Is Your Karaoke Host Subjecting You To Trademark Infringement Litigation?

Do you run a bar, restaurant or other venue that provides entertainment in the form of karaoke? Do you know if your karaoke host is running a legal show? Do you know how to tell the difference? Do you care?

Computers have aided to the ability to make our lives better. They help you in your business. They also help the karaoke Jockey (KJ for short) to run a show that doesn’t require him/her to lug thousands of discs around to every show. With the advent of the computer age, the KJ can now carry all those songs in a case the size of an 8 lb. computer. He can find any song by typing part of the title or artist name, keep track of the songs for each singer, keep the rotation of singers in order, and print books for singers to select their songs. But along with the convenience comes the opportunity to do things that may not be on the up and up. And that can expose you to lawsuits for copyright and trademark infringement.

The manufacturers of quality karaoke music have waged war on those that have decided they can download songs and run shows without paying for them. They are after those that are putting all that music on hard drives and selling them for a few hundred bucks. And they are after you if you know about it and even if you don’t and should.

Investigators are on the move and showing up at clubs like yours. They are documenting the use of hard drives and computer by KJ’s, even the legal ones. That’s because they want to find out if each of those shows has a set of manufactured discs that were bought and paid for backing up all that music.

If you know that they are doing this or you don’t (and are in a position that you should), you may still be subject to litigation. Even if you don’t actually have to go to trial, you will be subjected to the inconvenience of responding and you may feel the need to consult legal council to put it behind you. Your KJ will have to prove he has a disc for every song on the computer. And if you know that he’s doing it, you could also be guilty by hiring him. Copyright violations can carry penalties up to $150,000 per song and trademark infringement carries penalties up to $2,000,000 per incident. And paying your BMI or ASCAP fees may not protect you.

There are things you can do to make sure you protect yourself from the debatable tactics of the karaoke manufacturers spearheading this effort. Their motives, while admirable, are being questioned by the very people that have been paying their salaries for many years. Many legal KJ’s – the ones that have paid for all their music – are up in arms saying they are being targeted right along with the Karaoke Pirates. They are guilty and have to prove their innocence and are having to retain council to answer for unfounded charges.

While you can register with the manufacturers or the associations and require your KJ’s to register and subject themselves to audit, you may find yourself looking for a legal KJ that will not mind going through the headaches for what you’re willing to pay. But there is something you can do to protect yourself and your investment.

ASK! If your KJ uses a computer and/or does not carry discs with him, Ask where the music came from to run his show. Most Pirates will be more than happy to tell you how they downloaded it all for free. A legal KJ will be happy to show you his library to keep the gig. You may have to go to his house or place of business, but most will be happy to conform. If they are not willing, find another KJ. (The same would be true with a DJ).

Resign yourself to only hire those that are conforming to the law. You pay your BMI/ASCAP fees every year that protects you and them for the music that’s played in your establishment. They should be gracious enough to protect you from litigation by purchasing legal copies of their music.

Musical Warfare: How to Use Music As a Form of Torture and Assault


Although I could easily make this article about the most horrible songs ever written and how they get stuck in our heads, this is not what our topic is about today. In this article, we will discuss torture, its anatomy, and the role music can play in it. We will differentiate between different types of torture, how our senses can be used against us to cause us pain, the after-effects of torture, military uses of music in psychological operations, sonic technologies developed specifically for sieges and law enforcement applications, and how artists are speaking out against the use of their music in these operations. So strap yourself in and continue reading because you’re in for ride.

Pain and Perceptions of the Ear

The human ear is defenseless. It’s unable to keep sound out, so it must take in all it hears. Without earplugs, anti-noise headphones or other defensive technologies the ear is helpless to protect itself. One of the great advantages of using music as an implement of torture is that it leaves no physical mark. At least, so it seems. Because sound moves particles in the air and pushes the vibrations into our ear, the effect has a potential for danger. With an increase in the volume of sound, the vibrations push particles ever more strongly into our ear, thereby causing harm over time or immediately according to conditions. Here’s a brief description on how the ear can be damaged causing hearing loss and auditory malfunction.

Hair cells reside in the cochlea. Bundles of hair-like extensions, called stereo cilia, rest on top of them. When sound waves travel through the ears and reach the hair cells, the vibrations deflect off the stereo cilia, causing them to move according to the force and pitch of the vibration. Different forms of sound cause them to move in a variety of ways. For instance, a melodic piano tune would produce gentle movements, while heavy metal would generate faster, sharper motion. This motion triggers an electrochemical current that sends the information from the stereo cilia through the auditory nerves and eventually to the brain.

­When you hear exceptionally loud noises, your stereo cilia can become damaged and mistakenly keep sending sound information to the auditory nerve cells. In the case of loud sound sources such as rock concerts and fireworks displays, ringing happens because the tips of some of your stereo cilia have actually broken off. You hear those false currents in the ringing in your ear (or head), called tinnitus. However, since you can grow these small tips back in about 24 hours, the ringing is often temporary.

So as you can see although music torture is classified along with other forms of psychological torture, the damage that high volume sound can really cause is actually physical. If music torture causes the loss of hearing, the remedy for this physical ailment is not months or years of counseling, but rather a hearing aid. Deafness is a physical malfunction, not a psychological or emotional issue.

The Differences between Physical and Psychological Torture

Torture is the practice or act of deliberately inflicting severe physical pain and possibly injury on a living being. Although psychological and animal tortures also exist, the forms of torture can vary greatly in duration from a few minutes to several days or even longer. Reasons for torture can also vary greatly and they can include punishment, revenge, political re-education, deterrence, interrogation, coercion, or a sadistic gratification of observing the tortured in agony and pain.

Physical torture methods have been used throughout recorded history and can range from a beating to the use of sophisticated custom designed devices such as the rack. Exceptional ingenuity has been shown in the invention of instruments and techniques for physical torture, which exploit medical knowledge of the vulnerabilities of the human body such as the sensitivity of nail beds to pressure, or of the soles of the feet to heat. Other types of torture can include sensory or sleep deprivation, restraint or being held in awkward or damaging positions, uncomfortable extremes of heat and cold, loud noises or any other means that inflicts severe physical or mental pain. Physical torture is plainly the inflicting of severe pain or suffering on a person.

Psychological torture, on the other hand, uses non-physical methods to cause emotional or mental suffering. Its effects are not immediately apparent unless they alter the behavior of the tortured person. Psychological torture is less well known than physical torture and tends to be subtle and much easier to conceal. In practice the distinctions between physical and psychological torture can often be blurred. In contrast to physical torture, psychological torture is directed at the psyche with calculated violations of psychological needs, along with deep damage to psychological structures and the breakage of beliefs underpinning normal sanity.

Music torture is clearly difficult to categorize. Physically, the ear can become damaged, although no blows were inflicted upon the victim. On the other hand, music torture can prevent a victim from maintaining a normally functioning consciousness. Psychological torture also includes deliberate use of extreme stressors and situations such as mock execution, shunning, violation of deep-seated social or sexual norms and taboos, or extended solitary confinement. Because psychological torture needs no physical violence to be effective, it is possible to induce severe psychological pain, suffering, and trauma with no externally visible effects. Torturers often inflict both types of torture in combination to compound the associated effects.

In fact, music torture is most effective when it is combined with other forms of torture such as mock executions, simulated drowning, sexual and religious humiliation, stress positions or sleep deprivation, the exploitation of prisoners’ phobias, the use of mind-altering drugs, hooding, forced nakedness, the use of dogs to frighten detainees, exposing prisoners to extreme heat and cold, physical assault and threatening the use of such techniques against a prisoner or a prisoner’s family.

In addition, music torture is sometimes used with medical, pharmacological, and even tickle torture. With medical torture, medical practitioners use torture to judge what victims can endure, to apply treatments that enhance torture, or act as torturers in their own right. Pharmacological torture is the use of drugs to produce psychological and physical pain or discomfort. Tickle torture is an unusual form of torture which can be both physically and psychologically painful. But more commonly, music torture is mixed with using

The Analysis and Effects of Music Torture

So what aspects of music make it possible to turn it into a weapon of torture? Three aspects come to mind and they are a) type of music, b) loudness, or volume, and c) the length of exposure. Often in military operations such as torture or interrogations, the music of choice is usually something which is extremely annoying or very stimulating. For example, several days after Paris Hilton announced that she would release an album, the Pentagon decided to buy 50,000 copies to use against insurgents in the Anbar province in Iraq. Other choices of music can range from various types of heavy metal such as Metallica to songs from children’s T.V. shows such as Barney and Sesame Street.

The annoyance or stimulating factor of the music used is further intensified when the loudness or volume level is deafeningly high. In some cases, the volume levels have been reported to be as high as 120 – 150 dB, which equates to the sound range of a chainsaw, thunderclap and even a jet take-off. In addition, the length of exposure further exacerbates the effect of the music torture by causing the disorientation of the other senses. In psychological operations and during interrogations, it’s quite common for a single song to be played at extremely loud volume levels for a 24 hour period. All of these factors combined are what give music torture its effectiveness as an assault weapon.

The consequences of music torture reach far beyond discomfort and immediate pain. Many victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which includes symptoms such as flashbacks (or intrusive thoughts), severe anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, depression and memory lapses. Torture victims often feel guilt and shame, triggered by the humiliation they have endured. Many feel that they have betrayed themselves or their friends and family. All such symptoms are normal human responses to abnormal and inhuman treatment.

For survivors, torture often leads to lasting mental and physical health problems. Music torture in particular is difficult to prove, especially when some time has passed between the event and a medical examination. Many torturers around the world use methods designed to have a maximum psychological impact while leaving no or only minimal physical traces. Typically deaths due to torture are shown in an autopsy as being due to “natural causes” like heart attack, inflammation, or embolism due to extreme stress.

Physical problems can be as wide-ranging as sexually transmitted diseases, muscular-skeletal problems, brain injury, post-traumatic epilepsy, dementia, and chronic pain syndromes. Mental health problems are equally wide-ranging, but the most common are post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety disorder. One of the most terrible psychological effects of torture is the killing of desire and curiosity, while the core feature of the post-traumatic landscape of torture is psychic deadness.

Gauntanamo captive Binyam Mohamed, who has since returned to England after years of imprisonment and torture, was interviewed on London’s Mail on Sunday. In this interview, he talked about how his sonic torture started in a Kabul prison in 2002 where he was held for eighteen months in complete darkness before his transfer to Gauntanamo in 2004. His body conveys no direct physical markings of his claims of abuse, but he relates how, “There were loudspeakers in the cell, pumping out a deafening, non-stop volume, 24 hours a day. They played the same CD for a month, The Eminem Show. When it was finished it went back to the beginning and started again. I couldn’t sleep. I had no idea whether it was day or night.”

Military Uses of Music Assault

History’s most infamous musical assault occurred against the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas (1993). The story goes that the FBI wore down the compound dwellers over the seven week siege, exploiting the defenselessness of the ear, by broadcasting sleep-preventing decibel levels of massively distorted music.

A few years earlier, the U.S. tried to force out Manuel Noriega from Panama City with a non-stop bombardment of heavy metal music by the likes of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. In December 1989, the United States invaded Panama. Noriega took refuge in the Holy See’s embassy on December 24, which was immediately surrounded by U.S. troops. After being continually attacked with hard rock music, including Van Halen’s hit song Panama and “The Howard Stern Show” for several days, Noriega surrendered on January 3, 1990.

In Guantanamo Bay and prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq reports have surfaced claiming that interrogation techniques involve the uses of extremely loud music to soften prisoners. Reports from Guantanamo Bay also indicate that disturbing chicken noises were played over a loud-speaker for more than 25 hours to induce sleep deprivation. Loudspeaker systems are also used to communicate with enemy soldiers by intimidating them with frightening voices. Apparently, this is form of sonic attack is an effective method for getting insurgents to surrender, along with intimidating phone calls made directly to the families of insurgents and enemy commanding officers.

Amnesty International has also received reports describing various kinds of humiliation and torture prisoners and detainees the world over has endured. The most common methods often reported include prolonged sleep deprivation, beatings, prolonged restraint in painful positions, hooding, exposure to loud music, and to bright lights.

Music Torture Technologies in Bullet Points

On November 18, 1998, now-defunct Synetics Corporation was contracted to produce a tightly focused beam of infrasound intended to produce effects that range from disabling to killing a target.

In 1999, Maxwell Technologies patented a HyperSonic Sound System, which is a highly directional device designed to control hostile crowds or disable hostage takers.

In 1999, Primex Physics International patented both the “Acoustic Blaster” and the Sequential Arc Discharge Acoustic Generator, which produce repetitive impulse waveforms of 165dB. Both sonic weapons are designed for “antipersonnel applications,” produce their effects with high intensity impulsive sound waves by electrical means, and are believed to be controllable at a distance of 50 feet or more.

American Technology Corporation has also development the Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, 10 years earlier. This is a weapon capable of projecting a ‘strip of sound’ (15 to 30 inches wide) at an average of 120 dB (maxing at 151 dB). Because the LRAD is designed to hail ships, issue battlefield or crowd-control commands, or directs an attention-getting and highly irritating deterrent tone for behavior modification, its sonic projection is intelligible from 500 to 1,000 meters away. Wielded by the 361st PsyOps company, the LRAD was deployed to prepare the battlefield in the siege of Falluja in November of 2004. The device was armed with Metallica’s “Hells’ Bells” and “Shoot to Thrill.”

Artists Protest the Use of Music Torture

Honestly, positions are mixed among musicians in regard to the use of their music in torture. Many support the military position of do whatever it takes to stop the terrorists, while others are deeply opposed to the use of any form of torture on a humanitarian basis. For example, the Associated Press reported that Stevie Benton of the group Drowning Pool said, “I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that.” My position, as a citizen and not as an artist, is based on the concept of political freedom, so I support any government that respects the freedoms of its citizens. However, when it comes to crime, I want law enforcement and the judicial system to prosecute those who violate the rights of others with an appropriate fine or incarceration. And in regard to war, military law should apply to combatants captured on the battlefield. In such cases, both forfeit their rights.

In contrast, the Associated Press also reported that various musicians were coordinating their objections to the use of their music in interrogations through an initiative called Zero dB. Zero dB is an initiative against music torture set up by legal charity Reprieve. This charity represents over thirty prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Zero dB aims to stop torture music by encouraging widespread condemnation of the practice of music torture by calling on governments and the UN to uphold and enforce the Convention against Torture and other relevant treaties.

The initiative is backed by the Musicians Union which is calling on British musicians to also voice their outrage against the use of music to torture. Musicians and the wider public are making their own silent protests against music torture which are being shown on Zero dB. Participating musicians will include minutes of silence in their concerts to draw their audience’s attention to the USA’s use of deafening music against captives.

Among the musicians united in their objections were Christopher Cerf, a composer for the children’s show Sesame Street, Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. Others include R.E.M., The Roots, Rise Against, Rosanne Cash, Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, Trent Reznor, Billy Bragg, Michelle Branch, Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, David Byrne, Marc Cohn, Steve Earle, the Entrance Band, and Joe Henry. Many others are sure to follow.

Royalty Payments from Music Torture

While the Zero dB initiative seems really cool, there just seems to be something wrong with the idea that those engaged in music torture ought to pay royalties to the musician’s whose songs are used in the torture process. The Guardian reported that the US military may owe royalty payments to the artists whose works were played to the captives. For those artists who do not want their music to be used for this purpose, it’s definitely appropriate for the military to stop using their music on an immediate basis. However, once the military has ceased to use their music in torture sessions, these artists shouldn’t return to receive royalty checks. On the other hand, artists who do want their music to be used in torture sessions, for whatever reason, should be given royalty payments, unless they arrange pro-bono usage rights to the military.

Texas Criminal Justice System Moves Into The Classroom

The methods for dealing with disciplinary problems in Texas public schools are changing. Being sent to the principal for disruptive behavior or facing the school coach for punishment is becoming a thing of the past. In many school districts throughout Texas disciplinary action involves the local police department and the Criminal Justice System. In the past two decades most Texas school districts have turned to local law enforcement agencies to provide a police presence on campus. These officers are referred to as School Resource Officers. Some districts have created their own police department. These are made up of in-house school officers with police powers employed directly by the school district. Adding police officers in schools is the fastest growing area of law enforcement according to the Texas Police Association.

Many parents and community leaders are questioning the training these school police officers receive, especially giving police powers to civilian School Resource Officers, and are lobbying for training standards that take into account the school setting and dealing with children. There are also questions being raised as to the overall effectiveness of an increased police presence on school campuses.

Certain types of student behavior, even those involving low level non-violent misbehavior can result in ticketing for a Class C misdemeanor up to arrest and incarceration. Class C misdemeanors carry a fine of $60 to $500 dollars, require the student and a guardian to appear in court and remain on a student’s criminal record. If the student or family cannot pay the fine, they are subject to arrest once attaining 17 years of age.

Statistics Are Difficult to Compile

The Texas Education Agency does not require school districts to report student arrest and ticketing data and since few schools submit student crime statistics to the Texas Department of Public Safety, these statistics are difficult to compile. The Texas attorney general has published an opinion against disclosure of school district use of force policies, allowing view of policies or numbers only when voluntarily provided, as only several school districts have done.

Statewide, juvenile crime has decreased 14% over the period between 2000 and 2008. Based on available data school misdemeanor tickets have more than doubled during this time. The majority of tickets were issued to high school and middle school students; however, from the records that are available it is not unusual for very young children, in some cases 10 years old and younger to receive a Class C misdemeanor ticket at school. Of the nine school districts documenting the age of ticketed students, over a six year period, three reported issuing tickets to children six to nine and one case of a child 4 years old being given a Class C misdemeanor ticket.

Use of force

School police are in most cases armed with automatic weapons, pepper spray and tasers. Few school districts have any set policies involving the use of these weapons. In contrast, the various Texas juvenile justice agencies have placed restrictions on the use of pepper spray, for instance, on youth in their custody.

The debate concerning the use of SRO’s and school safety continues. Some argue that with the Texas school budgets as stretched as they currently are, the cost of school police is not worth the returns. Most do agree that a more transparent and inclusive method of reporting incidents involving ticketing students and the use of force by officers in school situations is needed.

What Is The Law On Defamation of Character And How Can Defamation Be Proved?

The purpose of laws surrounding defamation of character is to protect an individual’s reputation. This is bound to be a controversial area from the outset, where issues of Human Rights in relation to another individual’s freedom of speech, (namely Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights) can be raised.

As is the case with most areas of law, the delicate balance, which must be achieved between a person’s reputation on the one hand and another’s right to speak their mind on the other, is no enviable task for judges of our day.

For a defamation claim to succeed in England, three elements first need to be made out:

– The words are defamatory.

– The words refer to the Claimant.

– The words have been published.

We shall now look at each of these in further depth.

The words are defamatory

Whilst there is no concrete definition in law, factors which are considered include deciding if the material lowers the reputation of the Claimant in right thinking members of society, does the defamatory statement causes the Claimant to be shunned or avoided, or exposes the claimant to hatred, ridicule or contempt?

All relevant factors must be considered in this assessment. The word’s ordinary meanings should be considered but also whether or not there are any hidden meanings within the material’s full and rightful context.

The words refer to the Claimant

If the material contains the Claimant’s full name or picture, this element clearly won’t be in dispute. However, often it is the case that nicknames or innuendo’s are used. The courts have decided the general test for whether the material can satisfactorily be made out to refer to the Claimant is whether a ‘reasonable reader’ – i.e. an average member of society – would make the connection to them.

The words have been published

The legal definition of defamation is the publishing of untrue material that would lower another’s reputation in the eyes of a right thinking member of society. The word ‘publishing’ immediately brings connotations of something written down. However, as every defamation lawyer will tell you, this does not have to be so for a claim to succeed. ‘Published’ in this context simply means being transmitted to a third party. The definition of slander, for example, is defamation in a transient form and does not have to have a written element at all. Words will suffice. Similarly, for a claim of libel to succeed, the defamation must be permanent but would still qualify if the defamation took place over the radio or in a theatre, and not in written form.

This being said, the vast majority of defamation claims are a form of libel that is written down, published either on the internet, in a magazine or in the papers. It should be noted that the easier the claim to bring about (i.e. through bringing an action of slander), the higher the burden of proof as the claimant must show that actual (tangible) damage has taken place. This makes sense in order to prevent the court being inundated with an unmanageable volume of claims. Where the words are written down in what constitutes libel, this is no so. The words alone are enough and the claimant does not have to prove any subsequent loss from the defamatory material.

Networking and Seminars to Improve Michigan DUI Defense

Drunk driving cases have become increasingly serious, carrying harsher license sanctions, longer jail sentences, and dire financial penalties. A person accused of a drunk driving offense understands these penalties as well as the social stigma affiliated with a DUI conviction. With widespread pressure from anti-drunk driving advocacy groups, there is a growing awareness that police, prosecutors and judges hold a bias against meritorious challenges to a drunk driving crime.

In many states, a vibrant defense bar has sprung up to challenge the institutional bias against the DUI suspect. California, Georgia, and Washington amongst many others have specialized DUI defense firms populated by aggressive lawyers knowledgeable in the science of breath and blood testing. The lawyers at these firms attend national seminars on trial techniques, technical programs regarding breath machines, and certification courses in standardized field sobriety tests.

Advanced DUI / DWI defense programs can be expensive and time-consuming. An advanced course in GC and GC/MS might cost over $2,000.00, requiring the defense lawyer to schedule airfare and hotel accommodations. Every summer, the National College for DUI Defense hosts an intensive program in DUI defense at Harvard, but this 3-day program requires travel, airfare and lodging. It also costs $1,500.00 and requires membership in the NCDD. While these programs are top-notch seminars, few Michigan practitioners appear at these national programs.

Michigan lags far behind the majority of other states, and only a couple of firms have dedicated their practice to defending drunk driving cases. The vast majority of Michigan lawyers are unwilling to limit their practice, so they are less willing to spend the necessary funds to attend out-of-state programs. As a result, Michigan courts address poorly developed issues, and they are more willing to issue bad opinions that ignore the undisputed science in drug and alcohol-related driving cases.

To raise the bar on the quality of Michigan drunk driving advocacy, it is not necessary that lawyers spend a fortune. An attorney does not need to travel hundreds of miles or spend thousands of dollars to improve the quality of their drunk driving litigation skills. Networking opportunities exist within the state, and inexpensive seminars are locally sponsored.

Every summer, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM) sponsors a Trial Practice College. Trial advocacy skills are taught, practiced, and rehearsed, lead by top Michigan criminal defense lawyers. Although the program does not specifically address drunk driving litigation skills, at least a few qualified drunk driving trial lawyers attend the program every year. These networking opportunities are golden, and every Michigan lawyer should try to attend this wonderful program. CDAM also hosts conferences in the spring and fall on valuable topics that permit networking with other criminal defense lawyers.

The State Appellate Defenders Office (SADO) sponsors an email listserv for a reasonable fee. Participating on the listserv, every lawyer can get input from hundreds of criminal defense lawyers and enjoy the comradery of these fellow practitioners, even if only via email. The SADO forum has one entire email listserv dedicated to DUI defense.

The Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) offers an annual one-day course on Michigan drunk driving defense. This year, the program was simultaneously broadcast over the Internet, so participants did not even need to leave the office.

Retired police officer Tony Corroto offers a standardized field sobriety test training course every other year in conjunction with the Maze Legal Group. Mr. Corroto is a DRE (drug recognition expert) and SFST Instructor of Instructors. He has trained thousands of police officers, and he takes time out of his busy schedule to help train Michigan lawyers in these testing protocols for a very reasonable fee.

Lastly, local opportunities exist if you simply look around for them. Local bar associations usually host an occasional meeting that might offer opportunities to learn. A few of the CDAM/SADO lawyers have banded together to form informal groups that meet over drinks to discuss cases. By bouncing ideas off friends from the criminal defense bar, insights and fresh notions spring from an otherwise stagnant pool of ideas.

Experts Offer Differing Opinions on the Future of Pensions

Josh Gotbaum, Director (CEO) of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and Dallas Salisbury, President & CEO of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, provided their perspectives on the future of pensions at the Wall Street Journal CFO Network Annual Meeting in June. They were asked to address whether there is a pension crisis in the United States and how organizations can handle increasing pension obligations.

Gabriella Stern, Deputy Managing Editor of the WSJ Digital Network, discussed these issues with both authorities in their presentation, “The Great American Pension Crisis: Funding Past Promises and Future Retirement.” The dialogue offered a dichotomy of viewpoints on the best way government, businesses, and individuals should move forward.

Retirement Outlook-To Worry or Not to Worry

What keeps Josh Gotbaum up at night is the fact that although people are living longer and their opportunities are increasing later in life, the institutions that help people through retirement are not improving.

According to Gotbaum, only about half of people who work have any kind of an employer provided plan. Of those who participate, the burden is on workers to figure out how much to save and what to invest, which isn’t always in the best interest of getting to retirement.

Gotbaum doesn’t place blame on any one organization, but believes that every entity has a role to play in getting people to save more. He identifies key players in the pension arena, and their associated responsibilities, as:

1. Individuals-Make it known that you want retirement help from employers.

2. Businesses-Employers are infinitely better at negotiating the terms of plans, and as a result, are more likely to promote retirement savings than a person going it alone. This applies to either a defined benefit plan or a 401(k) plan. Companies don’t necessarily have to put up more money, but they can encourage people to divert more of their own earnings into savings.

3. Government-Instead of adding regulatory requirements on those who offer traditional pension plans, government needs to rethink what can be done to make it easier for businesses to afford and offer employees a greater variety of pension options.

Dallas Salisbury, however, is more optimistic that employers have stepped up to the challenge.

According to Salisbury, when the federal government led the move to a defined contribution system in 1984, they did it for one primary reason-the median job tenure of the American labor force. In a simultaneous and reinforcing move, Bank of America adopted an individualized account system.

Employment tenure statistics have essentially remained unchanged from 1952 to 2011, says Salisbury. Over time, an average employee has stayed at a firm for four years. For workers aged 55 to 64, the average employment tenure has remained at less than 10 years during this time period. These job numbers emphasize the relatively rapid job turnover for most of the economy, according to Salisbury. The old defined benefit system that subsidized employees who stayed with one company for 25-plus years actually represents a small percentage of the American workforce.

In 1974, the year ERISA passed, 13 percent of people over the age 65 had pension income. By 2001, 23 percent of private sector workers had some pension income. Employers are using automatic enrollment at growing rates, according to Salisbury. The Employee Benefit Research Institute has looked at the population of workers today that have defined contribution programs, and compared them based on turnover and the “what if” scenario of being in a cash balance defined benefit plan instead. A majority (86%) do better through the defined contribution system than they would with a cash balance plan.

If there is a crisis of retirement today, Salisbury supports economist Alan Krueger’s argument that the crisis relates to health care more than retirement income. All of the major insurance carriers that have built a long-term care policy base over the last 20 years are exiting the marketplace, he observes, which will impact Medicare and Medicaid.

Defined Benefit System vs. Defined Contributions

Gotbaum argued that companies should be allowed to continue to offer defined benefit pension plans to the 20 percent in the private sector if it makes sense to them. He makes the case, however, that it is difficult for defined benefit plans to cut costs. Gotbaum cites examples of states or cities that need to trim costs in their traditional pension plans. Municipalities can turn to employees and ask them to contribute to the cost.

It should be possible for the 20 percent of people in the private sector who are in traditional defined benefit pension plans to be able to stay there, Gotbaum contends. From his perspective, companies can legally, and without increasing costs, improve their employees’ retirement security by changing investment options. One example is to offer employees annuities as an option for better retirement security, while still being cost competitive.

Salisbury’s advocacy, alternatively, is that it is in employers’ best interests to take an active role in pension plans so that tomorrow’s retirees have money to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and sustain the country’s consumer-oriented economy.

Fifty percent of people reportedly are forced into retirement because of health, disability issues, or a change in their job situation. Twenty-six percent retire early because their employment disappeared. These individuals need accumulated savings to buy consumer products and help drive the economy. As demographics lead the U.S. to a point where about 21 to 22 percent of the population will be over the age of 65-compared to 13 percent today-these older American will need financial assets to fund their future.

If pension income falls short, Salisbury argues, the U.S. economy risks negative implications for long-term economic growth. If you want everyone to have a plan and you have a high mobility labor force, then you need to make sure you have something that is for everyone, he supports.

Gotbaum summed it up by saying it slightly differently. “Go to your HR departments and don’t just say I need a retirement package that fits. Say, I need choices, and what can I get?” The HR department can respond with a variety of options, resulting in happier employees who will be able to continue fueling America’s consumer-driven economy well into the future.

Temporary Injunctions

A divorce, especially contested divorces, can be extremely stressful for every party involved. Both spouses are most likely experiencing the emotional toil of separating their lives from someone the once loved. This process can put stress on a person that they may have never experienced before and cause them to act out in surprising ways. Because of the potential for unlikely behavior in these circumstances, many state court systems have the right to order temporary injunctions to prevent or protect certain actions of both parties.

These temporary actions are ordered to protect the court’s ability to make an informed and just decision, especially in the case of a contested divorce. There are numerous different actions that the courts can request, including ones that protect personal property against damage by one party. The court can demand a mandatory inventory of all personal and shared property so that it can be equitably distributed.

These actions can also require one party to continue behavior, like payment of fees, bills and support of the other party. The court can also impose the separation of the two parties during court proceedings if the court feels like there is a threat of violence. Included in this may be the right of just one spouse to occupy a family residence. The courts will work to ensure that both parties can continue their necessary and normal daily functions. They can do this by enforcing temporary restraining orders or similar actions. These injunction serve to protect the ability of the court to make a fair decision in the case.

It is important to understand the legal ramifications of a divorce filing.

How Do I Choose A DUI Attorney?

My last two articles in EzineArticles addressed two frequently asked questions: (1) should I contest my D.U.I. charge? and (2) should I represent myself in a D.U.I.? This article discusses a common follow-up question: if I have decided to contest my D.U.I. charge and I’m not going to represent myself, how do I choose a D.U.I. attorney?

Choose an attorney that focuses on D.U.I. The last article compared choosing an attorney to choosing a doctor. If you are choosing a doctor for a problem with your big toe, you want a doctor that only treats feet, and preferably a foot doctor that focuses on big toes. If you are seeking a lawyer for a D.U.I. you want a lawyer that practices criminal defense and focuses on D.U.I. defense.

Choose an attorney that has education and training in D.U.I. issues. Look for an attorney that has completed courses in field sobriety testing, breath testing, and testing of blood and urine. Also look for a lawyer that is a member of the National College for DUI Defense and regularly attends continuing legal education seminars for D.U.I. law.

Choose an attorney that has experience in D.U.I. cases. You would not want a foot doctor that has been educated in foot medicine but has little experience actually treating feet. Look for a lawyer that regularly contests D.U.I. cases and has taken many cases through contested motion hearings and trials. It may also be helpful to find an attorney that practices regularly in the court where your D.U.I. case is being held.

Choose an attorney that has good communication skills. The lawyer needs to clearly communicate with you, the prosecutor and the judge. The lawyer should be able to educate you on the law and the process for your case. Communication also involves listening, so the attorney should listen to your situation and concerns, and answer all of your questions.

Choose an attorney that charges appropriate fees. The fee for contesting your D.U.I. charge is naturally going to be higher than the fee for walking you through the process of pleading guilty. The fee for a lawyer that focuses on D.U.I. is likely going to be higher than the fee for a lawyer that practices several areas of the law. If the fee is too low, the lawyer probably doesn’t value his or her time highly or does not plan to put a lot of work into the case.

There are many attorneys that handle D.U.I. (O.V.I.) cases. Hopefully, the criteria discussed here will help you evaluate which attorney is the best one for your case.

Adultery and Divorce

An affair will cause extreme tension and hostility in a marriage. The emotional toll it can have on a couple is extreme. This is why infidelity and affairs are the second largest reason for divorce in America. It follows closely behind the stress and arguments that go with handling joint finances. When adultery has occurred, and is one cause for a marriage falling apart, the divorce proceedings may be run slightly differently.

Many lucky couples are able to work through their differences when finding a fair settlement. They may see eye to eye on what the terms of a divorce should include. These couples typically choose the types of divorces that require little legal action, such as collaborative and mediated divorces. However, if one person feels extremely wronged due to adultery, coming to a settlement agreement may be far more difficult and can result in a judge making the final call in the terms of the settlement decision.

Infidelity will most likely change the terms of a prenuptial agreement. However, if one person cheats in the relationship, the agreement may state that it will affect alimony payments and other issues. However, in order for this to happen, the adultery would have to be proven to the court.

For a person to turn to another for their sexual and emotional needs, it is most likely means that their marriage is already on the rocks. An affair just may be the last string in the dissolving of a marriage. However, there are legal implications when adultery is one reason for divorce.

For more information about adultery and divorce, visit the website of the Orlando divorce attorneys of The Schlegel Law Firm.

Federal Rule 35 Motion for Sentence Reduction – Information

The court, on a motion from the prosecutor of the government usually made within a year of the imposition of the sentence, may reduce the defendants original sentence to reflect the subsequent “substantial assistance”. This means that the defendant has assisted the government in the investigation and or prosecution of another person who has or is committing a criminal offense.

However, the court may also consider the Rule 35 motion if it is after 1 year of the defendants imposition of original sentence, if the defendants information or evidence provided to the government as substantial assistance wasn’t known to the defendant until more than a year after originally sentenced.

A Rule 35 motion can reduce a defendants sentence below any minimum mandatory sentence that was imposed by the court. For example, if the defendant has been sentenced to 120 months in federal prison, even if the guidelines only were for 60-72 months, the court can reduce the sentence anywhere under the 120 months for the defendants cooperation.

Cooperation is one of the only ways, and the best way to get sentenced below some of the strict minimum mandatory sentence requirements. A Rule 35 motion once filed by the prosecutor will usually reflect a recommendation to the court on what the government thinks the defendants cooperation is worth in terms of years taken off their sentence. However, the Judge has the ultimate say in determining the actual reduction of a defendants sentence.

There are ways to find help in securing a Rule 35 by the government. A Sentence Reduction consulting service can assist you the whole way through this process and most likely help you do what is called “third party cooperation” for a defendant already in Federal Prison.

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