Archive | Blind Justice

Majority of Chinese have no wills, causing spike in inheritance battles

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Thirty years ago, China’s communist rulers began to allow the people of China the ability to save money. Not only did Chinese citizens jump on the chance to become financially wealthy, they now have the reputation of being the best “savers” in the world.

As the first full generation of people are aging, and their financial worth increasing, one of the important items many of them are ignoring is a will specifying where this wealth will go when they die.

This lack of estate planning has caused major problems with a large increase in court cases between families fighting over who gets what.

According to government statistics, only one percent of the more than 220 million senior citizens in China have drawn up wills. One of the major reasons no one is making wills stems from the cultural belief in China that if a person discusses their death, they are putting a curse on themselves. So death is rarely discussed.

The refusal to write a will spreads across all economic levels. Even people who are considered rich refuse to specify how those riches should be divided and the consequences of this refusal can be far-reaching.

For example, there was one case where a coal baron died without leaving a will. The dispute over his estate was fought between his wife, his mistress, and his six children.

The battle over the estate became so intense that his company stopped paying workers, forcing the local government to step in and try to negotiate a settlement between all the parties.

When examining the number of contested estate cases which are in the courts, 70 percent of them are due to a lack of will. In cases where there is a will but someone is challenging it, approximately 60 percent of those wills are found to be invalid.

In order to help put a stop to all this, the Chinese government has ordered there be free legal centers for citizens over 60 years of age to assist them in drawing up their wills. These centers appear to be working as many of them now have months-long waiting lists for appointments.

The process for a senior coming to a center is made as compassionately and respectfully as possible. The senior citizen will explain to an attorney exactly how they want their estate to be divided. The attorney will draw up a draft of those wishes. The senior is then examined by a psychiatrist who verifies that the person is of sound mind.

The next step is a video recording of the senior discussing their wishes in the presence of two independent witnesses. The last step is for the senior to take the final draft and copy it by hand.

In order to help convince seniors to have their wills written up, there are even Chinese television shows that highlight the issue of families fighting over deceased relatives’ estates.

These shows seem to be working as some seniors who have been asked why they are making their wills now explain they do not want their families fighting like the people on television do.

Trust & Estates Attorney Kerri Castellini commented, “For countries that allow flexibility in the distribution of assets at death, a comprehensive estate plan is helpful for ensuring that assets and wealth are passed on pursuant to a testator’s wishes.”

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Texas judge says teacher can’t lose certification for using pot in Colorado

Wisconsin Attorney General calls marijuana a “gateway...

What a mess this is going to be when Jeff Sessions starts going after the states who already legalized pot:

As more and more individual states continue to change the laws regarding the criminalization of marijuana use, issues with the differences in these laws continue to occur. What happens when an individual becomes trapped in a collision of the legal use of the drug in one state with the criminal use of the drug in another?

This is exactly what happened to a Texas high school teacher who is being threatened with having her teaching license suspended because she tested positive for marijuana in a drug test ordered by the school officials.

The Case

Maryam Roland was a teacher at Parkland High School in El Paso. She had been employed by the district since 2008 and had no disciplinary actions on her employment record.

During the Christmas break of 2014-2015, Ms. Roland traveled to Colorado. Upon resumption of classes after the holiday, she was confronted by school officials over alleged marijuana use.

According to media reports, a former school employee had written an email which referenced drug use by Roland and other school employees. It was this email that prompted school administrators to question Roland and require a drug test. Marijuana use is illegal in Texas.

Roland’s drug test was positive for marijuana and she admitted to these officials that she had consumed an edible marijuana product while she had been visiting Colorado. Marijuana use is legal in Colorado.

Roland resigned from her teaching position in February 2015, however, the Texas Education Agency still sought to suspend her license. Even though she resigned, without that suspension, she could return to teaching at any time.

The education agency filed for a hearing with the State Office of Administrative Hearings to push for that suspension. The administrative judge recently denied the suspension, comparing Roland’s use of marijuana with gambling, which is also illegal in Texas.

The judge pointed out that if a person gambled in Nevada – where it is legal – no action could then be taken against that person when they returned to Texas. He declined to suspend Roland’s teaching license.

Moving Forward

A spokesperson for the education agency told the media that they would continue to pursue the case, referencing the State Board of Educator Certification.

That board has the authority to also take action against Roland, including reprimands, suspension of her teaching certificate, or even revocation of her teaching certificate.

Legal vs Illegal

Laws in eight states have been changed, legalizing marijuana use for recreational purposes. Another 29 states have passed medical marijuana laws, however, employee drug testing laws have not been updated to reflect the changes in marijuana laws.

Defense attorney Stephen Hamilton commented, “In many states, a person who has been approved for medical marijuana use can still be fired for testing positive in an employer-required drug test if they test positive for marijuana.”

In one Colorado case, one of the first states to legalize the drug, a man was fired from his job for testing positive for marijuana in a random drug test. The man was partially paralyzed from a car accident and uses medical marijuana to help alleviate painful muscle spasms.

The case made it all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court, which agreed with the lower courts’ rulings that said employers can fire even medical marijuana users who test positive.

Many legal analysts say that a major issue is that under federal law, marijuana is still illegal, and that is still a strong, persuasive argument for judicial authorities.   

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Walking in a winter wonderland increases accident risks

Keep "Walking"

I don’t know if this is going to apply this year where I live, but it might be useful to you:

The recent winter weather that rolled through North Carolina left an icy mess in its wake, and as a recent report aired on WNCT9 reminds us, that ice can make even a simple activity like walking dangerous.

Officials urged everyone to stay home and off the roads during the storm and its aftermath, resulting in the closure of many schools and businesses. Even as things began to return to normal, people raised concerns about the condition of roads and sidewalks. Although major streets were cleared, the majority of side streets were still not cleared or treated and were very dangerous to navigate.

East Carolina University college students were interviewed for the report, and they expressed concern over the still treacherous conditions of the roads in the area, in particular, the areas around 10th Street.

Many students who live in apartments in that area and walk to classes voiced concern about the increased risks of slipping and falling on ice, not only on the sidewalks they travel on to get to campus, but they were also concerned about the condition of the walkways on the campus itself.

Situations like these often raise the question of who exactly is responsible when a person sustains injuries from slipping and falling on ice. Can a slip and fall victim sue the property owner for damages for those injuries?

In most states, the answer to that question is pretty clear – yes, the victim can sue the property owner if they are injured because they slipped on an icy area on the property.

In North Carolina, however, the answer is not so clear because this state has a section in its personal injury statutes called “contributory negligence.” This means that even if a victim is only 1 percent at fault for their fall, they are barred from suing the property owner.

What types of behavior or activity would be considered contributory negligence in a slip and fall accident?

If a victim was talking on their phone or looking at something that was going on across the street as they were walking, the courts could consider that contributory negligence because the victim was not paying attention. Walking too fast when they fell could also be another reason the court would consider the victim was partly at fault for the fall.

Personal injury attorney Ben Whitley commented, “If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, there are important steps you should take such as documenting details about the environment your fall took place in and obtaining the names of any witnesses to the incident. You should also contact the property owner right away.”

With a few more winter months ahead of us, the chances are great that there will be more stormy weather to contend with. Greenville’s Vidant Medical Center has seen an increase in the number of patients who have been injured in falls and offers the following safety tips when dealing with icy conditions:

  • Make sure to wear the appropriate footwear. Ideally, wear shoes or boots which have traction on the soles that can grip. Footwear with smooth soles increase the risk of slipping;
  • Walk slowly and take smaller steps than you usually do;
  • Keep hands out of your pockets to help maintain your balance. If there are handrails, use them. Try to avoid toting or carrying heavy items; and
  • When you are getting in our out of a vehicle, use it to support yourself.

Why are pro-Gorsuch commericals on my teevee?

Trump'ın atadığı kişiden Trump'a eleştiri

I am always happy when someone else writes the story I’ve been meaning to write about the nice rich white lady who’s telling me not to worry about Judge Gorsuch on the Supreme Court:

Now I am happy that Mr. & Mrs. Nitze have a very nice, privileged life. But I object to Jane telling me she is okay with Judge Gorsuch and implying that I should be, too. The only thing I have to say to that is: “HOBBY LOBBY!” In the infamous Hobby Lobby decision, Gorsuch argued that the requirement that employers cover birth control for their employees would force business owners “to underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg,” despite arguments from the law’s supporters that an exemption would allow owners to impose their faith on employees. BTW I am still boycotting Hobby Lobby (and I’m a knitter!). The picture above was taken at a Hobby Lobby after a protester rearranged the letter blocks.

In Little Sisters of the Poor, Judge Gorsuch suggested that the opt-out allowed in the federal health care law “imposes a substantial burden on that person’s free exercise of religion.”

Reproductive healthcare for everyone, free birth control for women paid for by their employers, preservation of the Affordable Care Act – these are the things I care about – not whether Jane likes Judge Gorsuch.

The Judicial Crisis Network has invested over $1 million in the Republican Attorneys General Association, over $4 million in state judicial races (aren’t you glad Nebraska doesn’t elect judges), funded the ad campaign touting Jeff Sessions as a “civil rights champion”, and now is funding the $2 million campaign for Jane to tell us  that Judge Gorsuch is a good guy.

Judge Gorsuch writes scary opinions (even if he is an Episcopalian), and we should be concerned about him becoming the next Justice on the United States Supreme Court. Don’t listen to Jane.

Also, the GOP twisted the law in the first place so commercials like this could help them keep control.

NC court denies worker’s holiday party-related claim

Fwd: Fw: Pics from Christmas party

The North Carolina Court of Appeal’s decision on the worker’s compensation claim in the case of Lennon v. N.C. Judicial Department addressed the issue regarding an employer’s responsibility when an employee is injured during a holiday party.

The plaintiff in the case, Melissa Lennon, was employed as a deputy clerk for the Harnett County Clerk of Court’s Office accounting division. Every year, the Clerk’s Office held a holiday party for its employees.

The responsibility of hosting that party rotated, and each year, a different division was in charge of planning the event, choosing a caterer and menu, maintaining the guest list, and collecting money from employees to purchase gifts for the Clerk of the Superior Court and maintenance employees, as well as funds for the party clean-up fee.

In 2013, the holiday party responsibility fell to the accounting division and Ms. Lennon was actively involved in that planning. She designed the invitations, planned the program, and chose the caterer and menu for the event.

All of these activities were done during regular business hours, while she was being paid. The plaintiff also volunteered to emcee the party, which was being held at the Chicora Country Club in Dunn, North Carolina.

Employees were not charged to attend the party because the cost of renting the venue, as well as the cost of the food, was being paid for by a group of private attorneys.

However, all employees of the Clerk’s Office – whether they planned on attending or not – were required to pay $13 toward the cost of the party cleanup and the gifts.

The night of the party, as the plaintiff was walking into the country club, she tripped and fell, resulting in a broken wrist and tailbone, as well as injuries to her shoulder.

After the fall, she received short-term disability and filed for workers’ compensation benefits for the medical expenses for her injuries, the time she missed from work, and permanent partial disability.

The Clerk’s Office insurance carrier denied her claim and she filed an appeal with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The deputy commissioner also denied her claim.

Ms. Lennon then filed an appeal with the commission, however, the full commission affirmed the deputy commissioner’s decision, finding that attending the holiday party did not fall within the plaintiff’s course and scope of employment.

In their decision, the commission wrote that not only was the attendance of the party not mandatory, it was not even sponsored by the defendant in the case, the County Clerk’s Office.

Ms. Lennon filed an appeal of the commission’s decision with the appellate court. However, the court affirmed the commission’s decision and denied Ms. Lennon’s claim, also agreeing that attending the holiday party did not fall within her work duties.

In its decision, the court wrote that the plaintiff was not required to attend the party, citing that the defendant had never included attendance to the party as a requirement for whoever was in charge of planning the event.

Personal injury attorney Ben Whitley commented, “This case highlights the sometimes gray areas that can develop around worker’s compensation cases and the difficulty that can result from trying to collect what you feel is rightfully owed to you.”

9th Circuit to Trump: No

In a 28-page ruling, the 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the temporary restraining order which stopped the Trump administration from banning people with legally issued visas and green cards from entering the country. This is a blow to the Trump administration, who insisted the ban was a “travel ban” and not… Continue Reading →

Good news from North Carolina

Governor-Elect Roy Cooper

Here’s some good news on the latest appeal in attempts to block the new Democratic governor:

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Six weeks into North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s term, the Democrat and Republican-controlled legislature are locked in a partisan power struggle, leaving a cloud of uncertainty over state government.

Cooper won the latest battle Wednesday as a three-judge panel temporarily blocked a new law that required Senate confirmation for the governor’s Cabinet members, using a process similar to what the U.S. Senate does for the president’s Cabinet choices.

The state law was passed in the waning days of GOP Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration and seen by Democrats as a way to undermine the new governor’s authority. Cooper sued over this and other laws that reduced his powers after he was sworn in Jan. 1.

The decision by the judges was released an hour before senators were scheduled to question Cooper’s pick to lead the department of military and veterans’ affairs, but he was absent. Committee co-chairman Sen. Wesley Meredith read a brief statement in which he said senators would still get answers about the qualifications of secretaries and the meeting abruptly ended.

Cooper appointed eight of his 10 Cabinet members before the legislature came into session in January and they were sworn in. Some legislators call them acting heads. Under the law passed in December, they can be dismissed if the Senate does not confirm them.

Let’s rumble

Altuve after getting beaned

When the opposing team beans one of your hitters, you can’t let that go unanswered. At least one Democratic senator understands that: Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley!

“The most fundamental thing that must be understood about tonight’s announcement is that this is a stolen seat. This is the first time in American history that one party has blockaded a nominee for almost a year in order to deliver a seat to a President of their own party. If this tactic is rewarded rather than resisted, it will set a dangerous new precedent in American governance.

“This strategy of packing the court, if successful, could threaten fundamental rights in America, including workers’ right to organize, women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard in elections rather than being drowned out by the corrupting influence of dark money from the richest Americans.

“If President Trump were serious about healing the divisions in America and undoing the damage wrought by Senate Republicans last year, he could have named Merrick Garland to fill this seat. Garland is a centrist jurist who is respected on both sides of the aisle. Instead, he doubled down on division by picking an ideological and extreme nominee to satisfy the far right.

“This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee, and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the Court.”

Court says climate scientist can sue conservative shills for defamation

Climate Scientist Dr. Michael Mann

Climate scientist Michael Mann was given a huge Christmas gift last week when a Court of Appeals ruled that he could move forward with a defamation suit against two conservative writers for the Competitive Enterprise Institute who published lies about Mann and his research on climate change. The Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this. Transcription… Continue Reading →

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