Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Assaulting common sense

The infamous JimK poses a question regarding child support, and who in the world should be responsible for paying it after DNA tests determine that a father, who has been shoveling-out dollar after dollar for Huggies and oatmeal puree, finds out that the child he's been looking after really isn't his. Specifically, JimK asks:
I've always been fascinated by what appears to me to be a complete logic disconnect in forcing a man who, after DNA and a court has determined that he is not the father, to pay child support on a child that is not his.What's the legal mojo behind such an assault on common sense?
This is a legal question, civil in nature, and in no way, shape, or form should my answer be used to justify court proceedings one way or another. However, I do have a few good words on how something like this could happen, and, I had no idea that this assignment could be so much fun, and not to mention one heck of a learning experience.

More often than not, the courts worry about the emotional effects of what will happen to the child during divorce proceedings. Even though paying for a child that isn't yours --- similar to paying for a car that you don't drive, and didn't buy --- is enough to send most men over the deep end, judges will look at the fact that a kid who wonders why his father left him might be damaged for life. But, legally speaking, there is no reason that you should have to pay for a child that isn't yours. I did a little bit of research, and located a Florida case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, titled Anderson v. Anderson (referencing: 845 So. 2d 870). In this case, a guy was with a girl, who found out that she was pregnant a little while into their relationship. A year and a half after the child is born, they file for divorce, and she hits him for child support. Before an evidentiary hearing, he recieves a phone call from one of her family members, who is claiming that the child is not his, and that she was in a relationship with another man shortly before she was with him. He flies out the door for DNA tests, and the DNA tests confirm beyond what most people would consider to be a reasonable doubt that the child is not his. He presents this fact to the court, and this is what they said:
After the dissolution of their marriage and without court order, the ex-husband subsequently submitted himself and his putative child for DNA testing. The results of the DNA test excluded the ex-husband as the biological father. The ex-husband argued in his motion that the ex-wife misrepresented that the child was his. The general master did not admit the DNA test into evidence. The general master concluded that the test was only relevant if the ex-husband could first establish that the mother committed fraud or misrepresentation. In his final report, the general master concluded that ex-husband failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he had been defrauded into believing that the minor child was his. Although the ex-husband filed his challenge within the one-year window provided by Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.540, the general master determined that the ex-husband failed to establish that the ex-wife defrauded him. The Supreme Court found that there was competent, substantial evidence in the record to support the conclusion made by the general master, adopted by the circuit court, and affirmed by the appellate court.
The court held that they cared as much about the fact that the child was not his as they did about the price of tea in China, and their rationale behind it was that they wanted proof that his ex had indeed tricked him into believing the child was his. So, in other words, he was ordered to pay for the child not because he was trying to get out of making monthly restitution, but because he was dumb enough [in the courts eyes] to believe that the child was his, and that during that period of time, he did indeed believe that it was. I'd recommend reading through the rest of the case for appelate history in the Circuit Courts.

In answer to JimK's question, it's not as much a matter of common sense, as it is a matter of procedure.


Back to the future

I got a lot of great requests for information concerning criminal justice --- and just plain myth debunking --- which I'm more than happy to provide answers for. In fact, most of the questions that were posed were somewhere along the lines of common sense inquiries which most people want to know about, but either forget to ask, or just feel embarrassed about.

A question that had me scratching my head was tossed my way by Drumwaster, who wanted to know the issues surrounding a name change.
When going through a name change where no fraud is intended (a woman claiming her pre-married name back again after the divorce from the husband whose name she took), is it a requirement that the courts record and acknowledge the switch (after paying court fees and all the trimmings)?
I know that when I'm looking through a RAP sheet, someone who has changed their last name, thus establishing an alias, sends a red flag my way. Now, this is a double-edged sword, because the name change could be due to the fact that the aforementioned person could be a victim of rape, stalking, or another violent crime, or she is going back to her maiden name, and dropping her middle name that she was given at birth, or adding another one. Either way, it creates a list of aliases that appear at the top of the sheet that we use for identification.

Luckily, Drumwaster is asking for the non-criminal version, which took a little bit of digging, but is more than worthy of an answer.

In the civil division of the Los Angeles Superior Court has specific directions for a case such as this, and believe it or not, it's not as difficult as it sounds.
Mandatory Judicial Council forms are required for changing your name. To change your name by the court petition method, contact your local Superior Court clerk for the proper forms or print them from the Los Angeles County Superior Court website at You will need the Petition for Change of Name, Decree Changing Name and Order to Show Cause for Change of Name.

It is not necessary to obtain a court decree to change your name. Generally, you just start using the new name, and change every place where it appears - driver's license, bank records, Social Security, etc. However, it is illegal to change your name to hide your identity in order to commit a fraud (such as concealing the fact that you're a registered sex offender).

Women are not required to obtain an order in a divorce decree to restore their maiden names, though it may assist in keeping vital statistics straight.

Women do not need to petition for a name change upon marriage. The marriage certificate is recorded and provides any and all documentation needed to provide a record at the state and county level of the basis for the change of name. This is true whether the wife decides to adopt her husband's name, use a hyphenated name, or just keep her maiden name.
Whenever anyone see's the word "forms," it makes them run faster than a chicken in Ethiopia, mostly because they know that government forms are longer than a Stephan King novel, and more confusing that last years IRS tax forms. I visited the Superior Court's civil website to look for the form, and it takes a bit of digging, as it's found on an external California Courts website. Now, for my readers outside of California, this information will be as useful as a snow plow in the desert, so I recommend using one of my name change forms, which is formatted for use in every state.

Chances are, regardless of whatever state your from, the process is going to be very similar. Despite the fact that I hate and despise bureaucracy and long forms as much as the next man, it is important to remember that with something as important as a name change, it's worth the time and effort. In Drumwasters case, we must make the assumption that all of the forms have been submitted to the court, and that all of the fees have been paid. As long as there is a seal on the document(s) at the time of filing, the process should be complete. While I highly recommend talking to a clerk in regard to validity, process plus county seal indicate the name change has been completed.

As far as there being court records, the only records that I can think of are the actual forms. When filing a DBA, you fill out the paperwork, pay a filing fee, and the clerk stamps a copy of the DBA paperwork, a process known as "sealing" it. Now, a lot of confusion comes into play when we refer to the process of sealing. People tend to think that sealing involves actual sealing of documents inside of a container, although sealing is just the process of stamping the county seal on the documents. If you think back to your college days, when you had to request a copy of your transcripts to be sent, they would ask for sealed copies. This is the exact same thing, only instead of the stamp of your college (or university), it's the stamp of the county you reside in. Once the DBA paperwork is filed and sealed, you then have to publish it. Publishing involves finding a newspaper or journal, such as the Daily Journal, who post legal notices. The process for a name change is virtually the same, minus the publishing.

You can access my name change forms here.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Checking around corners

MS-13 has branched-out to Virginia, making them one of the largest street gangs in the country. They recently decided to leave their first mark on the state.
Jurors weighing the fate of four gang members charged in the killing of Brenda Paz heard a vivid insiders' account of how the Mara Salvatrucha street gang works, plays and brutally enforces its rules.

During a stint on the witness stand that consumed about five hours, former gang member Stephanie L. Schwab described a gang life marked by parties fueled by drugs and beer during which gang members tattooed one another with homemade kits. Petty crimes such as car thefts and vandalism were the norm, she said, gang rapes were common, and members of rival gangs were subject to violent, random beatings.

Schwab was a critical witness in the trial of four members of Mara Salvatrucha -- also called MS-13 -- on trial in U.S. District Court on charges they plotted and carried out the killing of the 17-year-old Paz. Considered the largest and most violent street gang in the country, MS-13 is a growing presence across Virginia.

Charged are Denis Rivera, 21; Oscar Antonio Grande, 25; Ismael Juarez Cisneros, 26; and Oscar Alexander Garcia-Orellana, 31. Each has pleaded not guilty, and each could get the death penalty if convicted. Prosecutors charge that Paz, who died just four weeks after voluntarily leaving the federal witness protection, was killed because she was a "snitch."

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Deputy ICE's

I don't know how this flew under the radar.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security, Asa Hutchinson signed a memorandum of agreement (MOU) on behalf of the DHS with the Los Angeles County, CA Board of Supervisors. Under the agreement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) crafted a six-month pilot program utilizing ICE supervisors to train and certify selected personnel within Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD). Once trained, LASD personnel will be able to perform certain functions of a federal immigration officer within the secure setting of Los Angeles County jail facilities.

Under Secretary Hutchinson today presented the MOU to Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy D. Baca. Following a conversation with Sheriff Baca, Under Secretary Hutchinson issued the following statement:

"Today we announce our continued commitment to enhancing immigration enforcement in the state of California by providing a four-week training course to personnel of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. This training will accomplish two major goals. First, the public should be assured that our immigration laws are enforced by those with comprehensive training and secondly, that there will be more effective enforcement of our immigration laws, helping to improve integrity to our immigration system."

Moreover, Sheriff Baca said: “There are too many illegal immigrants arrested and convicted of crimes in Los Angeles County. These efforts should send a strong message that crime does not pay.”

For the 90th time today, I'd like to reiterate how much I love the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Friday, April 15, 2005


10,000 grabbed

It's been a busy week for the U.S. Marshals, county Sheriffs' Marshals, and local police agencies nationwide, as they pulled 10,000 wanted felons off the street during a week long round-up of bad guys.
The number of arrests during the weeklong effort last week was 10 times the average for such a period, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, which led the nationwide dragnet timed to coincide with National Victims Rights Week.

At the same time, however, those arrests represent just 1 percent of the 1 million fugitives in the FBI's national database, the Marshals Service says.

More than 150 of those nabbed April 4-10 were wanted for murder, 550 were sought on rape or sexual assault charges, and more than 600 had outstanding arrest warrants for armed robbery, federal officials said Thursday.

Among those captured were 150 gang members and 100 unregistered sex offenders, said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who held a news conference with U.S. Marshals Service Director Ben Reyna to announce the results of "Operation Falcon" - an acronym for Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


310,000 more stolen identities

Between LexisNexis, FindLaw, and WestLaw, I'm not sure if law school students and researchers alike would be able to get much of anything done these days. On the other hand, the aggregation of personal information that LexisNexis provides was bound to cause trouble one day.
Criminals may have breached computer files containing the personal information of 310,000 people, a tenfold increase over a previous estimate of how much data was stolen from information broker LexisNexis, the company's parent said Tuesday.

Last month, London-based publisher and data broker Reed Elsevier Group PLC said criminals may have accessed personal details of 32,000 people via a breach of its recently acquired Seisint unit, part of Dayton, Ohio-based LexisNexis. LexisNexis is a Reed subsidiary.

Reed said it identified 59 instances since January 2003 in which identifying information such as Social Security numbers or driver's license numbers may have been fraudulently acquired on thousands of people.

Information accessed included names, addresses, Social Security and driver license numbers, but not credit history, medical records or financial information, the company said.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Getting the boot

Remember the guy who was causing trouble at the Capitol? We're tossing him back to where he came from.
The man who was tackled and detained at the Capitol on Monday is an Australian citizen and will be expelled for violating the terms of his visa, a federal immigration official said.

The man, Wen Hao Zhao, is a native of China who entered the U.S. legally Friday through Los Angeles International Airport, according to Dean Boyd, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security's immigration bureau.

U.S. Capitol Police officers knocked him down, detained him and blew open his luggage Monday after he stationed himself on the west plaza of the building, a suitcase on either side of him, and refused to speak or move.

The luggage contained a CD player, police said later.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


King-Drew drops the ball

Someone is going to have to give me a really good reason why King-Drew Medical Center shouldn't have a padlock put on their front door tomorrow morning. Here's the latest incident, as reported in a secret memo that was leaked to the LA Times.
Another patient hooked up to a cardiac monitor died at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center recently after nurses failed to notice the patient's deteriorating vital signs, Los Angeles County health officials reported in a confidential memo late Monday.

The death last month is the sixth case in 21 months in which a critically ill patient at the county-owned hospital was virtually ignored while monitors designed to alert nurses to trouble went unheeded.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Tackled and dragged

I knew a lot of guys who went directly from the service in the US Capitol Police, who are a force to be reckoned with. It makes me wonder what kind of idiot would try to make any kind of point whatsoever by seeing if he can call their bluff.
Police on Monday tackled and dragged away a man with two suitcases who stationed himself in front of the west side of the Capitol and asked to see the president.

The man refused to say anything else to an officer who tried to talk with him, authorities said.

"He was not very responsive," said U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer. "The officer felt it was a possible suicide bomber."

The man was tackled by a SWAT team and charged with disobeying a police officer. A three-hour investigation of the suitcases, including blasting them with a water cannon, revealed nothing threatening, Gainer said.

He refused to identify the man involved other than to say he was 33 years old, from China and carrying no identification.

The midday incident — which occurred at the peak of the cherry blossoms in one of Washington's busiest tourist seasons — led police to evacuate the West Lawn and briefly bar tourists from the Capitol.

An officer first saw the man standing near a fountain with a suitcase on either side of him, staring silently at the building around 12:40 p.m., Gainer said.

"He only would say at first that he wanted to speak to the president," the chief said.

Four officers crept up one of the walled pathways behind him. The man briefly turned and saw them as they crouched behind a wall. After he turned back to the building, they came over the wall. Two tackled him and dragged him away. A medic tended to what Gainer said were superficial injuries the man suffered when he was knocked down.

"He said that if we wanted to know what was in the suitcase, we would have to open it ourselves," Gainer said.


The king of has-beens

Bridget Johnson has a funny take about the Michael Jackson trial in her latest op/ed.
Also, I take umbrage at stories that refer to Jackson as the "King of Pop." He is the king of pop has-beens. The fans who wail and hail at his feet are not normal music fans, but people with issues who are enveloped by a toxic cult of personality.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Factual errors and misrepresentations

The LA Times has received the short end of the stick in virtually every situation in the past few years, and now GM has decided to pull their advertising due to some content of the newspaper.
General Motors Corp. says it will stop advertising in the Los Angeles Times, at least temporarily, because of dealer concerns over "factual errors and misrepresentations" in the newspaper's articles and editorials.

The newspaper, which is owned by Tribune Co., will review coverage that prompted the complaints from the world's largest automaker, said Times spokesman David Garcia.


Tackling corruption in Mexico

Mexico has had problems with corruption since the beginning of time, and this doesn't help their case one bit.
President Vicente Fox on Friday defended a widely unpopular vote to lodge criminal charges against leftist Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, describing it as an "example of legality," while the mayor insisted the action had strengthened his position.

Thursday's party-line vote by the lower House of Congress could knock the popular mayor out of contention for the 2006 presidential race, and threatened to shake many Mexicans' faith in their nascent democracy.

Friday, April 08, 2005


More hits against Jacko

The Michael Jackson trial has more twists, turns, and gruesome stories than any movie I've seen in recent times --- including Sin City. It doesn't matter if you saw, heard, read, or simply received a third-person account of the testimony, it'll make your stomach turn.
In questioning by District Attorney Tom Sneddon, Chacon told of looking through a window one night at Jackson's pool house in late 1992 or early 1993 and seeing him perform oral sex on a 10-year-old boy.

Chacon said he saw Jackson engage in activities he described as "passionate" after the singer and the boy took a dip in an outdoor Jacuzzi and showered. He said he saw Jackson kiss the boy's head and shoulders and later moved his hands "down to his private area." He also said there was another incident in which Jackson took the boy away in a golf cart and kissed him in front of a Peter Pan display.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


The plight of the TSA

It looks like the Transportation Safety Administration might be dismantled pretty soon, or under a best case scenario, become a management organization.
Under provisions of President Bush's 2006 budget proposal favored by Congress, the TSA will lose its signature programs in the reorganization of Homeland Security. The agency will probably become just a manager of airport security screeners -- a responsibility that itself could diminish as private screening companies increasingly seek a comeback at U.S. airports. The agency's very existence, in fact, remains an open question, given that the legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security contains a clause permitting the elimination of the TSA as a "distinct entity" after November 2004.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Patrolling the border, part 3

Well, you can't say that these aren't a bunch of persistent adventurers. Since the Minutemen have the border locked-down better than the government ever could, the illegal immigrants have decided to test their luck and try crossing elsewhere.
The number of Mexican migrants trying to sneak into the United States through southeast Arizona has dropped by half since hundreds of U.S. civilians began guarding the area earlier this week, say Mexican officials assigned to protect their citizens.

But that doesn't mean the migrants have given up. Most remain determined to cross and say they will simply avoid the 23-mile (37-kilometer) stretch of desert between Agua Prieta and Naco, where volunteers from the "Minuteman Project" are guarding the U.S. side of the border.


Patrolling the borders, part 2

The Los Angeles Times has a great article about the Minuteman Project, the volunteer organization created to dilute illegal immigration from Mexico.
Jim Gilchrist bounced into the Trading Post diner here Monday, ordered coffee and toast and began smoking vigorously.

His cellphone occasionally rang, his two-way radio squawked and a coterie of followers hung on his every word.

Things were going better than he could imagine. The founder of the Minuteman Project, designed to put volunteers on the southeastern Arizona border to deter illegal immigrants, had attracted more than 200 journalists from around the world.Mexico responded with more troops and extra police at the border to deter migrants. The U.S. Border Patrol boosted its ranks by 500 agents and Gilchrist had become a minor, if international, celebrity.

"None of this would have happened if it wasn't for the Minuteman action," he said. "This thing was a dog and pony show designed to bring in the media and get the message out and it worked."

Monday, April 04, 2005



With all of the controversy surrounding officer involved shootings, it's no surprise that various law enforcement organizations are doing their best to activate new weaponry that allows for quick and easy takedowns, combined with a non-lethal approach.
A police chief association is recommending that law enforcement departments using electronic stun guns, or those considering buying them, develop specific protocol for their use and track each time the weapon is deployed.

In the report, released late Sunday, the International Association of Chiefs of Police urged police agencies to place stun guns on a use-of-force chart - helping officers to decide better which tool
to grab in a given situation.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Patrolling the borders

The Minuteman Project is underway, and they're already achieving results. John and Ken have a reporter that is currently embedded with them, so we should hear from him tomorrow.
Participants in the Minuteman Project spotted the migrants Saturday near Naco as the volunteers were surveying the border to familiarize themselves with area. When agents arrived, they apprehended 18 people, Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame said.

"You observe them, report them and get out of the way," said Mike McGarry, a spokesman for the project, which begins Monday and is to continue for a month.

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