Category Archives: Uncategorized

Research Campaign Finance Reports

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Soon all of the primary elections around the country will be over and the number of candidates will have been narrowed. If it is important to you to know how a candidate spends their political contributions or where their contributions come from, you can use our website to research the campaign finance reports of your favorite candidates.

Campaign finance reports must be filed by all candidates and are available at the national, state, county and city level. The reports can be searched by type of office, name of candidate or committee name and even by the name of the contributor.… Read More

A New Specialty Court: Sex!

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Special court programs to deal with specific types of cases exist in every state. “Accountability Courts” or “Problem-Solving Courts” or “Therapeutic Courts” are special court programs that use treatment and social services in lieu of incarceration. We’ve covered specific types over the years: Drug Courts here and here, Mental Health Courts, Family Dependency Treatment Courts, and Veterans Courts.

These programs include intensive supervision by a team that includes the judge, and have proven to reduce recidivism and save their jurisdictions money, because treatment is less expensive than jail. Offenders with substance abuse and/or mental health problems … Read More

When Court Websites Come Up Short

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Businesses, organizations, units of government, even many individuals have websites. It’s no surprise that many courts also have websites. As with any other entity’s website, some court websites are better than others: easier to see what’s there, easier to navigate, with more content.

On some court websites, it’s obvious at first glance how to contact the court by mail and phone, how to search case records and court calendars, how to locate and download the forms you need, and how to pay fines online. An explanation of the court’s process; the types of cases the court handles; and links to … Read More

Is Your Child’s College Campus Safe?

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At this time of year, parents are preparing to send their sons or daughters off to college. One of the many concerns is how safe the college campus will be. Fortunately for parents and students, a number of steps have been taken to increase the safety on campuses all across the country.

In 1990, Congress passed a law named the “Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act,” also known as the “Clery Act.” The law has been amended several times since and requires both private and public colleges to keep and disclose crime statistics for crimes both on and near the … Read More

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

How to Complain About Your Lawyer

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This blog has discussed many ways to find a lawyer, from how to decide whether or not you really need a lawyer to evaluating a prospective lawyer by using online resources and checking disciplinary records. In between, we covered ways to find free legal help here and here; lawyer referral services here, here, and here; using lawyers for limited services; even finding legal help during a natural disaster.

After using all these resources – or after getting a recommendation from a friend – you’ve found a lawyer to take your case. So far, … Read More

Adult Guardianship and Conservatorship

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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

What Happened at Your Local Council Meeting?

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Have you attended a City Council or County Commission meeting in your area recently? Do you want to know what is scheduled for an upcoming Council meeting or what happened at the last Commission meeting?

In a recent article in The Seattle Times, entitled “Talk of the Town,” by Nancy Bartley, Seattle Times staff reporter, cities and towns around the country are establishing new rules regarding public meetings. Cities and counties are experiencing citizens that use public comment time during meetings to discuss a political candidate, sell a product, or promote a blog. According to Tim Ford, former Ombudsman for … Read More

WHY STATE COURTS MATTER.

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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