Gmail is an extremely popular email service provider. Thanks to their new "undo" feature, there is finally a solution to all of your email blunders. No longer will you have to regret that time you accidentally hit “reply all.”
Gmail has toyed with an undo button for their email system for about 6 years but it is now officially a regular feature. The button is fairly easy to use and just needs to be initially set up. To do this, click on the cog picture in the upper right-hand corner and choose “Settings.” A little ways down there is the “Undo send” option. Next, pick how much time you would like to allow yourself to take back your mistake emails. There are 5, 10, 20, and 30-second windows. Save theses changes and the undo button will appear at the top of your page. This button will cancel the emails you immediately regret sending. Gmail customers can thank the email service for saving them from hastily sent emails especially since the feature is also available on the mobile phone Gmail app.
While protecting the public from dangerous individuals is one of the goals of the American court system, the system does have some flaws. Recently, an issue with the bail method was noticed with the case of one individual who has been held at Rikers Island for seven years without bail and is still awaiting trial. Carlos Montero was with two friends when one fatally wounded a man during a robbery in 2008. The right to a speedy trial does not apply to murder cases and Montero is stuck waiting for his trial behind bars in pretrial detention. His seven-year stay has cost the city more than $1 million so far. Montero denies being at the scene of the crime but will continue to be held while there is a fight over DNA evidence. Montero has tried to have his case tried separately with no success and his lawyer will not ask for bail because it is extremely unlikely since this is a murder case.
Montero has been imprisoned without conviction of the crime and has been denied bond. If he is eventually found innocent he will have served years in one of the most dangerous prisons in the US for no reason. The current US bail method requires defendants wanting to leave jail to put up cash or property to ensure that they will return to court to face trial for their accused charges. However, more than 6 out of 10 jail inmates are still there awaiting trial. This is an incredibly large amount of people who are stuck in prison without a conviction, wasting their time and state resources. Pretrial incarceration takes $9 billion taxpayer dollars each year. Research even shows that individuals that are incarcerated pretrial actually receive harsher punishments that people that are released on bail pretrial.
The current bail system pushes defendants to plead guilty in order to be released faster than waiting for trial whether they are really guilty or not. In Montero’s case he has repeatedly been offered a plea deal but has denied in order to maintain his innocence. He is resisting the offer even though his trial date has yet to be determined. It is unknown how long Montero could remain in prison. This then becomes a question not only about the fairness of the bail system but about the effectiveness of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution and the right to a fair and speedy trial.
If waiting in slow lines at the DMV is not your favorite way to spend your day then it is time to take a look at the North Carolina DMV website. The NC DMV recently added an option to their website that allows residents to renew their license online every other time it expires. When this helpful option was added last week, no one was really notified. License renewals last for eight years for drivers 18 to 65 so this addition means that most drivers will now only have to visit the DMV once every 16 years. Not only is this easier for renewing licenses but people visiting the DMV for other reasons will have shorter wait times.
However, new drivers, commercial licenses, and those with driving restrictions or suspended licenses still must make the trip in person to the DMV. The DMV offices recognize that they are historically not a favorite place to spend time and want this new service to improve customer service by making it faster and more convenient for people to complete their business. In addition to this change, the DMV is also revamping the actual driver’s license card. It will be more durable, feature three versions of the driver’s photos, more laser etching, and special designations for donors, military personnel, veterans, and those under 21. Look for this new card to be widely distributed by the end of this year. So when your next renewal is due, skip the stress-inducing DMV lines and instead renew your license with a few clicks of the computer!
The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly called the Soliders’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act, was implemented to protect military servicemembers from being sued while on active duty, for up to one year after they are released from active duty.
The law requires that before any lawsuit may be filed against a servicemember, a plaintiff must provide proof that the servicemember is not on active duty before adverse action is taken. Thus, if a servicemember has not made an appearance in a case, no judgment may be entered until the plaintiff files an affidavit stating whether the defendant is in the military. The law defines a “judgment” as “any judgment, decree, order, or ruling, final or temporary.” 50 U.S.C. app. Sec. 511(9). SCRA states that: “[T]he court, before entering judgment for the plaintiff, shall require the plaintiff to file with the court an affidavit-
(A) Stating whether or not the defendant is in military service and showing necessary facts to support the affidavit; or
(B) If the plaintiff is unable to determine whether or not the defendant is in military service, stating that the plaintiff is unable to determine whether or not the defendant is in military service.”
If the plaintiff’s affidavit establishes that the defendant is not in the military, the court may proceed with the case. The court, however, may require that the plaintiff post a bond to compensate a defendant later allowed to set aside a judgment because he or she actually was on active duty.
If plaintiff’s affidavit before the court shows that a defendant, who has not made an appearance in the case, is on active duty, “the court may not enter judgment until after the court appoints an attorney to represent the defendant.” This means that the court cannot enter any order, temporary or permanent, before appointing an attorney when a defendant servicemember has not made an appearance.
After an attorney has been appointed to represent the servicemember who has not made an appearance, the court must stay the case for at least 90 days either “upon motion by the appointed counsel, or on the court’s own motion, if the court determines that:
(1) There may be a defense to the action and a defense cannot be presented without the presence of the defendant; or
(2) After due diligence, counsel has been unable to contact the defendant or otherwise determine if a meritorious defense exists.”
If you are in the military and are facing any type of non-criminal judicial or administrative proceeding, including divorce, child custody, child support, and / or claims of domestic violence, and would like to discuss your rights under SCRA, contact Adkins Law. If you have not appeared in the case, you may have an attorney appointed to represent you, or may have the case stayed for at least 90 days.
By Elspeth Crawford
Father’s Day is a time for sons and daughters to come together in honor of the man who raised them from tiny infants to productive members of society. Unless they didn’t. Millions of parents the world over are non-custodial parents, meaning they live separate and apart from their children. Because all parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially, many of these fathers and mothers must pay child support, a task to which they’ve often proved less than equal. To give you a taste of the problem, non-custodial parents in California alone owed a total of 19.2 billion dollars in back child support in 2011.
Most of those arrears are owed by parents on the lower end of the income scale, but the rich and famous aren’t immune to child support woes. Here’s our list of the top five celebrity dads who may have some work to do before they can expect their Father’s Day cards:
1. Eddie Murphy. Actor-comedian Eddie Murphy was steadily married to wife Nicole Mitchell for eighteen years. The union produced five children, but after it ended in 2006 Murphy began looking for new companionship. He began dating former Spice Girl Melanie Brown, a.k.a. Scary Spice, a.k.a. The Spice Girl People Don’t Remember, shortly after his split. Brown gave birth to a baby girl in 2007, but Murphy denied being the father, at least until a paternity test put the matter to bed.
A determination of paternity is often a prerequisite to enforce any kind of child support obligation. Every state treats the process differently, but most assume that a husband is the father of a child born to his wife. If the pair is unmarried, things get trickier. Many fathers just admit that they’re dads, but if they don’t want to, the court can imply paternity through their dad-like actions, like caring for the child or supporting the child financially. In the case of the truly resistant, the court can order potential fathers to undergo a DNA test.
2. Terrell Owens. Owens, a former NFL wide receiver known for breaking into touchdown dances so funky he actually got fined for a few of them, has an expansive view of family. He has four children, each one by a different mother, and owes child support for all four. Although he made upwards of $80 million during his football career, Owens hasn’t been bringing much home since switching over to free agent status and eventually claimed that he couldn’t keep up with his mounting support payments. He asked a judge to lower his payments late in 2011.
Child Support payments are set by statute, usually as a proportion of net income. The Illinois statute even comes with a neat little graph that tells non-custodial parents how much of their income they owe: 20% for one child, 28% for two, and so on right on up to half of the money they make. This can cause a problem when, like Owens, a parent’s net income drops but they’re still paying a percentage of what they were making before. When that happens, they can petition the court to lower the order. Victory dances in court are not encouraged.
3. Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen, a man known equally for his impressive acting resume and mounting number of uncomfortable public breakdowns, divorced from wife Brook Mueller in 2011. As part of the divorce settlement, Sheen agreed to pay $55,000 per month for support of their twin sons Bob and Max. In June of 2011, a Los Angeles judge ordered that the support money be garnished from payments made to Sheen for his work as an actor on the popular sitcom "Two and a Half Men". It’s anyone’s guess how he’s making the payments today.
In the best of cases, the method of paying support is settled between the parents without need to resort to a judicial order. Wage garnishment is a common choice, but payment by check or wire transfer is also acceptable. In cases where non-custodial parents are unwilling to pay, courts have the power to, upon motion, order that payments be garnished from their wages. If the non-custodial parent tries to hide money that could be used for support, perhaps by transferring it to a new spouse or to a business, most state statutes provide courts with ways of garnishing the money from the transferee. The law puts a priority on money that should be used to make child support payments, so no matter where they’re hidden the court can likely reach them.
4. Dennis Rodman. Famously flamboyant former NBA star Dennis Rodman has been married a number of times, but his third marriage to Michelle Moyer is the source of his current parenting woes. The two have been wrangling over child support for their son and daughter ever since splitting in 2004. In 2011, Rodman was found guilty of four counts of contempt for failing to pay his back child support, which Moyer claims runs in excess of $800,000. Rodman’s monthly payments have since been lowered, but as punishment a judge recently sentenced him to 104 hours of community service, suggesting that Rodman use his “talents as a motivator, as a fine, fine athlete and as a fine person to assist others in need.”
Among the many tools judges have to enforce child support orders is the hammer of contempt. Failure to pay child support can lead to a finding of contempt, and a finding of contempt can lead, as in Dennis Rodman’s case, to forced community service. It can also lead to being put on probation, having one’s driver’s license suspended, or even jail time.
5. Joe Walsh. Tea party Congressman Joe Walsh has been dogged by child support problems throughout his tenure as the representative for Illinois’ 8th District. In 2011, ex-wife Laura Walsh sued him for $117,437 in overdue child support payments, pointing out that although he claimed that he had no money to pay her, he had little trouble donating $35,000 to his 2010 campaign or taking allegedly expensive foreign vacations in years prior. Joe Walsh denied these allegations, and they were recently laid to rest after the two settled for an undisclosed amount.
Most lawsuits, whether they concern child support or not, settle before they reach the trial stage. Such an outcome is doubly desirable for a politician like Walsh, who can’t afford to look like a deadbeat dad in front of his public, but is likely the best solution for most parents caught in these kinds of disputes. Settling out of court saves time, legal fees, and the psychic costs such battles can exact on children.
And there we are: five famous family men who ended up on the wrong side of the family law. But don’t think that men have a premium on missing their support payments. According to a recent survey of divorce lawyers, women are paying child support in higher numbers than ever before, so perhaps we’ll have a new list ready for you by Mother’s Day.