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Recent federal spending and the outcome of the November elections could lead to a reduction in the combined estate and gift tax exemption, perhaps as soon as January 1. The federal government imposes an estate tax when a person dies. The federal government also imposes a gift tax when gifts are made during a person’s life.1 However, everyone is entitled to a combined estate and gift tax exemption from federal taxes. (Arizona does not impose an estate or gift tax.) For persons who die or make gifts during calendar year 2020, the combined estate and gift tax exemption is $11.58…
Yesterday, all at once, OCR announced that it has entered into five new Resolution Agreements — each of them stemming from one or more violations of HIPAA’s right of  access afforded to individuals. There are several interesting observations about these new cases that are worth taking note of. First, although the “penalty” amounts are relatively low, OCR is still definitely intending to set a clear expectation about patients’ right of access afforded under HIPAA. The amounts in these new cases ranged from $3,500 on the low end, which OCR assessed against a psychiatrist in Virginia, and went up to $70,000,…
We’ve all been there. An ember of a memory of the perfect case we read a few days ago faintly glows. It’s the tantalizing last vestige of a good things whose value we failed to recognize as we allowed it to drift, unmoored to the abyss and become the buried treasure in the mental junkyard of jurisprudence. Cases we too hastily reject may not be lost forever. We can find traces of them through labor-intensive analysis of our research history on our commercial research databases, or we might wade into the depths of our internet browsing history. We might have…
Every year, I ask my students to read a variety of articles on the use of language, especially passive voice.  For the last few years, I’ve included a 2015 New York Times opinion piece on how Texas history books use passive voice to hide the acts of pre-Civil War enslavers and make slavery sound less horrific than it was.  See Ellen Bresler Rockmore, How Texas Teaches History, New York Times (Oct. 21, 2015); see also Dana Goldstein, American history textbooks can differ across the country, in ways that are shaded by partisan politics, New York Times (Jan. 12,…
The Arizona Supreme Court recently adopted rule changes that, beginning January 1, will allow non-lawyers to have ownership interests in law firms and lawyers to pay referral fees.   That’s really big news. And I’ll write about it. But not today.   Instead, I want to address something the Court didn’t do but that I think is significant, albeit not big.   Rule-change petition R-20-0022 asked the Court to adopt a rule that would require it to explain its decisions on rule-change petitions and disclose how each justice voted. I heartily supported that petition and filed a comment advocating for the Court to…
We are in election season and there is much talk about the high price of prescription drugs and promises by politicians to do something about it.  Don’t hold your breath.  Drug prices are like the weather:  Everyone complains about it but no one ever does anything to change it. Big Pharma, the name given to the global pharmaceutical industry, spends more money on lobbying in the United States than any other industry and it outspends the others by a wide margin.  Last year the pharmaceutical industry reported spending $166,038,670 on lobbying activities.  There are a couple of significant takeaways here.…
In Jamison v. McLendon, District Judge Carlton Reeves drafted a powerfully written and compelling opinion that highlighted a law enforcement officer’s egregious – and unconstitutional – treatment of a suspect in violation of the Fourth Amendment.[1] Then, Judge Reeves let the officer off the hook. Specifically, Judge Reeves held that the qualified immunity doctrine shielded the officer from liability. That conclusion was wrong. By way of background, in Jamison, a law enforcement officer stopped the plaintiff (Jamison) for an alleged license plate tag violation.[2] The officer believed that Jamison had illegal items in his car, although this belief…
Business Litigation Blog The U.S. Supreme Court Nexus Required for State Taxation of Online Sales: But Questions Still Remain June 22, 2018   Yesterday morning, the United States Supreme Court announced its highly anticipated decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, 585 U.S. __ (No. 17-494, 2018) in which it revisited the Court’s long-standing precedent that a state may only tax businesses that establish “nexus” with a state by having a sufficient physical presence in that state. (See Quill Corp v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992)). Now the Court, in a 5-4 split decision, has concluded that physical presence is…
Dishonest people are always looking for a way to steal money from you, from your neighbor or from the government.  If you have money, you are fair game.  A crisis like the Covid pandemic provides these people with a fearful population of whom they will try to take advantage.  At least some of these crooks are licensed doctors – or pretend to be. We are all afraid of the Covid virus.  If you are not, you probably have not been paying attention.  It is a bad virus.  Some unscrupulous doctors have been selling Covid treatments that they claim are 100%…
1Ls: Would you like some expert help and a chance to win a signed copy of Prof. Noreuil’s book, The Zen of Law School Success? Make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian and you will be entered into a drawing to win one of 6 copies of Prof. Noreuil’s book which offers a comprehensive approach to succeeding in law school based on the principals of simplicity and balance. Our expert librarians can provide you with 1L memo assistance. We can teach you how to conduct a preemption check, help you choose a paper topic, offer feedback on your…
The short answer is, yes. Getting married, divorced, or becoming a widow can have a major impact on what benefits Social Security will pay you. This is true of disability as well as retirement benefits.  The specific rules that apply to specific situations are beyond the scope of this blog post.  But, keep in mind that Social Security needs to know about your marital situation to determine what they can pay you. The Moral Of The Story I heard from a woman with a complicated story. She had married twice and divorced both spouses. One of her ex-husbands died after…
My colleague Diana Simon has a short article up on SSRN about the importance of transitions in legal writing, which is set to be published in Legal Communication and Rhetoric: JALWD. The article has been on my “to read” list for a while, and I took some time to read it today. I am so glad I did, because I learned a lot (see, I just used a transition there–proof that I learned a lot). Diana divides her article into three main points (more on the “power of three” later). First, she delves into the science behind transitions. She shares…
I just became a guest writer for the Kluwer Mediation Blog, which features academics and practitioners from around the world.  I want to cross-pollinate Indisputably and KMB by encouraging subscribers of each blog to subscribe to the other.  I hope to stimulate conversations between our communities. My first KMB post is The Evolution To Planned Early Multi-Stage Mediation.  It discusses problems with the pressure to complete mediations in a single day, shifts to mediation by video because of the coronavirus, and an evolution toward the use of multi-stage mediations.  This piece includes links to posts by practitioners who…
Everyone knows that a bottom line in a lawsuit is an immutable “line in the sand” that is accurately reported to mediators and counterparts as the least that a plaintiff would accept or most that a defendant would pay. Not really.  During the life cycle of a case, lawyers start with vague and tentative bottom lines, and they develop more precise and confident bottom lines as the case progresses.  People typically are not candid with others – and sometimes even with themselves – about their real walkaway point (or “trip wire”) for ending negotiations.  Indeed, “bottom line” claims are standard…
This week, there was another shooting of an unarmed Black man by police, this time in Kenosha, Wisconsin. So it’s very timely to read an article co-authored by MFOI Ava Abramowitz an article in Lawfare, Measurement Matters: The Key to Police Reform.  The authors take a dispute system design approach to analyzing the problems, focusing on the importance of developing good data to monitor situations and provide the basis for policies to improve them.  They write: Police departments, their officers, and the citizens they serve need performance measurement systems that reflect today’s values, reward citizen service as well as…
This time we are writing this blog about something close to home. The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), the governing body for Arizona State University (ASU), issued a federal lawsuit against the owner of the social media account “asu_covid.parties”. This individual claimed to organize “COVID parties”. The lawsuit is also against the social media platform Facebook. The account was originally created in Instagram. Facebook is Instagram’s parent company. The account had 23 posts and 970 followers before it was removed. COVID Parties What is a COVID party? Some have reported young people organizing parties without social distancing and face masks.…