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Thursday, April 26, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Bankruptcy: What will I lose? What can I keep?
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Privacy and Tracking Cell Phone Use
Increasingly, cell phone carriers are being subpoenaed in high-conflict, or fault-based divorce cases. The cell phone records identify the persons with whom an individual communicates throughout the day, and where that communication occurred.
The information contained in cell phones is also important in the law enforcement context. Formerly reserved for federal agents, local law enforcement is now getting in on this information bonanza thanks to a smorgasboard of services provided by cell phone carriers.
The legal question posed by the practice is whether local police departments must obtain a probable cause-based warrant prior to securing our cell phone information from our carrier. The answer is unclear.
Recently, SCOTUS decided United States v Jones, requiring a warrant prior to installing a GPS tracking device on a drug suspect's vehicle. The decision in Jones did not address whether a warrant is needed in the case of obtaining cell phone records; including the geographic information in the now-ubiquitous GPS navigation systems embedded in cell phones.
In addition to geo-tracking data, there is also "cloning": having a cell phone, for example, download [to police] copies of sent and received texts.
This information is deemed so important to law enforcement agencies, some are by-passing the cell phone carriers altogether, purchasing their own cell phone tracking equipment in order to avoid the cost and delay of dealing directly with the various carriers. In February, police in Grand Rapids, for example, were able to track a cell phone call placed by a stabbing victim who had been secreted away in a basement.
At present, however, there are few guidelines for cell carriers and the disparate local police agencies as to what information can be provided, and what evidentiary standard must be met in such disclosures.
With the SCOTUS decision in Jones less than clear, and with the federal circuit courts of appeal divided on the issue, Congress and the state legislatures are looking at the issue. Privacy law is going to be a growing branch of our jurisprudence in the next few decades.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Electronic Service of Process
In the UK, the High Court allowed an injunction to be served via Facebook on an anonymous [and abusive] commenter to Donal Blaney's conservative blog. Imagine that...
In Australia, a foreclosure notice was ordered to be sent to the delinquent homeowners via Facebook. Under Canada's rules of alternate service, notice of a claim was sent to the defendant both through his employer, and via Facebook. And in New Zealand, a the initial complaint in a business dispute was allowed to be served on the missing defendant through a company Facebook page.
No reported cases here in the US folks, but it won't be long. These days, perhaps the most sure-fire way to get someone, at least a person that has a FB account, is by posting on their wall or sending a message.
Texas lawyer John G. Browning addresses the issue in an excellent article published in the Texas Bar Journal. More on this to come, for sure...
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
|Waterford Judge Jodi Debbrecht|
Dickie Sanders was a relatively normal teenager – interested in BMX bikes, student, goals, dreams. However, Dickie died from using bath salts.
While at home he had a psychotic episode as a result of using bath salts and was “seeing” fire engines and police cars in multitude arrive at his home. He was screaming to his father who was in the kitchen of their home with Dickie.
Suddenly, as Dickie was counting cars, he reached down and grabbed a butcher knife and slit his throat open.
Dickie’s parents are both doctors; doctors who knew nothing about Spice, K2 or bath salts. They rushed him to the hospital after triaging him themselves where he was treated and sent home for care.
Less than 24 hours later, while in his bedroom, Dickie suffered another psychotic episode as a result of using bath salts and killed himself.
Many, many more stories just like this one abound. And many, many stories similar to this one have occurred in our local communities.
Every day in my courtroom, young adults are admitting to using spice/K2, bath salts or other synthetic substances. No matter what you call them, they are killing our youth and the parents who appear to support their children are left with no answers, just left to wonder, what is this stuff?
Spice/K2, bath salts are essentially materials that are infused with chemical compounds that cause hallucinations, erratic behavior, disorientation, nausea, and even death. The symptoms are not limited to these noted here. Spice/K2 and bath salts (or similar substances) are technically illegal in Michigan. However, they continue to be sold because as soon as the legislature identifies a chemical compound as a controlled substance thereby making it illegal, the individuals making the chemical change the compound.
The new compound is not listed as one that is illegal because it no longer fits the definition as defined in the statute for an illegal substance. Furthermore, Spice/K2 and bath salt use is on the rise because it becomes increasingly difficult to test for, is relatively inexpensive and easily accessible.
An immediate and viable way to stop the use of this new drug is to get people to stop selling it. In order to get people to stop selling it, we must raise awareness of the critical nature of this issue. Together we can stop the use and sale of this insidious substance.
Only together can we win the war against synthetic drugs – or any drugs. Informational meetings are being held throughout your community to provide you with information about this toxic substance.
Get the answers. Get the facts. Get armed to save our youth. Saying I didn’t know will not bring our young adults back from potentially irreparable damage, even death.
For more information, please see the links contained on my website: www.JudgeJodi2012.com.
Thanks Judge Jodi for putting the spotlight on this issue that has cropped-up among our children and their friends.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
What Makes a Good Family Court Judge?
|Attorney Henry S. Gornbein|
Here is what Henry had to say on the subject:
In over forty years of practicing family law, I have appeared before hundreds of different judges. I have found that some are rude, arrogant, and suffer from what is known as black robe syndrome. This means that they have forgotten -- or never knew -- what it was like to practice law, and have a holier than thou attitude. Most judges are considerate, will listen, and will try to resolve issues in cases.
Here are some of my thoughts on the attributes of a good judge in family law:
Well put Henry; we could not have stated the matter any better. Clearly, four-decades of practicing family law has given you some very valuable insight. Thanks for sharing your thougts.