NJ mom accused of starving child pleads not guilty

Lawyer Blog Post 2011/06/02 09:03   Bookmark and Share
Two women pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of child endangerment a week after an 8-year-old was found dead in their apartment from severe malnutrition and an untreated broken leg and her injured and emaciated siblings were removed alive.

The children's 30-year-old mother, Venette Ovilde, stared blankly and answered a judge's questions in a barely audible whisper as she entered her plea through a court-appointed attorney. She remains held on $500,000 bail on aggravated manslaughter and child endangerment charges.

Her 23-year-old roommate, Myriam Janvier, also pleaded not guilty through a court-appointed attorney to child endangerment charges. Her bail was continued at $100,000.

Christiana Glenn died May 22 from severe malnutrition and a fractured femur that authorities said had never been treated. Her 7-year-old sister and 6-year-old brother remained hospitalized for treatment of malnutrition and other injuries after being removed from Ovilde's Irvington apartment.

The children were discovered after the police were called to the home on a report of a child not breathing.

The women, who were both born in Haiti but came to the U.S. at a young age, radically altered their lifestyles about two years ago when they came under the sway of a man they described as their religious leader, according to friends and acquaintances.


NH Senate rejects changes to anti-bullying law

Lawyer Blog Post 2011/05/06 03:35   Bookmark and Share
New Hampshire's Senate has voted unanimously to reject changes to the state's anti-bullying law, such as limiting school responsibility in dealing with off-campus incidents.

Senators said Wednesday that the current law is only months old and needs further study before any changes are made.

The current law was amended last year for the electronic age. It defines bullying and cyberbullying and allows schools to step in if the conduct happens outside of school and interferes with a student's education or substantially disrupts school operations.

Many states have been moving in this direction, but some New Hampshire lawmakers wanted to restrict the boundaries to school grounds.

The House passed a bill in March that would remove that provision and make other changes. The Senate's rejection leaves the measure's future in doubt.

Welcome Indiana Trial Lawyers Association Members

Lawyer Blog Post 2011/05/04 09:29   Bookmark and Share
Today, Brad gave a presentation at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association's 23rd Annual Lifetime Achievement Seminar, entitled "Working in the Cloud: Using Online Resources to Help Your Practice." We have links to downloadable copies of Brad's PowerPoint presentation (To view as a PowerPoint, right click on the hyperlink and select "Save Target as...."

To access the hyperlinks contained within the PowerPoint, right click on each logo button as select "Open hyperlink"), which contains links to websites mentioned in the presentation, and handout.  Brad has also prepared bundles of blogs he follows, including legal blogs and technology blogs aimed at lawyers.


Attorney Entitled to Adequate Security for Attorney's Lien in Order to Produce File

Lawyer Blog Post 2011/04/15 08:36   Bookmark and Share
In Grimes v. Crockrom, ___ N.E.2d ___ (Ind. Ct. App. 2011), Cause No. 45A03-1008-CT-491, a client sought documents from her former attorney's file and the attorney asserted that he needed security for the payment of an attorney's lien before producing those documents. Today, the Indiana Court of Appeals resolved this dispute, clarifying the scope and extent of attorney's liens.
  1. An attorney is entitled to adequate security for the payment of outstanding attorney's fees if a court orders the attorney to produce portions of a former client's file.
  2. Attaching an attorney's lien to a settlement or favorable outcome of the client's case is inadequate security for the payment of an attorney's lien.
  3. The amount of security that is adequate should correspond with the amount of the lien.
  4. An attorney seeking adequate security for the payment of an attorney's lien should present evidence of the amount and reasonableness of the fee.

Is your marijuana crop property of the bankruptcy estate?

Lawyer Blog Post 2011/04/10 12:03   Bookmark and Share

There has been a debate raging lately among consumer bankruptcy attorneys about how to counsel a client who grows and cultivates medical marijuana.  The basic question is:  does a crop, illegal under federal laws, constitute property of the bankruptcy estate and need it be disclosed in the bankruptcy schedules.  The problem lies in the fact that, while legal in California if it meets certain standards for medical uses, the act of growing marijuana constitutes a crime under the laws of the United States.  Filing a bankruptcy petition could put the various federal government police agencies on notice of a crime that could ultimately lead to confiscation and prosecution.  A sad day indeed for the medical marijuana grower and erstwhile bankruptcy debtor. On the other hand, failing to list an asset is itself a Federal Bankruptcy crime.

What to do?  I would say that filing the bankruptcy case, as long as all assets are disclosed, has very little chance of leading to prosecution for illegal possession and cultivation.  The federal government has pretty much given up the fight against medical marijuana growers and dispensaries that are otherwise legal under state law.  But, such marijuana could be considered a valuable asset.  It seems like an unlikely proposition that a trustee would actual attempt to administer a marijuana crop by selling the asset for the benefit of creditors. However, I think the good advice here is to file the case only if the asset can be fully disclosed and fully exempt and simply avoid the issue.  A debtor usually has the choice of timing of the filing of the bankruptcy case.  I would recommend to only file when the assets have been consumed or otherwise disposed of in the ordinary course of the business and affairs of the debtor.  This could simply be after the debtor has sold some of his or her crop and spent down the proceeds to below the  exemption threshold that applies in the particular case.  Maybe it is time to invest proceeds into an IRA or other asset where a larger exemption might be available.

Read more: http://www.sflawyer.net/blog/?p=16


Court of Appeals Defines Standard of Review of an Administrative Agency's Ruling on a Motion to Dismiss

Lawyer Blog Post 2011/03/22 10:04   Bookmark and Share
Yesterday, the Indiana Court of Appeals issued a decision in a case involving an appeal from an order dismissing a claim by the Worker's Compensation Board in Harris v. United Water Services, Inc., Case No. 93A02-1010-EX-1164. The Court found that it had not consistently applied a specific standard of review to these situations in the past and said that it would begin to apply a deferential standard of review. It also emphasized that a defendant has the burden of proving the grounds for dismissal.
  1. A court will not use a de novo standard of review in appeals from an administrative agency's ruling on a motion to dismiss.
  2. A defendant has the burden of proving that a case should be dismissed.
  3. An administrative agency's wholesale adoption of one party's facts makes it more likely that the agency's decision will be reversed on appeal.

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