Why the Violence Against Woman Act Died

Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has protected millions of women and families across the United States by providing law enforcement agencies with numerous resources to help counter spousal abuse. The bill was originally penned by then-Senator Joe Biden in 1992 with the sole intention of protecting women from violence. Along with funding prosecutions against sex offenders, the Violence Against Women Act also established tougher penalties for habitual sex offenders, training of law enforcement agents, a national hotline for victims, a federal rape shield law, and a number of other provisions to benefit victims of abuse.

The law has continually helped millions of women every year across the nation because Congress has continually reauthorized the bill for almost two decades. In fact, this continual reauthorization of the bill in both 2000 and 2005 has been an achievement for a Congress not typically known for its bipartisanship. Unfortunately, like many initiatives this past year, the 112th Congress could not reach an agreement in 2012, killing the bill for the first time ever.

One of the primary causes of Congress’ inability to reach a compromise was a strong resistance from House Republicans – due in large part to the bill’s new provisions to cover an additional 30 million women. Specifically, the bill extended protections to women on college campuses. This came into consideration after the murder of Yeardley Love in 2010 at the University of Virginia. The bill also provided new law enforcement measures to protect Native American women on tribal reservations, immigrant women – no matter their status – and also women in the LGBT community.

“It was an inexcusable failure by House Republican leaders and one that will have real-life implications for women who now find themselves with nowhere to turn for help,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), wrote in an article on CNN.com.

Before reaching the House, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization by a vote of 68 to 31 with the support of 15 Republicans.

“This seems to be how House Republican leadership operates,” Murray said. “No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”

On the other hand, House Republicans blamed Democrats for not budging on many issues, especially the LGBT, undocumented immigrants, and tribal jurisdiction provisions.

This battle began in the Senate last April when Democrats proposed the bill with the newly added provisions. Democrats drafted the re-authorization with input from anti-domestic violence advocates and law enforcement agents. Even with strong opposition from Republicans who wanted the provisions concerning LGBT women, Native Americans, and illegal immigrants removed, the re-authorization passed on to the House.

With no intention of supporting the act, House Republicans responded by presenting a scaled-back version of the bill that focused primarily on making it harder for illegal-immigrant victims to achieve citizenship under the U Visa. House GOP leaders eventually passed this version of the bill on a partisan vote even with President Barack Obama’s threat to veto the bill.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) urged the Senate to resolve the differences, arguing their version of the bill was unconstitutional. On the other hand, Democrats fought for the GOP to pass the Senate’s original version of the bill claiming it passed with strong bipartisan support and that President Obama had already threatened to veto the House’s version of the bill.

Democrats felt they had a chance in December when Vice President Biden met with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to see if they could negotiate and reach a compromise. Unfortunately, both sides refused to budge on major issues involving the LGBT, undocumented immigrants, and tribal jurisdiction women.

A GOP source told Talking Points Memo (TPM) that Biden showed “good faith,” but that the Senate Republicans threw up too many “roadblocks,” and presented a “my way or the highway,” attitude.

In the end, the bill failed to reach President Obama’s desk before the end of the year.

While this is the kind of law that should exist, there are instances where situations of domestic violence can be arise solely to damage the alleged perpetrator’s reputation. In some cases, no domestic violence ever occurred at all. While it can be immensely difficult to prove violence one way or the other, courts generally side with the accuser. Because of this, it’s important for someone who is accused of domestic violence to have a strong defense. The help of an attorney can really make a significant difference in the crafting of such a defense.

What are Miranda Rights?

Your Miranda Rights are a set of rights granted by the Constitution. In the event that you are arrested, you should be aware of what your legal rights are. These include the right to avoid self-incrimination and the right to seek legal counsel.

The “Miranda Rights” receive their name from a man who was arrested, but was not aware of his legal right to avoid self incrimination, nor his right to counsel. Because of this, he signed a document admitting he committed a rape without the presence of a lawyer. When the prosecution tried present the document as evidence in trial, Miranda’s attorney objected to its admissibility. The document was written in a way that implied Miranda was aware of his rights when he really wasn’t. The Supreme Court later determined that the police violated Miranda’s constitutional right to legal counsel when they had him sign a legal document without the presence of an attorney. Furthermore, they violated his fifth amendment right to avoid self incrimination as a direct result.

Miranda Rights need to be read when arrestedIn many cases, police officers must now recite what are called a crime suspect’s “Miranda Rights” to him or her at the time of arrest. These include “the right to remain silent” and the right to legal counsel. While it is not always an absolute requirement to read these rights to individuals who are being arrested, most of the time officers feel obliged to do it.

Your right to legal counsel in the face of criminal charges is incredibly important. A criminal defense attorney will be intimately familiar with how to fight the charges against an accused criminal. He or she will more than likely fare much better in court as well, as the training an attorney must undergo is long and in-depth. The examinations that they take to become certified to practice law are difficult and require them to be knowledgeable. All in all, the various certification boards don’t allow just anyone to practice law.

Criminal defense attorneys are essentially tasked with protecting the rights of those who are charged with crimes. Their job is to do everything within their power to be certain that the court or legal process is not denying an alleged criminal his or her guaranteed rights while formulating an argument, based in law, that will free the defendant from the accusations.

Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

People are often confused whether to choose between filing for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Although both options help in ending debt issues, Chapter 13 is a believed to be the more reasonable of the two: Chapter 13 gives the option of reorganizing repayment plans while keeping some properties, while Chapter 7 allows debtors to pay for the debts through liquidation of properties. Sorting out which one will work best for you before deciding which type of bankruptcy to file is the key in ending debt and starting anew.

The first step in filing for Chapter 13 is to know if you are eligible for it. As stated on the website of Birmingham-based Greenway Law, LLC, it is best to have your documents ready to prove that you have enough income to confirm a repayment plan. Next is to check and confirm if your debts are too high, or you can work out an achievable plan or payment. It should be clear to you and on your document how many properties you have and their estimated value because this can directly affect your repayment plan.

Consulting with a lawyer helps in filing out bankruptcy forms to make sure everything is filled out correctly. They can also help in advising you regarding the filing of your forms. After filing, you will be requested to appear in two hearings together with the trustee at the courthouse for review and future plans. Since these meetings are what help determine your intention of repaying your debts, creditors are allowed to attend for them to ask questions and even negotiate. A confirmation hearing will be called for you to present your repayment plan, where creditors can subject and the judge to decide whether to approve or not.

The repayment plan begins 30 after the judge has approved of it. If problems occur, you should report to the court immediately. Missed payments would dismiss the Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. After completing the requirements for the repayment plan, the bankruptcy is discharged, freeing you from any legal obligation for past unpaid debts that are listed on your repayment plan.

Although bankruptcy cases tend to be complicated, asking advice and guidance from lawyers would make it easier and more manageable.

Getting Compensation for Insurance Bad Faith

Allegations of breach of contract claims and tort claims. Insurance policies are essentially a contract between the insurance company and the insured. The distinction is important when it comes to the amount and types of compensation.

Insurance companies are bound by the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” that apply to any contract; failing to act in good faith or to deal fairly with their insured constitutes a bad faith claim, which is a tort claim. On addition, the claimant can also sue the insurance company for a standard contract breach under state business laws. The difference between the claims is that exemplary or punitive damages are not allowed under contract law, but may be permitted under tort law, depending on the circumstances. In effect, the insured may sue for more than the face value of the contract’s terms under a tort claim.

Insurance laws in the US are state-specific, so claims for insurance bad faith will be subject to laws that apply in the state where the claim is made. Under Texas law, there are specific limitations and coverages depending on the type of insurance, the nature of the insurance bad faith, and the number of occurrences. According to the website of Dallas-based law firm Smith Kendall, insurance companies employ a number of strategies that may be considered acts of bad faith. However, insurance law can be quite complex, so it is advisable for any potential claimant for an alleged insurance bad faith to consult with a bad faith insurance lawyer with extensive knowledge of tort and contract law in the state and experience in handling claims.

How You May Be Able to Protect Your Tax Refund during Bankruptcy

When a person is facing debt substantial enough that they are considering filing for bankruptcy as a way to get a fresh financial start, every asset and amount of money that he or she has is important and can make a huge difference in his or her life. Thus, the tax refund money that a person may receive after filing their taxes can be extremely important or even be the difference between being able to afford basic living necessities, such as food and housing. However, when a person files for bankruptcy, particularly Chapter 7 bankruptcy, any assets and sums of money they have are considered part of the bankruptcy estate, meaning that they can be used to pay off some of their bills and loans. As such, any person in this situation may be very anxious about their ability to keep the money they receive as their tax refund.

Although tax refund money is typically considered part of a debtor’s estate that is eligible to be liquidated or used to pay off debts, this does not mean that a person in this situation is without options for keeping their tax refund money. In order to do this though, a person must be careful and should consider the following possible options:

  • Spend the tax refund money prior to filing for bankruptcy. This is a touchy issue, as doing this can be seen as fraud or the objects purchased with the money considered part of the bankruptcy estate. As such, if you choose to delay your bankruptcy filing, you should discuss the particulars with a bankruptcy lawyer and make sure to spend any tax refund money on essentials, such as food and bills.
  • Claim certain bankruptcy exemptions. When filling for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a person is allowed to exempt certain assets and funds from being used to pay off debts. These exemptions are unique to each state’s regulations, so it can differ from state to state; however, most of the time a debtor has the option of using a wildcard exemption. This exemption allows a person to exempt any property or assets up to a certain amount.

Keeping your tax refund money is difficult, but not impossible. However, with legal support it may be easier for you to find a way to keep this much-needed money.

The Problem with Transvaginal Mesh

Women of a certain age may notice that when they laugh or cough, a little pee comes out. It is not that bad yet, but as women grow older, it can get pretty bad. This is called stress urinary incontinence (SUI) which results from the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. Another medical condition that may result from this weakness is pelvic organ prolapse (POP) in which the bladder, uterus or rectum slips from its normal position and impinge on the vagina, sometimes bulging out. When SUI or POP is severe, women normally turn to surgery to treat the problem. Among the most popular treatment methods was the placement of transvaginal mesh—that is, before the vaginal mesh lawyers started being called in.

Surgical mesh, per se, has been used safely for years to repair hernias. As a treatment for POP, the use of a specially prepared mesh may have seemed like a good idea. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the use of transvaginal mesh without requiring manufacturers to conduct safety trials because it was substantially the same as a previously approved product i.e. surgical mesh. Unfortunately for some women, something got lost in the translation. The transvaginal mesh caused painful and costly complications that would leave these patients permanently damaged.

What went wrong? The first part of the problem was the site of the surgery. “Transvaginal” means the surgery was done through the vagina, and that part of a woman’s anatomy is never completely sterile; natural flora blooms there which is great for overall feminine health but problematic when it comes to surgery. The chances of infection are high.

Another problem with transvaginal mesh is that it shrinks and shifts because the vagina is constructed to expand when needed; the mesh can’t keep up. As a result, rough edges develop which tears into vaginal walls and nearby organs.

The tragic thing is that there are other, safer alternatives to POP and SUI treatment which these women may have chosen if they had the right information. The manufacturers could also have saved a ton of money in personal injury claims if they had taken the time to study the product design. With proper testing, the problems of transvaginal mesh use mentioned above could have been prevented by using a different design, or perhaps different material.

The shortcut from the drawing board to the surgical table has cost thousands of women a lot of pain and suffering, both in the physical and emotional sense, not to mention the financial consequences of additional treatment, surgery and hospitalization. It is just right that the victims should have the opportunity to make the manufacturers pay compensation with the help of transvaginal mesh lawyers.

How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

click hereDebt is an issue that millions of Americans have to deal with, and for some, overwhelming debts may be too much to handle. In these situations, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be a viable option for returning to financial normalcy. The following are steps you should take if you are considering pursuing this route:

  1. To begin with, it is necessary to see if you are qualified for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can do this by taking a “Means Test”, which determines if your family’s income is within the maximum limit.
  2. Get mandatory credit counseling, and complete the necessary forms, documents, and petitions. This will give information about your expenses, debts, property, and income. You must include all your debts and the names of your creditors, properties you choose to exempt, and what to do with your secured debts. If you get confused and overwhelmed, ask your bankruptcy attorneys to help you with all the necessary documents.
  3. File your petition in the bankruptcy court. They will then appoint a trustee who will review your documents to make sure they are correct, and see which properties are to be sold. After you have filed for bankruptcy, your creditors will then be prevented from harassing you. There will soon be a creditors meeting, but before you go to the meeting, you must provide your trustee a copy of your most recent tax returns as well as your paycheck stubs.
  4. Attend the meeting with your creditors; this is the time where you can discuss your property and financial affairs. After this, you must accomplish the post-filing of Personal Financial Management Instruction Course, which should be completed within 45 days of the creditors meeting. If you forget or neglect this post-filing, your case might get dismissed.
  5. After a minimum of 61 days after the meeting of creditors, you shall be informed of the final agreement that your debts have been discharged.

West Explosion Responder Arrested for Pipe Bomb

A paramedic who was among the first responders to last month’s West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion has been arrested for being in possession of a pipe bomb. So far, police are not disclosing whether his arrest is linked to the April 17 explosion, which killed 14 people, injured dozens more, and destroyed numerous homes in the small town north of Waco.

Bryce Reed was arrested after he admitted that explosive materials found on April 26 belonged to him. Police were alerted of these materials by an unsuspecting man who said Reed gave them to him.

While investigators were initially treating the explosion as an industrial accident, they opened their investigation up to include the possibility that it was a criminal act shortly after.

The investigation into Reed has turned up some rather unusual behavior from him, especially in the few weeks after the deadly explosion.

With the fear of domestic bombings gaining fuel in the United States, Reed will need an experienced attorney defending him from the severe charge possession of a destructive device he is facing.

The Importance of a Prenuptial Agreement in the Event of Divorce

People usually enter marriage after they have established their professional life to ensure financial stability, especially during the first months of marriage. Despite the decision the couple will make to willingly share all their individual assets and properties with each other after marriage, many still find it wiser to enter into a prenuptial agreement first. Though there is no real intent of contracting divorce in the future and that separation or divorce would be the last option if the marriage turns sour, a prenuptial agreement will prove totally helpful as it will protect the interest of both spouses. Aside from that, it will also help greatly in settling divorce-related issues, such as alimony, child custody, visitation rights and division of debts.

A prenuptial agreement is primarily intended to save both spouses from financial and personal losses that will render them economically unstable in case of separation, divorce or even death of one of the spouses. Thus, its drafting can be adapted according to you and your spouse’s unique situation and relationship.

Though a prenuptial agreement can never be a romantic topic to discuss with your future spouse, talking about its importance and in mature and perfectly candid ways is necessary. In fact, lawyers and financial experts consider such agreement as wise financial moves. In his book Premarital Agreements, lawyer and an author Joseph P. Zwack gives tips on who should consider entering into such agreement. According to him these people are those who:

  • have assets like a home, stock or retirement fund
  • have a business
  • may be receiving an inheritance
  • have children and/or grandchildren from a previous marriage
  • are much wealthier than their supposed-to-be spouse
  • have loved ones who need to be taken care of, such as elderly parents
  • have or are pursuing a degree or license in a potentially lucrative profession
  • see a substantial increase in income due to growth of business or more promising career

For those about to enter into marriage, a prenuptial agreement is no longer an odd thing, but to make sure that you have the right agreement drafted it is wise that you have knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorneys working on your behalf. Save yourself from costly legal battles in case of separation or divorce; hire a divorce attorney for a prenuptial agreement that will suit your interests.

 

Financial Considerations for Late-Life Divorces

When a marriage has lasted for many years, divorce can often be more difficult than it would be for a couple whose relationship has been shorter-lived. In these situations, a divorce is often a life-changing event, one which will dramatically impact nearly every aspect of the lives of both spouses. This is particularly true in regards to financial matters.

Married couples, particularly those who have been together for a long period of time, often share most or even all of their finances, and most of the property held by a married couple is held jointly, meaning that neither partner is fully in ownership of most of their belongings. Furthermore, debts, mortgages, and other financial issues are also commonly held by both partners. In these circumstances, a divorce settlement that is satisfactory for both spouses can be an incredibly complex thing to achieve.

In addition to these factors, couples whose marriages have endured for many years and who are later in life may not be in a secure financial position to support themselves independently. This is particularly true if one spouse has chosen to take time away from their career to raise children or support their partner’s career goals. In these circumstances, it is critical that some form of financial arrangement between the two parties be made in order to ensure that neither spouse suffers unnecessarily as a result of the divorce.

In light of these various financial issues arising from late-life divorces, it is important to take the time to consider all of the factors related to your finances when considering divorce in order to be fully prepared if these issues do eventually arise. The following is a brief list of some of the various issues that older couples who are pursuing a divorce should take into account when considering a divorce:

  • Ÿ  Division of property/assets/debts
  • Ÿ  Financial support arrangements
  • Ÿ  Costs of pursuing a court-settled divorce
  • Ÿ  Pension/retirement plan details
  • Ÿ  Tax exemptions
  • Ÿ  Social Security retirement benefit plans

These and other issues relating to late-in-life divorces should be discussed with an attorney or a mediator before any final decisions are made by a couple regarding how their divorce should be arranged. In many cases, an attorney can help both spouses to reach a more favorable outcome than they might have otherwise realized was available to them.