Sunday, October 14, 2018

Marijuana Issues Within Custody Cases-- Big Deal Lately

Could you lose custody of your children due to smoking marijuana?

Most county employed mediators have standard provisions that parents should adhere from smoking in presence of children, or sometimes even when the kids are under the control of that specific parent. Further, even if smoking is allowed in certain areas, many mediators don't want kids near second hand smoke, period. EVEN if it's inside the house in another room...EVEN if it's anywhere near where the kids might be, play, or access? Like outside?

The "smoking" will generally cover most forms of tobacco and possibly edibles.... (cigar, cigarette, vape, medical MJ, etc...)  And many times, smoking by third parties in the home may not be a good idea due to secondhand smoke. VAPING is almost worst because it is becoming well known, that the nicotine involved, is fused with scents (i.e. cherry,etc) that the teens are running to buy/try?

In Butte County, a jury has previously returned a guilty verdict over an issue of whether medical marijuana is a defense (to child endangerment charges)--- the long contested case of  Daisy Bram, where allegedly, the lesser count of misdemeanor child endangerment was found (as opposed to child endangerment likely to cause great bodily harm)... Judge Glusman ruled that no valid evidence was presented as to the certified use of medicinal marijuana and thus it was not available as a defense. Ms. Bram was not represented by counsel, which obviously hindered her defense.

Child Endangerment in California...

Under Penal Code section 273a  there is a possibility of criminal prosecution whenever a child is under your care or custody and you:
  • Willfully permit the child to suffer;
  • Inflict unjustifiable physical or mental pain upon any child; or
  • Willfully endanger the health of a child.
If the prosecuting agency in your county believes that you are “endangering the health of your child” by smoking marijuana or growing it in a home where your children reside, you may face criminal charges....

These charges may be filed as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Of course, if the court order stated that any type of smoking or use of same is not allowed while child is under your care, a violation might be a contempt charge potentially, if the other spouse or another was to bring that claim forward?
If convicted of felony child endangerment, you could be sentenced to up to six years in prison and ordered to pay a maximum $10,000 fine. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail, up to a $1,000 fine, or both.

Why is Alcohol Allowed But Not MJ?

Generally, no courts like the idea of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, edibles, cigarettes, cigars, etc. when it comes to kids. Although there are tons of rules regarding drunk driving, there are not tons of rules for intoxication at home due to getting high on drugs, including legal marijuana and the like. While the hearsay out there is that MJ will be used, consumed and grown by large business, including beer companies, and that the feds will be changing those laws, it is a possibility, but we wouldn't bet your life on it happening super soon.

The banks and other super duty corporations always want to benefit themselves first. BUT if they manage to do it, we can be assured that they will have already thought of safer ways to tone down common marijuana so that it would be as common as alcohol, and treated closer to the way alcohol is regulated.

 OTOH, the presence of nicotine in the vaping formulas which are targeting teens (and apparently succeeding)-- is something that relies on curiosity and being popular, because "everyone" is trying it. However one is supposed to be 21 to be "vaping"....well, we are sure that plenty of people are ignoring that there law?? LOL
Parents that are smoking or vaping, your kids are watching you.

Note:  //The courts generally do not favor the smoking of MJ, even if it is medically prescribed.

 People with chronic anxiety often resort to marijuana use, or prescription meds. The meds only do so much, the overly anxious client will still be overly anxious, but somewhat better than with no meds at all.//  Another site by attorney C. Chan

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Family Law Issues, Custody Disputes, Mediation

Do You Have a Custody, Spousal, or other Family Law Problem?

It is common to see clients wade through a host of problems when there is a divorce taking place; however, obtaining results that you want-- is why you hire an attorney? Therefore it's logical that whoever you hire must understand that to get your desired result, either the legal, factual or other circumstances are on your many cases, this won't be a cake walk?

Some may laugh, but in reality, life is not always fair-- right?  Which will mean you need an attorney who has had a lot of experience with some various cases that cover a lot of territory. Attorney herein has been involved with family law cases, criminal cases, domestic violence cases, animal law cases, bankruptcy cases, civil law cases, and more. Some of attorney's cases have been on the news, TV, and online due to their high profile nature. Most of those cases involve constitutional law issues or family law cases.

Whatever type of issues you have in a divorce case, attorney has probably seen it in the past. Because attorney also can handle criminal law cases, it has helped clients in part because there can be cross over related issues in certain cases, including fraud, bankruptcy and other financial situations.

Attorney offers free consultations on family cases-- call anytime! 

Atty. C. Chan, Esq. Roseville 916.794.5777

Friday, August 3, 2018

How Can I Fix My current Custody Situation?

Generally in California, the counties provide family law mediators at little to no cost to litigants; you are not forced to use the service, and can usually obtain your own services by paying for the service.
Usually, the parties agree that they will not use the mediation services of the court and will obtain a private mediation person or group that has such a mediator.

Many of the mediators that work for the court system have seen many cases, and because they are human, they may make mistakes. That is not to say a private mediator can't also make a mistake. The mediator's job is to do the evaluation and then make a "recommendation" to the court. The recommendation is NOT an order.  The court is NOT required to "adopt" the mediation, and the parties are NOT required to accept the mediation recommendation themselves.

Thus, the recommendation, if not accepted by at least one of the parties, can result in a trial. In about 75% of cases (not an exact percentage) judges will tend to adopt the recommendation of the mediator.  But as stated, if a party objects to that recommendation being adopted, a trial can be held, OR it's possible the parties can work out something different. Some recommendations may have clauses which give review dates in the future, others may not.  If in your jurisdiction, you know you do not want the court mediator(s), then you must tell the court that you wish to have private mediator services, and should discuss that in advance with the other party.

In high conflict cases, mediation may be the tip of the iceberg...extremely high conflict cases are not usually solved by using a mediator no matter what recommendation is given, the parties will continue to not get along and will have issues.  It is this attorney's belief that in some high conflict cases where neither party is represented, the judges simply assume that minor's counsel can fix the problem.  This is not necessarily true for all cases, especially when there has been one sided action (criminal, quasi-criminal, mental illness, imprisonment/other facts which cause one party not to work, and etc.)  In these cases, it can be that no amount of minor's counsel will be solving anything.

Attorney has seen plenty of high conflict cases over the years.  If you feel you need help on your case that might involve unsettled issues, call attorney 916-794-5557. There is no charge for the consultation. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Temporary Spousal v Ongoing Support

There is a Major Difference Between Temporary Spousal and Ongoing you Need to Win your Case?!

Basically, temporary spousal support is done by using the Dissomaster program; ongoing or sometimes called permanent spousal support, is not done by using the Dissomaster, and requires the Court to use certain factors in deciding just how much should, if at all, be paid.  Because there are 14 factors to be considered, it is pretty obvious that an attorney who has experience in figuring out how to best defend the paying client-- this is what you would need if you are the "paying" client.  In most cases, it will be the husband or the spouse that earned more during the marriage.

Conversely, the person who is attempting to get or keep the ongoing spousal will need an attorney who can prove that the client basically needs the support, and that it is warranted under the circumstances.  These days, many people are living far past retirement age, and many people will be working or are forced to work past retirement age. This could have some interesting ramifications on spousal support, because many more women who may not have worked in the past, are now working. Because the family code expects that each person (wife or husband) post separation, is to make efforts to become self supporting if not already doing so, this means that the stay at home person must make those efforts to become gainfully employed.

Attorney herein has had plenty of cases both for the worker spouse, or the non worker spouse. Also because attorney is basically a defense attorney, it is much easier to raise defenses in many areas from a logistical view, factual view, and legal view. In part, this may be why attorney has such a high win rate in contested cases.  
If you have a difficult case, attorney encourages you to call for your free consultation!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Licensing Paralegals: California Question of Legal Cost and More

Could licensing Paralegals in California help drive down legal costs?
Between 75 percent and 85 percent of people who show up in family court in California represent themselves — that’s because hiring a lawyer for a contested divorce costs the average Californian six months’ pay.
Few events are as stressful as a divorce. But for many Californians who can’t afford lawyers, having to represent themselves in family court compounds their troubles.
Judge Mark Juhas, who hears family law cases in Los Angeles, tells the story of a couple that was finalizing their divorce and had prepared their own paperwork for their final court appearance. But they hadn’t filled it out properly, and the judge told them what they needed to fix. They followed his instructions and came back for a second hearing, but the documents still weren’t correct. They returned a third time, then a fourth. Finally on the fifth try, they got it right.
Between 75 and 85 percent of Californians who show up in family court represent themselves. That’s often not just time consuming and frustrating for them; self-represented litigants also cost courts time and money. And family court judges already contend with a charged atmosphere, hearing cases involving issues like domestic violence and child abuse, in addition to refereeing divorces.
To help more people afford representation, the State Bar of California is considering creating a class of licensed paralegals who could open up their own practices to offer a limited set of legal services. Currently, paralegals must work under the supervision of lawyers, no matter the service they provide.
The Bar’s idea raises scope-of-practice issues, and similar ideas have long been contentious in the medical field, pitting doctors against pharmacists and nurses. Supporters of the plan claim it would make more legal expertise available to people without deep pockets. Opponents counter that it would compromise the quality of legal advice and drive more lawyers out of business at a time when many are struggling.
The fragile bottom line
Gone are the days when a law degree automatically equated to a snazzy lifestyle. In-state tuition at public law schools rose almost seven times faster than inflation from 1985 to 2012. That has young lawyers coming out of school with big obligations — average student debt at public law schools went from just over $50,000 in 2007 to about $75,000 by 2011 and from $80,000 to $120,000 at private schools.
Meanwhile, starting salaries for lawyers dropped 15 percent from 2008 to 2012 to about $61,000. So most young lawyers can’t afford to lower their rates or take on much pro bono or nonprofit legal work.
But their would-be clients generally aren’t getting raises either, so many people still can’t afford to hire an attorney. For every legal aid lawyer in California, 9,000 clients need their services. Hiring a lawyer for a contested divorce costs the average Californian six months’ pay. Even representation for an uncontested divorce consumes one month’s pay according to advocacy group Consumers for a Responsive Legal System.
“My own opinion is that the economics of the traditional law firm, even a solo practitioner, are out of whack with the price that one would need to deliver high-quality legal services to the average person on the street,” says Joe Dunn, executive director of the California Bar. “If you accept that the legal profession is there to serve clients, we’re not serving the majority who need services.”
The paralegal experiment
To the north, Washington state is launching an effort to change that. In 2012, the state’s Supreme Court passed a rule allowing paralegals to open up their own practices. The first paralegals will get their licenses later this year.
Washington’s rule sets educational and experience requirements for licensees, requires them to carry liability insurance and establishes rules of professional conduct, among other regulations. 
They’ll be able to tackle lower-level tasks like explaining legal proceedings to clients and outlining the positions being presented on each side of a case. But they won’t be allowed to represent clients in court or negotiate with opposing counsel. The new ruleapplies only to family law, but could eventually cover housing, immigration and elder law, too. 
A similar system has been operating in Ontario, Canada, since 2007. There are now about 5,000 licensed paralegals in that province. Ontario’s licensees have a wider scope of practice and can represent clients in cases involving small claims, traffic offenses, landlord/tenant law and minor criminal offenses.
The proposal being considered by the California Bar is still undefined but could fall somewhere in between. It might allow licensed paralegals to represent clients, says Dunn. That was the preference of the Bar’s working group that recommended serious consideration of the licensing idea. But like Washington state, licensees would be confined to working in family law, at least at first.
But would it work?
The California Bar’s consideration of the concept has divided California’s legal community. “We did receive a lot of angry emails from lawyers,” Dunn says. He wasn’t surprised. Opposition was also fierce within the Washington State Bar Association, whose board voted down the idea of licensing paralegals in both 2006 and 2008.
Some critics say licensing paralegals won’t solve the deeper issues of the sometimes-contentious family court process. Estate planning attorney Joan Medeiros of Sacramento argues that, in divorce cases, the Bar should focus on changing the process itself rather than tinkering around the edges. “It’s a crazy system, very punitive,” she says. The Bar should work on creating a “saner process” for dissolution of marriages that doesn’t require everybody to lawyer up, she says.
Andrew Cain, executive chair of the Bar’s Family Law Section, takes a middle ground. He agrees that there’s a huge gap in access to attorneys, but he wouldn’t want to see non-lawyers actually representing clients in court. The financial ramifications of mistakes are too great, he argues. At a minimum, the Family Law Section would want to see strict education, experience and supervision requirements, along the lines of Washington state’s system, he says.
Other opponents argue that broadening the market would drive even more young, rural and less affluent solo practitioners out of business. “I keep having to lower my fees to deal with so much competition, especially from paralegals, legal document preparers, bankruptcy petition preparers and unlawful detainer assistants,” wrote one young San Diego attorney in response to the Bar’s request for comments. “I was recently named one of San Diego’s top young attorneys, but I can barely afford rent.”
But Paula Littlewood, executive director of the Washington State Bar, contends that licensed paralegals by definition, will be doing work that current lawyers are not. 
As in California, 85 percent of lower- and middle-income clients in Washington (meaning a family of four earning less than $92,000 a year) are going without representation, she says. “If a legal technician charges what a lawyer does, then people will go to the lawyer,” she contends. 
Some who oppose the proposal argue whether licensed paralegals will actually be able to offer services for much less money since they will have some of the same overhead costs as lawyers, including insurance, advertising and office space. No formal study comparing rates has been done in Ontario, according to Roy Thomas of Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada, which administers the province’s program. But based on what’s shared anecdotally, he says, licensed paralegals are charging about half of what lawyers do.
The benefit to business
If California does go the way of Washington and Canada, it could benefit a limited number of businesses. Melanee Cottrill, board president of the Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association, works in a law firm specializing in business improvement districts. She provides services to nonprofits and says she could offer the same services, like drafting corporate organizing documents, to for-profit startups for less money than a lawyer would charge.
And if Washington state’s proposal is expanded to include housing law, licensed paralegals could be useful to small landlords. Those owners sometimes try to handle evictions themselves because they can’t afford lawyers, but they could benefit from help navigating those and other legal problems, says Christopher Benis, a lawyer and landlord who advises the Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound in Seattle. He favors the proposal as long as there are “clear sideboards” on what licensed paralegals can do.
Roger Niello of the Sacramento Metro Chamber responded cautiously to news about the idea, since scope-of-practice issues are so controversial. The quality of legal services provided is important, and he says he would want input from the Chamber’s legal community before the organization took a position. 
With or without business leaders’ support, the idea has a long way to go. It next will appear on the agenda of a California Bar study group that this spring will look into the broader issue of how to widen access to legal representation. Even if it emerges from there, the California  Supreme Court would have to pass a rule authorizing it. If the proposal stalls, says Dunn, “It wouldn’t be for lack of trying.” And if it does and Washington state’s experience is any guide, it will 
be back.  
Steven Yoder writes about business, real estate and criminal justice. His work has appeared in The Fiscal Times, Salon, The American Prospect and elsewhere. Online at

Steven Yoder

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Roseville Divorce Family Law Attorney