January 2012 Archives

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation-IRS

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If you owe a debt to someone else and they cancel or forgive that debt, the canceled amount may be taxable.

The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.

This provision applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). The exclusion does not apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home's value or the taxpayer's financial condition.

More information, including detailed examples can be found in Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments. Also see IRS news release IR-2008-17.

Click here for the most commonly asked questions and answers about The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and debt cancellation:

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For those interested in redistricting information, here is a link to the NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment.  You will be able to see the proposed lines for all the NYS Assembly and Senators.  The Congressional lines have not been released as of yet.

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Woman Wins Divorce After Trial in No-Fault Dispute--NYLJ

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Ruling after what was apparently the first trial of a contested no-fault divorce in New York, a Long Island judge has ended a 56-year marriage that he determined was "irretrievably broken.  

Although the state's 2010 no-fault divorce law was intended to reduce lengthy litigation, Acting Supreme Court Justice James F. Quinn in Suffolk County (See Profile)held in Sorrentino v. Sorrentino, 13315/11, that Gloria Sorrentino was not entitled to a divorce from Sebastian J. Sorrentino on her word alone.

Read entire NYLJ article by Joel Stashenko here.

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Genius launches world's first battery-free wireless mouse

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Genius has launched something slightly unconventional - a battery-less mouse. No, it doesn't use some kind of wireless power transfer to charge the mouse, but it does have a capacitor in place of a battery. Capacitors can hold some charge and Genius has one, that can stay charged through a day of use.

It should be selling in the U.S soon at a price of $39.99 

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Blacks Face Bias in Bankruptcy, Study Suggests - NYTimes.com

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Read entire article here.

Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to wind up in the more onerous and costly form of consumer bankruptcy as they try to dig out from their debts, a new study has found.


The disparity persisted even when the researchers adjusted for income, homeownership, assets and education. The evidence suggested that lawyers were disproportionately steering blacks into a process that was not as good for them financially, in part because of biases, whether conscious or unconscious.

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e-News for Tax Professionals

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Image by 401K via Flickr

 E-file Launches; Most Taxpayers Can File Immediately

The Internal Revenue Service opened the 2012 electronic tax return filing seasonwith a reminder to taxpayers that e-file remains the best way to get fast refunds and ensure accurate tax returns.

Get Ready for the Filing Season with this IRS Webinar

The Jan. 25 IRS Live broadcast, Getting Ready for Filing Season 2012 - Individuals and Businesses, will cover issues affecting the filing of 2011 individual and business tax returns including tax law updates, changes to forms, expiring credits and implementation of new tax legislation.

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App Store - New York State Bar Association Mobile Ethics App for NY Attorneys

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Searchable database of ethics opinions from the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics. Available for search by keyword, category or opinion number. Search more than 850 opinions on topics including various conflicts of interest, attorney advertising, standards for social media and social networking and more. Opinions are keyed to the New York Rules of Model Conduct and are available for sharing via social networks or email. Ethics opinions are available to all and are of particular interest to attorneys in New York State.

iPhone Screenshots

Read Prof. Salkin's complete article here:

Fed. Dist. Court in NY Overturns Planning Board's Denial of Cellular Tower Finding Board's Reasons for Denial Meritless.

Cellco Partnership v. Town of Colonie, 2011 WL 5975028 (U.S.D.C, N.D.N.Y. 11/28/2011)

 To disguise the cellular tower, the equipment was entirely enclosed by constructing a sixty foot bell-tower, resulting in a permanent physical improvement to the church.  Thus, the cellular tower would be camouflaged-wholly invisible to the public-and the tower would permanently enhance the church, even if the cellular operation ceased.

The opinion can be accessed at:http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nyndce/1:2010cv00581/80878/27/0.pdf?1322573313

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Is Too Much Plus a Minus for Google? « StevenLevy.com

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Google's Server Error page

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On Tuesday, Google announced something called Search, plus Your World (SPYW). It marked a startling transformation of the company's flagship product, Google Search, into an amplifier of social content. Google's critics--as well as some folks generally well intentioned towards Google--have complained that the social content it amplifies is primarily Google's own product, Google+.

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Jim Calloway is the director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program. He served as chair of the ABA TECHSHOW 2005. Calloway publishes the weblog, Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips, and was coauthor of the book Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour.


  • Google has features that are helpful for small firm lawyers.
  • You can use some of its existing features in creative ways to assist you in your legal research, for free.
As we all know by now, Google is more than just a website or a search engine. It is truly an information giant with the rather immodest goal of cataloging and making accessible all of the information in the world. Many lawyers use several of the numerous Google services every day. Some lawyers run their entire law firms using Google Apps for Business, which for a reasonable fee provides 24-hour support and increased email security. When I am working on a joint paper with out-of-state colleagues, we almost always use Google Docs so all of us can access the same document, knowing that it is the latest version. (It is a bit strange at first to see someone else live editing the same document at the same time you are writing or editing.)

So this month, we'll look at some Google tips that are useful for lawyers.

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Jack Newton of Clio Talks About Cloud Outages

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I think there are three classes of outages you have to be worried about: 

1. Local internet interruption: your local ISP is having downtime, and 
you're unable to access your cloud data (or anything on the internet, for 
that matter) 

To mitigate the impact of this kind of outage, I recommend installing a 
secondary internet connection (provided by a different provider than your 
primary internet connection, of course) in your office. There are even 
routers that will automatically fail over to your secondary provider if 
your primary provider fails. 

This is a cheap $50-100/month insurance policy that virtually guarantees an 
internet outage won't impact you. 

I also recommend activating tethering on your iPhone, BB or Android device 
- this is another cheap way to make sure you have backup internet access, 
and the access it affords while you're on the road is something you'll 
never be able to give up once you get used to having it. 

2. Temporary provider outage: your cloud provider is having a temporary 
outage, and you're unable to access data from that specific cloud provider. 

You can do a few things to prevent this from happening in the first place, 
and a few things you can do to mitigate any impact such an outage might 

First, when you're selecting a cloud provider as for their last 6-12 months 
of historical uptime, as provided by an independent third-party monitoring 
service such as Pingdom. As with most things in life, the best predictor of 
future performance is past performance. Look for uptime of at least 99.9%, 
which equates to downtime of about 40 minutes per month. In my opinion 
scheduled downtime should be included in the downtime calculation as well 
(some providers exclude this from their downtime calculation). As an end 
user you don't care if downtime is scheduled or not. 

To mitigate the impact of a provider outage, do your best to have key data 
with the provider synchronized either locally or to an alternate cloud 
provider. Dropbox, for example, has a "built-in" backup thanks to the fact 
that your files are all stored both locally and in the cloud. Taking Clio 
as another example, you can synchronize key data like your calendar and 
tasks to either Microsoft Outlook or Google, which you could access in the 
event Clio is inaccessible. 

3. Permanent cloud provider outage: your cloud provider has gone bankrupt 
or has otherwise suffered from a significant business continuity issue; 
other causes could be the cloud provider has been acquired by a larger 
company who later shuts down the service (e.g. Etherpad, Aardvark - both 
acquired and later shut down by Google). 

This can be avoided to some degree by undertaking an appropriate amount of 
due diligence before selecting a cloud provider, but realistically there 
are factors at work way beyond your (and the cloud provider's) control that 
could potentially result in a cloud provider being shut down. If you're 
worried about worst-case scenarios, this is a eventuality you should 

Like in scenario 2, you can mitigate the impact of such a shutdown by both 
synchronizing and backing up key data from the cloud provider. Make sure 
your cloud provider offers you the ability to export all of your key data 
in an open, non-proprietary format such as CSV or XML. If you have to move 
away from that provider for any reason, you can use data in this format to 
migrate to another provider. 

There's also the option of "Data Escrow." This is something we developed in 
Clio's early days to address this concern - with Data Escrow we 
automatically replicate your Clio data to a completely independent 
third-party data provider. We're still proud of this innovation and a 
decent number of our users use the feature as an extra "safety net" for 
their data. You can read more about it here: 

Hope that helps! 

Best regards, 

Jack Newton 
CEO and Founder 
Clio - Practice Management Simplified 
1-888-858-2546 x5 | j...@goclio.com 
www.goclio.com | blog <http://www.goclio.com/blog> | 
 | facebook <http://www.facebook.com/goclio

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Spectacles That Change Prescriptions on the Fly - NYTimes.com

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LAS VEGAS -- At the International Consumer Electronics Show you find electronics in everything, even the glass of spectacles. A company called Pixel Optics is demonstrating eyeglasses in which an electronic current is passed through liquid crystals to change the prescription on the fly.

EmPower's Pixel Optics glasses change magnification when an electrical current runs through it. They rest in its charging station.Pixel Optics's EmPower glasses change magnification when an electrical current runs through them. They rest in its charging station.

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NYND Magistrate Judge Opening

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Attention all Members of the Northern District Bar:

This email is sent as a reminder that the Court is soliciting applications for the Appointment of a United States Magistrate Judge in Albany, New York.

The application deadline is Tuesday, January 31st, 2012.

Applications and additional information on the appointment opportunity are available on the Court's website:


Thank you,

Lawrence K. Baerman, Clerk
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Apple - iWork - iWork.com - Share your iWork projects online.

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Because iWork.com is web based, the projects you publish to it can be viewed by anyone using a modern browser. You don't need to know whether your colleagues use a Mac or a PC. Publish your work and invite others to view it without ever leaving Pages, Numbers, or Keynote. Just choose "Share via iWork.com," and your document, spreadsheet, or presentation is uploaded instantly. iWork.com sends a unique URL to each viewer you invite.

Sharing your Pages document, Numbers spreadsheet, or Keynote presentation on iWork.com truly means sharing. During the publishing process, iWork for Mac uploads not only a web version, but also versions in iWork, Microsoft Office, and PDF formats. And iWork for iPad can upload iWork, PDF, and Microsoft Word documents. If you enable downloading, your viewers can download and print the format appropriate for them.
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Search Drug
See drug side effects reported to the FDA by people like you.

DrugCite is a useful database of information about the prescription and over-the-counter medication, allowing you to look up the possible side effects of specific drugs and see statistics about their reported problems.

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Airport Monitor Lite App

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If you're up in the air quite a bit, this helpful tool will be one that might make 2012 a bit more interesting. This free version of Airport Monitor allows users view arrivals and departures from dozens of airports in the US. Visitors can monitor up to seven arrival and departure airports at one time, and the application can be customized by airline, gate, and flight number. This version is compatible with iPhones running iOS 4.2 and newer.


From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2012. http://scout.wisc.edu/

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Budget-minded lawyers who think they can hire law students for their free access to Lexis and Westlaw should think again, according to a Utah ethics opinion.

A lawyer who uses law students to access free online research violates ethical rules, according to the Nov. 15 opinion by the Utah State Bar Ethics Opinion Advisory Committee. The Legal Skills Prof Blog has the story.

Read entire blurb.


As is often the case with these ABA reports, the comments from other lawyers are more interesting than the report.

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Adobe EchoSign eSignature App Now Ready for iOS Devices « Acrobat Blog

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Adobe announces the immediate availability of the free Adobe EchoSign application for iOS devices.  Now, you can get access to your EchoSign accounts and sign documents directly from your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. The Adobe EchoSign application is available for free download on the iTunes App Store.

Here are some of the things you can do with the new Adobe EchoSign application:

  • Send a document for legally-binding eSignature and get documents signed in minutes rather than days.
  • Get documents signed instantly on your iPad or iPhone when meeting a signer in person.
  • Send documents from an EchoSign library, photo album, email attachment or from other applications.
  • Track the status of agreements with real-time status updates.
  • View signed agreements stored in your EchoSign account.
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App Store - Air Dictate

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Like Speech Recognition on your iPhone 4S? You'll like it even more on your Mac!
With Air Dictate, you can enter text on your Mac by talking into your iPhone 4S. It's that simple.

IMPORTANT: Requires an iPhone 4S and a Mac

• On your Mac, go to avatron.com/i to download and install the free Air Dictate Receiver app.

On Mac:
• Launch any app that allows text input. For example: TextEdit, Mail, Pages, Microsoft Word.

On iPhone 4S:
• Launch the Air Dictate app.
• Choose your Mac from a list of nearby computers.
• Press the microphone button, speak for a while, and press the button again to stop.

Your speech will be converted into text, and will automatically appear in the text field on your Mac, just as if you had typed it on your Mac keyboard.


• Air Dictate runs only on an iPhone 4S.
• Air Dictate Receiver runs on a Mac with Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later.
• You may see scrambled letters when using Air Dictate if a keyboard macro utility is active. If you see this, please try turning off TextExpander, Typinator, TypeIt4Me, AutoPilot, QuicKeys, etc. while using Air Dictate. We're working on a fix.
• If you have enabled certain combinations of international keyboards, you may not hear a beep when you press the microphone button. If you run into this, please visit avatron.com/support for a simple workaround. We're working on a real fix for this.

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Internet-Only Manuals (IOMs)

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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Me...

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The Internet-only Manuals (IOMs) are a replica of the Agency's official record copy. They are CMS' program issuances, day-to-day operating instructions, policies, and procedures that are based on statutes, regulations, guidelines, models, and directives. The CMS program components, providers, contractors, Medicare Advantage organizations and state survey agencies use the IOMs to administer CMS programs. They are also a good source of Medicare and Medicaid information for the general public.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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