Out of Control Teenager? Or Victim?

This case currently going on in New Jersey raises interesting questions about what happens when a parent/child relationship goes sour.  While parents have the legal duty to support their children, does the duty remain if the child leaves the home and refuses to follow rules?  Would the ruling change if the child was a gang member and not an honor student?

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

Law Declares Living Man Dead

I’m not even sure what to say about this.  A man is declared legally dead after disappearing for almost a decade.  When he reappears, the man isn’t allowed to be brought back to life in a legal sense.  This sounds like an episode of the Twilight Zone.  What I’m wondering now, is that since he’s legally dead, does he need to abide by other laws?  If he’s not allowed to enjoy the benefits of a living person (in this case collecting social security), how can he be required to abide by the restrictions of society?  How can a dead man be convicted of a crime and put in jail?  Aside from the absurdities in this case, it also shows how the legal system is often closed to people with limited means.  The articles discusses that a federal court case could reverse the ruling, but that the man can’t afford to petition the federal court.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

Even Murderers Can Find Someone To Love Them

A man in San Diego was sentenced to 53 years for murder.  Minutes later, the same judge sentenced him to a lifetime of wedded bliss (?) by performing his marriage ceremony.  The judge also baked the couple a cake.  I guess this was done in the name of government efficiency?

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

Does Horn Honking Equal “Terrorism”?

A man in Ohio is suing others for honking their horns.  While it is easy to laugh at this, if his allegations are true, he probably has a case for harassment.  I’m not licensed in Ohio, so I’m not certain what the law there is, but in Wisconsin the alleged acts could definitely constitute harassment.  Wisconsin defines harassment in part, as:  “Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts which harass or intimidate another person and which serve no legitimate purpose.”

For those curious, terrorism is defined by Wisconsin Statute as: a felony under ch. 939 to 951 that is committed with intent to terrorize and is committed under any of the following circumstances:

1.  The person committing the felony causes bodily harm, great bodily harm, or death to another.
 2.  The person committing the felony causes damage to the property of another and the total property damaged is reduced in value by $25,000 or more.  For purposes of this subdivision, property is reduced in value by the amount that it would cost either to repair or replace it, whichever is less.
3.  The person committing the felony uses force or violence or the threat of force or violence.
Honking horns is not terrorism, “small town” or not.

Tactics such as the ones allegedly committed the defendants in this case are common. When there is a personal dispute, especially when it involves neighbors, people will resort to all sorts of childish acts in order to get under the other person’s skin.  In addition, people often use the court system by suing other people to get under their skin.  In this case, if the defendant’s side is true, that is exactly what is happening here.  I don’t know the facts, but I thought it was interesting, and as outlandish as it seems, much more common than most would think.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

 

If I Had a Nickel For Every Time

In another “real life is stranger than fiction” story, a group in New Hampshire calling themselves “Robin Hooders” are being sued for harassing parking meter attendants.  One of the things the “Robin Hooders” do is put money into expiring meters so the owner’s don’t get parking tickets.  There is more to the story than the meter attendants being upset they don’t get to write tickets.  I would to cordially invite the “Robin Hooders” to the Brown County Courthouse to put change in my parking meter.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

Man Would Rather Eat Than Be Free

As this article shows, there really is a fine line between genius and insanity.   How many would think to take this particular route to a meal? Most people would opt for trying to get help from those apparently offering it on the outside than rot in a jail cell.  How far would you go?  Not that anyone should condone what the man did, but you have to admit that he was thinking outside of the box to solve his problem (and solution was ironically to be put inside a box).

On the other side of the coin, did prosecutors let the man “win” by putting him in jail?  The prosecutors have a job to do, and I’m sure they had to think about all of the relevant factors before charging the man, knowing it was being done intentionally.  They certainly could have opted to do nothing, but who knows how far the man would be willing to go to make his point, and to eat. 

Ultimately, I agree with the route prosecutors took, but the case raised a lot of ethical and moral questions. It really is a sad situation.

 The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

Second Marriage: A Real and Common Estate Planning Issue

A real life soap opera is playing out in Southern Wisconsin and the issues raised are going to be decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Although the central issue in this case might be whether or not the decedent (in this case a woman who resided in a nursing home, and had been declared incapacitated at one point) had the capacity to be legally married, and what a court can do about it after the spouse dies, the case reminds us of common issues that arise in second marriages, and how those issues can sometimes be resolved through proper estate planning.

If a person is married more than once, estate planning becomes extremely important.  Many people don’t understand that a surviving spouse acquires certain rights in property, regardless of how long they have been married to the decedent, and regardless of the decedent’s intent.  Depending on whether either spouse has children, or if the have children are from more than one spouse, problems can and do arise.  It is important to sort through desires, and have them properly planned out so that an estate plan can be executed upon death.  Wills, Marital Property Agreements and Trusts are common tools that can be used in appropriate situations. 

While the case in Southern Wisconsin is a little uncommon, it does illustrate what can happen to a family after someone’s death if an estate plan is not changed (or created from scratch) when someone remarries. Having a plan and intent reduced to writing can potentially help avoid family issues after a person’s death.

 The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

Montana Case Shows Castle Doctrine Application

A while back, I posted an article regarding the new “Castle Doctrine” in Wisconsin.  A shooting incident in Montana has made news because the castle doctrine (which is very similar to Wisconsin) was applied, and the shooter was not charged.

While it appears to me the doctrine was properly applied (and the result would likely be the same under Wisconsin law), I found it interesting that the shooter knew the person was coming for quite some time, and presumably had the opportunity to lock his door or call the police.  Certainly the law does not require the shooter to take those steps, but this wasn’t a case of a late-night break-in, or a homeowner coming home to find a stranger in his house.  In fact, the person shot here never made it past the garage.  The shooter probably would have been in some physical danger at some point (he was spending unappreciated time with the other man’s wife, after all), but I’m not sure the castle doctrine was intended in this situation.  The shooter basically retreated into his house to get a gun to defend himself, and to confront the person shot.  Had this shooting happened five minutes earlier in the street, the shooter likely would have been charged with murder.  It is an interesting result where the location of a shooting absolves someone of any wrongdoing.

 The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

Think Before You Sue

 This story is on the absurd side of the spectrum, but a good illustration of what can happen when people rush to the courthouse.  Suing somebody costs money (filing fees, administrative fees, legal fees).  Sometimes much more than you stand to win. 

In our practice, we don’t encourage litigation unless there is no other choice, and this story is a prime example of why.  Most people can’t afford to spend a small fortune on legal fees in order to prove a point, or defend their pride (even if they are correct). 

I don’t know all of the facts as to why this case dragged on as long as it did, and it is a little hard to tell from the subject’s comments whether he was upset at his attorney, or the other party for the legal fees.  However, it is important that you understand that it “takes two to tango” in a litigation sense.  We do the best we can to keep clients informed on the ongoing costs of litigation, and their options every step of the way, so things don’t get out of hand. Once the litigation ball gets rolling, it can be difficult to make that ball stop if the other party is not reasonable.    As lawyers, we are obligated to comply with the formalities required by law in litigation.  Often, those formalities are incredibly time consuming, and thereby costly.  Unfortunately, finances can come into play in litigation, and sometimes the party with more money is able to drag things out to make the other side give in. 

 The moral of the story is to think (and exhaust your other options) before rushing to the courthouse to make a point.

 The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.

Why Should I Hire You?: A Warning to Those Who Use a Computer Program to Do Their Own Taxes

We are often asked the question: “Why should I pay you to do my taxes, when I can go buy (insert popular tax software) for less money?”  The answer is given by the United States Tax Court here.

Essentially, if you don’t understand what you are doing when you enter information into a computer program, the program can’t fix your mistake.  The program is only as correct as the information it receives. As the tax court put it “Garbage in. Garbage out.”.

The advantage of hiring someone like us to prepare your tax returns is that we are experienced, we are knowledgeable, and we are able to ask and answer questions to come up with a correct return.  In the case mentioned above, the mistake could have been avoided if she had asked an attorney before making her pension withdrawal, and again when her return was prepared.  The mistake in this case resulted in an $8,734 penalty, IN ADDITION to the tax she rightfully owed.

 The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Pursuant to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, nothing contained in this communication was intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.  No one, without our express prior written permission, may use or refer to any tax advice in this communication in promoting, marketing, or recommending a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement to any other party.