Court Reporters: Keeping the Integrity of the Court

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015 in Court | 0 comments

Court reporters are known under a few other names: court stenographer; law reporter; shorthand reporter; and, stenotype operator. One of their very important tasks is to produce an official written record or transcript of everything that is said in court trials, depositions and all other legal proceedings. Besides this is a long list of court reporters’ other duties, which include:

  • Attending all legal procedures where the production of written transcripts is required
  • Capturing all spoken dialogue accurately whether through the use of a stenotype machine, an audio recording device, or a video recorder
  • Providing copies of transcripts and recordings to courts, legal counsels, and the parties involved
  • Reading or playing back the whole or a segment of the proceedings, when requested by the judge
  • Asking speakers to clarify statements or testimonies that were unclear or inaudible
  • Preparing transcripts
  • Editing transcripts for typographical errors

According to the website of Stratos Legal, a (court) transcript contains all decisions made by a judge (his/her exact words and gestures), all arguments by litigants’ lawyers and testimonies made by witnesses. It is also supposed to be an unedited, word-for word record of all things spoken and who said what.

During the recent years many state courts and a number of Superior courts, such as the ones in Los Angeles and San Diego, had to let go of their court reporters due to budget cuts. Thus, some courtroom teams, which always included a silent, though very essential member in the person of a court reporter, now go on with their job without one. This means that litigants who want and need a verbatim transcript of the trial, in case they would be indicted and decide to make an appeal (Appellate Courts review cases that come from trials using transcripts generated by court reporters) will have to hire their own (freelance) court reporter or entrust such to their legal counsel who, of course, knows what court reporters do and just how good ones do their job.

Lawyers and law firms earn client respect if they are able to prove reliability. To be consistently reliable, however, legal representatives should fully understand their client’s case and not be unaware of anything that has been said and done in the courtroom, a field where court reporters also play a very vital role.

Thousands of trials have been won (regardless of which side) not only because of lawyers’ great arguments, but also because of a great team up between lawyers and court reporters – such that lawyers know what part of the transcript to ask for (and when to ask for these) and the court reporter always ready with the needed record that can help them win the case.

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Crimes that Render Foreign Nationals Ineligible for a US Visa or Green Card

Posted by on Sep 14, 2015 in Immigration | 0 comments

To the so many foreign nationals aspiring to acquire a U.S. visa to be able to work and live in the United States, one major obstacle that can keep their dream from becoming a reality is an arrest record. Government officials review visa and citizenship applications meticulously to make sure that no “inadmissible” applicants will set foot on US soil as they may be threats to others or to the nation’s peace and order.

Section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.), which enumerates various kinds of crimes, past immigration violations, and communicable diseases, provides the grounds for inadmissibility. In reference to crimes, the following will render an applicant inadmissible, much more from acquiring a green card, despite the absence of an actual court conviction:

  • Crimes involving controlled substance violations (which includes possession of cocaine, marijuana or heroine) and moral turpitude. The meaning given to “crimes involving moral turpitude” (CIMT) is entrusted to courts, thus, the reason for the inconsistencies in interpretation. One sure common factor, though, is evil intent, which will surely put theft, fraud, murder and serious crimes of violence, in the list.
  • Human trafficking, drug trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping, money laundering, profiting financially from human trafficking activities (does not include children of traffickers), and multiple criminal convictions that is given a collective sentence of five years or more
  • Crimes indicated in Section 101(a)(15)(B) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) but wherein the offender has declared immunity from prosecution, left the US, and refused to surrender to to the authority of a U.S. court
  • Aggravated felony, such as sexual abuse of a minor, rape, serious theft and money laundering offenses and murder.

US immigration laws, however, have made some exceptions concerning CIMT and violations of laws on controlled substances, based on the following considerations:

  • The criminal was still a minor (under 18) when he/she committed the crime
  • Five years has passed since the crime was committed
  • The person is no longer in jail.

or

  • The penalty for the crime committed does not exceed a year and that the actual length of imprisonment does not go beyond six months (an exception called “petty offense”).

Foreign nationals, who have been convicted of a crime in the past but meet these conditions, may still be granted a green card.

Besides the complexities of the US Immigration laws, the website of the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC, says that immigrating and establishing citizenship in the US can be a long and difficult process; and it can still become more challenging if the applicant has a criminal record.

While a seasoned immigration attorney may be able to render valuable assistance with regard to immigration concerns, a highly-skilled criminal defense lawyer may be able to provide the necessary help where applying for a “waiver” or legal forgiveness for the crime committed is the issue, especially if the crime was the applicant’s first offense.

Though it is true that a criminal conviction can forever change the life of person, the website of the Flaherty Defense Firm states that it does not have to be so, saying that one’s life should never be determined by the criminal charges that he/she is facing.

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Mesothelioma Patients’ Eligibility to State and Federal Financial Benefits Programs

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Cancer | 0 comments

Mesothelioma is a rare form of malignant cancer that develops in the mesothelium, a lining that protects the body’s internal organs, such as the lungs, the abdomen and the heart. Every year about 2,000 – 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the US, involving workers who got exposed to the mineral asbestos – workers like asbestos miners and workers in manufacturing plants, power plants, construction sites, chemical plants, mills, railroads and shipyards, which include thousands of enlisted personnel, especially in the US Navy.

Asbestos’ heat resistance and elasticity have made it a perfect fire retardant component in the manufacture of thousands of different commercial and household products. Though extremely useful, this mineral is known to release sharp fiber dusts which can enter the body by mixing with the air we breathe or by contaminating our water and food. Once inside the body, dusts that never get expelled accumulate in the lungs, scarring and damaging these in the process.

Asbestos-related diseases take a long time to develop (the most common diseases caused by asbestos are lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma). Lung cancer and asbestosis take about 15 years to develop (from initial exposure to asbestos); mesothelioma, on the other hand, takes about 20 to 40 years (or more).

Besides being a rare form of cancer, mesothelioma has no known cure and is characterized by extreme pain, destroying the quality of life that still remains in the patient.

Mesothelioma totally alters the life of the victims and their families. Despite the latest treatments available, it remains painful and heat-breaking to know these, if successful, can only extend (for a little more time) patients’ lives since the illness is irreversible.

Many firms, which knowingly exposed thousands of their workers to the deadly effects of asbestos, have already ceased operations (some due to bankruptcy), but not before being mandated by law to set up a Mesothelioma Compensation Trust Funds for the purpose of compensating asbestos victims, who will never be able to enjoy again the kind of lives they used to live.

Besides eligibility to receive financial assistance from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program (if mesothelioma can be proven to have developed due to exposure to asbestos during work), anyone diagnosed with this deadly cancer may also qualify for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Mesothelioma so happens to be included in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book, which is a list of severe illnesses that serve as criteria for Social Security Disability benefits eligibility. The website of the Hankey Law Office happens to provide valuable and helpful information on how mesothelioma patients may be able to avail of Social Security.

The mentioned financial benefits, however, can never be enough due to the severity and eventual fatal consequence of mesothelioma. This is why lawsuits continue to be filed by victims and/or their families for the purpose of seeking justice, usually through financial compensation, for all the damages, pain and suffering that they were made to unjustly suffer. Clearly, employers chose to expose their workers to the toxic effects of asbestos for the profit they believed they can rake in.

There are many things that need to be understood about asbestos and mesothelioma, including who actually are at risk of developing the deadly cancer, its kinds, available treatments, symptoms, and stages. More information on this topic may be found at www.williamskherkher.com/practice-areas/mesothelioma-lawyer/.

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Hurdling through the Complexities of High Net Worth Divorce

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in Family Trouble | 0 comments

Marital conflicts that lead to the dissolution of marriage can be faced with disputes that can become very stressful, emotional and destructive, as spouses try to discredit each other in court in order to win the favor of the family judge hearing their case. This is often the scenario in a contested divorce case, wherein sensitive divorce-related issues, which include child custody and visitation rights, child support, alimony or spousal support, and division of properties, assets and debts, need to be settled.

Though divorce is already a strenuously difficult process, it can still become much more difficult if the spouses involved have considerable assets and income. This added layer of difficulty is due to the more complicated financial situation of the spouses which, as the website of BB Attorney describes can involve:

  • Assets held in investment portfolios, stock options, retirement plans, trust interests
  • 401(k) plans, IRAs, and other types of profit-sharing plans
  • A closely held family business
  • Family investments
  • Inheritances
  • Separation of individually owned property (or property acquired by each spouse prior to marriage) from community property (which are resources and holdings commonly owned by the spouses)
  • The possibility of a spouse hiding some of his/her assets

A high net worth divorce specifically makes challenging the issue of division of properties and assets. It will take a highly-skilled divorce attorney to be able to navigate through this case’s level of complexity, which entails review of the prenuptial and/or postnuptial agreement and all other financial endeavors by the spouses during the marriage.

Review of all financial activities entered into by the spouses, whether before or during marriage, is a primary requirement in high net worth divorce cases as this will help establish which properties are (or are not) subject for division, determine the total value of the properties, and allow for the drawing up of the best agreement on how to execute the division.

Since the final agreement in asset and property distribution will have a major impact on the life of each spouse, it is very essential that all relevant things are considered; these include: taxes and expenses incurred in the divorce case (like court and all other legal fees); the creation of a trust that will address alimony issues; the possibility of bankruptcy (of the payor spouse); and, assets that might not be liquid, are not income-producing, and debt-encumbered.

It is for these reasons why only a divorce attorney who really knows his trade should be sought. Besides providing the assistance that a spouse may just need, he/she will also know the best property valuator, accountant and other experts that should be hired.

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