Monday, June 30, 2014

Another Supreme Court Ruling from Justice Alito

Today brought another Supreme Court decision that we were discussing in May when I was there. This time, it's the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which seems to have dealt a blow to the Affordable Care Act and its provisions on contraceptives.

Just like with last week, I spent my morning in Court and haven't had the change to read the decision yet, but the Wall Street Journal has its initial analysis posted.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The World Cup & Prenuptial Agreements

The world is in the middle of the every four year fervor that is caused by the World Cup. This week I encountered a whole new result of the elation and joy that goes with watching your favorite soccer team play. A young couple came to me this week after having met at a bar watching World Cup games. Apparently, in the midst of all the chaos, they had found each other and decided they were in love. Although their courtship has been short, they seem bound and determined to get married and have already apparently decided when and where they want it to happen: July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro (the World Cup Final location). I guess it's a particularly fitting place for them being that their relationship revolves so heavily around soccer.

So they came to me because, wisely in my opinion, they have decided to get a prenuptial agreement before going on their upcoming journey. While we joked about adding provisions regarding favorite soccer teams (he loves Chelsea, she's an Arsenal fan), they are on the clock to get the agreement finished and finalized before the leave for Brazil. As a rule of thumb, I prefer to have all prenuptial agreements executed at least two weeks before the wedding, which means a quick turnaround for these two. I'm spending this day (when there's no World Cup games) getting everything together so these soccer loving kids can have their dream wedding.

Usually it is better to plan out your prenuptial agreement far in advance of your wedding, but sometimes the World Cup intervenes and you need to get it all done and get on that plane...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Police Can't Search a Cell Phone Without a Warrant

One of the bigger decisions out of the Supreme Court this term was released today (Riley v. California), dealing with the right of the police to search the cell phone of a suspect. When I was admitted to the Supreme Court in May, both Justices we met afterwards (Alito & Ginsburg) discussed the ongoing deliberations of the Court over this issue. When things slow down, I'm going to go through the entire decision, but for now, here's the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog's take on it:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Enter the Dog Days of Summer…

… and the random and crazy stories that always seem to follow. There is something about the warm weather that seems to bring out the interesting cases/stories. In between this amazing World Cup, there have been some real interesting prospective clients.

Last week, it was the very nice woman who spent about 30 minutes telling me a variety of stories about how she had been wronged. Try as I might, it took about that long to get her to actually tell me about the lawsuit she had filed. When we got to that, it was against a person who had nothing to do with all of the stories she had told me.

When we finally began to discuss the actual lawsuit and what had happened, it turns out that the case has been going on for a while now and is scheduled for trial very soon. The true creativity in her case? Creating a number for damages. When I asked the woman how she arrived at the amount she was suing for, she told me that it just felt right. No documents to support the number, nothing else that even indicates that she had suffered any damages, it just felt right to sue the person for that amount.

And because that amount just felt right, her proposal for what she could pay for legal fees (which was no payment, i.e., a pro bono case for me) really wasn’t that shocking. I will be following the case on the court system’s online database to see how that one turns out.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Quick Detour Into the World of Assigned Counsel

While I exclusively practice civil (i.e. not criminal) matters, on occasion, I am appointed as counsel for cases where the civil vs. criminal line of distinction is a little blurry. In yesterday’s case, it was spending an afternoon working as assigned counsel for individuals accused of violating restraining orders.

I expected a much heavier caseload, but in the end, was only assigned to three cases for the day. There was a fourth person in the courtroom (who was tethered to one of my clients) who kept asking why I wasn’t also representing him. I never got an answer to that one, but I can only assume he was there on some other type of charge.

Of my three cases, two of them were very straightforward. There was an order of protection, the person knew there was an order of protection, and the person violated that order of protection in some manner. Not much to do with that case, and neither of those clients wanted to have a trial or drag the matter out any further, so with a plea bargain and a little speech from the judge, they were on their respective ways.

The third client was a more interesting case. He claimed that he did not know there was an order of protection against him and his violation of the order was sending photos of his children to the other person, i.e., not harassment, but merely look how cute our kids are/look at what they are doing now.

When we dug deeper into the case, I showed him the order of protection, the paperwork for which he claimed to have never seen. And when we looked at the portion of the document that says when it was given to him, there were multiple boxes checked that may mean he wasn’t actually served with it. Finally, there had been a final hearing against him last week, which he didn’t appear at, because he had been in jail at the time (an all too familiar circumstance for my cases recently).

So for him, he’s off to another trial date and to try to figure out what is actually going on with his case.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Moving on from the Absentee Litigant

Now that the infamous absentee litigant has been located (incarcerated in the city detention complex), it’s time to move on to other matters until that trial comes around again. While that litigant has been located, I’m still left with a few other defendants who are proving harder to find. In those situations, the debt collection process takes a bit of a different turn and we are forced to find other ways to find the folks who owe my clients money.

In one of the more brazen cases, the debtor actually contacted my office to tell me that he would not be paying the debt. This was an interesting twist because that debtor had sued my client, and after a full trial in front of a jury, he lost the case and was ordered to pay my client the money. When he refused to pay, we began the debt collection process. However, the debtor’s claims to me were that it was my client’s fault that the case went to court and he had no money because he spent it all defending himself.

An interesting argument, especially considering it had been my client who was forced to defend himself in the lawsuit, and in the end, was the one who was awarded money damages by the court. So this brazen strategy will cause more headaches for my client, but coincidentally, this debtor isn’t the first one to contact me using this same excuse. It is a tough argument to make when you were the Plaintiff in the lawsuit and it was because of you that the case even went to court…