Thursday, April 28, 2005

IRS Posting

“One day after releasing AdvRev Proc 2005-23,” an announcement in RIA’s “Pension & Benefits Week” newsletter on April 25th. said, “2005-18 IRB (which limits the retroactive effect of the Supreme Court’s decision in Heinz), IRS posted on its website (but not otherwise published) a detailed example illustrating the rules for how plan administrators can comply with the new revenue procedure and avoid having their plans disqualified.”

Questions about E-Discovery?

“The consequences of poorly executed e-discovery can be dire,” an article on this morning’s begins. That article and others might help get you started in understanding it all a bit better. has posted a set of links to some of its articles, along with a 60-min. video on the subject.

Other articles that might help are:

Can Electronic Info Be Kept Secret?” by Stanley Jaskiewicz (

Of Ethics & EDD” by Kevin Brady & Matthew Cohen (
Electronic Discovery in Flux” by Pamela Maclean (

Electronic Discovery—Or, the Byte that Bit” by George Socha (
The Homesteader & The Gunslinger” by Robert Alan Eisenberg (

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Supreme Court cases

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear two cases of some notoriety.

First of all, is the question as to “whether someone convicted of murder can then offer evidence at the sentencing hearing that casts doubt about culpability.” Oregon v. Guzek, docketed as Case 04-928 is a death penalty case. FindLaw has an article posted saying that “the Supreme Court has been silent on this particular issue—that a convicted murderer doesn’t have a constitutional right to a jury instruction compelling jurors to consider alibi evidence during sentencing—since 1988, and many lower courts have interpreted that ruling as meaning they don’t.

A second case, backgrounded in a article this morning, will consider “whether a Michigan statute barring the state from paying for appeals by indigent defendants who plead guilty discriminates against the poor.” (Halbert v. Michigan, Case 03-10198). According to the article, Michigan is the only state with such a law, but there are “17 states supporting Michigan’s position and advocates for the poor are worried that those states, one of which is Ohio, will in turn pass similar legislation is the Michigan statute prevails. An ALR article entitled “Right of Indigent Defendant in Criminal Case to Aid of State as Regards to New Trial or Appeal,” appeared at 55 ALR2d 1072.

Finally, there was an article in the April 19th. U.S. Law Week about “The Safe Access to Drug Treatment & Child Protection Act” (H.B. 1528) “severely limiting federal judges’ authority to impose sentences below the standard range of punishment prescribed by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines….. Section 12 of the bill would do this by forbidding judges to rely on any of the factors identified as possible mitigating circumstances in the guidelines or in 18 U.S.C. §3553 (a) as a basis for imposing sentence below the standard guideline range.”

Monday, April 25, 2005

Medicare/ Medicaid

As a major part of America’s population—us “Babyboomers—get closer and closer to another life crisis situation, there’re already storm clouds on the health & medical horizon.

We all know Social Security will be shot by the time many of us would need it, but in last Thursday’s USA Today, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and other budget experts were saying that Medicare is a larger growing problem than Social Security.

Medicaid, social security health benefits based on individuals’ financial needs rather than his/her employment history, is another battle, and an article in this morning’s Enquirer is describing how the nation’s governors are approaching that budgetary confrontation with Congress. “Medicaid costs have grown faster than inflation, “ the article says, “and is estimated to cost $300 billion this year… One out of every nine people in this country is on Medicaid.”

A related article on the issue was posted on the L.A. Times' site yesterday.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Federal Bankruptcy Bill Signed

President Bush signed the new “bankruptcy overhaul” bill into law yesterday, making it harder for those thinking about filing, and precipitating predictions of last minute rushes to file before the new law takes effect on Oct. 17th. and increases in fees since lawyers will now be liable for “misleading statements or inaccuracies in a client’s case.”

Senate Bill 256 is posted on Thomas’ Legislative with additional information & summaries.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ohio "right-to-die" legislation

An article on the Enquirer’s website last Friday announced a bill having been introduced in the House of Representatives which would prohibit Ohio judges from being able to order the removal of feeding tubes from “permanently unconscious people when their wishes are unknown or unclear,” spurred by the Terri Schiavo case three weeks ago.

House Bill 144, introduced March 22nd. is now in committee for consideration.

Lawyers Weekly relates an “avalanche of interest in advance directives.”

U.S. Supreme Court case

Watch this one "take off."

The Supreme Court in its October session will be hearing a case from Georgia to clear up conflicting rulings between state and federal courts on whether a search by police, without a warrant, but with the initial consent of a subject's wife over that subject's objection, is a violation of that subject's rights.
A Reuter's article yesterday afternoon, and a article this morning have background and additional information.

The U.S. Supreme Court has the case docketed as Case 04-1067. The Georgia Supreme Court's case is cited 264 Ga. 614, 604 SE2d 835 and the appeals case is at 265 GaApp. 396, 590 SE2d 834.

Friday, April 15, 2005

911 Service on Internet

Britians back in 1937 could dial "999" to get police, medical, or fire assistance from anywhere in the country. Here in the United States, Congress first started looking into a standard emergency-call format in 1958, finally passing the legal mandate in 1967. The first cell phone hit the market in 1984, weighed 2 pounds, let people talk for 30 minutes on each charging, and cost $3,995. A recent CNN article refers to them as truly being "bricks."

The passage of time and expanse of the telecommunications industry, however, hasn’t managed too good of a match between the two. A 2001 PC World article relates a Senate committee’s urging that “the wireless industry & public safety agencies should step up their work on a ‘new technology’ that helps emergency dispatchers precisely locate 911 calls from wireless phones. At present,” the article continues, “conventional 911 calls from fixed lines can be automatically traced to an address, but wireless calls can only be tracked to the nearest cell phone tower.” The individual placing the call needs to provide all the information as to the location of the emergency.

The FCC established a four-year schedule for these developments, generally “requiring wireless carriers provide more precise location information, within 50 to 300 meters in most cases,” targeted to be completed by December 31, 2005. Progress on the federal undertaking was reported earlier this month.

There are other glitches apparent in “wireless 911.” Last month, Texas filed suit against Vonage saying the provider failed to clearly inform customers that they couldn’t just automatically dial “911” when they signed up for the service. Earlier this week, proposed legislation in Illinois was announced which would require wireless telephone providers to provide terms of the plan… and other specified information to consumers before service is offered and include that information in a publication & advertising. (See HB.0827 )

Daylight-savings Time

Daylight-savings time, having roots back to Ben Franklin and widely used by both sides during both WWI and WWII , formally became “the first Sunday in April thru the last Sunday in October” in the U.S. in 1986. That may now be broadened another two months to the first Sunday of March through the last Sunday of November, if amendments to the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 stand.

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy & Commerce cleared the Act late Wednesday. Chairman Joe Barton had commented at this session’s commencement that, “Oil prices were at records highs and every day we were growing more dependent on foreign sources of oil.” The act would “put Americans to work developing our own resources & expanding production for the good of the whole nation.” A copy of the text viewed by the energy committee is posted on its website.

Meanwhile, Indiana is having another try at state-wide daylight-savings time. Indiana and Arizona are the only two states which don’t observe daylight-savings time, and then there are parts of Indiana which are. The last time Indiana tried to make it a statewide issue was in 1983, when it was decimated by a 46-4 vote.

There are several articles posted on the web, including an Associate Press story and an Indianapolis Star column from last Tuesday.

Notes and tracking information for Indiana’s Senate Bill 127 are post on AccessIndiana.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


In a relatively small, but growing number of cities & counties around the nation-- the first of which were Arlington County, Va., and the City of New Haven, Connecticut-- a new piece of computerized equipment is being employed by tax officials, police, to collect unpaid fines. (See stories by CBS, the Yale Herald, and the New Haven Register)
Dubbed "BootFinder" by its manufacturer, G2 Tactics, the device "looks like a radar gun, but is actually an infrared scanner that reads license plate numbers and then runs them against a computer database of deliquent taxes & outstanding tickets. If there's a match, it locks in," and the vehicle can be towed and impounded or immobilized. on Feb.28th. carried a story reporting that "since last April Arlington County collected $90,000 in outstanding parking tickets and personal property taxes-- including $8,000 from the driver of a Jaguar found parked outside a resturant... New Haven has fared even better, recouping $500,000 "

Not everyone's as thrilled with the device as police and tax agencies. New Haven attorney Arthur Machado has filed a complaint arguing that BootFinder is an unconstitutional illegal search & seizure. "It's the government overreaching," he says, "It looks a lot to me like Big Brother, 1984, you know, George Orwell."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Illinois child welfare case

“An article in the March 28th. National Law Journal (subscription) reports that 'in a decision with national repercussions, a federal judge in Illinois has ruled that the state’s child welfare agency unconstitutionally denies due process to parents by separating families on ‘nominal evidence’ at the beginning of child abuse investigations….'"
[ Dupuy v. Samuels, cases 03-3071 and 03-3091 ]

Carolyn Kubitschek, vice president of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, commented that many state welfare agencies have practices similar to that of Illinois' giving parents or guardians accused of abuse or neglect the choice of leaving the home during the investigation, or surrendering custody of the child to the court.