Archive | August 2012

Civic Duty


“army of sit-ins” by author

Recently, I found myself back in DC Superior Court.  Not for “court-sitting” or for a client, but for jury duty.  Not even lawyers can get out of jury duty in DC, though it’s a point of contention if many actually get selected for a trial.  In DC, any citizen can be chosen for jury duty as long as there is no felony on their criminal record, and no one can be chosen again for 24 months.

Here’s an account on how my day went.

8:10 am — I got in line outside the Jurors Office with about 30 others waiting to check in.

8:25 am — After checking in, you get sent to the jurors’ lounge to wait until you are called for a trial.  The lounge is brightly lit and fairly comfortable with a few amenities, including free wi-fi Internet access and a business center with access to fax and copy services.

8:52 am — Finally watching the orientation video.  It’s long.  There’s an explanation of voir dire and a note not to take it personally if counsel uses a peremptory challenge to strike you.

10:00 am — Watching the orientation video.  Again.  For the “9:30 group.”

11:26 am — The disembodied intercom voice finally calls a bunch of people out of the lounge to get empaneled on an actual jury.

12:00 noon — Still here.  Just wrote a blog post about Chick-Fil-A.

12:42 pm — I can hear someone snoring loudly, even though I’m wearing headphones.  A woman chuckles.

1:00 pm — Lunch.  Had a conversation with a client.

2:35 pm — The disembodied intercom voice tells all jurors to assemble in the lounge for a “status report.”  People wonder if it means we’re getting dismissed for the day.

2:47 pm — Dismissed!  For two years!

Without jurors, our justice system does not work.  When you get a jury summons, don’t just throw it out or ignore it — show up.  Or use the proper court procedures to get out of it if you absolutely need to.

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.

From the Client Files: Voluntary Unemployment to Avoid Child Support


“lazy monday” by author

Child support is a big deal.  State and local governments go to great lengths to protect the “best interests” of children, especially in family law statutes.  So it’s no surprise that just about every state has an “imputed income” provision in their child support guidelines.

Imputed income is simple — if a non-custodial parent decides to voluntarily become unemployed or underemployed in for the purpose of lowering his/her support responsibilities, the court can assume the income that he/she would have made and add it to its child support determination.   The reason is also simple — to prevent unscrupulous people from cheating the system and to protect children from poverty.

It is always important to remember that child support payments are not for the benefit of the parent, but for the children.  Often, children end up becoming pawns and innocent bystanders when parents fight over finances.  Maybe if more parents thought about their children’s well-being there would be a little less acrimony in child support cases.

D.C. Code § 16-916.01(d)(10)If the judicial officer finds that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed as a result of the parent’s bad faith or deliberate effort to suppress income, to avoid or minimize the parent’s child support obligation, or to maximize the other parent’s obligation, the judicial officer may impute income to this parent and calculate the child support obligation based on the imputed income. The judicial officer shall not impute income to a parent who is physically or mentally unable to work or who is receiving means-tested public assistance benefits. The judicial officer shall issue written factual findings stating the reasons for imputing income at the specified amount.

Va. Code § 20-108.1(H)In any proceeding on the issue of determining child or spousal support or an action for separate maintenance under this title, Title 16.1, or Title 63.2, when the earning capacity, voluntary unemployment, or voluntary under-employment of a party is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending, upon the motion of any party and for good cause shown, may order a party to submit to a vocational evaluation by a vocational expert employed by the moving party, including, but not limited to, any interviews and testing as requested by the expert. The order may permit the attendance of the vocational expert at the deposition of the person to be evaluated. The order shall specify the name and address of the expert, the scope of the evaluation, and shall fix the time for filing the report with the court and furnishing copies to the parties. The court may award costs or fees for the evaluation and the services of the expert at any time during the proceedings. The provisions of this section shall not preclude the applicability of any other rule or law.

Brody v. Brody, 16 Va. App. 649, 432 S.E.2d 20 (1993).  In an initial proceeding for child support, the unemployed/underemployed parent must prove that his/her situation was not voluntary.  Also, if childcare is available, a unilateral decision to stay at home is not sufficient to show that unemployment is involuntary.  Finally, the court can impute income from employment recently and voluntarily terminated.

Other cases: Virginia Divorce and Family Law Legal Resources at www.vadivorcelaw.net.

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.

Mmm…Chicken…


“mouth-watering” by author

The recent flap over Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy’s very public stance about same-sex marriage brought out a lot of back-and-forth press releases, accusations, and insults by and between people and groups on both sides of the marriage equality issue.  Here’s what I got out of it:

1.  There are no First Amendment issues at stake.  The First Amendment only applies to the government suppressing the right to free expression.  No one is attacking Dan Cathy’s right to express his views, support any group, or practice his religion, and those who oppose him have every right to say that they do.

2.  Those who complain about boycotts of Chick-Fil-A should remember that it’s a very old tactic that has been used time and again over the years.  Remember the Dixie Chicks?

3.  Taken as a whole, “Biblical” marriage includes concubines, mistresses, and multiple wives (but not husbands).  The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) is full of examples of each.  Also, there are various prohibitions on (among other things) eating pork (Leviticus 11:7-8) and shellfish (Leviticus 11:10), cutting your hair incorrectly (Leviticus 19:27), tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), and divorce for any reason (Mark 10:8-9).  Hey, I should be out of a job!

The Chick-Fil-A story dominated the news cycle for a few days, but like every big splash it has faded and will soon be relegated to, at most, an historical footnote, though no doubt various groups will raise a lot of money from it.  What will not fade is the advance of marriage equality and the resistance that it faces in the legislatures and courts.

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.