Monday, February 26, 2007

Federal long-distance excise tax refunds

A refund on long-distance telephone excise taxes that many people would be entitled to is not being claimed by many persons who have already filed and received refunds, according to the Internal Revenue Service. (Article)

The IRS stopped collecting long-distance excise taxes last August, and authorized a one-time refund on moneys collected on those services billed from March 2003 thru July 2006.

Press release @
More information here

Kentucky sexual assault of minor felony legislation

A bill introduced by Representative Mary Lou Marzion last week would make failing to report sex-abuse offenses against minor children under the age of 16 a felony in the State of Kentucky if it became law.

Under current law, an Enquirer article Saturday said, some types of sex offenses, such as fondling, are classed misdemeanors and have only a 1-year statute of limitation. (Current Kentucky law)

Marzion’s bill seeks to repeal Kentucky’s sexual abuse misdemeanor statute, making sexual assault of a minor a “Class B felony unless the victim is under the age of 12 years old, or receives serious physical injury in which case it is a Class A felony.”

Also, any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that a child has been the victim of a sexual assault and doesn’t report it to local law enforcement or the State Police, is also guilty of a “Class B” felony and subject to…….. “Neither the husband-wife, nor a professional-client/patient privilege—except attorney-client or clergy-penitent—are grounds for refusing to make a report under” the new section

“Class B” felonies carry penalties of 10-20 year in prison; “Class A” felonies carry terms of 20-50 years imprisonment. (See KRS 532.060)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Revisions to Ohio forfeiture laws

Former Ohio Governor Bob Taft signed House Bill 241, adopting Ohio Sentencing Commission recommendations regarding revision of the State’s forfeiture laws, into law on December 29th., and there’ve obviously been numerous posts about it since then.

For those who might find it useful, though, the Sentencing Commission has a post on its website that details the new law from a different perspective than some of the other locations this material appears on.

Most of the revisions go into effect on March 30, 2007.

Ohio Legislative Service analysis of HB 241

Friday, February 16, 2007

MySpace district court decision

The Texas Western District Court dismissed a civil action against social network interface MySpace Tuesday in which the plaintiff, a minor, alleged she was sexually assaulted by an individual she met thru that site. (Opinion)

The Court found that provisions of the federal Communications Decency Act immunizes MySpace from liability based on material posted on the site, stating that “if anyone had a duty to protect the plaintiff it was her parents, and not MySpace.”

This particular case began last summer, but it wasn’t the first of its kind or against MySpace. Another dating site,, paid a $1 million civil penalty incurred for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act last September, and faced other provisions invoked by the Federal Trade Commission. Anita Ramasastry, a law professor at the University of Washington and one of’s columnists, contrasted the two cases in an article earlier this year addressing the issue and some potential solutions. (Article)

Prison Population Predictions

A Pew report released last Wednesday predicts that inmate populations in the nation’s more than 1500 prisons will increase nearly 13% over the next five years, costing states some $27.5 billion in new operational & construction costs. (Article)

Analysts at Pew Charitable Trusts, a private philanthropic organization funding research into a variety of areas, attribute those predictions to things such as mandatory minimum sentences that have stretched terms for many, a decline in the number of inmates being granted paroles, and other policies many states have instituted in recent years in cracking down on crime.

According to their figures, Ohio had an estimated prison population of 47,519 at the close of 2006; that being projected to 57,223 -- a 20% increase -- by 2011.

“Ohio,” the report states, had been experiencing declining prison populations since 1999 as a result of a sentencing reform initiative. Now the state is experiencing increases because of higher-than-expected prison admissions, and based on these developments, Ohio estimates it will add over 17,000 inmates to its prison population over the next ten years.”

Kentucky had some 21,459 people in prison in 2006; that being expected to rise to 26,209 in five years, or 22%. Indiana, with 25,061 inmates currently, is foreseen as having that figure increase 15%, to 28,728 by the end of 2011.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

ABA judicial ethics model

The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates wrapped up their Mid-year conference down in Miami, Florida yesterday, revisions to its Code of Judicial Ethics not being at the bottom of the agenda, according to several articles over the weekend. Some weren’t all that flattering. In any event, we decided on this update. (See Cin’ti. Enquirer article & NYT editorial)

While not binding, the ABA model rules for judicial conduct, last revised in 1990, do serve as guidance for the individual states in developing ethics rules for their judiciary. The set now being looked at generally tracks with the standards for federal judges adopted last September.

For those interested, the ABA has background and legal ethics research material on its site. The American Judicature Society, an independent, nonpartisan organization made up of judges, lawyers, and other persons concerned with improving the judicial system, has an evaluation of the code, and a comparison of the present & proposed model codes posted.

Friday, February 09, 2007

New District Court Rules/ U.S.-Northern Ohio

This may be a bit late, but the national Civil Subpoena form, AO-88, has been updated to reflect electronic discovery amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that took effect December 1, 2006.

The text of Rule 45 (c) and (d) are added, informing recipients of key provisions of the rule, along with the text of the contempt sanctions in an effort to alert people of the possible consequences of not complying with the order “without an adequate excuse.”

The U.S. District Court for Northern Ohio also announced changes to Local Civil Rules 83.5 and 83.7, Local Criminal Rules 57.5 and 57.7, and the Court’s Criminal Justice Act Plan effective Feb. 1st., “by replacing references to the ‘Code of Professional Responsibility’ with the ‘Ohio rules of Professional Conduct.’”

Also, effective last Monday (Feb. 5), is the addition of Civil Rule 83.10 and “Appendix ‘J’” on “assignments of pro bono counsel” to the Northern District’s local civil rules.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

HPV/cervical cancer vaccinations

Texas Governor Rick Perry last Friday signed an executive order making that state the first in the country to require schoolgirls to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus causing cervical cancer, bypassing the legislature altogether. Comparing this vaccination to the one for polio, Perry told that “if there are diseases in our society that are going to cost us large amounts of money, it just makes good economic sense, not to mention the health & well-being of these individuals to have those vaccines available.”

Opponents to Perry’s action are arguing that the general assembly should have heard from doctors, scientists, and patients before the State’s implementing such a directive. As a matter of fact, there is a bill in the Texas House calling for the education of the public about, and promoting the immunization against, HPV.

The move toward requiring HPV shots for teenage girls began soon after the Center for Disease Control & Prevention made the recommendation last summer. A USAToday article this morning said there were now 23 states and the District of Columbia having some sort of HPV vaccination or study legislation. Ohio and Indiana are among that number.

Monday, February 05, 2007

weekend ripples

There is interest, sometimes, in the trivialities of our everyday lives. And so it goes..

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals last Friday addressed an appeal from district court examining “whether an arrest for obscenity, vulgarity, or disturbing the peace , when based on speech and not conduct, is valid when occurring during a democratic assembly where there is no evidence that the individual arrested was out of order.” The case admittedly involved more than was perhaps on the surface, but the case in point was an individual’s being arrested for swearing at a township board of trustees’ meeting. (Article and Opinion)

In New Jersey a shoplifting case in a municipal court, over a disputed amount of $3.76, went thru the entire legal process over a period of two years & to two appeals court hearings before being resolved last week. (Opinion)