Deborah A. Kelly writes: Crazy Love, a memoir by Leslie Morgan Steiner, is a stark reminder that domestic violence is not the exclusive purview of the poor or of immigrant cultures. Steiner reminds us that violence within romantic relationships can happen to anyone and anywhere, even trust-fund Harvard grads with promising careers. The physical and emotionally abusive love that Steiner shares with her readers is astounding in its simplicity and complexity. It is simple because the violence is clear and brutal: silver photo frame smashed over her head, clenched fists punched into face, cold gun held to her head. Complex because the emotional manipulation perpetrated by her husband is subtle and crafty. He isolated her from friends, made her quit her job, moved her to another state, nicknamed her Retard. Under the guise of conducting research, Steiner tracked down an assistant professor pursing a Ph.D. on the behavioral psychology of batterers. Primed with interview questions, Steiner learned: 1) of primary importance is that the batterer accept responsibility for his actions, and 2) even upon those rare cases of acceptance, most batterers keep on battering those they love. "Men I work with," said the assistant professor, "cannot separate intimacy from abuse."
During a visit to a marriage counselor, Steiner’s husband told her to stop pushing his buttons. He said that the purpose of the counseling was to improve their communication, and handed Steiner a list of conversational subject matters she must avoid. Steiner, confused, thought they were seeking counseling so he would stop hitting her. It occurred to her that this was not a man who was accepting responsibility, rather one that still believed she was to blame for his violence. Later, Steiner opted for a restraining order and a divorce. Steiner recounts, "I will probably always flinch when a man, any man, raises his voice, whether it's in a boardroom or my backyard." The high price she paid for marrying an abusive man is less than most pay. She recognizes that by proclaiming profound luck to have, while in her twenties, learned to recognize, and stay away from, abusive men. Others should be so lucky.
As Congress frantically looks for ways to pay for the various stimulus and other wasteful spending proposals, increasing estate and gift taxes seems like a natural solution. Although these two transfer taxes account for a small percentage of the government's revenues, these taxes are not on the radar screen of the middle class or its defenders. Consequently, these taxes can be increased with little unwanted attention, especially if the taxes are increased indirectly.
One way to increase a tax indirectly is to increase the tax base (i.e., increase the dollar amount to which the tax will apply). Currently, Congress is looking at eliminating valuation discounts for gifts of interests in closely held entities, such as limited liability companies and limited partnerships.
Given the current political climate it is likely that they will successfully eliminate valuation discounts. We strongly advise our clients to act quickly, while the window is still open. Now is the time to make gifts to the younger generations. Values are depressed, interest rates are low, and valuation discounts are still available.
The California Court of Appeal discussed whether the wife and heirs were compelled to arbitrate the deceased husband's wrongful death claims against a physician. Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 1295 a physician can demand arbitration of a claim for medical malpractice with a patient pursuant to an arbitration agreement not statutorily adhesive, and the husband had signed that kind of agreement. The court held that the surviving heirs' claim for a wrongful death of their father is not a derivative claim, and they cannot be compelled to arbitrate despite a collateral statute that requires consolidation of all wrongful death claims against the estate. Code of Civil Procedure Sections 377.60 et seq. The wife had conceded she was bound by her husband's agreement and must arbitrate. Result: the claims of the husband for wrongful death, and the claims of the wife, will be arbitrated; the heirs will try the same case in court.
According to LAist, "furlough days are scheduled for every third Wednesday of the month," but the L.A. Superior Court Web page does not make this clear. The Daily Breeze has more. The Superior Court Web page has a scroll.
According to Securities Docket, "California Public Employees Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension fund, has filed a lawsuit in state court in California alleging that it suffered $1 billion in losses caused by 'wildly inaccurate' credit ratings from the three leading ratings agencies." The Wall Street Examiner has comments.
On July 9, 2009, former BDO Seidman partner Robert Greisman pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with tax shelter transactions involving his firm and the law firm of Jenkens & Gilchrist. He admitted criminal responsibility for the tax shelter known as the "short option" transaction to one client, who was charged fees of approximately $513,000 by BDO Seidman and $230,000 by Jenkens & Gilchrist.
The indictment lists the following amounts as earned by the various defendants: Paul Daugerdas, $95,700,000; Erwin Mayer, $28,700,000; Donna Guerin, $17,500,000; Denis Field, $24,600,000; robert greisman, $4,200,000; Craig Brubaker, $3,300,000; David Parse, $6,000,000.
They were accused of fraud in 1) designing the tax shelters, 2) marketing the tax shelters, 3) the opinion letters, 4) backdating transactions, 5) creation of false transactional documents, 6) preparation of income tax returns, 7) the IRS audits and litigation, and 8) using the shelters to reduce the tax on the income they earned from selling the shelters to others. WSJ, Tax Girl.
On July 7, 2009, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $12.1 billion 2010 budget for the IRS. This represents a $527 million increase over the FY 2009 IRS budget. Seventy-three percent of the increase is allocated to tax enforcement, specifically the administration's initiative to target wealthy individuals and businesses who avoid U.S. taxes by parking money in overseas tax havens. However, taxpayer services would be funded at $19.2 million below the FY 2009 level.
Recently, Education Secretary Arne Duncan described the charter school movement as "absolutely one of the most profound changes in American education, bringing new options to underserved communities and introducing competition and innovation into the education system." ABC News) A recent hearing (wvx file) by the congressional Committee on Education and Labor regarding what works at charter schools focused on how outstanding charter schools are closing the achievement gap between students of different ethnic and financial backgrounds. The California Charter Schools Association released an analysis of charter schools in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) comparing charter and traditional public schools performance based on 2006-07 API data, and found that charters in LAUSD outperform traditional public schools on a variety of student achievement measures. (See CSA press kit here) Although quality charter schools are more popular than ever in Los Angeles, finding the right site and navigating the entitlement process are still prerequisites for most new charter schools. In the July/August issue of Los Angeles Lawyer, I address many of the practical issues involved in the City’s entitlement process to secure the necessary zoning approval for a new charter school.
A decision by the Second District of the California Court of Appeal illustrates how mediation confidentiality can create a trap for unwary litigants who reach a settlement.
In Rael v. Davis, 166 Cal. App. 4th 1608 (2008), the court found that a settlement agreement signed at a mediation was inadmissible pursuant to Evidence Code § 1119 and therefore unenforceable. Evidence Code §1119, sometimes referred to as the mediation privilege, protects from disclosure all oral and written communications made in connection with a mediation proceeding. Although there is an exemption to mediation confidentiality for written settlement agreements under Evidence Code § 1123, the court concluded that the agreement failed to satisfy the requirements of the exemption because it had not been personally signed by one of several parties--despite being signed by the party's counsel. The court went on to hold that "because the agreement was inadmissible, it was unenforceable in whole or in part."
How can you ensure that the settlement you reach through mediation is enforceable?
Include language in the agreement stating that it is admissible pursuant to Evidence Code § 1123 to the extent necessary to enforce its terms.
Include language stating that the parties intend for the agreement to be binding and that it may be enforced pursuant to the expedited procedures in C.C.P. § 664.6.
Make sure the agreement is personally signed by all the parties.
As previously noted, personal execution by the parties is a requirement of admissibility under Evidence Code § 1123. Personal execution by the parties is also required for enforcement pursuant to C.C.P. § 664.6. Levy v. Superior Court, 10 Cal. 4th 578 (1995). This requirement is often overlooked, particularly in class action litigation, where it is common for plaintiffs' counsel to sign a memorandum of understanding at the mediation on behalf of absent named plaintiffs. If one of the parties is not physically present at the negotiations, have the party sign a facsimile or PDF of the agreement before concluding the mediation.