Thursday, December 30, 2004
Before closing, though, we thought we'd follow another tradition and skim back over the year. ABCnews noted "The Year in Infamous Criminal Cases" this morning. FindLaw detailed "The Most Important Legal Developments of 2004," and CourtTV came up with the "20 Wackiest Courthouse moments."
Have a safe weekend.
For anyone who's interested in EMTs, "first responders," or emergency service, the site to visit is that posted by the National Association of State EMS Directors @ http://emsscopeofpractice.org Instructions for submitting comments are contained in the posted draft.
"The existing regulations covering these plans were last updated in 1994," the Treasury Department's press release states. "Since then, there have been significant statutory changes." The final regulations are posted online in the Federal Register (Dec. 29, 2004 Vol.69 No.249 Pp.78144)
The FCC voted 5-0 on Nov. 9th. for a petition by Vonage asking that its product be declared an interstate service. Further information there is available through Tech Law Journal.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court in a surprise move said it would hear a key telecom case (FCC v. Brand X Internet Services), which could decide whether broadband cable should be regulated as an unregulated information service, or as a telephone-like telecommunications service that can be required to make its lines available to competitors.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Monday, December 27, 2004
Judge Ralph "Ted" Winkler is moving from the Hamilton County Municipal Court to the Hamilton County Common Pleas court. His replacement, appointed by Governor Taft, is Judge Alex Triantafilou. Judge Triantafilou is a former assistant prosecutor and administrator of the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts office.
Judge Ralph Winkler is retiring from the Ohio State First District Court of Appeals, and is being replaced by Judge Sylvia Hendon, of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. Governort Taft appointed Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Karla Grady to replace Judge Hendon on the Juvenile Court. (see the Cincinnati Enquirer Local News Briefs from December 22, 2004).
A Point of Light among Hellholes
Courts in Illinois, Texas, California, and West Virginia, among others, were named the 9 "Judicial Hellholes" of 2004 by the American Tort Reform Association. Ohio, on the other hand, was given the label of "point of light" for recent statutory changes establishing minimum medical requirements in asbestos litigation. (House Bill 292, 125th Legislature). The Ohio Legislature has other tort reform, in the text of amended Senate Bill 80, under consideration. S.B. 80 places limits on court discretion to award punitives outside the scope of statutory guidelines. The Legislature has passed or considered a number of other tort reform bills during the current session.
Zany for Rifle Range and Other Immunity Laws
The Center for Justice & Democracy issued its Zany Immunity Laws, in which Ohio gets a few mentions in relation to immunity for injuries occurring at your horse riding lessons and or noise generated by shooting ranges.
Thanks to Law.com for another interesting piece!
The lawyers interviewed believe that the decision, although technically a "win" for the non-lawyer group representing participants in hearings, will lead to an increase in workers' compensation representation by lawyers, and at least one firm indicated they'd be adding an attorney to deal with the expected increase.
The registry, established in October 2003, has more than 69 million telephone numbers, according to the article.
Phone numbers can be registered, or complaints filed at http://www.donotcall.gov or by calling (888) 382-1222. Both cell and home phones can be listed with the registry
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Internet News posted a second article, having a link to the ruling.
"The efficient, effective, and appropriately consistent use of Federal agency public websites," the memo states, "is important to promote a more citizen-centered government"
An overview of "selected state child labor law standards" is available on DOL's website.
DOL also announced a proposal that would implement Wage Determinations Online, "replacing the current manual & paper-intensive processes with an Internet-based system."
The Clerk's website is reported one of the most comprehensive in Ohio.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
The article also noted that "wireless companies were the No.2 sector for complaints to Better Business Bureaus in 2003, trailing only car dealers, and second-lowest in customer satisfaction according to the University of Michigan's index, second only to cable companies."
Monday, December 20, 2004
In an article in this morning's Court Index, IRS Commissioner Mark Everson is quoted as saying, "These new standards send a strong message to tax professionals considering selling a questionable product to clients. The new provisions give us more tools to battle abusive tax avoidance transactions and rein in practioners who disregard their ethical obligations.
A copy of the court's default judgment is posted on our resource page.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Thursday, December 16, 2004
1999, the article says, "could probably be the poster child for tort reform when jurors in 19 cases returned million-plus verdicts for a total of $128 million.... In 2003, only 10 plaintiff attorneys reported verdicts exceeding $1 million, and a total take of $61 million amounted to 55% free fall from 2002 when juries turned in 20 verdicts that topped $1 million and, all tolled, amounted to $111.13 million."
Medical Malpractice & wrongful death cases dominated the list.
An article on Medical News Today last Sunday reported that "70% of Maryland's OB/GYNs have been sued at least once for malpractice, with the average settlement exceeding $1 million."
And a Law.Com article (subscription also required) meanwhile foreshadows that "as debate over 'tort reform' continues across the country, several states are considering the creation of medical malpractice courts to help streamline what many view as costly, complex litigation...
"... Courts would likely be designed to eliminate juries and allow judges with medical expertise to decide cases, possibly with the help of court-appointed experts..
"While a medical malpractice court has yet to be created, the idea is being debated in at least four states-- Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania-- through either legislation, budget maneuvers, or proposed pilot programs.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
"E-mails with the misspelled attachment 'Happy Hollydays' arrived in inboxes Tuesday, with the subject line 'Merry Christmas.' A worm is in the attachment.
Ass.'t Attorney General Steve Sakamoto-Wengel, however, said he believes the statute should be upheld, and plaintiff Eric Menhart, a 3rd.-year law student at George Washington University, has indicated that he will appeal the case.
The federal government and as many as 36 states have "anti-spam" legislation on their books, and appeals courts in California and Washington have both overturned lower court rulings declaring those states' statutes unconstitutional on similar grounds.
Internet law is developing, Sakamoto-Wengel observed in a CNN article yesterday. "There are going to be conflicting rulings," he said. "But the ultimate hope is that they all get resolved and we have clear rules over what the states can & can't regulate."
There is a good article on the Baltimore Sun's online (registration required) from Nov. 28th. backgrounding Mr. Menhart and this particular case.
Internetweek is carrying a story this morning, too, predicting increased amounts of spam thru the holiday season.
Also, our two previous "spam" postings might be of interest.
CNN-Money carried an article telling of a Google project that will digitally scan the collections of seven libraries, including Harvard and Oxford, making them available online in the coming years.
This morning, there's an article on ABCnews about concerns that Google's "move to digitize research collections could spell the commercialization of libraries.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
"At the summertime urging of the solicitor general," a Law.com article relates, "the Court had expedited the handling of United States v. Booker and United States v. Fanfan to remedy the 'disarray' of the federal sentencing system in the wake of last June's Blakely v. Washington ruling, which struck down a state sentencing law similar to the federal guidelines. The Court heard arguments in the cases on the first day of its term in October, and many had expected decisions by November, but adjournment now means that the earliest a ruling could now come is Jan. 11, 2005.
The Court did decide that police "have the authority to arrest suspects on charges that later fall apart as long as they had a second, valid reason for the detention." It also refused to clarify "when police could use deadly force to stop fleeing criminal suspects, but did say a lower court got it wrong in allowing a lawsuit against a police officer in the state of Washington who shot a burglary suspect."
Monday, December 13, 2004
UCCJEA "revises the law on child custody in the light of federal enactments & almost 30 years inconsistent case law," the article recites. It is intended to "provide clearer standards for which the states can exercise original jurisdiction over child custody determinations," and "a remedial process to enforce interstate child custody & visitation determinations." A 16-page PDF explanation by the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention is accessible online.
Kentucky,Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have all passed some version of the Act, while Indiana's SB 280 died in the House in the 2003-2004 session, according to the NCCUSL Web site's UCCJEA Code Citation list and bill tracking service.
The American Bar Association has posted a table outlining the "child custody criteria" of the states, and FindLaw provides a link to pertinent state statutes.
House Bill 185, and its bill analysis, are available thru the Ohio Legislative Service.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
"Netsky-P," allegedly written by German teenager Sven Jaschan in March, tops a list of the top ten viruses & hoaxes reported to that company.
An article posted by Enterprise Security Today comments that "virus writers took off their gloves in 2004, with the more inventive hackers focusing more on developing sphisticated malware for financial gains... One recent and quite worrisome example being the lastest generation of phishing attacks: those waiting for users to visit real banking websites and then monitoring & secretly recording login processes."
CNN.com this morning reports that computer-security experts, including former government officials, are urging the Bush administration to devote more effort to strengthening defenses against hackers and other online threats," including giving the Homeland Security Department more authority to oversee cyber security.
Meanwhile, a second news article on MSNBC.com reports, internet companies and law enforcement agaencies will be working more closely together to track down online scam artists involved in phishing.
Ohio and many other states are working on these situations. See my previous posting on spam laws and David's on Ohio's spam felony efforts.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
The site, called TOXMAP, is free and does not require any registration.
TOXMAP joins other web resources maintained by the group for consumer health information broadly (MedlinePlus.gov), research studies (ClinicalTrials.gov), and older American concerns (NIHSeniorHealth.gov).
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
First is an clip linking a GAO report on "data mining" from BeSpacific.com that provides some interesting insight.
Law Technology News has a piece about building blogs, and there's an article on MSNBC news about "The Business of Blogging" which is pretty interesting.
Monday, December 06, 2004
The Court held its regular private conference Friday to discuss cases, but no announcement is expected at least until today. The case, FCC v. Brand X Internet Services, is from the 9th. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Article available on Law.com and FindLaw.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
The Business First of Columbus for 11/29 reports that AOL feels as though it's received "an early and important holiday gift" as House Bill 383 passed the Ohio Senate and makes its last journey before being signed by the Governor. In light of the recent felony convictions in Virginia (see Law.com or CNN for coverage) that involved AOL, you can imagine their pleasure at new legislation coming along.
Although Ohio has had anti-spam laws since 2002, when it passed Senate Bill 8 and created civil penalties for improper use of commercial, unsolicited e-mail, this is the first felony spam law for Ohio. See Chuck's previous posting on spam for links to current spam laws in other jurisdictions.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Attempts at clarifying and simplifying jury instructions have been slowly spreading across the country for the past 20 years. "Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin," the article says, "have revised civil instructions to varying degrees."
A press release from the Ohio Supreme Court on Feb. 24, 2004, relayed its jury task force's proposal of several major reforms, including that "jurors are entitled to brief statements of a case" either by the court or counsel prior to the beginning of voir dire and interim summaries, especially in lengthy trials; and that "jurors were entitled to understand the proceedings in the courtroom and that 'plain English' should be used at trial and in jury instructions." A link to the recommendations is provided in that press release.
The IRS has issued a set of proposed regulations that would permit distributions from a pension plan under a phased retirement program, if that program meets certain specific requirements. Under this approach, a plan could allow employees who phase in their retirement by working fewer hours to receive a portion of their pension benefit while continuing to work.
( IRS Bulletin 2004-47 )
Secondly, a Congressional Research Service report "surveying the state of automatic enrollments in 401(k) plans" was released last month.
"Automatic enrollment," also referred to as "negative election," is a process designed to increase participation in 401(k) plans, especially among non-highly compensated employees, by automatically enrolling new employees in their company's 401(k) plan at a set percentage amount of their pay-- typically up to 3%.
The Congressional Research Service is a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress that serves as the public policy research arm of Congress.
The report is accessible at http://www.benefitslink.com/articles/20041014_rs21954.pdf
Monday, November 15, 2004
The links are by no means comprehensive, but each one is annotated and explains why it was included on the site. The selective method is a great idea, since it points consumers directly to the information they seek, rather than just passing them forward to a site that must then be navigated before reaching the necessary information.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Friday, November 05, 2004
Virginia, an epicenter to Internet traffic in this country, is also home to one of the nation's "toughest anti-spam" law, according to legal experts. The federal "Can-Spam" law, which was seen as not applying in this particular case, bars disguising identities & collecting e-mail addresses from the Web, and commercial messages have to include opt-out options. "Can-Spam" also includes a provision which allows individual states pursue criminal charges against spammers.
Thirty-six states have passed "anti-spam" laws in answer to the growing problem not only to individuals, but business as well. Ohio's was approved in August 2002, with Indiana following suit in April 2003. The state of Virginia, as mentioned above, has one of the country's toughest anti-spam laws, approved five years ago in March 1999.
While Kentucky has not enacted any anti-spam legislation as of yet, Kentucky Supreme Court Rule 3.130(7.09)(3), as amended Jan. 2002, requires attorneys who advertise via written, recorded, or electronic means targeted at potential clients to include the words "this is an advertisement" prominently located in each communication. House Bills 314 (2001)
and 64 (2004), both died in session.
In 2003, twenty-one states enacted anti-spam legislation, with five more doing so this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
A better collection can be found on Findlaw's Election 2004 case page. This has linked in many of the documents released in the last 24 hours that are not yet available publicly on any of the court sites.
Monday, October 25, 2004
The Attorney General's office responded to a request from the Adams County Prosecuting Attorney about whether a qualified veteran is available for employment and what job protections are available. Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 5901.06, 5901.07 and Ohio Administrative Code chapter 16, 5902-1-03.
In response to a request from Union County Prosecuting Attorney, the AG reviewed whether a board of county commissioners could increase a construction estimate to account for inflation. Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 6137.11.
The Madison County Prosecuting Attorney made a request regarding payment from the ambulance and emergency medical services funds for township trustee reimbursements, for a fire district employee's salary and benefits, as well as what proportion of expenses incurred by a fire district are owed from ambulance and emergency medical services funds. Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 505.24, 505.37, 505.84, 5705.10, 5705.19.
The Chairman of the Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board requested an opinion on the scope a licensee has in making a diagnosis and in treating mental and emotional disorders. Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 4757.01
Monday, October 18, 2004
Sharon D. Nelson & John W. Simek have an article in the June GP Solo titled "Electronic Discovery: What Dangers Lurk in the Virtual Abyss"
Anita Ramasastry has an article on proposed federal e-discovery rules in Findlaw's Modern Practice magazine @ http://practice.findlaw.com/cyberlaw-1004.html . A link in that article will take the reader to the Federal Judiciary U.S. Courts page on "federal rulemaking" news to view those proposed rules. Comments on the proposed amendments are due by Feb. 15, 2005.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Questions or comments may be directed to Mark E. Combs, administrator at the Court of Appeals at 946-3500
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
The largest section of the site, juries in-depth, provides information on jury summons & eligibility, the process of jury selections, juror privacy, and recent efforts at improvement. Also included are sections on a jury's powers & decision making. Visitors can find the statutues from each state on juror note taking and asking questions.
Friday, October 08, 2004
Called SMS (Short Message Service) it "enables you to easily get precise answers to specialized queries from your mobile phone or other device..... No links. No web pages. Simply the answers you're looking for."
Quoted in USA Today, Georges Harik, director of Google's incubator Googlettes, said, "We're not charging anything for the service and we have no plans to do so in the near future. We're trying to see if this is compelling enough to get people to use it."
An explanation & overview of Google SMS is available at http://www.google.com/sms/
Thursday, October 07, 2004
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Mr. Nischwitz represented the appellee as part of its bankruptcy and used a contingent fee agreement. The case was resolved and Nischwitz applied for fees from the court based on the agreement. The court awarded "reasonable fees" which were substantially less than the contingent fee request. The determination was appealed twice to the Sixth Circuit's Banktrupcy Appellate Panel before ending up at the Court of Appeals, which reversed the BAP and remanded for the panel to determine if the trial court abused its discretion in its award.
Monday, October 04, 2004
The trial court enjoined the review board, determining that the permit scheme was invalid with respect to individuals. In affirming, the court of appeals was not wholly persuaded that the permit scheme was entirely invalid.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Monday, September 27, 2004
Friday, September 24, 2004
The service is called Pat2PDF and does what it's name implies: it takes your patent number search and generates a single PDF of all of the TIFF images in the patent's file. The service is subscription-based, from $5 per document to daily and longer subscriptions. I didn't drop the $5 to see what the result looked like but PDFs are pretty straightforward at representing TIFFs.
I hadn't used the PTO service in a long time and found that I couldn't even view the patent images without having already installed a TIFF viewer for my browser. [A web browser will only open, normally, basic Web graphics files and Web pages. Anything else - sound files, video files, non-Web graphics, multimedia or "flash" files - requires a special helper program called a 'plug-in', which you must install and sometimes pay for on your own]. The Patent and Trademark Office has tested two free viewers and has links to where you can download AlternaTIFF and interneTIFF.
Pat2PDF is a great service if you regularly need to grab a whole patent in a easy to use format. Don't forget, though, that you can use a free PDF printer utility like PDF995 to print a single patent page to a PDF file, and these single page PDF files can be combined if you own the full version of Adobe Acrobat or another PDF editor, like PDF995's PDF995Suite. Considering the increasing adoption of electronic filing using PDF in the courts, you're likely to have (or need) one of these tools soon anyway!
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Monday, September 20, 2004
The article relates how Laurence Braun, convicted by a New York federal jury of racketeering and conspiracy in 2002-- which merits a sentence of around 2 1/2 years-- had a judge who decided that Braun should also serve time for many of the 23 additional charges he had been acquitted of because those charges was "relevant conduct."
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the issue of whether the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are constitutional on Oct. 4, this being the outgrowth of confusion and objections raised by the now renowned "Blakely v. Washington" case back in June.
40 states have passed legislation since President Clinton signed the "Defense of Marriage Act" in 1995 prohibiting same-sex marriages, but three-- Vermont, Hawaii, and Massachusetts recognize them. Hawaii also offers reciprocal benefits in such instances.
Friday, September 17, 2004
"If the decision stands," said Hollie Spade, executive director of the Office of Legal Services in the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, " it certainly provides precedent for challenging several of Kentucky's programs." Other states are taking notice, too.
Critics of the 6th. Circuit's decision say such distinctions could be swept away by the force of the court's main ruling.... "If this is the law (and I don't believe it can be)," Professor Edward Zelinsky of Yeshiva University, Cardozo School of lLaw, "virtually every state tax incentive is challengeable on dormant commerce clause grounds."
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
"A new notice and related news release warn taxpayers that the Internal Revenue Service will disallow improper charitable contribution deductions for transfers of easements (1) on real property to charities, and (2) in connection with purchases of real property from charities.
"Additionally, accuracy-related penalties may be imposed on taxpayers claiming such deductions & excise taxes, and other penalities on non-taxpayer participants in these transactions."
A copy of the IRS announcement and news release is available on their website.
As the official handbook, this publication provides comprehensive information on agencies within the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the Federal Government. It also has information on quasi-official agencies, international groups participated with, and boards, commissions, and committees.
Friday, September 10, 2004
Thursday, September 09, 2004
The case raising the question is Cuno v. DaimlerChrysler, Inc.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
- September 1 - 2: Medical Claims Requirements
- House Bills 292 and 342 create minimum medical requirements for filing claims related to asbestos and silica personal injury claims.
- September 3: Foster Caregivers
- House Bill 117 as amended revises foster caregiver training requirements, allows the Department of Job and Family Services to seek injunctive relief, and adds additional offenses that disqualify prospective adoptive parents and caregivers.
- September 13: Medical Liability Case Evidence and Experts
- Defendant's may not use a statement of sympathy as evidence in a medical liability action, under House Bill 215, as well as other evidentiary issues, including the establishment of expert witness qualifications.
- September 15: Unauthorized Practice of Law
- House Bill 38 outlines the unauthorized practice of law, and the limits on the use of terms such as "lawyer".
- September 16: Juvenile Custody Records
- Records relating to juveniles custody will be required to be released to juvenile court and the superintendent of the school district in which the juvenile is entitled to attend school, according to House Bill 106.
- September 23: Computer Hacking
- Amended Senate Bill 146 on computer hacking amends sections of the Ohio Revised Code §§ 2901, 2909, 2913, and 2915, to expand the definition of "disrupting public services", "criminial mischief", and to increase penalties for unauthorized use of computers.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
The New Hampshire Supreme Court, however, is giving police a set of guidelines to employ in this process.
The ruling came as a result of a case involving a Massachusetts woman charged with DUI after an unidentified caller had alerted police, who in turn did not observe any erratic behavior, but arrested the woman anyway based on the caller's information. The trial court threw the case out, saying the woman's being stopped violated her rights in that it was not made clear what the tipster had witnessed or how reliable that person was. The state appealled the decision, and New Hampshire's supreme court sent the case back with guidelines.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
The story popped up in Ohio because of the LN link, of course, and was reported by the Dayton Daily News (registration required).
Monday, August 30, 2004
First of all, there was an article on USA Today's online version on Aug. 19th. about state and local governments increasing using electronic services. "
A Law.com article on Aug. 24th. relates a decision by Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Leonard Austin's tackling the growing, but largely uncharted, area of the law-- in New York, at least-- dealing with who bears the cost of electronic discovery.
"In issues over paper discovery," the article says, "a judge must determine whether the demanded material exists, whether its material & necessary for the case, and whether or not it's priviledged."
Ruling in what appeared to be an absence of precedent, Justice Austin applied the rule that governs paper document production: The extraction of information from an old computer will be borne by the side requesting it.
And finally, an article in the Aug. 17th. issue of U.S. Law Week relates the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws' approving a proposed uniform law that would "streamline real estate transactions by gradually replacing paper-based land recording systems with electronic ones."
The law can be viewed @ http://www.law.upenn.edu/bll/ulc/urpera/Approvedfinal2004.htm
Friday, August 27, 2004
A Law.com article this morning relates the Superior Court of Los Angeles' having found that "employees had established by a proponderance of the evidence that common issues predominated" and declared the case a class action. Los Angeles' 2nd. District Court of Appeals, however, reversed that decision in 2002, holding that because "the employees' job descriptions were so different, regardless of their titles, there could be no class-- the first time that a California appeals court ruled that class certification was not appropriate in a wage-and-hour case.
California's Supreme Court disagreed, saying ".. individual issues do not render class certification inappropriate so long as such issues may effectively be managed. Nor is it a bar to certification that individual class members may ultimately need to itemize their damages."
(Sav-on Drug Stores Inc. v. Superior Court, 04 C.D.O.S. 7902,
2004 Cal. Lexis 7806, 2004 WL 1902370 (Cal.) )
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
The Guide, said David Lewis, Clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court, Court of Appeals & Tax Court, "promises to be an important tool for litigants attempting to navigate the complex appeals process without the assistance of an attorney."
There is a press release with more information @ http://www.in.gov/judiciary/press/2004/0722.html , or the guide itself can be downloaded at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/cofc
Monday, August 23, 2004
Other topics include corporate e-mail retention policies and how they might reduce liability and electronic data discovery.
Several of this morning's can be found at:
The Department of Labor's site is @ http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fairpay/
Friday, August 20, 2004
To view these reports, go to the Supreme Court's website (http://www.sconet.state.oh.us ) and click on "Public Access to Mayor's Courts Registration & Reporting."
Searches can be done by county, court name, or court code. Information such as whether a particular Mayor's court is active, how large a caseload it has, and what types of cases are heard are posted, but court dockets or the outcome of cases are not.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
The site lends access to decisions in Blakely, Hammoud, Pineiro, Booker, and other major related cases from around the country. The Department of Justice memorandum to federal prosecutors, and a lenghty list of news articles are also available.
Also posted are several state-specific commentaries including:
"Blakely v Washington: Implications for State Courts" (Nat'l. Center for State Court )
"Aggravated Sentencing:Blakely v Washington-- Practical Implications for State Sentencing Systems" (Vera Institute of Justice)
Monday, August 16, 2004
The legal research product is interesting because it is moving into a space that is below the threshold of the mega products like Thomson Westlaw and Reed Elsevier's Lexisnexis. Sites like Aspen's Loislaw, Versuslaw, Quicklaw, Fastcase, and National Law Library are providing 50 case coverage in various ways and with varying enhanced tools already. Getting the case law as a member benefit for the bar association creates substantial additional value by giving the members what is essentially a free option for part of their legal research needs that is far more reliable than what they might have on the Internet.
Kudos to our home town (Cincinnati!) Lawriter Corporation for providing the technology backbone to Casemaker.
( http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1090180337638 )
The case is posted on the 2nd. Circuit's website under "recent decisions" @ http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov
Friday, August 13, 2004
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in her dissenting opinion, prophetically stated that, “The Court ignores the havoc it is about to wreck on trial courts across the country… Over 20 years of sentencing reform are all but lost, and tens of thousands of criminal judgements are in jeoprody.”
“Inside of the two weeks following Blakely,” the Aug. 2nd. issue of Lawyers Weekly, U.S.A. quotes Indiana University law professor Frank O. Bowman, III, “four federal circuit have reached four different results. And in a single federal district in Utah, four judges have had results somewhat different than the four courts of appeals.”
The outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision, though, may not be limited to just the federal arena. While Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky do not, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee all have sentencing structures similar to the one being questioned in Blakely.
While there apparently no state sentencing systems – yet – having to contend with the sweeping turmoil being endured at the federal level, there are several websites where that kind of information is, or soon will be, available.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission’s website is @ http://www.ussc.gov/
The Ohio Sentencing Commission is @ http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/sentencing_commission/default.asp
Indiana’s Criminal Justice Institute is @ http://www.in.gov/cji/home
There’s the Indiana Law Blog @ http://www.indianalawblog.com/
The National Association of Sentencing Commissions (NASC) has already posted responses from Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania; along with a "membership contact list" @ www.ussc.gov/states/nascaddr.htm )
And finally, Douglas Berman, professor of law , Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University, man-ages an impressive undertaking called “Sentencing Law & Policy” @ http://sentencing.typepad.com/
The report, part of a study commissioned by the AFL-CIO, “notes that judging the exemption status of a worker based on his or her ‘most important duty’ is much more subjective than examining how much time that person spends doing exempt work. As a result, the report concludes, employers will be able to classify more employees as exempt and thereby avoid having to pay them overtime wages.
“Meanwhile, a study recently released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington, D.C.-based liberal think tank, estimated that nearly six million workers will lose their right to overtime pay under the new regulations.” (http://www.epinet.org/briefingpapers/152/bp152.pdf )
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
You can download the Ohio Sunshine Laws update from the AG's Web site, as well as a letter from the Attorney General..
The focus on juries coincides with some policy efforts at the American Bar Association (ABA), where a recent poll conducted by the organization found that most people preferred jury trials and wanted to serve on juries.
“According to COBRA’s legislative history,” the article continues, “DOL has the authority to issue guidance only on matters related to COBRA notice & disclosure requirements. The Department of Treasury (through IRS) has the regulatory authority over all other substantive requirements. Similarly, the U.S. Dept. of Heath & Human Services (thru the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has jurisdiction over COBRA application to plans of state and local governments.”
The new rules create requirements—and, potentially, new liabilities— new time frames for certain notices, and new model notices for use as initial COBRA notices & qualifying event notices. This model notice is an update from the one provided in the 2003 proposed rules, and, as indicated in those proposed rules, DOL’s original model COBRA notice from 1986 may no longer be used to demonstrate good faith compliance.
The DOL final rules also include two additional requirements for plan administrators: a notice of unavailability of COBRA coverage, and a notice of early termination of COBRA coverage.
“Some plan administrators,” the article says, “are under the impression that they can rely on their COBRA service providers to ‘take care of’ the appropriate updates, a generally false assumption. COBRA service providers fill a valuable role in assisting plan administrators in complying with their COBRA administrative responsibilities, (but) COBRA service providers typically are not responsible for updating plan documents and summary plan descriptions (SPDs), or internal plan procedures that might affect qualified beneficiaries, such as identifying organizational units within the employer responsible for receiving notices of divorce or loss of dependant child statuses.”
West’s Mandated Health Benefits: The COBRA Guide is available at the Cincinnati Law Library to members for use in the library or to check out.
The new COBRA notice requirements are available online
Additional material is available by searching “COBRA notice requirements” on the Department of Labor’s website
Monday, August 09, 2004
The United States Administrative Office of Courts has been implementing its case management / electronic court filing project and the use of this system in the bankruptcy courts has pushed electronic court filing across the country.
But as the Franklin County government is finding, the technology can be expensive, particularly when you have already adopted what has turned out to be an intermediate technology, like microfiche. Hopefully, as more courts gain current electronic capabilities, the cost for maintaining them will become increasingly manageable.
Friday, August 06, 2004
Now the Supreme Court of Ohio's Reporter of Decisions is making the switch as well. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Microsoft Word format, although some may feel uncomfortable downloading a file that has a high risk of computer virus and worm infection. The use of PDFs for the official opinions will settle that concern. If you haven't used the latest version of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, the search capabilities are getting better within a document, enabling the reader to do more than just print a nice copy!
The Supreme Court of Ohio's Web site hosts a complete listing of briefs filed in the case at the Board of Commissioners on the Unauthorized Practice of Law home.
Both "Crawford" and "Blakley" have created wide confusion, leaving trial courts speculating on their impact and eager for clarification. On Monday, Aug.2nd., the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to look at & settle whether federal sentencing rules were unconstitutional ( http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/08/02/scotus.sentences.ap/index.html )
The case before McAvoy (Garcia v. U.S., 04-CV-0465), raised both Crawford and Blakley issues which were addressed in his decision. Article in New York Law Journal on Aug. 6th. exemplifies.
( http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1090180295836 )
The Court, in explaining its holding, stated the website constituted the defendant's protected speech rights under the First Amendment, and his right to gather evidence in his defense under the Fifth & Sixth Amendments.
It is the first case of its kind in the country.
An in-depth, subscriber, article can be found @ http://www.lawyersweeklyusa.com/subscriber/archives.cfm?page=usa/04/802044.htm&QueryText=info%20via%20website )
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
RIA makes the observation that "the issuance of these new publications, which make no reference to pending legislation, seems ill-timed since both the Senate and House have passed versions of the 2004 JOBS Act which would retroactively add more restrictive rules on charitable contributions of motor vehicles.
"In annoucing the release of the publications IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said,
'Supporting charitable activities through tax dedutible contributions is an important element of tax law and serves the national interest. But we encourage people to proceed carefully when donating vehicles. There are instances where the donations may provide little benefit to the charity.'"
"The Charity's Guide to Car Donations" is available online at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4302.pdf.
"The Donor's Guide to Car Donations" may be obtained at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4303.pdf.
A general "Tax Information for Charities & Other Non-Profits" is available on IRS's website at http://www.irs.gov/charities/index.html.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Monday, August 02, 2004
An article by Andy Havens, posted on llrx.com on July 26, says "it's pretty much an industry standard that 50% of all visitors to a website only look at the home page... They peek in the front window, and if they don't see exactly what they're looking for, they move on down the block.
Friday, July 30, 2004
Also... The July 20th. issue of BNA"s U.S. Law Week is carrying the headlines, "Post-Blakely Uncertainty about sentencing guidelines intensifies as Second, Fifth, and Sixth Circuits prescribe different responses."
A Law.com article on July 21st. relates U.S. District Judge Donald Graham in Miami, Florida, becoming the first federal judge in South Florida to declare a key part of federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional. ( http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1090180148215> )
The Department of Labor’s “FairPay Overtime Initiative,” designed to
assist in the understanding of the new regulations
“Employment Law Guide” at http://www.dol.gov/asp/programs/guide.htm
“Compliance assistance” at http://www.dol.gov/compliance/
“white sheets” on individual exemption requirements at
The Department of Labor has also issued new overtime security rules. The “Overtime Security Amicus Program” (http://www.dol.gov/sol/541amicus.htm ) is hoped to ensure employees better understand their rights, employers their legal obligations, and the DOL to be better able to effectively enforce the law.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Special Prosecutor Thomas J. Sammon of the Cuyahoga Prosecutor’s Office has reported that a grand jury looking into allegations of whether an imprisoned former stockbroker’s having bribed a public official connected to the state treasurer’s office does not implicate Treasurer Joseph T. Deters of any type of criminal misconduct.
With the Department of Labor’s new wage regulations and “white collar” exemptions going into effect on Aug. 23rd., there remains much controversy and confusion making the transition to the new standards anything but smooth.
A study be Hewitt Associates has found that at least 20% of all companies won’t be able to meet that deadline, and, with the number of overtime lawsuits having soared in recent years, that could spell trouble.
USA Today article @ http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2004-07-26-overtime_x.htm
Amber Alert There is a statewide amber alert out this morning for four children missing from Miamisburg, Ohio. Suspect is driving a green 1996 Ford Contour with license plate number DGG 5925.
Further information @ http://www.wcpo.com/news/2004/local/07/25/alert.html
Friday, July 23, 2004
Dissenting justices, including Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, warned that the recent ruling in Blakely v. Washington, would undermine—if not destroy—federal guidelines, which were meant to reduce disparities among punishments handed out by different judges.
Quick action on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report is considered unlikely by many observers. An “executive summary” of the report is available @ http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/terrorism%20&%20security/z_archive/911_report/cover_execsummary.pdf , with the complete 585-page report available @