Monthly Archives: February 2009

Your Right to Know: Open Meetings Laws

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Are you curious about how decisions are made and what occurs while your government officials are meeting. Thanks to the open meetings laws you don’t have to just wonder about the meetings, you actually have direct access to them. All states have created some policy whereby meetings involving public matters are open to the public. These are usually called either an Open Meetings Act or an Open Meetings Law. These laws were created to prevent secrecy in matters that affect us.

One of the most important factors about the open meetings laws is that they generally apply only to meetings … Read More

The “Rocket Docket:” One Court’s Solution to the Foreclosure Crisis

Foreclosure, foreclosure, foreclosure! It seems that no matter who you are or where you live, foreclosures have become a part of our everyday landscape. In the fallout of bad loans and a deepening economic crisis, an unprecedented amount of Americans now face losing their homes to foreclosure. We see it in newspapers, hear it on the news, and see signs in our neighborhoods. Despite the election of a new President and the intiation of  new plans to save homes, foreclosures are still on the rise.

There are two different types of foreclosure, judicial and non-judicial. While non-judicial foreclosures are … Read More

Bridge Inspection Records

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Who could forget that deadly Minneapolis bridge collapse in 2007. It was a catastrophe that claimed 13 lives and terrified countless others. Yet, this was not the first bridge collapse in recent American history. There have been many other bridge collapses reported, some the result of crashes that created structural damage, yet other collapses, such as in Minneapolis, were the result of corrosion or structural deficiency. There have been many reports claiming that a major portion of America’s bridges are outdated, overburdened, and/or structurally deficient. The idea that our bridges could possibly be unsafe is definitely distressing, especially considering that … Read More

What is E-Filing?

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If you are involved in a lawsuit, you (or your attorney) will likely need to file many documents with the court. This can include an initial summons and complaint as well as various motions and notices requesting actions from the court or opposing party. All these filed documents can add up to piles and piles of paper. Furthermore, whenever a paper is filed with a court, this requires the filer to go down to the courthouse in person to present the document to the clerk of court. Although this is a tradition that is mostly accepted as a part of … Read More

Housing Discrimination Database

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Does your state or county of a history of discrimination? Despite all the progress made in our country, discrimination is still a fact of life in many arenas. One place where discrimination remains present is in housing. There is a law called the Fair Housing Act (FHA) which actually prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, or disability. The FHA is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. It is based on this act that individuals can expect to find reprieve from housing discrimination. Furthermore, thanks to public records advancements, it is … Read More

Who Runs Your Local Court?

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As with any business or organization, someone needs to be in charge to make sure things run smoothly. Someone needs to pay the bills, hire personnel, create business plans, and simply ensure a smooth operation. Well, we know that a judge controls the legal aspect of the court room, but who is actually responsible for making a court system run smoothly? It is the Administrative Office.

In many states, this office is  called the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). Depending on the size of a state, there could be several divisions in the AOC, each assigned with specific tasks … Read More

Oversight of the Treasury Bailout Plan

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As the economy continues to be at the forefront of many Americans’ concerns, President Obama and Congress continue to wrestle with various solutions. The government’s initial efforts at correcting the country’s financial problems came under President Bush’s administration in the form of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) which promised approximately $350 billion to banks and other financial insititutions beginning in October 2007. Many Americans, including Congress and President Obama, are gravely concerned about the lack of oversight in this initial plan – there are billions of dollars unaccounted for and it appears that, while the money has been given … Read More

New Database Makes Car Fraud Data Accessable to Public

In the market for a used car? In addition to checking out all those little mechanical issues like brakes, the engine, etc., you may also consider checking on the history of the car. A history check can include not only prior owners, but whether or not you are about to purchase a stolen vehicle. As a result of a recently concluded lawsuit, it is now easier for everyday people to check the fraud status of a vehicle.

A database called the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) finally became available for public access on January 30, 2009. Apparently Congress … Read More

Avoid Trial through ADR

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Sometimes a court isn’t the best venue to solve a legal problem. In fact, many cases are resolved outside of court through various other means. Once way of resolving a legal issue is through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods. ADR has often been viewed as a preferable method to trial. When a case uses ADR, this frees up the docket from the ever burdened courts. Also, ADR can often be less costly than trial. There are a few methods that fall under the ADR system, however the three most common forms are negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.

During negotiation the parties … Read More