This episode of Legal Bits has all the news that had me threatening to protest on the one hand and laugh-out-loud celebrating on the other. Let’s talk about it!
First there’s the Wevorce app, designed not only to simplify divorces but to make them more friendly. Divorcing couples can choose from a standard sets of rules as a first step. Then, in a very structured way, the app walks couples through issues ranging from child custody and visitation to splitting finances. When things get hairy, couples can buy a few hours from a divorce attorney to smooth things out and get back on the friendly track. This is a company on the move, with $3 million in new venture funding. That’s what happens when a company helps its customers reduce their pain. I wish them luck!
Let me tell you the best thing I’ve heard in a while. Our very own U.S. Supreme Court ruled just last week that people sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as children had to be re-sentenced, or in some cases offered a chance at release. The Court ruled in 2012 that such sentences were cruel and unusual because… well, childhood. This latest ruling made that finding retroactive. That’s a new lease on life for nearly 3000 people who made horrible mistakes as children. Big ups to the Equal Justice Initiative for their groundbreaking work on this case.
At the other end of my emotional spectrum is the decision of the Obama administration to raid the homes of hundreds of immigrants with the intent to deport women and children. This comes on the heels of last year’s decision to deport 7000 children who were fighting their immigration status in court and weren’t properly notified of hearings. In my humble opinion, these kinds of actions are simply not worthy of a great nation. Sigh…
In the annals of debt collection, it turns out no one sues their customers more than Capital One, the largest subprime lender in the country. A ProPublica study covering 20 years of court records in 11 states shows that Capital One lawsuits for unpaid debt comprise about 40 percent of all such lawsuits by major banks. They’ve gone after defaults as low as $1000, against people with no chance of paying. These are clearly people who can’t afford a lawyer, and any creditor would know that. (Full disclosure: I was once a Capital One customer, and a victim of their unscrupulous lawsuits. I fought back and we settled out of court.) Capital One gets judgments — essentially uncontested — that allow them to garnish paychecks or levy bank accounts as debtors try to get back on their feet. That’s horrid corporate behavior that should be better regulated.
Finally, a judge in Catawissa Township, Pennsylvania is tired of seeing pajama bottoms in his courtroom. I’ve been informed that it’s a new style in some small towns, but I haven’t witnessed it myself. I have argued in this space that self-represented litigants should dress down a bit when going to court, to contrast our status with the lawyers in the room, but this is going too far. The judge seems like a nice guy, unwilling to sanction anyone for violating his dress code. That’s good of him. Regardless, let’s do better, people!
Have you heard some interesting legal bits? Share in the comments below.