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  • There is no exercise more frustrating for a landlord than collecting unpaid rent from a deadbeat tenant.   The legal process for doing so is often a costly and time consuming process regardless of the state you live in.  Even if you're ultimately successful in obtaining a judgment against your tenant, it takes weeks if not months to have them physically evicted, and a money judgment is useless if the tenant has no money to pay it.   In an effort to avoid court, many landlords engage in "self-help" tactics, such as changing the locks or turning off utilities in order to get their recalcitrant tenants to cough up.  However, those methods are often illegal and can get the landlord in a lot of trouble.  These facts beg the question: Is there any other alternative to legal process that won't leave the landlord in hot water?   The short answer to that question is yes, but only to a degree.  The best way to protect yourself is to first ensure that you have a written lease agreement in place.  Without a written agreement, there is no certainty on how much rent is due and when it must be paid, and if you can't establish the existence and the specifics of an agreement, you are unlikely to collect a dime should the tenant decide not to pay.  Any decently written lease contract will define all the specifics of a rental agreement, such including the amount of rent and when it must be paid, along with matters such as security deposits, utilities, upkeep, and the like.  But to avoid going to court and getting into trouble, be certain to include as many  self-help remedies into your lease as the law allows.  By incorporating those remedies into your lease contract, you can engage in them without getting into trouble.   For example, you might also be able to obtain a security interest in certain items of the tenant's personal property, such as a car or a television, in order For example, if the tenant has a 52 inch Sony flat screen TV, consider requiring the prospective tenant to grant you a lien on that item in the lease itself.  If you are able to do this, be certain to include specific instructions on how you can collect on that lien, and follow those instructions to the letter.   State laws usually address how to engage in self-help remedies.  Many states permit land-lord liens on tenant property, lockouts, and entries, and eviction procedures.  Note that some states limit the types of property that a landlord can seize to collect unpaid back or delinquent rent, and impose other limitations as well (most states do not permit utility shut-off as a way to collect past due rent).   To secure a well written lease, start here.    
    Landlords: How to Collect Unpaid Rent Without Going to Court
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
    Is Your Contract Enforceable?
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
    Ten Biggest Courtroom Mistakes
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [eight_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/eight_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
    Courtroom Etiquitte
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [seven_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/seven_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
    Motion Practice: The Oral Argument
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [seven_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/seven_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
    Filing Nightmares
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [seven_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/seven_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
    Objections and When to Make Them
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [seven_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/seven_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
    The Art & Science of Cross Examination
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYI6QHhRf_A&feature=plcp Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [seven_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/seven_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
    David vs. Goliath: Suing Your Insurance Company
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYI6QHhRf_A&feature=plcp Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [seven_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/seven_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
    Suing for Breach of Warranty
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [seven_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/seven_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
    The Hearsay Rule
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [seven_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/seven_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
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  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [superquote]95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.[/superquote] Ready for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and More Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Filterable Plugin + Lightbox Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. [aside title="Aside Title"]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.[/aside] [seven_columns]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.[/seven_columns] [feature href="#" buttontext="Download Now!"]Ready to get started with Super Skeleton?[/feature]
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    The Art of the Settlement
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  • Small claims courts are courts of limited jurisdiction- meaning that they only handle disputes that don't involve large amounts of money. Each state has a threshold amount that falls within the jurisdiction of their small claims court- to find out what the amount is in your state, click here. In some cases, a plaintiff must choose whether to sue in small claims court or regular court.  By suing in a small-claims court, the plaintiff typically waives any right to claim more than the court can award, but can take advantage of the expedited and simpler nature of the small claims venue.    The plaintiff may or may not be allowed to reduce a claim to fit the requirements of this venue. 'Court shopping'—where a plaintiff reduces the damage claim amount to have a trial in a court that otherwise does not have jurisdiction—is strictly forbidden in some states. For example, if a plaintiff asserts damages of $30,000 in hopes of winning an award of $25,000 in small-claims court, the court dismisses the case because the court does not have jurisdiction to hear cases in which asserted damages exceed the court's maximum amount. Thus, even if the plaintiff is willing to accept less than the full amount, the case cannot be brought to small-claims court. To bring the case to small-claims court, the plaintiff must prove that actual damages are within the court's jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, a party who loses in a small-claims court is entitled to a trial de novo in a court of more general jurisdiction and with more formal procedures. The rules of civil procedure, and sometimes of evidence, are typically altered and simplified to make the procedures economical. A usual guiding principle in these courts is that individuals ought to be able to conduct their own cases and represent themselves without a lawyer. Rules are relaxed, but still apply to some degree. In some jurisdictions, corporations must still be represented by a lawyer in small-claims court. Expensive court procedures such as interrogatories and depositions are usually not allowed in small-claims court, and practically all matters filed in small-claims court are set for trial. Under some court rules, should the defendant not show up at trial and not have requested postponement, a default judgment may be entered in favor of the plaintiff. Jury trials are seldom or never conducted in small-claims courts. Similarly, equitable remedies such as injunctions are seldom available from small-claims courts. Winning in small-claims court does not automatically ensure payment in recompense of a plaintiff's damages. This may be relatively easy, in the case of a dispute against an insured party, or extremely difficult, in the case of an uncooperative, transient, or indigent defendant. The judgment may be collected through wage garnishment and liens. Most courts encourage parties with disputes to seek alternative dispute resolution, if possible, before filing suit.  
    What is Small Claims Court?
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  • 1. Don't Miss Your Court Date. Court is not an appointment that can be missed or rescheduled. If you miss your court date (including being late) for a criminal case or contempt matter, a warrant may be issued for your arrest. If the hearing is not a criminal matter, you will likely lose the case by default. If you have a serious reason why you cannot go to court on the assigned day, call the Judge's clerk. Usually you need to file papers requesting a change, or get the other side to agree to change the date. If you are the defendant or respondent in a case (someone else started the case) and you agree with the other side's requests or don't have any defense, you may think there is no point in going to court. Not going can be dangerous because you might not fully understand everything that can or will be ordered in your absence. It is best to get legal advice before deciding not to go to the hearing. 2. Allow Plenty of Time to Get to Court. You should arrive at the courtroom 30 minutes before your hearing time. Consider the traffic, weather, parking, frequency of the bus or light rail, and allow plenty of extra time. You may need to wait in lines for weapons screening, and finding the correct building and courtroom can take time. Being late can make you anxious and unable to do your best. The hearing might last longer than you think, so parking at a meter is not a good idea. 3. Bring your files. You should have a file with copies of all papers you and the other side have filed with the court, or given to each other. Bring a notepad and pens for taking notes during the hearing. 4. Bring an outline of what you want to say. As you cover each point, check it off. Before you conclude, look back to see if you covered each point. The Judge will only want to hear information that is needed to evaluate the requests made in the court papers.  Practice explaining your claim to a friend. If your friend doesn't understand you or find your argument convincing, think about how to improve your presentation. 5. Bring your evidence. Sometimes a court hearing is a trial where you bring all your witnesses and evidence. Other times the hearing has a different purpose. Read all notices and orders you received about the hearing carefully. If you are not sure what will happen at a hearing, or you are not sure what to bring to the hearing, get help right away. You can call court administration or the Judge's clerk. There are limits on how much they can help you, but you can start there. If you come to the hearing unprepared, you could lose your case or be fined. However, coming unprepared is better than not coming at all. If you are supposed to bring evidence and witnesses to the hearing, bring everything. If you have documents or pictures, bring the original item and 2 copies (original for the court, one copy for you, one copy for the other side.) Ask your witnesses to arrive early and dress nicely. Some documents can't be used as evidence unless the right person is in the courtroom to explain the document and answer questions about it. 6. Dress for success. Wear conservative clothing. Shorts, T-shirts, plunging necklines, and torn clothing are not appropriate. Lawyers are required to wear suits. You do not have to buy new clothing for court, but remember it is a formal place and you want to be conservative and respectful in dress and behavior. 7. Leave the kids at home. Unless the court has told you to bring your children to the hearing, make arrangements for someone to take care of your children. 8. Conduct yourself properly. Certain behaviors are not allowed because they are noisy, distracting or disrespectful. You cannot: chew gum, eat, read a newspaper, sleep, wear a hat, listen to earphones, carry a cell phone or pager unless it's turned off, have a camera or camera phone, or carry a weapon. During the hearing you should listen carefully, ask permission of the Judge to speak, talk directly to the judge and not the other side, avoid arguing with or interrupting another person, and control your emotions. When you talk to the Judge, start by saying "Your Honor". Speak loudly and clearly and remember that only one person can speak at a time. A court reporter is taking down everything said in the courtroom, and can only record one speaker at a time. 9.  Don't be a sore loser.  If the judge rules in the other party's favor, do not shout, argue, or protest, no matter how unjust you think his decision might be.  No matter what you say, the judge will not change his mind.  Just nod your head politely, and leave the courtroom when the case is dismissed, and if you're entitled to appeal, get busy. 10. Know what happens next. Do you need to come back for another court hearing? Do you need to prepare a written legal argument or proposed court order? Do you need to take other steps or actions? Will the Judge make an order as a result of the hearing? Sometimes orders are written up right away - as you wait. Or, the judge may think about the case and write an order later and send it in the mail. Politely ask questions if you do not understand what will happen next.
    Top Ten Tips for Your Day in Court
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  • Morbi quam libero, accumsan at vestibulum sed, semper id risus. Donec dapibus volutpat facilisis. Donec eu urna id nulla tincidunt euismod id ac mi. Pellentesque feugiat mi sed ligula blandit semper. Vivamus varius, tellus quis fermentum interdum, mauris quam rutrum arcu, id ultricies risus dolor nec metus. Aenean elit leo, egestas at dignissim quis, facilisis at dolor. Suspendisse potenti... end
    Handling Objections
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    What is Quantum Meruit?
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    Horror Story 24: The Giggles
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  • Does someone who serves as his own lawyer have a fool for a client?  That really depends on how you look at it.  Although the court system can (and is) more than a little intimidating, there are some distinct advantages to representing yourself- advantages that attorneys do not share. 1.  Leeway:  Attorneys can expect little or no forgiveness for screwing up in court- both from their clients or the judge.  In contrast, many judges give pro-se litigants a surprising amount of leeway when it comes to procedural matters (i.e., making motions, citations, objections, etc.).  I've even seen judges interrupt a plaintiff's attorney and encourage the pro-se defendant to object!   Of course, if you keep making the same mistakes, your ability to get a pass from the court will gradually diminish if not disappear.   [column size="1-2" last="0"] [/column] [column size="1-2" last="1"] 2.  It's a lose/lose for attorneys:  Attorneys hate representing clients against pro-se litigants.  First, as stated above, pro-se litigants enjoy considerably more leeway when it comes to procedural matters- a frustrating advantage that attorneys cannot share, regardless of how much experience they have.  In addition, having a case against a pro-se litigant often represents a lose/lose proposition for the attorney.  First, their clients and their employers expect them to easily win the case.  If they do, they get little or no credit for it, and if they lose, they lose a lot more than the case.  Their client will be furious and balk at paying the bill, and their employer won't be very pleased either.  They also risk losing face in front of the court and their peers.  It's sort of like a schoolyard bully beating up on a seemingly helpless kindergartner. [/column] 3.  Everyone loves an underdog:  When it comes to choosing a jury of your peers, pro-se litigants have a distinct advantage.  Would-be jurors will naturally sympathize with someone just like themselves who is standing up to someone who can afford a slick attorney as a mouthpiece. Here's an important note:  don't rely on these advantages to win your case.  Regardless of how much leeway you get, and how good you are at pleading your case in front of a judge or jury, you will not win if your case is weak.  Even with a strong case, there is no doubt that the odds are stacked against pro-se litigants.  The best way to capitalize on these advantages is to negotiate a reasonable settlement with the other side.  
    Advantages to Representing Yourself in Court
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  • Types of Jurisdiction Earlier in this article, we introduced the notion of jurisdiction. All courts have two types of jurisdiction: subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. Let’s go over how these types of jurisdiction work for federal courts. Subject Matter Jurisdiction Subject matter jurisdiction concerns the area of law over which a court has authority. There are two “subsets” of subject matter jurisdiction. Federal Question Jurisdiction Federal courts can decide cases involving disputes under federal law, the U.S. government, conflicts between states or between the U.S. and foreign governments. The case has to raise a “federal question” in order to be heard in federal court. Diversity Jurisdiction A case can be filed in federal court because of a “diversity of citizenship” of the parties involved, meaning that the case involves citizens of different states. Only cases involving more than $75,000 can be filed in federal court, and any diversity jurisdiction case can also be brought in a state court. Personal Jurisdiction Personal jurisdiction is the question of whether a court has authority over an individual or business entity. For example, a court in Vermont cannot make a California resident come to Vermont to defend a lawsuit if he’s never had contact with that state -- either by going to that state, having contact with someone in that state, selling something to a Vermont resident, etc. Similarly, foreigners can’t be made to come to U.S. courts unless the foreigner has had contacts with people in the U.S. relating to the case. Generally, corporations are treated like individuals in federal and state courts. They can sue and be sued. For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, there are also rules that determine of which state a corporation is a “citizen.” Personal jurisdiction sounds simple, and in many cases it is.  If you've never been to Alaska and you've never done business with anyone in Alaska, then you cannot be sued in Alaska.  Things get tricky however, in those cases in which someone has limited connections to the forum in question.  For example, if you're a California resident and called someone in Mississippi to make a defamatory statement about someone who lives in Wyoming, can that person sue you for defamation in Wyoming?  Can they sue you in Mississippi?  
    Jurisdiction: What is it, who has it, and how do you get it?
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  • If you are considering filing a complaint against a corporation or limited liability company, you may want to ask yourself whether you can also name the company's shareholders, directors or officers as defendants as well. [column size="1-3" last="0"] [/column] [column size="2-3" last="1"] Generally, the law encourages business ventures, risk-taking, and entrepreneurial activity by the creation of what is known as the "corporate veil." When transacting business through a corporate entity, the corporate veil doctrine protects the personal assets of the company's officers, directors, and shareholders, and limits liability exposure to the assets of the corporation. But this is not an absolute protection.  If individuals are treating the corporation as an "alter-ego," courts will disregard the corporate entity, allowing for individual shareholders, directors or officers to be held liable in certain circumstances. This is also known as “piercing the corporate veil.”   In many states, courts can pierce the corporate veil when both of the following two requirements are met: (1) Unity of Interests – The shareholders in question have treated the corporation as their “alter ego,” rather than as a separate entity; and (2) Inequitable Result – Upholding the corporate entity and allowing for the shareholders to dodge personal liability for its debts would “sanction a fraud or promote an injustice.”  Courts apply a factor-by-factor test to determine whether “alter-ego” liability is appropriate. These factors are laid out in the California case of Associated Vendors Inc. v. Oakland Meat Packing, Co. (1962). 1) Did the individual Defendant(s) act in bad faith? 2) Did the individuals contract with another with the intent to avoid performance by using a corporate entity as a shield against personal liability? 3) Did the individuals divert assets from a corporation by or to a stockholder or other person or entity to the detriment of creditors? 4) Domination of the corporation by a few key individuals? 5) Did the individuals and corporation use the same office or business location? 6) Did the individuals and the corporation employ the same attorney? 7) Did the individuals use the entity to procure labor, services and merchandise for another person or entity? 8) Did the individuals fail to adequately capitalize the corporation? 9) Did the individuals fail to maintain minutes or adequate corporate records? 10) Will there be an inequitable result if the court fails to pierce? [/column] The burden of establishing alter-ego liability is on the plaintiff. Absent factors supporting individual liability, courts are reluctant to pierce the corporate veil because alter-ego liability is fundamentally at odds with the general rule that a corporation is a legal entity separate from its founders and owners; and the law specifically permits owners to incorporate a business for the very purpose of shielding them from its liabilities. However, California courts have “followed a liberal policy of applying the alter-ego doctrine where the equities and justice of the situation appear to call for it.  In practice, the alter-ego doctrine is usually applied where there are only a few shareholders and they have not respected their corporation’s separate identity. When evaluating alter-ego liability, courts do not make a distinction between forms of corporations, and the doctrine applies equally to non-profit corporations and for-profit corporations.
    Piercing the Corporate Veil
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  • As discussed in the article on personal injury damages, "pain and suffering" is a key component of compensatory damages.  But what is your pain and suffering really worth? Types of Pain and Suffering "Pain and Suffering" damages come in two flavors: mental and physical. Physical Pain and Suffering.   This is pain and discomfort resulting from your actual physical injuries, both in the past and projected into the future. Mental Pain and Suffering.  Mental pain and suffering most often arise from the physical injuries you sustained.  Mental pain and suffering includes things like mental anguish, emotional distress, depression, fear, anger, even Post-Tramautic Stress Disorder.  Just about any kind of negative emotion can be classified as mental pain and suffering if it is a direct result from the physical pain of your injuries. [column size="2-3" last="0"] Calculating Pain And Suffering There are few guidelines for determining the value of pain and suffering.  Juries are often instructed to use their good sense, background, and experience in determining a fair and reasonable pain and suffering award.  To determine a potential dollar value, some PI attorneys estimate pain and suffering injuries to be three times the value of compensatory damages.  Thus, if your compensatory damages total $50,000, pain and suffering damages may be $150,000.  This is a rough estimate, however, and may not even remotely apply to your case. Proving Pain And Suffering Damages If you're seeking to obtain damages for pain and suffering, you'll need at least a few witnesses willing to testify on how the accident affected your life.  They'll need to discuss how you were before, and how you were afterwards.  The most important thing is to have some element of pain and suffering that strikes a chord in a judge or jury. For example, let's say that the one thing that you treasured above everything else was to pick up your 2 year old child and comfort her when she was crying.  Now thanks to your injuries you can no longer do that, and every time she cries it breaks your heart.   In contrast, if you were once passionate about kayaking, and you can no longer kayak thanks to the accident, it's less likely that you will garner sympathy with a jury, because few of them own or use kayaks. [/column] [column size="1-3" last="1"] [/column]  
    What is Pain & Suffering?
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  • Few things are more stressful and terrifying as being charged with a crime.  Fortunately, our Constitution gives us all certain rights when dealing with the police.  Unfortunately, 99% of the population are utterly ignorant of what those rights are, or how they operate.  Here's a brief summary of the most important rights, which can help prevent a bad situation from getting even worse. Miranda Rights Thanks to thirty years of cop shows, nearly everyone is familiar with the following sentences uttered by police when arresting a suspect: You have the right to remain silent. If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire. If you choose to talk to the police officer, you have the right to stop the interview at any time.   [column size="1-2" last="0"] These are called "Miranda warnings," based on the case of Miranda vs. Arizona, and they inform suspects of the rights granted by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Police are required to provide Miranda warnings at certain points during and after the arrest. If a person is in custody, the police must read them their Miranda rights if they want to question the suspect and use the suspect's answers as evidence at trial.  The Miranda requirement is only triggered by custody, which means they are deprived of their freedom of action in any significant way.  If a person is not in police custody, no Miranda warning is required and anything the person says can be used at trial if the person is later charged with a crime.  Police officers routinely question suspects after carefully letting them know that they are not under arrest and are free to leave—that way, officers don’t have to provide Miranda warnings. [/column] [column size="1-2" last="1"] [/column] If the police fail to provide Miranda warnings, the case is not automatically thrown out of court.  Instead, nothing a person says while in custody can be used as evidence against the person at his or her trial.    Officers must provide Miranda warnings whenever they interrogate someone who is in custody. “Interrogation” includes not only express questioning, but also any words or actions that police officers should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. Stop and Frisk Searches A "stop and frisk" search occurs when a policeman stops a person on the street and carries out a pat-down search for weapons. Police are permitted to do this whenever they have  a reasonable suspicion that you may be engaged in criminal activity.  When frisking a person for weapons, police may feel a something other than a wallet, phone or keys, which could trigger a suspicion that you're carrying illegal drugs, which may turn into sufficient cause for a more intensive search.  If that search reveals an illegal substance, the officer may arrest you. Staying Silent The best advice any lawyer can give is to keep quiet after being arrested until you consult with an attorney.  Most people wind up talking, if only to fill the silence.  Police are very good at getting people to talk, which often results in someone revealing information that can later be used as evidence against them. If you're approached by a policeman, you have the  legal right to refuse to answer questions, and if you think you're a suspect in any sort of crime, you should refuse to answer any questions until after consulting an attorney.  This is a constitutional right, and you can't be arrested for staying silent.  However, you should be aware of several exceptions to this rule. Loitering. Policemen generally have the right to question you if they suspect you of loitering, which is generally defined as "wandering about from place to place without apparent business, such that the person poses a threat to public safety."  If you're just standing around doing nothing in particular, a policeman can demand identification and ask what you're doing.  If you refuse to answer, you can be arrested for loitering. Traffic Stops. Another situation in which you may have to answer police questions is when they pull you over for a traffic violation.  In that case, they have the right to ask for your driver's license and registration, and if you refuse, this may trigger an arrest based on the suspicion that you're driving without a license (along with committing the traffic offense). Invoking Your Right to Silence Even if you've been given the Miranda warning regarding the right to silence, keeping silent afterwards is not enough to invoke that right.  You need to affirmatively state that you're invoking your right to silence, and have nothing further to say.
    Dealing With Police
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  • Learn the important differences between Civil Law and Criminal Law. Definition and Purpose Civil Law:  Civil Law deals with the disputes between individuals, organizations, or between the two, in which compensation is awarded to the victim.  The purpose of civil law is to help resolve disputes between individuals, organizations, or the government. Criminal Law:  Criminal law is the body of law that deals with crime and the legal punishment of criminal offenses.  The purpose of criminal law is to maintain the stability of the state and society by punishing offenders and deterring them and others from offending. Standard of Proof Civil Law:  In a civil law context, the plaintiff can only win if the preponderance of the evidence is in his favor.  In other words, it must be more likely than not that the plaintiff is entitled to compensation. Criminal Law:  To convict someone of a crime, the prosecutor must show that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Punishment Civil Law:  The losing party in a civil case is usually required to financially compensate the prevailing party for injuries or damages.  The losing party may also be enjoined (prohibited) from engaging in certain behavior. Criminal Law:  A guilty defendant is subject to imprisonment, fines, or community service. In certain states, particularly heinous crimes may result in the death penalty. Types of Cases Civil Law:  Personal injury, contract disputes, employment disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, divorce proceedings, child custody proceedings, property disputes, etc. Criminal Law:  Theft, assault, robbery, trafficking in controlled substances, murder, etc. Appeals Civil Law:  Either party can appeal a court's decision. Criminal Law:  Only the defendant may appeal a court's verdict. The prosecution is not allowed to appeal. Juries Civil Law:  Jury verdicts may not need to be unanimous, depending on the laws of the state. Criminal Law:  The jury must agree unanimously before a defendant is convicted.  
    Civil Law vs. Criminal Law
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  • [heading]How Bankruptcy Works[/heading] Consumers considering personal bankruptcy have two choices: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Chapter 7 allows you to effectively eliminate (discharge) most if not all of your unsecured debts without having to pay them. This includes credit card debt, medical debt, and personal loans. Unfortunately, not all consumers qualify for a Chapter 7, and have to qualify by demonstrating that their income has been less than the average income in their geographic area.  There are other criteria as well.  Also, not all debts are subject to discharge, such as tax debts, student loans, and child support payments. Click Here to see whether you qualify to discharge your debts through Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Chapter 13 is usually an option for those who do not qualify for a Chapter 7, or own real estate that is in danger of foreclosure, or owe large tax debts and cannot otherwise qualify for an IRS payment plan. It is also useful for placing a hold on pending lawsuits. Chapter 13 requires the debtor to make monthly payments to a court appointed trustee for a period of 3 to 5 years in accordance with a court-approved plan.   The trustee then distributes the amount to creditors.   With Chapter 13, creditors are eventually paid what they are owed. What Bankruptcy Does In most cases, filing bankruptcy immediately stops creditors from seeking to collect debts from you, at least until they’re sorted out by the bankruptcy court.  Bankruptcy may make it possible to: Stop foreclosure or repossession of property so you can catch up on missed payments. Stop wage garnishments, debt collection harassment, and similar creditor actions to collect a debt; and Allow you to challenge creditors who have committed fraud or are trying to collect more money than you really owe. What Bankruptcy Doesn't Do Of course, bankruptcy can't cure every financial problem, and not every kind of debt can be eliminated.   For instance, in bankruptcy, it is usually not possible to: Eliminate certain types of debt, such as child support, alimony, certain other debts related to divorce, most student loans, criminal fines, and some taxes. Eliminate debts that are secured by collateral, like car loans and home mortgages. Filing for bankruptcy will not protect co-signers on your debts. If a relative or friend has co-signed a loan, and you discharge the loan in bankruptcy, the co-signer may still have to repay all or part of the loan.
    How Bankruptcy Works
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  • [column size="1-2" last="0"] The Judicial Branch has two court systems: federal and state. While each hears certain types of cases, neither is completely independent of the other. The two systems often interact and share the goal of fairly handling legal issues.  The U.S. Constitution created a governmental structure known as federalism that calls for the sharing of powers between the national and state governments. The Constitution gives certain powers to the federal government and reserves the rest for the states. The federal court system deals with legal issues expressly or implicitly granted to it by the U.S. Constitution.  The state court systems deal with their respective state constitutions and the legal issues that the U.S. Constitution did not give to the federal government or explicitly deny to the states.   [/column] [column size="1-2" last="1"] [/column] The following should help illustrate how the two court systems work, both on their own and in concert with each other. Structure [column size="1-2" last="0"] Federal Court The U.S. Constitution invests the judicial power of the United States in the federal court system. Article III, Section 1 specifically creates the U.S. Supreme Court and gives Congress the authority to create the lower federal courts. Congress has established  13 U.S. Courts of Appeals, the 94 U.S. District Courts, the U.S. Court of Claims, and the U.S. Court of International Trade. U.S. Bankruptcy Courts handle bankruptcy cases. Magistrate Judges handle some District Court matters. Parties dissatisfied with a decision of a U.S. District Court, the U.S. Court of Claims, and/or the U.S. Court of International Trade may appeal to a U.S. Court of Appeals. A party may ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals, but the Supreme Court usually is under no obligation to do so.  [/column] [column size="1-2" last="1"] State Court The Constitution and laws of each state establish the state courts. A court of last resort, often known as a Supreme Court, is usually the highest court. Some states also have an intermediate Court of Appeals. Below these appeals courts are the state trial courts. Some are referred to as Circuit or District Courts. States also usually have courts that handle specific legal matters, e.g., probate court (wills and estates); juvenile court; family court; etc. Parties dissatisfied with the decision of the trial court may take their case to the intermediate Court of Appeals. Parties have the option to ask the highest state court to hear the case. Only certain cases are eligible for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. [/column] [divider top="1" style="solid"] Selection of Judges [column size="1-2" last="0"] Federal Court Federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. They hold office for life. Through Congressional impeachment proceedings, federal judges may be removed from office for misbehavior. . [/column] [column size="1-2" last="1"] State Court State court judges are selected in a variety of ways, including election, appointment (for a given number of years or life); or a combination of these methods. [/column] [divider top="1"] Types of Cases Heard [column size="1-2" last="0"] Federal Court Cases that deal with the constitutionality of a law; Cases involving the laws and treaties of the U.S.; Ambassadors and public ministers; Disputes between two or more states; Admiralty law; and Bankruptcy. [/column] [column size="1-2" last="1"] State Court Most criminal cases, probate (involving wills and estates) Most contract cases, tort cases (personal injuries), family law (marriages, divorces, adoptions), etc. State courts are the final arbiters of state laws and constitutions. Their interpretation of federal law or the U.S. Constitution may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court may choose to hear or not to hear such cases.  [/column] [divider top="1"]
    Federal Court vs. State Court
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  • “Defamation” is an umbrella term for a reputational damage claim, and is defined as the issuance of a false statement about another person which causes that person harm. There are two tortious acts that fall under the defamation umbrella: libel and slander. Libel describes the making of defamatory statements in a fixed medium, such as a magazine, newspaper, or the Internet. Slander is the making of defamatory statements by one or more spoken representations. Any defamation case must include the following elements: The unprivileged distribution or expression of the statement to a third party (under the 1st Amendment, news outlets are granted a limited privilege to publish information that may be defamatory, as long as the publisher has reason to believe the statement is true); and A false and defamatory statement of fact about a third party. Opinions do not count, because they are not factual statements (“Francis is a thief” would work. “I think Francis is a thief” would not). Damage to the plaintiff. If all of those elements are present, then your defamation case will likely pass judicial scrutiny.  However, before filing your defamation case in small claims court, make certain that it falls within the type of cases that the court has jurisdiction over. Review the state court rules page to research your state’s law to see if it allows the small claims court to hear cases of this type. Even if you can bring a defamation case in small claims court, think twice before doing so. The issue is the subjective nature of the damages you suffer. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to put a set dollar amount on damage to your reputation, and small claims court really isn’t the venue to present the amount of evidence you’ll need to present in order to prove your damages. If you’ve really been harmed, you should strongly consider taking your case to an upper court. In some cases, however, you may be able to ascertain a set amount of damages that fall within the court’s jurisdictional limit. In that case, you might elect to file in small claims court to take advantage of the speed and simplicity of the trial process to bring your case to a speedy conclusion. If you elect to proceed in small claims court, here's what you need in order to win: 1. Evidence of a defamatory statement.  In the case of libel, all you need to do is bring in a copy of the printed statement.  In the case of slander, you'll need to bring in a witness who can testify that the defendant uttered the defamatory statement to him or her. 2.  Proof that the statement is untrue.  This can be surprisingly difficult.  If someone says you stole from them (and you didn't), then you're forced to prove a negative.  The best way to do this is to grill the defendant on the witness stand, and force him or her to admit that there was no reasonable grounds to make the statement. 3.  Concrete evidence of damages.  In most circumstances is very hard to obtain.  An exception to this general rule would be a case like the following scenario: An interior designer just signed up a client for a job that had a $10,000 flat fee.  Before the designer had the chance to get started, the client read a post about the designer online that said she was a thief, and immediately canceled the engagement.  The designer has clear-cut damages. If you don't have a scenario that's similar to this, you should think twice before going to small claims court.
    How to win a Defamation Case in Small Claims Court
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  • Small claims courts are designed to streamline the legal process in order to enable litigants to reach a speedy and inexpensive conclusion to their disputes.  However, that doesn't mean that it isn't a royal pain in the ass.  Before determining whether to seek justice against someone who wronged you, first ask yourself the following questions: 1.  Are you seeking justice, or revenge?   If you've suffered genuine monetary harm by another person's act, then you should definitely consider pursuing a claim in small claims court.  However, if the monetary loss is minimal, ask yourself whether your primary motivation is to get back at the person who wronged you.  If you're out $100 or less, will the time and effort be worth it, even if you win? [column size="1-2" last="0"] 2.  Is the defendant judgment proof?  If the defendant owes you money and refuses to pay, he must have a reason.  If the reason is that he doesn't have the money, then collecting on the judgment you might eventually be awarded will not be easy.  After all, you can't squeeze blood from a turnip.   A person (or company) against whom a judgment cannot be collected due to a lack of assets is known as “judgment proof.”  If the defendant has declared bankruptcy, or is the subject of a federal or state tax collection effort, that person is known as "really judgment proof."  You may have a slam-dunk case, but if the defendant is judgment proof, the piece of paper the court awards you will be virtually worthless. [/column] [column size="1-3" last="1"] [/column] 3.  Do you have the time?  Winning in court requires preparation.  Lots of preparation.  The more you prepare, the more likely you are to win.  Don't even think about going to court unless you've spent at least six to eight hours researching the law, gathering evidence, and preparing your arguments.  The trial itself will likely take an entire day, in light of the fact that the court will be hearing 10 or more cases on the same day. 4.  Is there any other way?  Have you tried approaching the person you're considering suing to see whether you can reach an amicable solution?  Are you willing to take less than what you feel you're owed in order to avoid the hassle? One thing to keep in mind- the small claims court encourages litigants to settle their differences before the trial.  If you bring a lawsuit, in many cases on the day of the trial, the bailiff (or other court representative) will ask you and the defendant to try and work out your differences before the scheduled time of the hearing.  At that point, the defendant knows that you're serious, and (depending on the strength of your case), may be more willing to settle.  Likewise, you will know that the defendant is serious about his or her chances, which will might make you more willing to settle than you were the day before, when you weren't even sure that the defendant would show up.  
    Is Suing in Small Claims Court Worth the Effort?
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  • Have you been bitten by a dog?  If so, you’re not alone- each year over 500,000 people in the US get bit by dogs, and 12 of them die. Not surprisingly, the majority of dog bite victims are children. So what happens if you (or your child) are bitten by your neighbor’s dog, and you’re stuck with over $1500 in doctor bills? Obviously, the first thing you’ll want to do is to present your neighbor with the bill and ask him to pay it. If he refuses, he may do so on the grounds that you (or your child) somehow provoked the dog into aggressive action. In that case, you’ll probably want to take him to court.  Here are four simple steps to help ensure success. STEP ONE: Do Your Research Dog bites are so common that every state has enacted a statute on how to handle them (and animal attacks in general). Before you file suit, make certain to research your state’s dog bite statute. Most states have adopted a strict liability standard in their dog bite statute, which holds the dog’s owner responsible for any harm they may cause, regardless of whether the dog is or isn’t normally aggressive, and whether the owner was somehow negligent. Depending upon your state, the dog bite statute might apply to non-bite injuries as well as bites.  CLICK HERE for a complete list of state dog bite statutes. Some states have adopted the “One Bite” rule (also known as the “First Bite Free” rule), which shields a dog owner from liability for injuries resulting from the dog’s first attack, but doesn’t protect him from any liability for subsequent attacks. However, if the dog in question is a breed generally perceived as aggressive (i.e., a Pit Bull), the owner may not be able to take advantage of the One Bite rule. [column size="1-2" last="0"]  [/column] [column size="1-2" last="1"] Step Two: Gather Evidence If your state has adopted a One Bite rule, determine the breed of the dog and research it thoroughly to determine whether it has violent tendencies. If you have personal knowledge of this, great, but if you don’t, ask the dog owner’s neighbors. Other facts that may be relevant to the case is if the dog was meant to be a guard dog, or was mistreated or left alone for extended periods of time. These circumstances make dogs more aggressive, and these facts would help your case. [/column] Step Three: Prepare for the Defendant’s Argument Depending on the circumstances, the dog’s owner may argue that you somehow provoked the attack, or was trespassing on his or her property. Be prepared to counter those arguments as best as you can. Step Four: Prove Your Damages Proving damages in a dog-bite case is relatively straightforward. Summarize your medical bills, and bring copies for the court and the defendant. Some plaintiffs try to push the envelope by claiming consequential damages such as pain and suffering. After all, dog attacks can be extremely traumatic, especially for small children, and the long-term affects (phobias, etc.) can be far worse than the out-of-pocket medical expenses. If you want to include pain and suffering as an element of your damages, consider bringing the case in superior court. Click here to read an article on pain and suffering damages.
    How to Win a Dog Bite Case in Small Claims Court
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  • State by State Dog Bite Statute Summary Dog bites are so common that every state has enacted a statute on how to handle them (and animal attacks in general). Before you file suit, make certain to research your state’s dog bite statute. Most states have adopted a strict liability standard in their dog bite statute, which holds the dog’s owner responsible for any harm they may cause, regardless of whether the dog is or isn’t normally aggressive, and whether the owner was somehow negligent. Depending upon your state, the dog bite statute might apply to non-bite injuries as well as bites.  The following is a list of states that have adopted some version of a strict liability standard. Some states have adopted the “One Bite” rule (also known as the “First Bite Free” rule), which shields a dog owner from liability for injuries resulting from the dog’s first attack, but doesn’t protect him from any liability for subsequent attacks. However, if the dog in question is a breed generally perceived as aggressive (i.e., a Pit Bull), the owner may not be able to take advantage of the One Bite rule.  The following states do not have a strict liability dog bite statute on their books:    
    State by State Dog Bite Statute Summary
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  • Apart from a strong case, one of the best weapons you can have at your disposal in a litigation setting is an understanding of psychology. Whether you’re a plaintiff or a defendant, the best advice any experienced lawyer could give you is to understand how your opponent thinks. Knowing his or her motivations and expectations will help you determine how they are going to proceed. Would they consider a settlement? Are they likely to proceed rationally, or will they allow their emotions to cloud their judgment? Knowing just a few things about your opponent can help you make some educated guesses on how likely he or she is going to be willing to pursue the case or settle it. Employment: Knowing what your opponent does for a living is a key step to understanding how they will behave. For example, if he or she is an engineer, doctor, or (God forbid) a lawyer, they will be well educated. Educated litigants are more effective. To pursue any legal claim, either as a plaintiff or defendant, requires research skills, analytical skills, advocacy skills, and public speaking skills. These skills come more easily to a person with a higher level of education. However, educated people will more likely view the matter more dispassionately than a truck driver or lifeguard, and are far more likely to consider a reasonable settlement. In contrast, uneducated people may view the matter differently. They may take it personally, and settlement discussions with them may not be as fruitful. If your opponent is unemployed or retired, then you can assume that he or she has a great deal of free time on their hands, and will have time to research the law, file motions, and appear at hearings because they have nothing else to do. If you have a job, then you might consider a settlement only because you don’t have as much time to fight as your opponent does. If your opponent runs their own small business, then you can assume that they have the freedom to go to court, but they will also more likely view the case in terms of dollars and cents. The less emotional they are, the better your chances of settling the case. Finances. Our individual financial circumstances greatly affect the way we think. Wealthy people are less concerned with small sums, and often figure their time is more valuable. Some well-off people may actually think small claims court isn’t worth going to because it’s unseemly to argue over $1500 in front of a bunch of strangers. These generalizations work in your favor, but on the other hand, wealthy people usually have attorneys that handle legal matters on their behalf. If your local small claims court allows attorneys to appear, that may work against you. However, there are significant advantages to representing yourself against an attorney. In contrast, if your opponent is of lesser means, they are far more likely to fight tooth and nail over a few thousand dollars. Personal Obligations. Is your opponent married or single? Does he or she have young children to take care of?  A married person may be pressured by their spouse to either fight you or accept a settlement, but if your opponent is a single parent with young children, then they are far more likely to settle rather than face the prospect of hiring baby sitters. Age.  If your opponent is in his or her early 20's, they're probably just getting started in life, and may look upon things less seriously than someone in their mid thirties who has a career and a family.  A younger opponent may also be more intimated at the prospect of appearing in court, as opposed to an older, more experienced litigant.  If your opponent is young and inexperienced, you should make it clear to them that the impending court proceedings are going to be very unpleasant, and will have a drastic effect on their future prospects if they lose.  Such people are more likely to accept a settlement when they view the case in that light.    
    How to Win a Small Claims Case: Know Your Opponent
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  • How to Draft a Demand Letter Regardless of whether you or your opponent are interested in settling the case, before proceeding with litigation, always send the defendant a demand letter. Like the name implies, a demand letter is a formal written letter directed to the defendant or defendants outlining the underlying facts of your case, explaining why the law supports your position, and making a demand for the payment of the specific sum of money in exchange for settlement. One of the most important pieces of advice concerning demand letters is to ALWAYS write them as if they were going to a judge or jury. In other words, make certain that it is well written with no grammatical errors, well organized, and strongly advocates your position in a clear and concise manner. Do NOT send a hand written letter. Your goal is to convince the defendant that settling the case is better than going to trial, and if you sound like you know what you’re doing, you’ll be more likely to get what you want. A demand letter should not come across as overly aggressive or threatening. You’re not threatening anyone- you’re just stating the facts as persuasively as possible. Drafting a demand letter is a good idea for another reason. Many small claims courts require the plaintiff to undertake some effort to settle the case before resorting to litigation. Even if the demand isn't required under your local court rules, judges often ask whether attempts have been made to settle the matter, and will often look more favorably upon a litigant who tried to resolve a matter amicably but was unable to do so. Drafting a good demand letter is as much art as it is science. Here is the basic format that you should follow: Opening Paragraph: Always start your with a brief introduction of who you are and the purpose of the letter. It often helps to throw commence your opening sentence with “As you know…” This implies that the defendant is aware of what he or she has done (or didn’t do) that brought you to this point. Summary: The next few paragraphs should summarize the underlying dispute. If the matter concerns a breach of contract, outline the basic terms of the contract, and attach a copy, if possible. Or, if the case involves personal injury, outline the basic facts of the incident. Demand: After explaining the facts, you should state your monetary demand in clear terms. Always include a time frame in which the offer must be accepted. Otherwise, the defendant can argue that the offer is open indefinitely, and attempt to accept it after you’ve invested more time and effort into the matter. Consequences: Conclude your demand letter with an explanation of the consequences of their failure to accept the proposed settlement (i.e., you’ll take them to court). Closing: Close with a sentence or two that advises the defendant how you expect them to proceed. Here is a sample demand letter for use in a breach of contract case that puts this guidance into perspective: INTRODUCTION I am president of Saddleback Widgets, Inc. (“Saddleback”). I write in regard to your company’s failure to fully and timely pay all amounts due for new widgets purchased from Saddleback under the terms of the written agreement between your company and Saddleback dated August 29th, 2013.   As you know, that agreement requires you to pay Saddleback $1.00 per widget, in addition to delivery fees and taxes. SUMMARY As of the date of this letter, we have delivered a total of 5,000 widgets, which results in a balance due of $5,000, plus $300 in deliver fees. However, as of this date, we have only received payment in the amount of $1,300, despite our frequent demands for payment in full. This results in an amount due of $4,000. For ease of reference, I have attached a copy of the Agreement, together with copies of the invoices that set forth the amounts due. The written contract, together with your acceptance of the delivered goods, serves as irrefutable evidence that the outstanding balance and is both valid and unpaid. Unless we can resolve this matter amicably, I will have no choice but to initiate legal action against your company to collect the amounts rightfully due to us. DEMAND However, notwithstanding the above, our preference is to resolve this matter amicably, and we are willing to forgo the delivery fees we are owed in order to achieve this result. Accordingly, we will forego undertaking legal action if you pay us the sum of $3,700 on or before Wednesday, March 19th, 2014. CONSEQUENCES Be advised that immediate payment would be in your best interest, as it allows you to avoid costly litigation, travel expenses, an injunction, and the creation of a public record of a judgment against your company and you personally. CLOSING We look forward to your prompt response and attention to this matter. We will deem no response as an indication that you prefer litigation to a complete, open and honest discussion of this matter.
    How to Draft a Demand Letter
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  • Preparation is the key to success, and this is especially true in the courtroom. However, despite their best intentions, many people who are representing themselves do not know how to prepare for a trial. Do you read a self-help book? Seek the advice of an attorney? Watch old episodes of Matlock? Any of these things might help, but here are a few that many successful litigants have found especially helpful. 1. Watch some trials. Before your case comes up for trial, go down to the courthouse and sit in on a couple of trials involving similar issues. You'll see that it won't be that difficult to present your story and your evidence to the judge. When you know what to expect, you'll be much more relaxed about your own trial. 2. Read the Playbook. Don't underestimate the importance of knowing the rules.  Make certain that you familiarize yourself with your state Rules of Civil Procedure, along with your court's local rules, which may include everything from deadlines for various trial procedures to nitpicky restrictions on how small your font can be in documents you submit to the court. 3. Learn the elements of your case. Each type of legal claimhas a number of "elements" that you'll need to prove in order to win. For example, in a contracts case, you must prove the following elements: (a) A contract existed; (b) You met your contractual obligations; (c) your opponent failed to meet his or her contractual obligations, and; (d) that you were harmed as a result. You'll want to plan ahead carefully to make sure that you can prove every element of your case -- or, if you are defending yourself against a lawsuit, to make sure that you can disprove at least one element of your opponent's case. 4. Make sure your evidence is admissible. Once you know the elements you'll have to prove to win your case, you can figure out what types of evidence will help you prove each key fact. However, not every kind of evidence can be presented in a courtroom: Complicated rules of evidence determine whether a particular document, statement, or item is admissible in court. Although you don't have to master every detail of these rules, you should do enough research to make sure that you'll be able to present the evidence you need to win.
    Four Ways to Prepare for Trial
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