February 2019 Archives

Student loan forgiveness: Great in theory, murky in practice--ABA Journal

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BY JASON TASHEA

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To afford law school, Kyle Ingram borrowed $120,000. Saddled with this significant loan balance at age 27, he sought debt forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Established in 2007, the PSLF Program allows people with federally backed loans to work for a qualifying government or nonprofit public service organization while making payments under one of four federal qualified repayment programs for 120 months.

As such, Ingram says he passed up more lucrative opportunities to qualify for the program. Since graduating from the University of Oregon in 2012, Ingram, who's based in Washington, D.C., has worked as an attorney for various federal agencies and currently makes an annual salary of $84,000.

Last year, Ingram watched the first cohorts of PSLF applicants file for debt forgiveness. The results were unsettling. In September, the U.S. Department of Education, which administers the program, approved less than 1 percent of applicants. Ninety-nine percent, the department reported, either did not meet the program's requirements or had incomplete applications.


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By Susan DeSantis 

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BY NICOLE BLACK

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The good news is that just as times have changed since fax machines became commonplace in the 1980s, so, too, has the technology behind the transmission of faxes. With the rise of the internet and email, all aspects of communication have been affected, including faxes. The end result is that lawyers who find it necessary to fax documents in 2019 have much more affordable and flexible options than they did in 1995

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By Dan M. Clark

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Phone calls of defendants held in state prison before their trial may be recorded and sent to prosecutors to use against them in court without a warrant, the Court of Appeals said in a decision Thursday.

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Conversations between defendants and their attorneys are not allowed to be recorded, for example. But phone calls between defendants and others are usually free game to be monitored, recorded and used by prosecutors if they help their case. 

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NYS new rule only for Domestic Relations

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PLEASE NOTE:
The below rule change applies only to Domestic Relations Matters




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The NY ABLE (New York Achieving a Better Life Experience) program is a savings plan administered by the Office of the New York State Comptroller and is designed to help individuals with disabilities maintain their health, independence and quality of life without risking their Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and certain other means-based benefits. If you know someone who is living with a disability or is caring for a loved one with a disability, please encourage them to visit the NY ABLE website or call 1-855-5NY-ABLE to learn more about opening an account.



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City Planning Creates Online Platform for Zoning Resolution - CityLand CityLand

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By: May Vutrapongvatana

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The City's zoning laws are now instantly accessible to New Yorkers. On February 6, 2019, Department of City Planning Director Marisa Lago announced the release of the City's digital Zoning Resolution online platform. The online platform will serve as a green replacement for the 1,570-page physical copy of the Resolution, which will no longer be printed to save money, increase government transparency, and fight climate change. It will also be a more interactive replacement for the static PDFs currently on the City Planning website. The platform will make the City's Zoning Resolution more accessible for New Yorkers.

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Decluttering Your Law Office: Getting Started-Lawyer Meltdown

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If you're sick of the clutter in your office, or just want to make some more space to focus on what is really important, I challenge you to go on this journey with me and start de-cluttering your law office.

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Cody Wofsy, Staff Attorney, ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project
& Caitlin Borgmann, Executive Director, ACLU of Montana

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This detention violated Ana and Mimi's constitutional rights. The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit on their behalf. Speaking Spanish is not against the law. In fact, there is no official language in the United States -- Americans speak hundreds of different languages. Over 40 million U.S. citizens speak Spanish at home with their families, and tens of millions more speak Spanish as a secondary language. And Montana, like the rest of the country, is increasingly diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and language.

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A federal judge banished a female prosecutor from his Houston courtroom last month, sparking a rare standoff between the new U.S. Attorney and a jurist with a history of sniping at lawyers, government officials and litigants.

U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes, a 77-year-old appointed by President Ronald Reagan, has been criticized in the past for making comments perceived as racist or sexist in court.

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The recent controversy involved Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Ansari, the same prosecutor involved in a 2017 court session in which Hughes made remarks characterized by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as "demeaning, inappropriate and beneath the dignity of a federal judge."

"It was a lot simpler when you guys wore dark suits, white shirts and navy ties... We didn't let girls do it in the old days," he said during the court session. The judge later told the Houston Chronicle he was speaking to a group of FBI agents, at least one of whom was a woman, and not the prosecutor. He said the comments were in reference to the exclusion of women historically and were not derogatory.

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by Tom McNamara

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The Google Chrome web browser has become so common around the world that you may not give a second thought to just using that and not thinking much about your alternatives. And to be fair, Google works hard to maintain its edge. But the stalwart Mozilla Firefox (download for iOS or Androidhas greatly improved since its Quantum overhaul began in 2017, and its maker continues to push envelopes of its own.

Is it time to reconsider Chrome as your default web browser? Let's put them both through the gauntlet and find out who comes through in one piece.


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Tim Cushing

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A few years after law enforcement officials claimed Google's Waze navigation app allowed cop killers to stalk cops, the NYPD is demanding Google alter one of its apps (Google Maps, which incorporates certain Waze features) so it works more like the NYPD wants it to work, rather than how drivers want it to work. Gersh Kuntzman of Streetsblog NYC was the first to obtain a copy of a cease-and-desist sent to Google by the NYPD.

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The other odd thing to note is that the NYPD seems to want its letter to Google memory-holed. Streetsblog was the first to obtain the letter, but its copy has already been removed from Scribd. CBS News also posted a copy of the letter, but that link now returns a 404 error. No updates have been published at either site explaining the disappearance of the letter, and neither site has expressed any doubt as to the letter's legitimacy. What's posted below is built from screenshots of Streetsblog's embed, which is (so far) still generating an image of the PDF Scribd no longer hosts. It seems odd the NYPD would want this letter scrubbed from the internet, but it seems completely unlikely StreetsBlog and CBS both decided to delete this document on their own.

DOCUMENT
PAGES
Zoom




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Prisons Are Building Databases of Inmates' Voice Prints--The Intercept

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In New York and other states across the country, authorities are acquiring technology to extract and digitize the voices of incarcerated people into unique biometric signatures, known as voice prints. Prison authorities have quietly enrolled hundreds of thousands of incarcerated people's voice prints into large-scale biometric databases. Computer algorithms then draw on these databases to identify the voices taking part in a call and to search for other calls in which the voices of interest are detected. Some programs, like New York's, even analyze the voices of call recipients outside prisons to track which outsiders speak to multiple prisoners regularly.

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Volunteers Convicted for Leaving Water Out for Migrants - In These Times

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"I didn't understand that humanitarian aid was criminal," said Zaachila Orozco.

BY TODD MILLER

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On Aug. 13, 2017, in the Growler Valley, West stopped Huse and fellow volunteers Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb and Zaachila Orozco as they were leaving food and water for migrants during one of the deadliest summers on record. By year's end, the remains of 32 people would be found on the refuge.

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iPhone tip: I'm on my way - iPhone J.D.

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Jeff Richardson,

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In an ideal world, you will always get exactly where you are supposed to be at the time that you are expected to be there.  In real life, delays happen.  Perhaps you got tied up at the office, in court, in a deposition that went longer than you expected, etc.  So sometimes you need to let someone know that you are running late but you are on the way there.  You can always send someone an email or a text that says exactly that, but the iPhone gives you some other options that might be even more useful for you.

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Robert Ambrogi

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I just spent five days at two conferences dedicated to the 10 percent in law who make up big firms and big corporations, wondering how legal tech and innovation became the domain of the legal elite, and how true change will come about in law without more voices at the table.

The first four days of my week were at Legalweek, the conference formerly known as Legaltech and still primarily focused on technology. On Friday, I detoured to Inspire.Legal, a new "unconference" devoted to "inspiring creative new solutions" to "the most pressing problems facing our industry."

They were very different events. Legalweek is a venerable trade show, started in 1982, where buyers of legal technology go to shop for products and attend educational sessions. Inspire.Legal is a brand-new, fresh, and creative attempt to explore the problems that face the legal industry and begin to craft solutions.

But in addition to their same-week timing and New York City venue, the two shared one defining characteristic: They were predominately by, for, and about the roughly 10 percent of the legal industry dominated by the world's largest law firms and corporations.

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New Medicare App Tells Users What's Covered--AARP

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by Dena Bunis, AARP

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If you're not sure whether Original Medicare will pay for a particular test or medical service your doctor says you need, the answer could be as close as a new app on your phone or other mobile device. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) unveiled the new tool called "What's Covered" on Monday.

It is available in GooglePlay and the AppleApp Store. You can look for a particular service or test by typing a description into the search bar, and the app allows you to browse all services via an alphabetized list of everything from acupuncture to yearly wellness visits. It also provides a list of preventative services that Medicare pays for, and a help feature lets you call the Medicare hotline (800-Medicare; 800-633-4227) or takes you to the full Medicare.gov website.

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Plaintiffs who claim Pacer fees are illegally excessive are getting lots of support in amicus briefs filed in their pending federal appeal.

Among the amici are seven retired federal judges who argue that Pacer should be free, report the New Republicand Law.com. The judges include former Circuit Judge Richard Posner of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The judges' brief argues that docket-access fees reduce judicial transparency and the legitimacy of the courts. Other retired federal judges filing the brief include Shira Scheindlin, W. Royal Furgeson and Nancy Gertner.

Other amici supporting the plaintiffs include former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, the original sponsor of the law at issue in the suit; several legal research platforms; media organizations; the American Civil Liberties Union; and the Cato Institute.

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Pacer cost slightly more than $3 million to operate in 2016, but it brought in more than $146 million in fees, according to the New Republic article.

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Ding-dong, your doorbell is looking a bit creepy.

Ring video doorbells, Nest Hello and other connected security cameras are the fastest-growing home improvement gadgets since garage-door openers. These cameras, often built into buzzers, alert your phone when someone is at your door and save footage online. Mine has helped me get deliveries and catch porch pirates stealing packages. Earlier this month, one caught a man licking a family's doorbell for three hours.

What's not to love? Invading people's privacy -- and Big Brother at our doorstep. It's up to us to set the rules to avoid Big Doorbell.

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When Going to Jail Means Giving Up Your Methadone | The Marshall Project

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By BETH SCHWARTZAPFEL

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Most jails and prisons around the country forbid methadone and a newer addiction medication, buprenorphine, even when legitimately prescribed, on the grounds that they pose safety and security concerns. The drugs are frequently smuggled into facilities and sold or traded among prisoners.

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