Thursday, October 26, 2006

Help for Pro Se Filers

Beginning November 1, self-represented litigants in Probate and Family courts in Hampden and Suffolk counties can get some valuable assistance. Under a pilot program announced by the Supreme Judicial Court, attorneys can "assist a pro se litigant on a limited basis without undertaking a full representation of the client on all issues related to the legal matter for which the attorney is engaged." For example, "A qualified attorney may limit the scope of his or her representation of a client if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent." Also, an attorney may make a "limited appearance on behalf of an otherwise unrepresented party." The pilot project is scheduled to last for eighteen months. More information both about and for self-represented litigants is available at Law About Self-Represented Litigants.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Same-Sex Unions in New Jersey

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled today in Lewis and Winslow v. Harris that the equal protection guarantee in the New Jersey constitution requires same-sex couples be granted the same rights and privileges of opposite sex couples. The case syllabus says, in part, "Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process."

Changes to Daylight Saving Time

This weekend, we change our clocks back as we hit the unofficial start of winter. Next year, though, daylight saving time will last a little longer. Last year, as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, P.L. 109-58, s.110, Congress changed daylight saving time beginning in 2007. Next year, the start of daylight saving time will move from the first Sunday of April to the second Sunday of March, and the end of daylight saving time from the last Sunday of October to the first Sunday of November. For more information about daylight saving time, see When Does Daylight Time Begin and End?, and Wikipedia's Daylight Saving Time, and for more about time and its computation, see our new page Law About Time.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ticket Scalping

In a lengthy article yesterday called Scalping Law? What Scalping Law?, the Boston Globe explored the lack of enforcement of the state ticket scalping law. If you are interested in this issue, at Mass. Law About Ticket Scalping, we include links to the scalping law itself, several cases about its enforcement, and many more articles that consider the issue from different points of view.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Insurance Coverage for Prosthetic Limbs

Gov. Romney signed the “Prosthetic Parity Law,” St. 2006 c.292 last month, which will require insurance companies to cover the reasonable cost of prosthetic arms and legs, and prohibit them from setting annual limits on costs for prosthetics. More information is available from the Worcester Telegram.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Emancipation

We get a lot of questions about the emancipation of minors in Massachusetts. Typically, the questions come from either children chafing at their parents’ rules or from parents who want to stop paying child support. For the former, the best web source we’ve seen is Emancipation and the Legal Rights of Minors in Massachusetts from the Children's Law Center. It includes detailed information on emancipation and its alternatives, as well as the legal rights of minors to enter contracts, work in various occupations and more.

For parents, a helpful source is What Constitutes Emancipation to Release a Parent From a Child Support Obligation from the Separated Parenting Access and Resource Center. Not specific to Massachusetts, this is a great introduction to the issues affecting emancipation throughout the country, including the age of majority, marriage, entering the armed forces, having a child, abandoning the parent's home, and more. Keep in mind that Massachusetts may have different standards than the national norm in some of these areas.

We have much more information on child support and emancipation on our website. See Mass. Law About Emancipation, and Mass. Law About Child Support.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rhode Island Couples May Marry In Massachusetts

Last week, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas E. Connolly ruled that same-sex marriage was not prohibited by Rhode Island law, and therefore Rhode Island same-sex couples are not barred by a 1913 law from marrying in Massachusetts. The case of Cote-Whitacre v. Dept. of Public Health (Suffolk Superior Ct. 04-2656) was before the court on order of the SJC. The decision does not mean that couples may get married in Rhode Island, but just that they may travel to Massachusetts to marry. Obviously, there are many issues for couples to consider, and GLAD has already produced a helpful booklet for Rhode Island couples. Marrying in Massachusetts: A Guide for Rhode Island Same-Sex Couples is a 32-page booklet with sections on making the decision to marry, how to get married in Massachusetts, respect for the marriage, and planning for life after marrying. More information is available at Mass. Law About Same-Sex Marriage.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Supreme Court Oral Argument Transcripts

The US Supreme Court will soon begin offering same-day access to oral argument transcripts. "Beginning with the October 2006 Term, the Court will make the transcripts of oral arguments available free to the public on... the same day an argument is heard by the Court." For access to these and other Federal law sources, see Federal Primary Law.