Author Archives: Mary

Drug Courts – A Viable Alternative to Criminal Adjudication and Incarceration?

Drug courts are specialized, court-administered programs designed to provide treatment options for addicted offenders in the criminal justice system.  There are over 2800 drug courts operating in all 50 states and U.S. territories; more than half serve adults with substance addiction and dependency. Other drug courts treat juvenile, veteran, and tribal offenders (as well as other targeted populations), but for the purpose of this article we will focus on adult offenders.

The first drug court was established in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, Florida.  Courts there and elsewhere determined that the era’s popular “war on drugs” policies were failing to impact … Read More

Adult Guardianship and Conservatorship

      No Comments on Adult Guardianship and Conservatorship

We know from demographic studies that the senior population in the United States (age 65+) is anticipated to swell to 71.5 million members by the year 2030.   As this segment of the population grows, so will the need for appointment of conservators and guardians for incapacitated older adults.  When a person is deemed incapable of managing his or her own personal or financial affairs, a court will appoint a conservator or guardian to take control of those decisions.  The scope of responsibility for a conservator or guardian may be limited to financial matters, or may include other aspects of the … Read More

Juvenile Status Offenses-Incarceration or Intercession?

In our last post, we examined the confidentiality of juvenile records and the various state procedures available to seal or expunge them.  As noted, the public does not have access to these records once sealed,  but law enforcement and court personnel do retain unfettered access.  If the juvenile record includes acts considered felonious if committed by an adult, that record will likely remain unsealed.   But what of acts deemed illegal only because of the offender’s status as a juvenile?  How are these “status offenses” defined legally?

Status offenses are acts that would not be considered illegal if committed by an … Read More

WHY STATE COURTS MATTER.

      No Comments on WHY STATE COURTS MATTER.

From our early civics lessons we know that there are two court systems in the United States judiciary-federal and state.  On this CourtReference site, we focus exclusively on the courts from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  State courts have broad jurisdiction to interpret the laws that govern our everyday lives: where we live, where we work, with whom we marry, procreate, and divorce (or any combination thereof!), and where we ultimately may be laid to rest.  From cradle to grave, we abide by the laws of our resident state, and are subject to the rulings … Read More

WATER COURTS-RESOLVING STATE RESOURCE DISPUTES WITH EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION

In recent news reports we have learned about the contamination of public water sources in West Virginia, and have been alerted to the potential impact of climate change on local water supplies.   Who ultimately decides disputes involving the protection, access and consumption of state water resources?

Generally, state courts have jurisdiction over local water rights created by state law.  State agencies with environmental and natural resources oversight further regulate water use and consumption policy in compliance with state law.   Conflicts involving water on reserved Federal and Indian land are resolved by negotiation and compact with state, federal and tribal authorities.… Read More

PART II – PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR DEFENDING AGAINST A PROTECTION ORDER

Last month I published  Beyond the Paperwork: Practical Advice for Obtaining a Protection Order  on this blog site.  This month, as promised, I would like to address some strategies for defending against an order of protection.

As noted in my previous article, there can be grave consequences if a protection order is filed against you.  For the purposes of this post, consider a “protection order” the same as a restraining order or no-contact order; the terminology changes depending on your jurisdiction and your relationship to the petitioner.

Protection orders must be issued by a court and are designed to prevent … Read More

BEYOND THE PAPERWORK: PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR OBTAINING A PROTECTION ORDER

When you seek an order of protection, you should be fully aware of the gravity of the request and its legal consequences.  An order of protection (or restraining order, protection order, or no-contact order, depending the jurisdiction and relationship of the parties) is a court-issued document that prohibits an individual (the respondent/defendant) from directly contacting the petitioner/victim.  Protection orders are frequently filed to prevent acts or threats of domestic violence, stalking, and harassment, although they can be used to bar other types of abusive or menacing behavior.

A protection order must be issued by a court.   A petitioner may seek … Read More

The Role of State Attorneys General in National Health Care Reform-Advocating for the Will of the People or for their Party?

Unless you’ve been living under an exceptionally large rock lately, you have been subjected to renewed national debate about the merits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).   The PPACA, with its expressed goals of expanding health care access to more Americans, providing additional program choices, and reducing health care costs, was signed into law on March 23, 2010.  Several lawsuits were filed challenging the constitutionality of the Act. In June of 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court held that the individual mandate, a key provision of the Act, was constitutional, allowing the health care law to advance toward … Read More

Everything I know about the Legal System, I learned from the Movies

Think for a moment about the influence of popular culture informing your opinions about the legal system.  Whether a consumer of film, television, radio, music or literature, you have likely been exposed to broad, thematic messages about law and justice.

These messages may be inspirational and enlightening, or distorted and inaccurate representations of our legal system.  Legal professionals may be vilified or sainted, redeemed or doomed, but their portrayals often linger long after we leave the theater.  Who can forget Jack Nicholson bellowing at Tom Cruise in  Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!” or  Al Pacino … Read More

Finding the Right Attorney, Part 2 – How to be a Savvy Legal Consumer With Online Resources

Last month’s blog article “How do you find the right attorney for your legal issue, your area, and your budget” (July 18, 2013) promoted the idea of using lawyer referral services offered by state and local Bar Associations. The ubiquity of the programs (more than 300 nationally) and the mission of matching legal consumers with unbiased, qualified referrals based upon specific legal needs is endorsed and governed by the American Bar Association. The referral services include pre-screening assistance, detailed educational and professional profiles, and assisted selection of appropriate counsel.
Whether you utilize a referral program or decide to … Read More