Category Archives: Blog

Divorce can create retitling challenge

Reposted Arizona Republic column.

Divorce can create retitling challenge

From time to time, I work with clients facing challenges from asset-titling issues in previous divorces. In a divorce, assets are usually divided between the spouses, resulting in retitling of assets into a spouse’s sole name and updating beneficiaries after the divorce. One problem arises when a divorce decree does not adequately describe the asset being awarded to a spouse and the former spouse later refuses to cooperate in retitling or selling that asset.

Recently, a vehicle, which at the time of the divorce was jointly titled, was awarded to one spouse. The divorce decree referred only to “1990 Toyota Four Runner” and made no mention of the year or vehicle identification number.

The spouse awarded title to the vehicle attempted to sell it. The former spouse refused to sign the title and the Motor Vehicle Division refused to transfer title because the vehicle was so vaguely described in the decree. To solve this problem, the spouse awarded the vehicle needs to file a motion with the court to amend the decree to specifically describe the vehicle by year and vehicle ID number so that the Motor Vehicle Division will place it in the spouse’s own name.

The repercussions of poorly drafted divorce decrees are felt in many areas, including estate planning.

The most common impact is on clients creating a living trust where the goal is to retitle assets, known as funding, into the name of the trust. Assets held in joint names of former spouses can’t be retitled.

I strongly suggest that the drafters of divorce decrees identify assets as specifically as possible in order for the asset to be sold or retitled without the cooperation of the former spouse.

From the Arizona Republic 03/21/2014, Page B05 – by Attorney Louis Silverman

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Social Media in the NCSC Newsletter

Connected, the newsletter of the National Center for State Courts, lastest issue has articles relating to Social Media in the court. Always a topic of interest, we have shared the articles below.


 

State Court PIO Attacked over Social Media Usage

The Denver Post reported on March 21, 2014 that defense attorneys for Aurora theatre shooter, James Holmes, filed a motion to compel with the court. The motion alleges that Rob McCallum, the public information officer for the Colorado judicial branch, violated or will violate the trial judge’s prior gag order in the case and “undermined Mr. Holmes’ right to a fair trial by an impartial jury” with the case related postings on his Twitter page. The 18-page motion is available online and includes numerous screen shots of the postings in question.

It also cites the gag order which precludes court personnel from disclosing information about the case that is not already public. Mr. McCallum allegedly violated this order by engaging in a series of “jovial tweets” with a prosecutor. Additionally, the motion states, Mr. McCallum “provides information and communicates his personal opinion about other high profile cases using his Twitter account.” He also allegedly has promoted law enforcement agencies via Twitter. This newspaper article and the motion graphically portray complex issues in the social media age about how to balance First Amendment rights with the defendant’s rights so their cases are decided by fair and impartial juries.

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Admissibility of Social Media Postings into Evidence

The Supreme Court of Delaware issued an opinion in Tiffany Parker v. State in February of 2014. Ms. Parker was convicted by a jury of “second degree assault.” She alleged on appeal that the trial court erred by admitting statements into evidence from her Facebook page. The defendant argued that Delaware should follow the Maryland approach. Under Maryland caselaw, social media evidence may only be authenticated through the “testimony of the creator, documentation of the internet history or hard drive of the purported creator’s computer, or information obtained directly from the social networking site.” The state argued that the court should follow the Texas approach to the admission of social media evidence. Under the Texas approach, the proponent of social media evidence must only prove to the trial judge that a “jury could reasonably find that the proffered evidence was authentic.”

The Supreme Court of Delaware adopted the approach in Texas used to authenticate and admit social media evidence. In doing so, they indicated that the mechanisms that were currently in place in the Delaware Rules of Evidence were sufficient to ensure that social media postings offered as evidence have not been falsified. This is an interesting case because it describes very clearly two very different approaches for resolving this issue.

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Judges’ Use of Social Media

John G. Browning, a Dallas, Texas attorney published an article in the current issue of the Miami Law Review titled, “Why Can’t We Be Friends? Judges’ Use of Social Media.” One of the introductory paragraphs describes the article:

This article examines both the positive aspects of judges participating in social media as well as the ethical pitfalls. It will look at not only individual instances of judges’ misconduct in their use of social media, but also the varying treatment seen in the ethics opinions and judicial rulings from around the country that have addressed the issue. These decisions reveal that attitudes toward judges being active on social media vary among the states that have dealt with this issue. These decisions, and the attitudes they reflect, shed light on how we view judges and their role in society. Are judges to be viewed as isolated from society? Are they to be viewed as philosopher-priests toiling away in our jurisprudential temples? Should they be regarded as fully connected to society and all of its foibles, with their work reflecting accessibility to the citizens they serve?

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Survey of 583 Actual Jurors on Social Media

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve (N.D. Ill), Judge Charles P. Burns of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois and Michael A. Zuckerman, Esq. published a law review article in the Duke Law and Technology Review titled, “More From the #Jury Box: The Latest on Juries and Social Media,” 12 Duke Law & Technology Review 64-91 (2014). The authors surveyed 583 actual jurors in both federal and state courts to explore their attitudes towards social media. The survey and the law review article are very unique. They give readers insights into this issue as well as providing support for the view that a well written jury instruction may be th e best counter measure to manage this problem.

 

Click here to view the original posting.

 

ssc – jm

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High Profile Cases in Maricopa County Superior Court

Like any trial court, our Court can have its share of notorious cases.  When a notorious or high profile case comes along, we provide more information about the case online.  We have a high profile case list which, when you put in the party’s name, will tell you the next hearing date and time along with the status of the case.  You can type in the last name Arias if you would like to see how the list works.  And, we also offer video clips of certain cases on our video news page.  If you decide you want to come see a high profile case in person, the Court cannot guarantee you will have a seat in the courtroom.  In addition, some hearings are not open to the public.  Be sure to check if the court hearing is public before you travel to visit us.  You can also follow our Court on Twitter for current information on high profile cases too.  Our Twitter handle is @courtpio.

jm

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