  A mostly private appointed counsel system is not sustainable politically because legislators will always see it as a giveaway to lawyers (not a popular group) and criminals (only group more vilified than lawyers).  It took about 10 years of intense lobbying by federal judges to get fees in federal cases raised.  Hourly pay to attorneys in private practice will always be a politically poisonous issue.  Since the state is paying the public defenders the same as the thousands of other lawyers who work full-time for the government, there is less a sense lawyers at the trough.
The quality camp likes public defenders because there is a mechanism for getting rid of poor performing lawyers.  The chief public defender can supervise the work of assistants and remove anyone he believes is incompetent.  Whether this will actually happen in practice remains to be seen.  All government enterprises are notoriously slow to drop dead wood.  We have a public defenders office here now that has 1 public defender, about 12 other attorneys and support staff.  They are motivated and talented and several members of the private bar moved to the PD’s office after it opened.  I considered it.  Our PD’s office now handles about 70% of the criminal cases.  We still have court-appointed lawyers who take cases when the PD’s office has a conflict.  I am still on that list.
Whether public defenders are better can be argued forever, but the shift  driven by the fiscal camp and quality camp is inevitable.
Ask the Law Guy

 

Power of Attorney Question

My Aunt passed away last year – my cousin convinced her to change her will to leave him everything and nothing to his brother.  While she was alive, he had power of attorney.  She was receiving checks for some land we sold awhile back – in the midst of  her illness, somebody sent a note to the buyer of the land and instructed them to send the checks to my cousin’s address and not my Aunt.  As he had POA, we knew he could cash/deposit these checks.  However, since she died, these checks which are made out to my Aunt in her name have been and are still being cashed.  Is this against the law and is there anything we can do about it?
After your sunt’s death the power of attorney was no longer effective.  Upon your aunts assets and liabilities became the property of her estate.  The executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for collecting assets and paying any of the estate’s liabilities before distributing the estate to persons named in the will.  If your cousin is the executor of the estate, he would be able to cash the checks on behalf of the estate.
If you believe that your case used undue influence to cause your aunt to change her will, you would need to speak with an attorney experienced in estate litigation to challenge the will.

 

Tree Removal Costs and Suing the Neighbors

I live in a private, gated community governed by a homeowners association with strict property deeds with covenants and restrictions. …. He has a large live oak tree that is on his property … that he refuses to maintain (refuses to trim branches) and refuses to treat the carpenter ants and termites that live in the tree trunk. After futile attempts to get him to care for his tree, I sent a letter of complaint to the homeowners assocation asking them to enforce our deed restrictions that do not allow any homeowner to have an infested tree that is not maintained. I had my tree company trim back his branches that were in my yard and have damaged my lawn and shrubs. I also used my tree/lawn fertilizer company to treat his tree for carpenter ants. My neighbor threatened to sue me …. The homeowner’s association backed my neighbor stating I needed to create a barrier around my property to keep his carpenter ants from invading. Furthermore, I was told by the property manager that I was not allowed to trim my neighbor’s branches that were in my yard.

I have continued to write a letter of complaint yearly stating the same complaint about my neighbor’s diseased tree …. Each time I was told that I was not allowed to touch my neighbor’s tree, not allowed to trim his branches that are over my property line and not allowed to treat the caprtenter ants or termites.

We recently had a named hurricane with category 2 wind gusts … Many of his diseased live oak tree large branches fell into my yard, smashed several sections of my cement driveway, smashed several of the cement sidewalk sections in front of my property, destroyed my cast iron custom made mailbox resulting in the USPS turning off my mail delivery until I have a working mailbox and has created a mess of my landscaping, and is in the road partially blocking traffic. ….

My neighbor refuses to take care of his diseased tree that is now partially overturned in my yard, refuses to acknowledge the damage his tree did (told me “shit happens”), refuses to clean the mess his tree has made in the street or sidewalks. … The cost of tree removal ranges from $18,500 to $41,999. The real problem is the fact my neighbors tree is severely damaged from the carpenter ants inside. … The tree company (http://www.treeremovallongisland.org/) wants to remove the trunk and tree stump. The trunk and stump are on my neighbors property which I have been told that I am not allowed to touch by the HOA and my neighbor.

What type of lawyer do I need to hire? Could I be held liable if the tree causes more damage when we remove the fallen attached branches?… Thank you for any advice you may offer to a very frustrated homeowner. I enjoy reading your comments to variuos letters on your website.

With the kind of loss you are facing you will need to have a lawyer to get anything accomplished.  I need to leave it to that lawyer to answer your questions after looking at the information you have gathered.

I am going to talk about how to go about choosing a lawyer.  This is a garden-variety legal matter that any competent lawyer ought to be capable of handling.  Think about it as having to replace the clutch in your car.  All mechanics should be able to handle it.  Most will get the work done no problem.  There are always some who do shoddy work or take forever to get the job done.  Ask around and see what the lawyer’s reputation is before hiring the same way you would ask around to find a good mechanic.

You don’t need a high-powered $300 per hour legal specialist to take care of this either.  Most of that firepower would be wasted.

Finally consider money.  Your neighbor’s track record suggests he is unreasonable.  It is unlikely that the case will be resolved with a letter or a phone call.  If you considering hiring me I would probably tell you that I thought this could easily take 15-20 hours of attorney time to prepare the case for trial.  That would include investigating the facts, researching the law, and engaging in some discovery.  Attorney hourly rates vary widely but there is a good chance you could find someone who charges $100-$200 per hour.  This means that you should expect to have to pay an attorney $3000 to $4000 minimum.

Experience matters but it is not everything.  The most important factor is whether you have confidence in and trust the attorney you hire.

Good luck.

 

Dumb actions but no dumb questions

I have a pretty dumb question about something I’d hate to admit is scaring me out of my mind.
I was visiting a friend when we decided to go swimming around 3 a.m. Well, we went
dipping in a swimming pool belonging to apartments her boyfriend used to live in.
But the security guard spotted us as we were about to leave and contacted the police because
we did not have IDs. But after identification, when asked what he wanted to do with us,
the security guard requested that we be put under civilian arrest for trespassing.
So here we are, two 19 year olds cited for trespassing, wondering what will happen to us.
We are to appear in court next month, and we’re scared!! Isn’t trespassing a criminal offense?
If so what will happen to us, to our records? Is there a difference in penalties from a person
with no criminal background, and a person who does? Does the swimming pool need a
NO TRESPASSING, VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED sign? I mean, the gates were closed, and it says the pool hours in small print, so in other words it’s kind of obvious that we weren’t supposed to be there at that time. But even without that sign anywhere, are we still “eligible” for citation?
What will happen to us??
Trespassing is a criminal offense.
If you are convicted you will have a criminal record.
Anyone facing the criminal charges needs to have a lawyer.  The Supreme Court ruled years ago (in Gideon v. Wainwright) that a defense attorney was so critical to an accused rights, that the Constitution required a state to provide an attorney for those who cannot afford one.  It amazes me how many people will decide to represent themselves in something like a trespassing or marijuana possession case.  Later they find out that having a criminal record may affect employment, college admission and other activities.
Hire a lawyer.  Expect to pay a reasonable fee for the lawyers services.  If you cannot afford a lawyer, ask that one be appointed.  If you think it is expensive to hire a lawyer, check the expense of not having one.

 

Criminal History

How long will a misdemeanor stay on your record?  If trying to get a job and a criminal record check finds a drug possession misdemeanor on your history, can it and will it affect the likelihood of employment?  Will it ever disappear?  How long, legally, can potential employers view your history?
A criminal record is forever.  Only an expunction or pardon removes a criminal conviction.  In North Carolina a person who was convicted of a misdemeanor before age 18 could be eligible for an expunction.  Pardons can only be granted by a governor or the president.
It is up to each individual employer to decide whether to hire someone with a criminal conviction.  There is no limit on how far back an employer can look into your past.

 

17 Year Old Debt

I am 35 years old.  When I was about 17 – 18 years old I got a department store credit card.  Well I thought that I paid it off.  The company went out of business.  Seventeen years I am getting a call from a credit collection company saying that I owe the money.  I have not heard anything from anyone until now.
I think that in most states a collecting a debt that has been outstanding for 17 years would be barred by statutes of limitations.  Technically the expiration of the statute of limitations does not mean that you do not owe the debt.  It means that the courts will no longer enforce the obligation.