Category: Law

Internet Sales Tax Bill Faces Opposition

The Marketplace Fairness Act that will allow states to collect sales taxes for online purchases is facing opposition from a select group of senators whose states don’t tax sales.

Current laws allow states to charge sales tax on online purchases only if the vendor has a physical presence within the state’s borders. This results in a huge amount of internet sales going completely untaxed. A result of this is that it is difficult for brick and mortar stores to compete with online vendors, since most consumers would rather wait a few days for their purchase to arrive than pay the sales tax. The inability for states to charge their sales taxes on the internet cuts into their revenue significantly. In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that states missed out on $23 billion, from $226 billion of online sales that would have been otherwise taxable. That’s $23 billion that could have gone back to the public to improve infrastructure or education, an average of $500 million for each of the 46 states that charge sales taxes.

Opponents of the bill argue that it forces the states where these online retailers are based to collect the taxes of other states and that the regulations it would create would be too complicated. They also argue that it doesn’t offer enough protections for small businesses, despite the fact that businesses whose online annual sales total less than $1 million dollars would be exempt.

Senate opposition to this bill is small, but its few opponents are trying to do everything they can to delay the vote. However, opposition in the house may be much stronger. Senate majority leader Harry Reid vows that this bill will receive a vote before the senate is dismissed for vacation next week, which is great because this is really a no-brainer. If people get upset about others using overseas bank accounts to avoid taxation, they should be similarly upset about those who specifically make purchases on the internet to avoid taxation.

Super Bowl Sunday and DUI Arrests Blog

Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most beloved days for sports fans around the nation. Consequently, it is also one of the most popular nights for driving under the influence of alcohol. Like many national holidays or major sporting events, police agencies across the country know that fans will be consuming alcohol at Super Bowl parties and are taking action to crack down on those who choose to operate motor vehicles while intoxicated.

Statistics for drunk driving arrests on Super Bowl Sunday speak for themselves. Police officers across the state of Delaware arrested 21 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol on Super Bowl Sunday last year. In 2006, the California Highway Patrol reported 481 DUI arrests, 242 wrecks involving alcohol and seven deaths relate to DUI accidents. And in the same year, the Southern Arizona DUI Task Force stopped over 540 cars on Super Bowl Sunday alone in efforts to crack down on drunk driving.

Officers everywhere urge people to “choose a sober designated driver,” before consuming alcohol at a Super Bowl party to ensure everyone’s safety. These actions can help you avoid spending money on a criminal lawyer and costly court expenses.

High Court Ruling

An appeals court decision in California has given the owners of the state’s largest dispensary an important legal victory in their battle against the federal government. Jovan Jackson of Answerdam had been convicted of selling marijuana, on the grounds that he could not use state law as a defense. However, an appeals court in San Diego decided that this refusal to consider state law had denied Jackson his right to due process, and the case is now returning to a lower court to be retried.


While this is no guarantee that Jackson and Answerdam will win their case, it is an important acknowledgment of the role that governing state statutes should have in deciding these issues. The federal government’s position, at present, seems to reject any and all attempts by criminal defense lawyers to use state laws which provide for the legal use and distribution of medicinal marijuana as a defense. This is, at least in part, because marijuana is classified under the Controlled Substances Act as being without medical value. However, as I think should be clear to anyone at this point, the scientific understanding of marijuana’s effects was, at that time, relatively limited, and the classification was based on biases of perception more than objective data.

As a strong supporter of the federalist principle, I applaud California for its bold experiment, and I hope Jackson gets a fair hearing this time around.

Texas Mom Faces Life in Prison for Child Abuse

Legal Troubles In Texas

A Texas mom, Elizabeth Escalona, is facing life in prison for child abuse charges after she kicked, beat, and glued her child’s hands to a wall. The mother is accused of assaulting her child after becoming frustrated over her lack of progress in potty training, ultimately leaving the child’s body covered with bruises and rendering her comatose. The child required hospitalization for a full week as a result of these horrendous actions on her mother’s part.

As disgusting as this case is, the sad reality, as many lawyers in Texas have come to know, is that these types of cases are not as rare as they should be. Frustrated parents can often go to extreme measures in punishing their children. This woman is facing an extremely wide range of potential penalties, from life in prison to deferred adjudication, in which case she would not even be convicted of a criminal action. As anyone who reads this blog should know, I lean more towards giving her life than letting these types of despicable things go unpunished.

Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Put on Hold

the flag
Americans and Voting

As November gets closer, many Americans are preparing to turn in their vote for the office of President of the United States.  Some states though, have been considering a change to their voter requirements by asking voters to bring a government issued picture ID with them.  This has caused considerable controversy across the country as Americans debate whether or not this type of rule is fair.

Pennsylvania legislators have been pushing for this change in their state, but on October 2, a judge ordered that it is too close to election time to change such an important aspect of voting.  Judge Robert Simpson of the Commonwealth Court said that this close to election time, it would be impossible to ensure that all voters who are planning on casting a ballot have an ID that would qualify them to vote.

Many people challenging the new law are arguing that it will infringe on the rights of American citizens.  Not everyone may be able to get a photo ID because of proximity to ID centers, funding, and necessary transportation.  Many members of the Republican Party support this law and pushed for its approval on a state-wide scale, while many Democrats hold that it may discourage or disqualify low-income voters (who are statistically more likely to vote for a Democratic candidate).

Personally, I believe that it is absurd for states to require a government issued ID for something such as voting. Those that do not need drivers’ licenses may not have a reason to have a government issued photo ID handy, and this close to an important election, no one should have to scramble to make changes to their long-standing voting plans.

Rotten Apple

The recent decision by nine jurors of a U.S. District Court, which held that Samsung had infringed on Apple’s patents on several features of its smartphone technology, serves to highlight the problem that patent law is beginning to experience in the age of technology. While it’s unquestionable that Samsung’s phones did substantially resemble (or copy, if you prefer) Apple’s product, it remains an open question as to whether or not those features should be able to be patented at all.

An analogy can help make this issue clear. Someone originally invented the automobile, and it largely resembled its present form, with brakes under a steering wheel and a gear shift to the driver’s side. Now, suppose that person had patented the steering wheel-brake-gear shift alignment available in that vehicle. What would other car manufacturers do? I suppose they could have created a system of hand breaks, though that sounds dangerous and impractical. More importantly though, it would have done absolutely nothing to serve the public interest. Indeed, it would have been quite obviously bad for the public, either creating a company with a monopoly on cars or else creating a wide range of different vehicle types, making learning to drive much more difficult.

The bigger point is, when it comes to technological innovation, a large part of the process involves imitating (and improving upon) what others have done in the past. But the way our patent system is presently devised, the first company with an innovative idea can patent many different unique features and effectively stifle competition against its products. It’s anti-free market, and it’s anti-public interest. Well, excuse me, but I still believe in both the free market and the public interest.

New York’s Ultimate DWI Loophole

www.unionlawfirm.comOn July 3rd of 2011, Albany area teenager Alix Rice was struck by an automobile while riding her skateboard home from work.  The driver of the car, Dr. James G. Corasanti, was intoxicated, texting while driving, and speeding when he swerved into the bicycle lane and hit the young girl.  After fleeing the scene of the crime, Rice died.

Corasanti was later charged with driving while intoxicated in addition to vehicular manslaughter, but in an absurd twist of fate, his attorney was able to successfully argue that because of his extreme intoxication, Corasanti did not realize he’d hit an 18 year old girl, and could not therefore be held responsible for his actions.  The jury acquitted Corasanti on all charges except a misdemeanor drunk driving charge and sentenced the doctor to one year in jail.

In an effort to close the loophole that allowed this man to argue that his drunken actions were not actually his own fault, the people of New York, led by Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, are fighting to change the law.  The bill, called “Alix’s Law”, was approved by the New York Senate, but has now been tabled until the legislature is back in session.

In case my opinion on the matter is not clear, I am absolutely amazed it has taken this long to address such an outstanding problem in the judicial system in New York.  Drunk drivers should not have any opportunity to argue their way out of legal repercussions for their recklessness.  It is absolutely imperative that New York lawyers and law makers find a way to ensure that these criminals are held accountable for any property damage, injuries, and deaths that they cause.

Illegal Legalities

A recent case in California is testing the limits of how far our country is willing to extend legal rights to those who come to our country illegally. In California, a man is applying to be admitted to the bar to practice law in the state. The only problem is, he’s here illegally. The California Supreme Court is currently considering whether or not to grant his request, even though the U.S. Department of Justice has made clear that doing so would contradict federal law.

Some people are saying this is a difficult case, with a variety of legal issues to consider. Let me make it real clear – it isn’t. I have nothing against this man, he sounds like a perfectly hard worker (I should know; passing the bar is not an easy thing to do) and his circumstances are at the heart of the American success story. But he isn’t here legally, and there is simply no way that he can legally practice the law. The idea of a rule of law is that it applies equally to everyone, and as much as I can sympathize with his case, there cannot be exceptions. None, whatsoever.

Trouble In Pennsylvania

As I’ve said before, I think the sexual abuse of a child is one of the worst things that any person can do, and I have no tolerance whatsoever for those who commit or abet these kinds of abominable acts. So I welcomed the recent news that the victims of Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coach at Penn State University who was recently convicted for the serial molestation of numerous young children, have planned to file a lawsuit against the University for its role in allowing him to continue his heinous acts for more than a decade.

I know that a lot of people feel that the University has already been duly punished, both by the NCAA and by the serious damage that has been done to their reputation as a result of the scandal. While these measures are an important step in the right direction, really, it’s important that the school be held fully accountable for the consequences of actions committed by their officials, even if those individuals are no longer with the institution. And one of the requirements for this type of accountability to be achieved is for the victims to get the restitution they deserve for the pain and suffering they had to endure.

Spinal Cord Injuries At The University Of Illiniois

DNADave Waller at the University of Illinois understands more than most that the spinal cord is an essential part of the body that provides a direct link between a person’s brain and the rest of his body.  For this reason, any injury to the spinal cord can mean a serious disruption of that link, and the loss of physical and mental abilities that it provides.  Many spinal cord injuries result from the dangerous actions of other people, and leave victims powerless and dependent on those around them for constant attention and care.  However, some victims of spinal cord injuries have been able to glean compensation out of a lawsuit, which can help pay for the costs that often arise from this type of injury.

Two Most Common Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury can result in a variety of life-changing circumstances.  Two of the most common and most commonly recognized types of spinal cord injuries are:

  • Paraplegia (partial paralysis)
  • Quadriplegia (total paralysis)

These two conditions can seriously impact a person’s ability to provide for himself or herself, and more often than not, they necessitate constant medical attention and subsequent cost. Treating and living with these conditions can be extremely expensive, but many victims of spinal cord injuries have sought financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused their injury. An Urbana personal injury attorney can help you better understand your legal options for pursuing this type of legal action.