The year of 2017 saw a huge swell in public protests stemming from racial unrest and displeasure with systemic injustices targeted at certain groups of people. Since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the grassroots activist group Black Lives Matter has staged public protests, marches, and social media campaigns designed to bring awareness to the plight of people of color against law enforcement and the criminal justice system. On the other end of the spectrum, though, white nationalists and white supremacists have also taken to the streets with torches to protest the immigration policies they view as lax and the perceived vilification of white and caucasian Americans. Each group independently caught pushback from both the media and their communities, who bemoaned the damage to public property and the need for increased crowd control and first responders.
These two forces came to a head in Charlottesville, when a clash between a white nationalist group and a combination of Antifa (anti-facist) and Black Lives Matter protesters ended in fist-fights, property damage and destruction, arson, and the death of a young white woman.
Sympathizers of both Black Lives Matter and White Nationalism have accused the other side of hurling “hate speech” and inciting race-based violence against the other. Both claim the other uses inflammatory verbiage, divisive rhetoric, and skewed-if-not-wholly false information to debase the other and forward their own agenda. To that end, speakers or activists considered too political on one side or another have been barred from speaking on various college campuses. While the administrators of these institutions of higher learning tend to call on “security concerns” when prohibiting “extremists” from either side from speaking on campuses, many believe that these higher ed institutions are sheltering their students and suppressing certain viewpoints in violation of the first amendment.
Calls to “stop hate speech” on both sides have reinvigorated first amendment fanatics who are nervous about how far we’ll be able to limit free speech in the name of reducing violence. The first amendment as it’s written prohibits the US government from passing laws that infringe on the people’s right to free speech. We have made some important caveats, though, the classic example being that a person can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater to purposefully incite panic. We also prohibit organizing terrorist threats against the US.
While we can’t legally stop people from saying what they want, the administrators of some of the biggest social media websites can claim that it’s against their terms of service to post racially insensitive or discriminatory information or to actively champion such causes as ethnic cleansing or white supremacy. Unlike the government, social media platforms are private businesses who can set terms and conditions under which they will permit users to utilize their services. Twitter and various white nationalist groups have been caught up in a cat-and-mouse game over how to ensure that twitter’s crawlers catch white nationalists and only white nationalists, but their algorithm isn’t great, and their terms aren’t clear.
The future of free speech as it pertains to potentially offensive and inflammatory information is yet to be determined, but as our society proves more and more divided, we’ll have to come to a new truce sooner rather than later to avoid more deadly clashes.
You get a call from your mother that you’ve been dreading. Your favorite “Uncle John” has passed away. To your dismay you ask about the funeral plans and if there is anything you can do to help. As the time comes to go through belongings, an unsent text message to your mother was found on his phone, stating he was leaving his small family fortune in you, as you were always his favorite. Now, typically family fortunes are written in bidding wills. So, does that text message constitute as a binding will?
Real Life Case
In Australia, a similar case occurred. A man passed away with an unsent text message to his brother, leaving him everything. However, the wife argued that it did not count as her late husband’s will. Going all the way to Queensland Supreme Court, that text message changed everything.
What is in a Will?
What determines the validity of a will? A last will and testament are legally enforceable and must meet requirements specific to a person’s state, in the United States. A few of those requirements have to do with legal age, witnesses, and must have some sort of signature. Although most wills are written down in some sort of documentation, “nuncupative” wills are said out loud with at least two witnesses.
Back to Brisbane
In the end of the Australian court system case mentioned earlier, the text message was declared by a judge, a valid last will and testament– leaving the brother and the nephew with everything the deceased had appointment them just like the text message stated.
Like in the United States today, in Queensland, a formal typed or handwritten will used to be required by law. However, changes made in 2006 loosened acceptable wills to a more informal approach, which leads to how a drafted text message was a legal will.
As we progress into a digital age, there is no question that electronic last will and testaments will become legal. Wills were formed where most people easily had pen and paper at hand. Today, we all have a heavy reliance on mobile devices and tablets, replacing the necessity of pen and paper.
The English Law Commission already has made a proposal for electronic wills. It proposes that voicemails, text messages, emails, videos and other forms of electronic statements should serve as a valid will.
This issue of validity among electronic wills is not only something debated in Queensland, Australia and England, but is something we can expect to see come with a digital age in the United States, and other countries as well as the years progress.
When someone owes you money, you exhaust all means to collect that money. For many, they end up before a judge in small claims court. Now, you may feel that heading to court is going to resolve your problems. However, there are fallacies in this theory. You can go to court and still be out the money. However, now you have an added fee on top of the money you already lost.
You Must Have Sufficient Proof
Going to court is nerve wracking. To start small claims, you must pay a filing fee. The filing fees various depending on the area, but the average is between $35 and $100. After the fee is paid, you will get your day in court. You must be able to prove to the judge that this person owes you money. If you don’t have sufficient proof, you are wasting your time. If the other party does not show, then you will win by default. However, they can show and fight. Don’t worry, the judge will typically make a decision right there.
Collecting The Money
Now, let’s assume that the judge finds in your favor. He agrees that you are owed the money. The other person is giving a judgment to pay the balance. They can pay that day or set up a payment plan with the clerk. Consequently, keep in mind that a judgment doesn’t equal money. It is validation that they owe the money. If that person doesn’t have a job or any means to pay that bill, then you may be out of luck.
Many people get the court’s help only to find out that it was no help at all. If the other party has a job and doesn’t pay, then you can ask the court to garnish their wages. You can only garnish up to 25 percent of a paycheck each time. You will need to file each time you want this done. If there are any other garnishments on the paycheck, then you will need to share the 25 percent.
In many cases, people find that they still have no money even though they have a judgement. Some people work under the table and try their best to avoid paying their debts. The court cannot garnish what they cannot find. Small claims only handle amounts between $3,000 and $10,000. So, larger amounts will require a higher court. Here are the pros and cons of taking a person to small claims.
- Quick Process That Requires No Attorney
- Cost Effective Way To Collect
- Court Acts As A Mediator Between Parties
- Can Be Easy To Collect Money
- Paying A Filing Fee On top Of Debt
- Obtaining Judgment That May Be Uncollectible
- Staying On Top Of The Other Party For Payment
- May Need To Garnish Wages
- Can Be A Complete Waste Of Time
- Amounts Are Small and Limited By State
To File Or Not To File
The choice is up to you on filing a small claims case. However, keep in mind that many times you don’t walk away with the payment that day. Still, the collections process can be long and drawn out, even though you won.
Abogado Aly Civil Law:
Civil Law consists a group of laws that govern disputes between individuals in such areas as contracts, property, and family law. Civil Law is anything that is not criminal or public law. There are breach of contract cases where one makes a deal, signs a contract and does not follow the contract obligations that were laid out. There are consumer rights cases where you are protected as a consumer from businesses trying to take advantage of you. Lastly, there are construction law cases with lien matters, landlord-tenant matters and more.
At the offices of Abogado Aly, each attorney has their own specialization; however, they meet everyday to ensure that each case is handled by a group of professionals with varying specializations so that all attorneys at this office can look at each case from multiple angles. Adriana Rodriguez’s specialization is in Civil Law, and the aim of this blog is to inform readers on Civil Law in the news today.
For more information about our office, check out AbogadoAly.com