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

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.

 

Assisted Living and Divorce

My husband has suffered with MS 25 out of the 27 years of our marriage.  He was recently placed in an assisted living facility in Oct. 7 2004.  We have not been husband in wife for 6 years due to sexual dysfunction from his MS.
Now that he is in an assisted living facility with cognitive memory loss and impaired reasonability why can’t I file a separation with the courts having to appoint him a lawyer so I can live life finally without fear of being sued.  I am only 50 yrs old and he is 52.  How does the law read and play into this?
I am going to assume you live in North Carolina.  Divorce laws vary considerably from state to state so if you live elsewhere don’t rely on this answer.
There is no procedure for “filing” a separation in North Carolina.  I get about 5-10 calls per week from people who want to do this though.  North Carolina allows for a no-fault divorce based on spouses living “separate and apart” for one year.  Many couples decide to separate and agree on:
  • how they will divide the marital property
  • how to divide the marital debt
  • how the children will be cared for
  • whether there will be any alimony

Once there is an agreement on those points, the parties put their agreement in writing.  That writing is a separation agreement.  A separation agreement does not have to be “filed” to be valid, but sometimes separation agreements are recorded in the county Register of Deeds office.

If the the spouses cannot agree, they can still separate.  This means someone has to leave the marital residence.  If spouses still live under the same roof, even if they don’t sleep in the same room, that is not considered living separately.

As of October 7, 2004, you were living separate from your husband.  As far as being sued, I’d have to know by whom and for what.  Until the end of marriage each spouse owes the other a duty to support.  Sometimes health providers try to collect from one spouse to cover treatment costs for the other, but this is fairly rare.  After the marriage, a dependent spouse may get support through alimony.  The amount of alimony awarded depends on the needs of the dependent spouse and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay.

A last word.  All this is general advice based on the limited information you gave me.  This matter is too complicated for you to try to handle on your own.  You need to hire a lawyer to guide you.

 

Not So Nice Neighbors and No Trespassing Signs

We recently purchased 7 wooded acres of land and are building a new home.  I have posted No Trespassing/Private Property signs all over.  My not so nice neighbors took it upon themselves to remove the signs, bend them and toss them into my garage.  The house is still under construction.  I had a sheriff’s deputy assist me in putting new ones back up.  My reason for having the signs up is to protect myself against law suits from people entering the property and getting hurt or damaging my property.  Am I wrong in doing this?  This is becoming a major issue with the neighbors.  It is in the country and only 4 homes on the street.
You are free to post whatever kind of signs you choose on your property.  If your neighbor is tearing them down he is trespassing by removing the signs and also maliciously damaging your property, a misdemeanor.
I’m not sure the signs do much to keep someone from suing you if they get hurt while on your property, though.  They could help you establish that any uninvited person on your property was trespassing.
Your best option may be to talk things over with your neighbor. If he continues to remove your signs you would probably need to catch him in the act to prosecute.