Legal Research Blog


Surge in Debt Leads to Courtroom Overhaul

As debt collection lawsuits have become all too common in recent months, the overburdened judicial system has been forced to adapt in creative ways. The increase in debt cases has drawn attention to inconsistencies in court rules that drain the system of funds and valuable time, so lawyers, consumer advocates, and bar associations have teamed up to streamline state and local debt-relief norms.

The solution to the bloated courts does differ depending on who you ask. For creditors’ attorneys, the priority is standardization within the state. When court rules differ between individual counties, lawyers lose precious time determining what forms are necessary in which courts. The National Association of Retail Collections Attorneys has worked to revive state bar associations for creditors’ attorneys, to encourage local regulation of rules and standards.

Consumer advocates and debtors’ lawyers have also spoken out in favor of reform. According to the National Law Journal, “consumer advocates are focused on making sure that debtors are properly notified of lawsuits, have sufficient time to respond and can overturn the judgments later if necessary.” These groups favor standardization as well, hoping it will relieve the confusion many debtors face in the unfamiliar courtroom.

In several states, legal professionals have collaborated to fix the system. The state of California modified its court rules last July to simplify the proceedings and cut down on court appearances. Massachusetts is another state that has reviewed its debt collections procedures, putting together a panel of interested parties to recommend changes, which included a standard form for record payment agreements. The two are paving the way for reforms in states nationwide, bringing a much needed overhaul to the system just in the nick of time.

Iraq May Sue for its Right to Olympic Glory

Last week, the International Olympic Committee announced that it will bar Iraqi athletes from competing in this summer’s Olympic games in Beijing. In June, the Iraqi government chose to disband its National Olympic Committee (NOC) in violation of the IOC’s rules against government intervention, a move which some observers believe to be politically motivated. Under the reign of Saddam, the NOC was chaired by Hussein’s son Odai and had remained predominantly Sunni. In contrast, today’s Youth and Sports Ministry is a Shia stronghold, which may have led to sectarian tensions between the two groups.

The Iraqi government dissolved the NOC in May on the grounds that the committee did not have enough members to form a legal quorum. However, the NOC is missing four of its members due to a 2005 kidnapping, a crime that remains unsolved. The IOC first declared the ban in June, but granted an Iraqi request for appeal. Unfortunately, the government did not meet the IOC deadline, and only a few days remain before the prohibition becomes irreversible.

Basil Abdul-Mahdi of the Ministry of Youth and Sports has spoken out against the IOC decision, and says they will fight for Iraq’s participation in Beijing. While he was unsurprised by the ban, he has also mentioned the possibility of a suit to defend Iraq’s right to compete for gold. Five athletes from Iraq would have had the chance for Olympic glory; their places have now been handed out to others. The greatest tragedy may be that throughout the war, sports have served to unify the country, providing activities that Iraqis from all backgrounds could enjoy together. Hopefully a solution will be reached in time.

Better Think Three Times Before Leaving Your Fiance

If you’re looking for the latest in lawsuits, you’ve come to the right place. Most think they’ve heard it all when it comes to who’s suing who, but this Florida woman has thrown us a curve ball. RoseMary Shell, former bride-to-be, has determined that the perfect solution for what do you do when your fiancé says “I don’t”, is to sue him, plain and simple.

Shell had been with fiancé Wayne Gibbs on and off for seven years, years in which Shell says Gibbs promised marriage but continued to delay it. Two years ago, Gibbs appeared to making good on his word when he issued an official proposal, assisted in moving Shell away from her home, job and life in Pensacola, Florida and set a date. It was to Shell’s horror when Gibbs postponed yet again, this time with a note in the couple’s bathroom. Perhaps it was the nature of the message or maybe just the thought of leaving everything behind for an empty promise, but Shell decided enough was enough. She filed a lawsuit against Gibbs for financial and emotional damages contending that she had given up a stable career and financial independence based on his promise of marriage. Shell and her lawyer knew they would have a tough case to fight, attempting to prove that an engagement serves as a binding contract.

To their surprise, the judge ruled in favor of Ms. Shell’s claim awarding her $150,000, a number that has her and many others in shock. Gibbs had argued that he left Shell after realizing how much debt she was in, concerned that it could damage his own financial success but the judge would not have it. In spite of Shell’s big win, she announced on The Today Show that she was more satisfied with the potential of new precedence when it comes to an engagement. Gibbs will no doubt be appealing the decision as their engagement, along with most others, was never put in writing.

This case produces a whole slew of questions. Does the verbal agreement upon marriage constitute the same contractual agreement that the marriage itself does? In the UK, the engagement ring is considered a valid sign of the promise of marriage but it has not been so black and white in the US. Even so, does Shell really deserve a reward for being dumped and if so, that much? Should engagements be considered anything less than a binding agreement? The Today Show is tallying votes here or let us know what you think in the comments portion of our blog.

Source: MSNBC

Lawdable Quotes: Plato

No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding.

~ Plato

Lawdable Quotes: Aristotle

It makes no difference whether a good man has defrauded a bad man, or a bad man defrauded a good man, or whether a good or bad man has committed adultery: the law can look only to the amount of damage done.