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The need for universal child care

In the years of working children cases, we continually see parents stuck in the trap of having no job because their entry-level job would only pay enough to pay for job-related child care.

This is the broken step to the ladder out of poverty and hardship.

Our governments need to focus on providing free or subsidized child care on a large scale basis. This helps not only the parents but provides children with parents as better role models who go to work and bring home the food.

At first glance it may seem that universal child care is too expensive to consider. But governments are wasting far more money than such programs would cost.

By just one example, in Marin and Sonoma counties they are soon to open a light rail system that does not connect to any urban area. The train is costing nearly $1 billion, projects they will run only 53% of capacity, so 2,448 actual weekday roundtrippers, and even that will take 10 years to reach. Projected $12 million annual revenue is laughably lower than operating costs. So this will be a continual welfare operation.

The expectation is that the train will take these 2,448 riders off the freeway as they commute from another county to get to work. Let’s give them an extraordinary benefit of the doubt and presume ALL 2,448 really live out of county. What could child care do to get the same effect?

In Marin County, free or subsidized child care would unleash the Latina giant underutilized in San Rafael, and African American parents in Marin City. It would empower single parents in all communities. If these parents…especially minority women with children at home…could enter the local workforce, they can eventually displace out-of-county workers commuting in. That forces the latter to make greater effort to find work in their home county. Money earned by Marin’s single parents would feed the local economy, and about 300 new jobs would be created too.

So what’s involved? Let’s say the true net cost to provide child care averages $50 per day per child (some child care full time and others just after school). Let’s say the 2,448 local parents have 3,500 children. That is $175,000 per day, for about 255 workdays per year. Annual cost is $44 million.

Huge sum, right? Not if you don’t spend nearly $1 billion to build a toy train system that does not reach San Francisco or Oakland, and then run it at a large financial deficit year after year forever. Plus, some of the $44 million for child care comes back into government as increased tax base from the new workers.

For this money we could instead have provided child care, returning parents (especially moms) to the workforce, providing them…and their children…with a brighter tomorrow.

But this money is spent elsewhere now. The question is whether we can learn from this lesson, and build child care solutions for the future.

Do not speak to the child support agency before speaking to an attorney!

Once again we have heard from an out-of-state person against whom child support is being sought in a distant state. Unfortunately, this person tried to work things out on his own with the child support agency instead of speaking to a lawyer first. In those communications, the person accidentally opened to door to a claim that the distant state has jurisdiction over him, and the child support agency then filed a child support action against him 2,500 miles from home.

The law is clear: All child support actions must be filed in YOUR state, not the state where the child is, UNLESS you have certain minimum contacts with the child’s state. Such minimum contacts can occur in the state where the child was conceived…or even by going an inch too far in communicating with the child support agency there.

All children are entitled to be supported by both their parents. But if you have no connection to a state, you should not be forced to defend yourself in its courts which could be thousands of miles from your home. There is a court in your state that could be the appropriate forum, unless you make the mistake of gifting jurisdiction to the other state.

Warren Law Group is well versed on the complex legal machinations that determine the location of personal jurisdiction. Many child support commissioners do not even fully grasp the law (though some do!). Speak to us. Or speak to other counsel. But do not go this alone unless you have no trouble if the worst case scenario comes to be.

Yet another example of criminals being allowed to go free if they were judges

District Judge Joseph Boeckmann (in Arkansas’s rural Cross County) resigned in May after the state Judicial Discipline committee found as many as 4,500 nude or semi-nude photos of young men who had been before Boeckmann in court. (Some were naked, being paddled by Boeckmann, who trolled for victims by writing young men notes offering a “community service” option).

Comparative Negligence explained perfectly

California uses the legal doctrine of “Comparative Negligence” in determining lawsuits. While we spent great time learning this in law school, here is an example that nails it immediately:

A toddler was tragically killed at Disneyland when he stepped into a manmade lake and was taken by an alligator. The lake was marked with signs reading “No Swimming”, which the family perhaps ignored. Disney would not seem to be fully liable because they posted a warning and, if the family saw the sign, they assumed the risk.

However, if Disney knew…or should have known…that alligators were present or possibly present, the warning of “No swimming” was inadequate (like a “no trespassing” sign where you really mean “beware of killer pit bulls”).

Arguably, the signs should have said, “No Swimming. Alligators.” That would seem to be a warning more likely to be obeyed.

If these facts are accurate, a jury will likely find comparative negligence as to both Disney and the family. They will determine percentage of fault…such as that Disney was 30% responsible…and then apply the percentage against the total dollar amount they feel appropriate to the situation. If $1 million in damages, Disney’s 30% means they pay $300,000.

There you have comparative negligence in a nutshell.

Father jailed for asking for child support modification

The Bergen Dispatch (NJ) reports that Long-divorced Henry Peisch, 56, has seven children, but only one is still living with his ex-wife (who had originally been awarded $581 monthly support for all seven). (Three children are now independent, and three others successfully petitioned courts to live with Henry.) The resultant hardship (the $581 remains in effect) caused Henry to ask the Bergen County, New Jersey, Family Court several times for a “hardship” hearing, which the court denied (thus even defying the New Jersey Supreme Court). On April 8, Family Court judge Gary Wilcox, noting Peisch’s appearance on a related matter, spontaneously “granted” him his “ability to pay” hearing (with thus no opportunity for witnesses or evidence-gathering) — and summarily jailed him for missing some $581 payments (because, the judge concluded, he did not “believe” Peisch’s hardship claims). [Thanks to “News Of the Weird”]

You have the right to remain silent unless you try

Motorist Rebecca Musarra was stopped for speeding in October 2015 by state troopers in New Jersey, and dutifully handed over her license, insurance and registration, but declined to answer the troopers’ “do you know why we stopped you” questions. Annoyed at her silence, troopers Matthew Stazzone and Demetric Gosa threatened several times, with increasing aggressiveness (according to dashboard video obtained by NJ Advance Media), to arrest Musarra for “obstruction.” Musarra pointed out that — as nearly every American knows — she has the right to remain silent. The troopers nonetheless arrested her (then recited, of course, her “right to remain silent”). After nearly two hours back at the station, a supervisor offered a weak apology and released her. Musarra, an attorney, unsurprisingly has filed a federal lawsuit. [reprted by NJ.com, 5-5- 2016, via newsoftheweird.com]

Sleeping on the job

Nicholas Ragin finally got his conviction overturned in March, but it took 10 years before the U.S. Court of Appeals declared that his “right to counsel” had been violated because his lawyer slept during various parts of Ragin’s conspiracy and racketeering trial. (His sentence had 20 more years to run.) One juror later recalled that lawyer Nikita Mackey slept “almost every day, morning and evening” for “30 minutes at least.” Once, according to court documents, after the trial judge called Mackey’s name loudly, only belatedly getting a response, Mackey “jumped up and sort of looked around and was licking his lips … and looked sort of confused and looked around the room.” (The prosecutor said she intends to retry Ragin.) [WYFF-TV (Geenville, S.C.), 3-14-2016] [The Independent (London), 3-13-2016] (source: “News of the Weird”)

Court of Appeal sides with Warren Law Group in case against child support agency

Our firm’s latest win in the California Court of Appeal. The 4th District’s 30-page ruling blisters the Department of Child Support Services and favors our client, who beat incredible odds to overturn the trial court’s order. Here is that appellate opinion: County of Riverside v Briscoe

Discovery is now a right to family law parties, even after judgment

A great and important California law is on the books. It may not sound like much to read but in real world application it is huge. After the court issues its initial judgment, such as granting a divorce or making a child custody determination, there has been no automatic right to discovery, which is the procedure by which one party can make the other party turn over evidence such as financial records or appear at a deposition. The law had been that you had to ask the judge’s permission, and the judge could deny the request.

This changes on January 1, 2015. The new Family Code section 218 grants an AUTOMATIC right to conduct post-judgment discovery on any issues raised in the new request for orders. Further, discovery is usually cut-off 30 days prior to the date set for the first hearing, but now for family law cases the 30 days floats forward for any continuance or trial setting.

This is a great victory for justice, and to assure that our clients have a full and meaningful day in court.

Skirting the Law Making Process

March 2014 was another great example of knee-jerk lawmakers being more interested in making a statement than making a workable law.

This was the month that the Massachusetts top court threw out a conviction against Michael Robertson for taking “upskirt” photos on a train. The law only applied to nude or partially nude victims. A person wearing a skirt is neither.

So the law needed to be changed. Good idea too. But in the rush to put a new law on the books only 24 hours later, lawmakers voted to prohibit secret pictures of “sexual or intimate parts.”

Good idea there too. Unfortunately, in the rush, they failed to realize this still does not impact upskirt photography if the subject is wearing underwear.

To view this vague terminology otherwise, secret photos at the beach are also prohibited. A bikini bottom is as revealing as most underwear (or more so). Or is a bikini bottom not showing something sexual or intimate? What about dancewear?

The difference is that the person wearing a skirt in public has a reasonable expectation of interior privacy above her hem. But there is a difference between “intimate parts” vs. “intimate wear”, and the new law failed to include the latter.

In their rush, the lawmakers failed to make the necessary change, and upskirters will still get their cases tossed out of court.

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