Monthly Archives: February 2012

Does Your Facebook Friend Have A Mugshot?

Jail Base is a criminal records database site I recently came across. It seems to be growing in popularity. Jail Base lets you search for arrested persons you might know, including mugshots if available. It also lets you search for recent arrests. I checked their Facebook page and they seem to be adding a growing list of counties in the states. They also have an app that notifies you when your Facebook friends get arrested. REPEAT….app that notifies you when you Facebook friends get arrested……Hopefully in the future you will be able to place wagers on the likelihood of a Facebook friend getting arrested.  God Bless the internet.

Claims Investigators Walkie-Talkie App

Claims investigators have a new tool when working out in the field. Voxer is a Walkie Talkie application for smartphones. It lets you send instant audio, text, photo and location messages to one or a group of friends/investigators. This is an application that all private investigators should have on their smartphones. Speaking from personal experience, the micro talk walkie talkie radio’s out there on the market (Midland, Cobra in particular) were ok at best. The 5-10 mile radius that they claimed to cover was more like three city blocks. Also, investigators would often speak over each other on the radio often causing confusion during an investigation. No longer will I have to hear, “Do you have extra batteries? Mine are dead.” I think Voxer has some promise and is already better than any micro talk walkie talkie i’ve ever used for surveillance. There is a short lag time which should improve with time. The message contains location data from the sender which will help when no street signs or markers are near. The application has not drained my Iphone battery and is incredibly easy to use. Now if only there was an application to magically write professional reports.

Phone hacking: Cherie Blair to sue News International

Tony Blair’s wife to take action against Glenn Mulcaire and NI over the alleged hacking of her phone by News of the World

Cherie Blair, the wife of the former prime minister, is suing News International and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire over the alleged hacking of her phone by the News of the World.

Blair’s lawyer, Graham Atkins, said on Wednesday he had issued a claim against Mulcaire and News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that published the now defunct News of the World, “in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails”.

Blair was at the heart of the British government for 10 years – from May 1997 to June 2007 – as the wife of the former prime minister, Tony Blair. It is not known when Cherie Blair is alleged to have been targeted.

The fresh legal action comes as Rupert Murdoch‘s UK newspaper group attempts to settle a mounting number of civil claims over alleged voicemail interception by the News of the World, which closed in July 2011.

News International declined to comment.

Mulcaire’s lawyer said she was not yet aware of the legal action.

A statement from Atkins, Cherie Blair’s lawyer, said: “I can confirm that we have issued a claim on behalf of Cherie Blair in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails.

“I will not be commenting any further at this time.”

News International settled 37 civil actions in January – including high-profile actions brought by the actor Jude Law and the son of serial killer Harold Shipman – in a bid to prevent them from going to trial, and paid out to another 21 victims of phone hacking earlier this month.

The publisher is also attempting to reach a settlement with the singer Charlotte Church, whose legal action will proceed to a full trial at the high court on Monday unless it is settled beforehand.

However, News International faces at least 50 fresh civil actions, with figures including footballer Peter Crouch, singer James Blunt and Ukip leader Nigel Farage having already filed claims and others being prepared.

The news of Blair’s legal action comes at an embarrassing time for Rupert Murdoch, who arrived in London last week to lift the spirits of his newspaper group.

Alastair Campbell, the former No 10 communications director, told the Leveson inquiry in November that he believed it was “possible” thatsome stories about the Blairs were obtained by phone hacking.

Campbell admitted he had no evidence for the claim, but said in his witness statement: “I do not know if her [Carole Caplin’s] phone was hacked, or if Cherie’s was, but knowing what we do now about hacking and the extent of it, I think it is at least possible this is how the stories got out.

“They often involved details of where Cherie was going, the kind of thing routinely discussed on phones when planning visits, private as well as public.”

Caplin, former lifestyle guru to Blair, said in November that she had been told by Scotland Yard that her name appears on a list of victims targeted by Mulcaire.

Separately, the former deputy prime minister in Blair’s government, John Prescott, said in a tweet on Wednesday that he was due to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry on Monday.

The inquiry into press standards is due to begin hearing evidence on the relationship between the press and police from next week. However, some witnesses will appear to give testimony from the previous module on the press and public.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has been one of the most vocal critics of News International over phone hacking, said the legal action was a “very significant” development.

“Just when the hacking scandal was disappearing from view we now know that Rupert Murdoch’s hackers targeted family members of a sitting prime minister,” he told MediaGuardian.

“The lesson for all politicians, including David Cameron, is that Rupert Murdoch is only a fair-weather friend. I trust that Tony Blair will condemn Murdoch’s failure to deal with long-term criminal wrongdoing at News International.”

He added: “I hope that the replacement to the News of the World – the newly titled Sun on Sunday – will take the opportunity to apologise to all the people who suffered illegal invasions of privacy at the hands of the hackers and they come clean about other forms of illicit surveillance.”

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Drones Set Sights on U.S. Skies

By  and 
Published: February 17, 2012

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — Daniel Gárate’s career came crashing to earth a few weeks ago. That’s when the Los Angeles Police Department warned local real estate agents not to hire photographers like Mr. Gárate, who was helping sell luxury property by using adrone to shoot sumptuous aerial movies. Flying drones for commercial purposes, the police said, violated federal aviation rules.

“I was paying the bills with this,” said Mr. Gárate, who recently gave an unpaid demonstration of his drone in this Southern California suburb.

His career will soon get back on track. A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels theFederal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones.

But while businesses, and drone manufacturers especially, are celebrating the opening of the skies to these unmanned aerial vehicles, the law raises new worries about how much detail the drones will capture about lives down below — and what will be done with that information. Safety concerns like midair collisions and property damage on the ground are also an issue.

American courts have generally permitted surveillance of private property from public airspace. But scholars of privacy law expect that the likely proliferation of drones will force Americans to re-examine how much surveillance they are comfortable with.

“As privacy law stands today, you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy while out in public, nor almost anywhere visible from a public vantage,” said Ryan Calo, director of privacy and robotics at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University. “I don’t think this doctrine makes sense, and I think the widespread availability of drones will drive home why to lawmakers, courts and the public.”

Some questions likely to come up: Can a drone flying over a house pick up heat from a lamp used to grow marijuana inside, or take pictures from outside someone’s third-floor fire escape? Can images taken from a drone be sold to a third party, and how long can they be kept?

Drone proponents say the privacy concerns are overblown. Randy McDaniel, chief deputy of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department in Conroe, Tex., near Houston, whose agency bought a drone to use for various law enforcement operations, dismissed worries about surveillance, saying everyone everywhere can be photographed with cellphone cameras anyway. “We don’t spy on people,” he said. “We worry about criminal elements.”

Still, the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups are calling for new protections against what the A.C.L.U. has said could be “routine aerial surveillance of American life.”

Under the new law, within 90 days, the F.A.A. must allow police and first responders to fly drones under 4.4 pounds, as long as they keep them under an altitude of 400 feet and meet other requirements. The agency must also allow for “the safe integration” of all kinds of drones into American airspace, including those for commercial uses, by Sept. 30, 2015. And it must come up with a plan for certifying operators and handling airspace safety issues, among other rules.

The new law, part of a broader financing bill for the F.A.A., came after intense lobbying by drone makers and potential customers.

The agency probably will not be making privacy rules for drones. Although federal law until now had prohibited drones except for recreational use or for some waiver-specific law enforcement purposes, the agency has issued only warnings, never penalties, for unauthorized uses, a spokeswoman said. The agency was reviewing the law’s language, the spokeswoman said.

For drone makers, the change in the law comes at a particularly good time. With the winding-down of the war in Afghanistan, where drones have been used to gather intelligence and fire missiles, these manufacturers have been awaiting lucrative new opportunities at home. The market for drones is valued at $5.9 billion and is expected to double in the next decade, according to industry figures. Drones can cost millions of dollars for the most sophisticated varieties to as little as $300 for one that can be piloted from an iPhone.

“We see a huge potential market,” said Ben Gielow of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a drone maker trade group.

For Patrick Egan, who represents small businesses and others in his work for the Remote Control Aerial Photography Association in Sacramento, the new law also can’t come fast enough. Until 2007, when the federal agency began warning against nonrecreational use of drones, he made up to $2,000 an hour using a drone to photograph crops for farmers, helping them spot irrigation leaks. “I’ve got organic farmers screaming for me to come out,” he said.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department in Texas bought its 50-pound drone in October from Vanguard Defense Industries, a company founded by Michael Buscher, who built drones for the army, and then sold them to an oil company whose ships were threatened by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The company custom-built the drone, which takes pictures by day and senses heat sources at night. It cost $300,000, a fraction of the cost of a helicopter.

Why Do Happy Newlyweds Eventually Divorce?

Robert Hughes Jr.
Professor of Human Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

In recent years, there have been several studies that suggest that some happy and satisfied newlyweds were still getting divorced. Paul Amato and Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott’s 2007 research is one such example; they found that there was a surprising number low-distress couples that were splitting up.

These findings led UCLA researchers Justin Lavner and Thomas Bradbury to speculate about the possible reasons for divorce among these seemingly happy couples. They suggested that there are four broad reasons for the findings: First, maybe the couples are just simply not as committed as other couples that stay together. Commitment has been shown to be an important factor as couples deal with difficulties and challenges in married life. Second, maybe one or both of the partners who seem satisfied with marriage have difficult personalities that, over time, lead to a decline in marital satisfaction. A third explanation could be that these satisfied couples encounter more stressful and challenging situations in life and that these difficulties lead to divorce. Finally, despite the aspects of marriage and life that are rewarding, perhaps there are subtle communication and conflict difficulties that progressively undermine the relationship over time.

To examine these possible explanations, Lavner and Bradury conducted a longitudinal study of 136 couples that provides some insight into the reasons why happy and satisfied newlyweds may eventually divorce. They selected a group of couples who, for the first four years of marriage, reported high satisfaction and general happiness with their marriages. These were not couples who were unhappy in these first few years. Lavner and Bradbury collected information about their levels of stress, their personalities and their commitment to the marriage. They also measured their communication skills in a laboratory activity that has been shown to reliably detect positive and negative strategies of communication and problem-solving. They then followed up these couples ten years later to see which ones were still married. By comparing those that were still married with those who got divorced, they were able to identify factors that distinguished the two groups.

They first compared whether or not the two groups were comprised of the same types of people. The results suggest that they were somewhat different groups. The group that divorced was younger, and the husbands had lower incomes. Also, the husbands in the divorced group were nearly twice as likely to have divorced parents than the husbands in the couples who stayed married. Wives’ incomes and history of parental divorce did not differ between the two groups. There were also no differences between the groups in terms of cohabitation and whether or not the couples had children. Yet, these findings suggest that the lives and experiences of individuals in these two groups of couples were somewhat different.

The next test was to determine if the couples who divorced were simply not as committed to the relationship. It is commonly believed that some couples just aren’t as willing to work hard on their relationship, but that was not the case in this sample. Both those who were still married and those who divorced had expressed similar commitment to the relationship in those early years of marriage.

In general, the two groups also did not differ in terms of the amount of stress that they experienced or in the personality traits of the husbands and wives.

The last hypothesis they tested was whether or not there were different communication styles between the couples. Although there were no differences in the degree of positive communication, there were notable differences in negative communication patterns. Couples who eventually divorced displayed more anger and contempt for their partners. When solving problems, they were more likely to disagree, and blame and invalidate the feelings of each other. In the laboratory, when asked to talk about an aspect of their lives that they would like to change, couples who divorced were more likely to express inappropriate pessimism, discourage the expression of feelings and insist that their partners resolve the situation on their own. Thus, it appears that the difference between these seeming satisfied young couples who divorce and those that don’t may be tied to negative communication and lack of support for each other that may eventually poison a satisfying relationship.

Lavner and Bradbury suggest that although there are positive aspects of these couples’ marriages, there are troublesome communication patterns that slowly grind away at the relationship. They write, “low-distress spouses may be able to avoid, “compartmentalize,” or rationalize the negative exchanges that do occur in the relationship.” It appears that in the long-run this strategy does not work.

What Makes A Good Divorce Client?

Henry Gornbein
Family law specialist

Divorce is one of the most traumatic events that anyone can go through in his or her lifetime. Not only is it frightening, but it’s difficult, to say the least — even under the best of circumstances. Attorneys and clients usually have a love/hate relationship during a divorce.

Typically clients will need an attorney at the beginning of the case, but by the end of the divorce in many circumstances, the client’s attitude — sometimes justifiably — is that the attorney didn’t do enough for them — “I’m not happy with your services, and for these reasons, I don’t want to pay your bill.”

Think of this scenario. A person going through a divorce is in a no win situation. First of all, you don’t see your children all the time, even under the best of circumstances, where custodial arrangements range from one parent having primary physical custody and the other parent having very limited time to a 50/50 arrangement. So no matter how you look at it, you will spend less time with your children. Second, one party is paying child support, the other party is receiving child support, and when you split up and set up two separate households, too often there is not enough money to go around. Third, in many cases there is spousal support, which again cuts the marital pie. Fourth, there are the issues of property — it is divided. You now have half of what you had, you often have more debts, and — to say the least — it is too frequently a lose/lose situation. Attorneys end up helping people divide debts, as they have fewer assets, smaller retirement accounts, and houses that are under water.

Finally, to add insult to injury, you have to pay your attorney. So from this attorney’s perspective, what makes a good client?

1. Try to be organized. When you are meeting with your attorney, write down your questions in advance. Try to have an agenda, and make sure that your attorney answers your questions.

2. Do not call or e-mail continually because this is how your case will start spinning out of control from a cost standpoint. Most attorneys charge by the hour, and we are not only charging for phone calls, but also for e-mails, because e-mail has now become the preferred method of communication. I find that I have almost no snail-mail in my cases, and everything is done electronically. Save up your questions. If you are going to communicate by e-mail or phone, have several questions at once, rather than doing one now, one later, and having a bombardment of e-mails back and forth on a daily basis, which happens too frequently in cases that are spinning out of control.

3. Remember that an attorney is here to assist you and help you through the legal system. Do not be afraid to feel lost and bewildered, but make sure that you and your attorney are communicating. A good client will ask questions, but not too many.

4. Have reasonable expectations. Be realistic. A good attorney will help you stay reality oriented. Listen to your attorney. Listen to legal advice. Remember that you are trying to resolve issues, not have a war.

5. Try to be reasonable. Don’t ask for something that you are not going get. Bear in mind that in negotiations, you should always ask for more than you expect to receive, but don’t be off the wall. Have realistic expectations regarding custody and parenting time. Try to be realistic about child support and spousal support. Try to be realistic about property division.

6. Too many clients want the house no matter what. Yes, there is often an emotional attachment, but in many cases, especially if the economics make no sense, it is better to not keep the house. Sometimes it is better to sell it; sometimes it’s better for the spouse who has a greater income to keep it. These are all things to consider.

7. Have a game plan and an agenda, but be prepared to be flexible. Remember that life happens, and if things didn’t go wrong in your life, you wouldn’t be getting a divorce in the first place.

8. Work with a therapist. This is important, because often there are anger issues or feelings of loss, or resentment. Your attorney is not your therapist.

9. Try to have your attorney explain the legal system to you so you know what to expect.

10. It is important to assist your attorney as far as providing documents and information, because the more helpful you can be, the more cost effective your attorney can be, and the lower your attorney fees will be.

11. Don’t hesitate to discuss fees, to ask about how much the representation will cost, and do not hesitate to request a monthly billing statement so you know exactly what is going on with regard to billings in your case.

12. Last, but not least, remember that divorce is a process, a transition, albeit a painful one, but it is a step that you will get through. I often tell my clients to think of a 100-yard dash. That is not a divorce. A divorce is more like a marathon, and if you start understanding that, you will get through it. You will also be a better client, and you will understand that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

What are your thoughts? Please share them with us.

Family Law Attorney & Legal Correspondent
40900 Woodward Avenue, Ste. 111
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304-5116
248/594-3444; Fax 248/594-3222


State Senate Gears Up For Workers’ Comp Debate

By: Tim Sampson, Missouri News Horizon
Updated: February 13, 2012

(Jefferson City, MO) — A controversial package of reforms to Missouri’s workers’ compensation program is scheduled for debate on the floor of the state Senate this week.

Senate Bill 572, a priority of Republican leaders and Missouri’s business lobby, would limit the liability of co-workers in workplace injury cases and set new terms for toxic exposure cases.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said his bill would help Missouri’s employment climate by giving consistency to the rules governing workplace injury cases. Under SB 572, co-workers cannot be sued for on the job injuries unless it can be proven that their actions were purposefully done to bring harm onto another worker.

“This legislation is about providing a standard of fairness,” Dempsey said. “There’s a huge liability to coworkers right now, who don’t have insurance.”

The bill would also address how workers’ compensation deals with long-term occupational diseases. Most would be covered by workers’ comp, but the bill carves out an exception for occupational diseases that stem from exposure to toxic chemicals. Such cases would be litigated in the regular court system, since such cases usually require more investigation to prove they are the result of a work environment.

Similar legislation failed in the final hours of last year’s legislative session, mostly amid concerns over another portion of the bill related to the state’s second-injury fund. The second-injury fund is what pays workers’ compensation benefits to employees with pre-existing disabilities that are exacerbated by workplace injuries. The fund was established in Missouri and many other states around the time of World War II to encourage employers to hire injured veterans.

After lawmakers placed caps on second-injury fund contributions sever years ago, the fund has slipped into a financial crisis and faces insolvency. Some propose eliminating the fund all together in lieu of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws promoting the hiring of people with disabilities, while others say contributions from business should be increased to help fully fund it.

But this time around Dempsey has stripped the second-injury fund provisions from the bill, meaning it will not be part of this week’s debate. It will most likely be brought up as a separate bill later in the session. Senate GOP leaders hope this will allow other worker’s compensation changes to pass more easily through the legislature this year.

Smartphone evidence a boon for divorce lawyers

By Chase Kell | The Right Click – Sun, 12 Feb, 2012


We all love our smartphones. But if you’re going through a divorce, there’s a good chance your spouse’s lawyer loves that smartphone even more than you do.

A report from All Things D reminds us that in this digital era, exercising caution goes much further than tweets and Facebook posts. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is reporting a spike in cases that include evidence taken from smartphones, including Androids, BlackBerrys and iPhones.

“As smartphones and text messaging become main sources of communication during the course of each day, there will inevitably be more and more evidence that an estranged spouse can collect,” reveals Ken Altshuler, AAML President in the story. “Text messages can be particularly powerful forms of evidence during a divorce case, because they are written records of someone’s thoughts, actions and intentions.”

At 62 per cent, text messages account for the most common form of smartphone evidence used in divorce proceedings. Email evidence follows up at 23 per cent, while phone numbers and call histories round it out at 13 per cent. But the extensive data used in today’s smartphones is sure to work its way into the mix.

“[Use of] Smartphone-specific data, such as GPS or Internet search history, is still rare in divorce cases, but represents the kind of powerful evidence bound to show up more in the future,” reports Ina Fried in the story.

(AFP image)

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10 Tips for Fighting Fair

Couples who argue disrespectfully will likely break-up.
Published on February 9, 2012 by Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. in Emotional Fitness

Every couple argues. Some of the do it overtly by yelling at each other while others do it covertly by avoiding contact and conversation. Whatever the method, the result is the same – hurt feelings and disenchantment. Here are my tips to help you argue constructively, if done correctly it can be a pathway to growth and problem solving.

  1. Understand that anger itself is not destructive. There is a vast difference between anger and rage. When someone is angry they need to state their feelings, they don’t break things or relationships – that is ragefull behavior.
  2. Talk about your feelings before you get angry. When you or your partner can approach the situation as it happens and deal with it in a safe way, it may not get to the point of being an argument. Sometimes things just need to be verbalized and most arguments can be avoided if your partner understands how you feel.
  3. Don’t raise your voice. It’s amazing how issues of hurt feelings or differences can be resolved with a whisper. I counsel couples who are yellers to only communicate with a whisper and it greatly reduces the anger factor in their relationships.
  4. Don’t threaten your relationship. And don’t take every argument as a threat to your relationship. This type of emotional blackmail puts the other partner in a panic/flight or flight mode. While you’re telling them you want to leave, they may be making plans to find a roommate. In addition, they may be so devastated by the thought of losing their family they can go into a deep depression and be unable to give you what it is you need.
  5. Don’t stockpile. This is where you bring up issues from the past to use as a hammer against whatever problem your partner has asked for help with. Deal with their issue first and if you really have unresolved feelings from past problems talk about them at another time.
  6. Don’t avoid your anger. If you stuff your feelings long enough you will explode and say or do things that you will regret. Anger does not diminish love, you can be angry with those you love. In fact the ones we love hurt us the most because we love them the most.
  7. Create a process for resolving problems without anger. Start by each of you taking five minutes to state your feelings, then take a twenty minute break to think about things and come back to the table for another ten minutes to discuss how you think you can best deal with the problem. Also, know that it’s okay if the problem doesn’t get solved right away.
  8. Abuse is NEVER allowed. This includes verbal abuse, any type of violence including slamming doors, breaking plates or hitting. If your arguments escalate to this level you need to leave the house. If one partner ever hits another a police report needs to be made and an appointment with a therapist is mandatory.
  9. Don’t engage. Remember that negative attention is still attention. If your partner tries to goad you into an argument, simply don’t go there. Some people actually like to argue because it gives them a temporary feeling of power and gratification. Avoid being sucked into their need for attention.
  10. Listen to your body. When you are angry your body releases chemicals that may cause you to react in ways that can be destructive to you, your partner and your relationship. Learn to understand your feelings and how the process of anger effects you physically and emotionally.

Research has shown that couples who argue disrespectfully more than twenty percent of the time are probably not going to survive. Hopefully these tips will help you get your arguments under control and reduce the level of energy in those arguments. If not, and if you want to keep your relationship, you need to find a qualified couple’s therapist.

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