Month: March 2016

4 Reasons a 24/7 Legal Repository Is a Must

4ffHaving a 24/7 repository at your fingertips is crucial because wasted time (like waiting for a physical repository to “open”) means wasted money and potentially harm to your legal case. It’s why cloud storage has turned even major entities like the Department of Defense into a paperless office, and if it’s secure enough for the DOD and other major players like Amazon, it’s secure enough for top ranked legal firms. However, there’s no need to set up and manage a cloud yourself-dealing with maintenance, constantly changing who can view and edit what, and basically playing IT guru isn’t your job.

Instead, relying on around the clock repository access that’s managed by a crew of professionals is a much better approach. It doesn’t matter if you’re part of a law firm that only works with local personal injury clients. There will come a time when you need to access documents at 3am, and when that happens you need to be ready.

Here are the major reasons why 24/7 repositories aren’t just a good idea, but necessary in the legal field:

1. When anyone involved in the case travels

Is your partner on a business trip to Shanghai, but you both need to access documents at the same time? Not only is physical distance an issue, but it won’t be necessary for one of you to get up in the middle of the night when relying on a repository that has no business hours. It’s convenience at its best.

2. When you need to know about upcoming jobs

All your upcoming jobs and calendars are in one location, so you don’t have to worry about your smartphone syncing to your calendar or whether or not you’ve double booked. Simply check the managed online system and instantly see what’s coming up on your schedule. At the same time, you can download any documents you’ll need for this afternoon’s job.

3. When you need to take care of invoicing

Is there an outstanding balance you’re not sure about, or do you need to send an invoice that’s overdue? Take care of it all in one simple location that’s intuitive, user friendly and designed with convenience in mind.

4. When you’re in cat herding mode

Keeping track of those witnesses, dates and case names can be a nightmare. Fortunately, an online repository sorts and organizes on a case by case basis. Well before mediation, you can check in on your expenses, change proceedings as necessary and basically have a virtual personal assistant at your beck and call.

Even better, there are no additional fees, no software to install and no need for an engineering degree in order to take advantage of all these perks. From deposition to deposition, every legal professional can use a hand keeping things on track and well maintained. Don’t add another task to your agenda (like researching cloud options) when it’s already taken care of for you. Now if only connecting with witnesses and the actual depositions themselves were this easy.

Jill Smith is a writer and researcher. She is the Director of Digital Content Marketing for Be Locally SEO where she enjoys helping clients expand and improve their businesses through articles, blogs, website content and more.

Judgments And Credit Reports

yOne way to increase the chances that your judgment will be paid, is when your judgment is placed on the debtor’s credit report(s).

One of many judgment articles: I am not a lawyer, and this article is my opinion based on my experience, please consult with a lawyer if you need legal advice.

In the past, the best way to increase the odds that a judgment would be included, was to send copies of the judgment to the major credit bureaus. Now, the credit bureaus no longer take action on judgments sent to them by individuals. Now, they only get and accept judgment information coming from data research companies.

Usually, judgments are not automatically put on credit reports, unless the creditor takes a certain action; and even then, it is not guaranteed that a judgment will appear on their debtor’s credit report(s). The way a creditor can increase the odds that their judgment will appear on credit reports, is to record a judgment lien or an abstract of judgment, at a county recorder’s office.

Also, record new liens in any county where the recording may impact your debtor. Examples would be where they live, where their parents live, to catch probate payments; where they own business interests or property, etc.

Most data research companies looking for judgments, search for liens at the recorder’s office. (A few look for judgments at courts.) This means that if there is no lien recorded, the credit bureaus will usually not see the judgment. It also means the older a judgment is, the less likely it will show up on a credit report.

Usually, judgments only remain on credit reports for 7 years. The only thing a creditor can do to increase the odds that their judgment will remain on the debtor’s credit report past 7 years, is to renew their judgment and record an updated property lien which references the previous lien number; so it will not lose its priority.

So, every 7 years, get an updated lien (first renew your judgment every 7 years, or long before it expires) that lists the accrued interest, and any court-approved costs; and record it at the county recorder’s office.

What if your judgment debtor changed their name or now uses an AKA, or their last name because of marriage? That means you will have to take some action with the court to reflect that new name, then record a new updated new lien with that AKA.

If your debtor moved to a location in the same state, you should record a lien in the county where they moved. If your debtor changed names or is now using an AKA, you should take a court action so that AKA will be reflected on the judgment, and then record an amended judgment lien.

Florida’s Unfinished Adoption Business

saaSame-sex marriage has finally arrived in Florida, one of the earliest and most important battlegrounds in America’s gay rights movement. But an important piece of unfinished business lies buried deep in the Sunshine State’s legal code.

It is this sentence, which is technically known as Title VI, Section 63.042(3): “No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.” (1)

The Florida Legislature enacted this provision in 1977, the year entertainer Anita Bryant, an evangelical Christian, launched her campaign against Miami’s new gay rights ordinance under the banner of an organization she called Save the Children, Inc. To many Floridians of the time, homosexuality was indeed something from which children needed saving, even though those children were really being “saved” from loving, nurturing homes headed by adults who were committed to their welfare.

As a general principle, Florida encourages adoption. Single as well as married people can adopt, and adults as well as children can be adopted. Even gays and lesbians can actually adopt in Florida today, thanks to an appellate ruling in 2010 that overturned the gay-adoption ban. But the odious prohibition remains on the state’s law books, and until the Legislature erases it, it will continue to stain the state’s conscience and its reputation. It is as if Florida’s laws still required racial segregation in parks and classrooms.

On the marriage front, some die-hard social conservatives continue to claim that same-sex marriage somehow threatens the institution of marriage generally, a contention echoed as recently as the day same-sex marriages began by the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. This argument disregards the obvious, which is that same-sex marriage has existed in this country for more than a decade with no ill effects on marriage generally. Marriage as an institution might conceivably be damaged by people abandoning marriage; it certainly is not weakened when more people get hitched. Florida now is the 36th state, along with the District of Columbia, to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Within a few months, the Supreme Court may well bring the remaining 14 into the fold.

Hardly anyone would publicly argue today that children are harmed by having homosexual parents. Even in Republican circles, where anti-gay-marriage social conservatives make their political home, this is no longer a position that can be publicly espoused. All of which is why Florida’s majority-Republican Legislature and its Republican governor, Rick Scott, ought to promptly dispatch Section 63.042(3). It is the least they can do to display decency toward their gay fellow citizens.

I am a Floridian. I am a registered Republican. As such, I get my share of solicitations from local and national Republicans seeking my support, which I am inclined to give. But I will not back any candidate for state office in Florida unless that person does everything possible to get this repugnant statute off our state’s books.

It is a law born of the hate, ignorance and fear that marked another era. Regardless of its enforcement or lack thereof, I will not accept it as the current reflection of the people in the place I call my home.

Minimum Wage Ballot Success

3fArkansas – The wage will rise from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour by 2017 (66% of the vote)

Nebraska – It will go from $7.25 to $9 per hour (59% of the vote)

Alaska – Alaska will see an increase to $9.75 per hour in 2016 (69% of the vote)

South Dakota – It will go from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour (55% of the vote)

Also, Illinois passed a non-binding referendum raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour. Every measure put before the voters on this issue passed. About 420,000 workers in these states will see an increase in their paychecks, thanks to this vote.

In his January, 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. However, Senate Republicans later blocked the legislation. Supporters had 54 votes, but 60 were needed to advance the bill. Soon after, the President signed an Executive Order raising the wage to $10.10 for individuals working on new federal service contracts.

Ironically, voters approved minimum wage increases in the same states that Republicans were swept into office. The GOP is generally opposed to such increases, viewing the action as a job killer. “When you raise the cost of something, you get less of it,” House Speaker John Boehner, said earlier this year. “We know from increases in the minimum wage in the past that hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans have lost their jobs.”

There are prominent Republicans who disagree with this position including former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Senator Susan Collins of Maine even tried to broker a compromise for a smaller minimum wage increase earlier this year.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, increasing the minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. Most of them would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and some of those families would rise above the federal poverty threshold. But, some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated. The income of most workers who became jobless would fall substantially and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But, the FLSA does not supersede any state or local laws that are more favorable to employees. If a state has a wage that is higher than the federal minimum, employers subject to the state wage law are obligated to pay the higher rate to their employees. Overall, about 13 states increased the wage this year and, according to estimates from the Council of Economic Advisers, about 7 million workers will benefit from these increases by the year 2017.

Proof of Claim Objections in United States Bankruptcy Court

pinA proof of claim objection in United States Bankruptcy Court is the topic of this article. The United States Bankruptcy code provides that any party in interest may file an objection to a proof of claim filed in a Bankruptcy case. All debtors in Chapter 13 cases are considered a party in interest and therefore have the right to file an objection to any proof of claim filed in their case. Debtors in other cases such as Chapter 7 may or may not be considered as a party in interest depending on the unique circumstances of their case.

It is vitally important to properly object to any claims filed in a Bankruptcy case that is not timely filed, is defective for failure to comply with Bankruptcy code requirements or is defective in any other way or relates to any debt the amount or existence of which is disputed. The reason for this is that Bankruptcy law states that unless a party in interest objects any claim filed is deemed allowed.

It is therefore critical that all proofs of claim filed in any Bankruptcy case be carefully reviewed to determine if there are valid grounds for filing an objection. The pertinent law is 11 U.S.C. § 502(a) which states in pertinent part that, any claim filed “is deemed allowed, unless a party in interest… objects.” The burden is on the party filing the objection to prove to the Court that the claim is not valid and should not be paid.

In particular a debtor or their attorney should carefully review any proof of claim filed to determine if the claim was timely filed as Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 3002(c) requires most proofs of claim to be filed no later than 90 days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors called under § 341(a) of the Code.

It should be noted that Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 3001 contains numerous detailed requirements for each specific type of proof of claim and the proof of claim should be carefully reviewed to determine if it meets the strict requirements of Rule 3001.

Any objection to a proof of claim should be filed and served as soon as it has been determined that there are valid grounds for filing an objection.

Some of the more common grounds for objecting to a proof of claim are:

The creditor failed to attach sufficient documentation to prove that a debt is owed;

The amount of the claim is incorrect;

The same claim was filed more than once;

The claim was not filed in a timely manner;

The classification of the claim as secured or priority is incorrect, and

The claim states improper interest amounts or fees.