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.