Timeline to Trial

Wedding planners always suggest creating a timeline of tasks to accomplish as the big day approaches. Breaking down tasks and assigning them a priority in the buildup to the wedding is both efficient and stress-reducing. Getting to trial can be as hard as getting to the altar, with just as many moving parts to juggle. Here’s a handy timeline of pre-trial tasks that will get you to opening argument with your sanity. Continue reading

Short Circuit on Social Security for Posthumously Conceived Children

Update May 22, 2012: The U.S. Supreme Court has held that posthumously conceived children are not automatically entitled to receive social security survivor benefits. Astrue v Capato (May 21, 2012, No. 11-159). From now on, the availability of survivor benefits will depend on state statutes and case law in jurisdictions with no statutes. See Knaplund, The New Biology: What Do Estate Planners Need to Know About Assisted Reproduction?, Estate Planning 2011, chap 3.

The brave new world is here, and has raised a legal issue few saw coming: Should posthumously conceived children — meaning those conceived through in vitro fertilization after the biological parent has died — be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits even if they could not inherit from the parent under state law? There’s now a split of authority on this issue, with the Ninth Circuit having held that they may be eligible, and a divided panel of the Fourth Circuit recently ruling that they are not. Schafer v Astrue (4th Cir 2011) 641 F3d 49. Onward to the Supreme Court!

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Anti-Retaliation Protections in the FLSA Don’t Apply to Job Applicants

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which was intended by Congress to govern the employment relationship, does not cover job applicants. At least, that was the conclusion the Fourth Circuit recently reached in a case of first impression at the federal appellate level. Continue reading

3 Steps Every Condo Board Should Know to Take When Sued

Many condo complexes and buildings are governed by owner-members of the community. These folks often have little or no legal background and can get themselves into trouble when they get sued for personal injury or property damage within the development. To avoid having to unravel a disaster, counsel for these developments should arm the association management with some basic steps to take when slapped with a suit.

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Reducing Your Workforce the Right Way

As this difficult economic situation continues, many employers are making the tough decision to reduce their workforce. But employers beware: If it’s not done correctly, a reduction in force can lead to an increase in employer headaches and costs. Continue reading

Was BART’s Cutting Cell Service a Violation of Free Speech?

For what seems to be the first time in the United States, a government agency cut off mobile-internet and phone service to quash a protest demonstration.  Was this a valid and reasonable way to protect public safety or an unlawful infringement on free speech rights protected under the First Amendment? Continue reading

Greenhouse Gases May Be Destroying Our Planet, But They Are Not a Public Nuisance

The following is a guest blog post by Myanna Dellinger, a law professor at Western State University College of Law.

Heat waves.  Droughts.  Wildfires. Wildly varying snow packs and weather patterns. These are all too familiar, especially in California, but are they the effects of global climate change? And if so, are they a “public nuisance” under federal common law? Continue reading

City Council Meetings Begin with the Lord’s Prayer and End Up with a Lawsuit

The Sussex County Council in Delaware begins each public meeting with the Lord’s Prayer, and has now ended up with a lawsuit (.pdf) for violation of the separation of church and state. Continue reading

CEB Question of the Month: Business Records as Evidence

Question: True or False? To get a business record admitted into evidence under the business-records exception to the hearsay rule, you must show that the person who made the record is “unavailable as a witness.” And the answer is…

Fair Use in the Digital Age

The unauthorized use of copyrighted material is more widespread and more immediately a part of our lives today than ever. We need only switch on our personal computers and open our Web browsers to encounter a new world of unauthorized reproductions. As unauthorized copying finds ever new media for testing the limits of legality, the doctrine of fair use scrambles to keep up. Continue reading