Online Reviewers Losing Anonymity in Defamation Cases

There is certainly an interest in being able to anonymously review products and services online: reviewers may feel more safe to be honest in their reviews, without fear of retaliation from companies or other users. Then again, anonymity can allow some reviewers to go too far, thinking there will be no consequences for the things they say online.
In a recent case in California, an appeals court attempted to balance those interests, ruling that companies hosting online reviews have a right to shield the identity of anonymous posters, but posters sued for defamation can lose their anonymity.
Zero Stars
The case involved a Yelp reviewer using the pseudonym Alex M. who was not too pleased with the accounting services he or she got from Gregory Montagna:
“Too bad there is no zero star option! I made the mistake of using them and had an absolute nightmare. Bill was way more than their quote; return was so sloppy I had another firm redo it and my return more than doubled. If you dare to c..

DACA Renewals Rejected for Missing Deadline Will Get Reprieve

The mixed messages continue coming from the White House on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, this time with DACA recipients getting some good news. Although the Trump administration already announced plans to end DACA protections next year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is giving a second chance to immigrants whose renewal applications were rejected for missing the deadline.
If yours was one of those, you may resubmit the renewal request.
More Timeliness
A memo from USCIS notes that the “U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has identified USPS mail service delays that affected a number of DACA renewal requests,” with an estimated 4,000 renewal requests missing the October 5th deadline. According to NPR, many of those requests were sitting in a post office box on October 5, but not picked up by federal bureaucrats until the next day.
Those “late” requests were initially rejected, but after The New York Times and Vox discovered that many of those applications were mailed ..

Common Myths About Child Custody Disputes

Child custody disputes can be some of the most hard-fought legal battles in the courts. And in the fog of war, a lot of misconceptions can spread. To be fair, the one constant throughout all child custody determinations is that courts or arbitrators will make their decisions based on the child's best interests. After that, custody will depend on a variety of factors, each of which may be unique to your case.
Even with all the misinformation out there, some child custody myths are more common than others, so here's an effort to clear those up:
1. Can Child Custody Decisions Be Based on Religiosity, Sexual History?
In a general sense, how religious or sexually active a parent is won't make or break a child custody decision. However, if a parent engages in high-risk sexual behavior that can endanger a child's well-being, those factors could come into play.
2. Can I Get Physical or Legal Custody of a Child If I'm Not the Parent?
Custody is not just for parents..

Top 5 Student Loan Debt Tips

Student loan debt in America is exploding, growing by an estimated $2,726.27 every second and totaling over $1.38 trillion dollars (as of this morning). Not only are students being buried in debt, parents are now, too.
And with so many shady debt servicing companies and for-profit colleges out there, it's more difficult to repay that debt and separate fact from fiction while doing it. So here are some of our best legal tips for dealing with student loan debt, from our archives.
1. Student Loans Stay With You for Life
That's what we're told, and that's what makes the weight of student loans so heavy. And, when it comes to student loans from the federal government, that's true — federal student loan debt can't be discharged in bankruptcy. But you may have some more leeway if the loan is from a private lender or you can demonstrate an undue hardship.
2. Legal How-To: Getting Student Loans Forgiven
No, in most cases your student loans won't magicall..

Can Professors Ban Students From Classes?

A Duke University professor made waves last week when it was revealed that the syllabus for one of her courses included the warning: “Anyone who is on the staff of The Chronicle is not permitted to take this class.” Members of the campus newspaper we rightfully miffed at the supposed ban, which, in the end, turned out to be a poorly worded attempt to stress confidentiality in the courses content.
But it does raise an interesting legal question about a professor's or a school's ability to ban certain students from specific courses. Is every class open to every student?
Clumsy Course Closure
The ban at issue was part of the syllabus for lecturing fellow of economics Linsey Lebowitz Hughes's “Inside Hedge Funds.” As relayed by The Chronicle, the full notice read:
“Audio recordings of this class are not permitted and students will be asked to keep the information shared by some of our guest speakers confidential. Anyone who is on the staff of The Chronicle is not permitt..

Why You Should Be Nice to Your Divorce Lawyer

Given the glut of lawyer jokes out there, and the common impression of lawyers (even the pejoratives attorneys seem to happily embrace), the thought of lawyers requiring niceties or, no kidding, a whole day dedicated to being nice to them, seems laughable. Lawyers want our money, not our compliments, right?
But behind that professional veneer, lawyers are people, too, and like the rest of us they have relationships they enjoy and those they don't. So can that enjoyment affect the quality of their work? The Huffington Post thinks so, positing that the relationship you have with your lawyer can affect your divorce case, which might be a really good reason to be nice to your divorce lawyer.
Liking Your Lawyer; Your Lawyer Liking You
It makes intuitive sense, right? We all have coworkers with whom we get along better or worse, and like working with the coworkers we like. And you're going to be working a lot with your divorce lawyer. As Christina Pesoli points out, that work be..

Trump’s New Cuba Travel and Business Rules

'I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba,' President Donald Trump declared in June, announcing yet another rollback or rescission of Obama-era policies. And those new rules went into effect this week, banning Americans from doing business with 180 listed entities with ties to the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services, including over 80 hotels, stores, marinas, tourist agencies, and industries owned by the government or its subsidiaries.
So you may want to hold off packing your bags for a Havana getaway — while U.S. citizens are prohibited from traveling to or doing business in Cuba entirely, there are some additional restrictions you should know about.
Ebbing Embargo
The Trump administration's new rules make it illegal for Americans and U.S. companies to enter into financial transactions with Cuba's military, Grupo de Administración Empresarial, S.A. (GAESA) or any of its “affiliates, subsidiaries or succes..

Can You Get Out of a Court Subpoena?

In order to present a case, attorneys need evidence. That evidence may take the form of witness testimony, documents, or physical evidence, and that evidence must be presented in court. But not all evidence is easily obtainable or voluntarily makes its way into court. And for those instances, courts have subpoena power.
A subpoena is a court order to produce documents or testify in court or other legal proceeding, and, as evidenced by its Latin translation “under penalty,” those who defy valid subpoenas risk civil or criminal penalties. So is there any way to avoid complying with a subpoena?
Refusing the Request
There are two types of subpoena, and getting out of one may depend on which kind you get:
A subpoena ad testificandum requires you to testify before a court or other legal authority. A subpoena duces tecum requires you to produce documents, materials, or other tangible evidence. If you don't wish to appear in court or produce the requested evidence, there are a couple ..

Alimony Deductions Could Disappear in New Tax Bill

Call it a popular tax break you didn't know you might lose, or a divorce penalty, but the new tax bill could include some bad news for those paying alimony. The GOP plan released last week contains a slew of changes to the tax code, many that might not make the headlines, but that still make a big difference to a lot of people's finances.
One of those proposed changes would be removing spousal support or alimony as a deductible expense. What does that mean for divorced couples? Here's a look.
Past and Present
As it stands now, alimony is tax deductible for the ex-spouse paying the alimony, and is classified as taxable income for the ex-spouse receiving the alimony payments. The new tax bill would remove the alimony deduction for those paying alimony, but those receiving it would no longer need to pay tax on that income.
Congress apparently looks at the current way alimony is taxed as a “tax subsidy.” The bill summary reads: “The provision would eliminate what is effe..