Thursday, September 30, 2004

Ohio Supreme Court Overturns Judges Order to Avoid Having Children

An AP wire on Findlaw refers to the Ohio Supreme Court's 5-2 ruling in State v. Talty (Webcite: 2004 Ohio 4888) that vacated the order of the trial court. The order, affirmed by the Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals, imposed a condition on Talty to "make all reasonable efforts to avoid conceiving another child" during his 5 year probation. He was on trial for violation of nonsupport. The Supreme Court found the restriction overbroad (and discussed similar restrictions that were found acceptable in Wisconsin) but did not discuss the level of review - the defendant thought it should be "strict scrutiny" - as part of its decision.

Monday, September 27, 2004

"Frivolous" law suit legislation has an article this morning about the U.S. House of Representatives passing H.R. 4571, reinstating manadatory sanctions against lawyers who file frivolous law suits under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and eliminate the current "safe harbor" provision that gives them 21 days to withdraw a suit after a motion for sanctions has been filed.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Grab a Patent (Image)

Gary Price's Resourceshelf blog mentioned this interesting utility for grabbing all of the pages in a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office patent search result at once, rather than having to view them one at a time. Normally, when you look at the filing images, you can only view the file (a TIFF image) one page at a time, and print or download each page separately.

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

Malpractice Insurance Limit of One Claim Per Person

An article in today's Cincinnati Business Courier indicates that the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a policy that effects a per person limit on medical claims will be allowed in a medical malpractice case. The opinion in Thomson v. OHIC Ins. Co., 2004 Ohio 4775, affirmed the Twelfth District Court of Appeals (2002-Ohio-6517) ruling, although on different grounds.

Additional Bail Considerations

Ohio House Bill 544, introduced August 31, 2004, proposes to "require a court to consider certain factors before setting bail for a person if the person is charged with an offense involving a victim who is a family or household member, to require the person to appear before the court before the court sets bail for that person, and to create the Domestic Violence Task Force on Bond Considerations."

Monday, September 20, 2004

Blakely "spin-offs"

A Wall Street Journal article (subscription required), this morning tells of "unproven allegations lengthening prison time."

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.

Same-sex Parental Rights Issue

A National Law Journal article this morning on reports that "when courts in Vermont, four years ago, began recognizing the legality of same-sex marriages, it was only a matter of time before cases began emerging to test whether sister states would follow suit.

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

Ohio tax incentive program

Last week we posted a note about Ohio's tax incentive program having been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. 6th. Circuit Court of Appeals. The topic is up once again with an article on this morning.

"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

"N.Y. judge's ruling affects 'high' court"

An article on this morning relates a N.Y. judge's ruling that "it's O.K. to be drunk on booze or high while being on jury duty."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

2004 Ohio Supreme Court Candidate Voter Guide

The Ohio League of Women's Voters has released its 2004 Ohio Supreme Court Candidate Voter Guide to the 7 candidates for 4 positions on the state Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice. Information includes education and practice experience, as well as a candidate statement.

IRS easements notice

The update newsletter from RIA's Tax-Exempt Organizations looseleaf service has an article in it about the Internal Revenue Service's cracking down on improper deductions of easements to non-profit organizations.
"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.

New U.S. Government Manual

The new 2004-2005 U.S. Government Manual is now available online.

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

Overtime Regs

The House of Representatives, Thursday, moved to block the Labor Department from carrying out its new overtime rules by a 223-193 vote.
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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Ohio tax incentive ruling to be appealled

The State of Ohio is going to be asking the 6th. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its Sept. 2nd. ruling declaring Ohio's "investment tax credit" unconstitutional according to Associated Press articles.

The case raising the question is Cuno v. DaimlerChrysler, Inc.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

ABA's Small-firm "Voice"

Despite the ABA Board of Governors' decision at its annual meeting last month to discontinue its Standing Committee on Solo & Small Firm Practitioners, opponents of the plan say they'll continue to press the issue. Article in Lawyers Weekly,USA

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

New Laws Effective in September

The Ohio Judicial Conference tracks legislative bills enacted by the General Assembly. These are bills that are enacted throughout September.
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

New Hampshire anonymous DUI tips

Several states have programs whereby motorists or other bystanders can report occurances of suspected drunken driving to authorities via cell phone or other forms of communication.

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.
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