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Amnesty

Amnesty

The Legal Application of Amnesty

Amnesty law is a law is retroactively placed in order to exempt a specific group of individuals. It has been traditionally used as a political tool in order to compromise and allow reunion after a war. An act of amnesty is normally given to a group of people who have allegedly committed crimes against the state, such as rebellion, treason, or desertion from the military.
It is also applied to the government or military leaders so they do not become liable for the crimes they have committed. Often, amnesty is used in circumstances that deal with crimes against humanity or human rights abuses.
The use of amnesty is particularly common when dealing with countries that have experienced civil war, revolutions, or coups. In chaotic times, the outgoing regime’s leaders that want democracy or are forced to restore it within their country may be confronted with litigation regarding the counterinsurgency during their time in power.
Often, allegations of crimes against humanity or human rights abuse can to put forth as well. In order to overcome the possibility of facing prosecution for this allegation, some countries have absolved those through amnesty.
Amnesty laws can also be equally problematic to the opposition as a cost-benefit situation. There is a question of whether it is worth extending a conflict or rule to the new regime from the previous one, which can be accompanied with an increase in casualties and suffering when the previous regime resists losing its power.
In United States history, the first act of amnesty was offered in 1795 by President George Washington to the participants of the Whiskey Rebellion which allowed the American government to forgive the crimes involved, in exchange for their participants’ signatures on an oath of loyalty. Other historically significant amnesties in were granted in the United States during the Civil War and Vietnam War.
There is no specific or exact constitutional or legislative mention of amnesty, making its legal use vague. Most often it is justified by Article 2 Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Here the Constitution suggests that the president has the power to grant both reprieves and pardons for any offenses committed against the United States. While amnesty is typically granted before prosecution and a pardon is given after one, the distinction between the two is still vague. Courts often interchange the terms.
Amnesty laws are often opposed by various organizations including Amnesty International and Humanitarian Law Project as well the victims and their families. To these groups, amnesty laws are allowing a violation of both local and international law which should be corrected.
Even though someone who receives amnesty is no longer subject being judged local law, this amnesty does not invalidate law on an international level. This was the factor that caused the International Criminal Court to be established in order to ensure that those who received amnesty still are held responsible for their crimes if the local government does not prosecute the individual.

Oyez

Oyez

Oyez: The Supreme Court Archive


The Oyez Project is an unofficial multimedia archive dedicated to the Supreme Court of the United States and its purpose in the U.S. government. By archiving oral and audio arguments, Oyez tries to ben complete authoritative source for audio of the Court since October 1955 when the recording system was first installed. 
Not only does Oyez provide all recordings, but it attempts to give authoritative information about the justices, both historical and incumbent. It also provides a virtual ‘tour’ of different parts of the Supreme Court building, such as many of the justices’ chambers.
Oyez gives access to over 5,000 total hours of audio from the Supreme Court in hopes to provide an archive that is searchable to up to 1955. Oyez6, which is this current various, audio is available in its entirety from 1970 up to 2010.  The collection is not as thorough and is rather selective before 1970.
Beginning of Oyez
Oyez came from the idea of making a Supreme Court experience that was based on multimedia available at the time. The first version of this was a series of HyperCard stacks that revolved around a baseball card metaphor.
Since the start of the annual Term in October 1955, almost all proceedings in the Supreme Court have been recorded for use by the clerks and the justices. These recordings were first put on reel to reel tapes. The Supreme Court then agreed to have these recordings archived at the National archive & Records Administration, as long as they were used for research and educational purposes only and not duplicated for commercial purposes.
In 1993, a political science from the University of California, Peter Irons, challenged these conditions by creating copies and transcripts, which eventually the Court allowed. Jerry Goldman, another professor felt that these recordings were important to make available, and with this the Oyez project was started.
Next, the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court” showed the potential use of academic content that could be integrated with multimedia. There were many different versions of Oyez before it became the service became web based that is known today.
Funding for Oyez
Oyez receives support for the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, Northwestern University Libraries, FindLaw, and M. R. Bauer Foundation. In addition, the National Science Foundation provided funding and support for Oyez as well. It gave a major grant to Oyez in 2003 in order to show support for the Supreme Court and its interdisciplinary interests.
In 2011, Oyez also received a grant from Google, allowing them to continue adding to the archive, in hopes that it can ultimately be complete.

Decision

 Decision

Judicial Decision Making and Case Law


In a legal context, a decision is an outcome of a case or proceeding before a government agency, arbitrator, judge, or other legal tribunal. The decision is often considered the first step in an interpretation by a judgment or a court in a case.
The term decision is often interchanged with an opinion or a judgment. Technically, this is incorrect since an opinion is a document written to describe the reasons for reaching a decision and a judgment is the court’s decision in a written form with the clerk’s notes or minutes.
Decisions can include:
Rulings
Provisional or inter-locutory orders made by the court
Final judgments
Legal decisions are most important when looking at case law. In a common law court, civil trials look at decisions on previous cases that dealt with similar issues. These court decisions rely on case law, which is the reported set of judicial decisions from certain appellate courts as well as other courts that are the first occurrence of a new interpretation to the law.
Because of these decisions with new interpretations, they can be cited by future courts as precedent, which is called stare decisis. This use of previous decisions is not applicable to all areas of the law including:
Statutory laws: rely on codes and statutes that were created and enacted by a legislative body.
Regulatory laws: based on the statutes and are established by various federal agencies
In cases where the trial or hearing is not considered in a court of first impression, their decisions do not act as precedents for future court decisions.
In common law, a court’s decision on how the law is applicable to a particular case relies on the interpretation of the statutes and application of relevant precedents that should how previous decisions were handled. Under the doctrine of state decisis, courts are almost entirely bound to their own previous precedents and decisions from precious cases. 
Furthermore, lower courts have to follow these decisions of the higher courts as well. This applies not only in the to the common law system in the U.S., but also in other common law systems across the world. For example, the Court of Appeals and the High court in England are bound by their previous decisions, but neither of them are bound by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom or the County Courts.
Decisions from higher courts do not have much oversight over any of the lower courts of record since they cannot overrule the lower courts. This action is usually left to the higher appeal courts. Furthermore, a lower court cannot rule against a binding precedent, no matter how unjust to may seem. The court can only express the wish that the legislature or a higher court will reform whatever rule is at hand.

Caveat

Caveat

Caveat is the Latin term that simply means to “beware of” something. It serves to be a warning or a notice. In a legal term, caveat can just refer to a formal legal notice sent to a public officer or a court to suspend a specific proceeding until the person who sent the notice receives a hearing.
The term was more often used in the past by an individual objecting to the appointment of:
An executor 
Administrator of an estate 
A patent for an invention
However, this meaning is much less used by modern attorneys today.
Today, the term is used more often as short hand for other Latin phrases that are often used in the law, such as caveat emptor, caveat venditor, and caveat lector.
Caveat Emptor


Caveat emptor, which is Latin for “let the buyer beware” is the idea that a buyer should be responsible for reasonably examining an item before choosing to buy it. By doing so, the buyer is responsible for the condition of the product. This is often applied to items that are not covered under a strict warranty. In the United States, caveat emptor is most often used for fitness type of implied warranties.
In the Uniform Commercial Code it specifically states that when a buyer is relying on a seller’s knowledge and skill to purchase the correct item, there is an implied warranty that whatever goods are being sold will be useful. Caveat emptor does apply to this warranty.
Not only is the term applied to an implied warranty of fitness, it is also often done with purchasing merchandise. In most circumstances, a seller is not required to allow have a return policy. Here caveat emptor is applied. The customer has the responsibility to inspect the quality of the product.  If the customer finds a problem with the product, the store is not liable for this.
Caveat Venditor


Caveat venditor is the Latin phrase for “let the seller beware” and acts as a counter to caveat emptor. The term suggests that a seller can also be in the position to be deceived during a market transaction. In this situation, the seller must take responsibility for the given product, which can discourage other sellers from attempting to sell products of unreasonable quality.
The phrase was derived from the case MacPherson v Buick Motor Co. in 1916 where Judge Benjamin Cardozo, the New York Court Appeals judge, stated that the privity of duty was no longer required in a lawsuit relating to product liability against the seller.
Caveat Lector
Caveat Lector, or “let the reader beware,” is used to warn a reader of potential errors in minor details of a passage, but that the general idea is accurate. It can also suggest to the reader that general idea of the passage may be problematic such as being misleading, but the details are fine.

Esquire

Esquire

The Use of the Title Esquire in the United States


In the United States, esquire, more commonly seen as the suffix Esq., is used most often by individuals who are licensed to practice law. The suffix esquire is not gender specific and can be used by both female and male lawyers. The term esquire was not officially granted by any government authority but rather assumed by the legal community and profession. Certain states also give this title to other ministerial officers, such as commissioners of deeds, notary publics, and justices of the peace.
It is customary to not use the suffix esquire when referring to any sitting judges, who are members of the bench as opposed to members of the bar, and are not allowed to practice law in most jurisdictions in the United States. These judges will generally be given the prefix the Honorable as their title of respect. In certain jurisdictions, this title can also be given to attorneys who are current members of the jurisdiction’s bar. 
Often it is suggested that certain United States jurisdictions explicitly indicate that the esquire suffix should only be used for lawyers. However, these jurisdictions actually do this in order to suggest that the term may be sometimes used by an individual who is falsely or wrongly claiming to be a licensed member of the state bar. It sometimes may be used in conjunction with the claim of being associated to the bar. The suffix alone is not enough to be considered evidence of misrepresentation.
All previous court cases in the United States that questioned the use of the suffix esquire always involved an individual who was practicing law without the proper authorization. None of these cases prosecuted an individual for the term when it was used only in a legitimate law practice.
The legal associations of an esquire in the United States have not completely eliminated out the modern British use of esquire where it is an alternative honorific to Mister.
The use of esquire by attorneys most often occurs when filing documents with a court or signing correspondence. In these situations, the use of the suffix only occurs when reference is done in the third person, for example by making a formal introduction, addressing an envelope, or for a business letterhead. Esquire is not used with any other honorific such as Mr., Ms., or Dr.
However, if a person has a post-nominal professional designation or an academic degree such as an M.D. or a CPA, the designation can be used after esquire. Furthermore, when a social correspondence is addressed to a commissioned officer from the U.S. Foreign Service, the suffix esquire can be used in a complementary fashion. It can also be used when addressing a diplomat.

Arbitrary

Arbitrary

Arbitrary Decisions


The word arbitrary is derived from the Latin work arbitrarius, meaning the source of arbiter, who is the person who must judge a particular matter. In legal terms, an arbitrary judgment is a legal decision decided at the discretion of a judge, and is a decision that is not one that is fixed by law.
When a decision is arbitrary, it means that the decision is not based on judgment or reason but instead on discretion without any regard to standards or rules or personal will. It also implies a disregard of the evidence. In many circumstances, the term arbitrary implies an aspect of bad faith, and it sometimes may be taken as despotic or tyrannical.
In certain countries, a ban of arbitrariness is preserved into the constitution. For example, the Swiss Federal Constitution Article 9 theoretically supersedes even democratic judgments in barring arbitrary government action.
The United States Supreme Court has previously overturned laws for not having any “rational basis.” A study of the United States asylum system finds that arbitrariness in decisions may be the cause of extremely large differences in outcomes between various adjudicators, which is known as refugee roulette.
In the United States, there is an arbitrary and capricious legal standard which states that a lower court’s findings will not be disturbed or contradicted unless it did not have any reasonable basis. Likewise, a jury’s finding of a fact will rarely be disturbed during an appeal unless it is found to be arbitrary and capricious. This idea of arbitrary decisions also applies to a decision by a government agency on an administrative law. 
In these arbitrary decisions, the previous ruling is considered invalid because of the fact that the ruling was based on unreasonable grounds or without proper consideration of the circumstances involved.
On a federal level and sometimes state level, non-elected officials in administrative agencies are given the authority to make rules, render decisions, and handle miscellaneous disputes. Here they must provide due process to the parties affected while complying with the procedures set by federal and state legislature.
These proceedings recognize the right of judicial review where citizens affected by the administrative body’s actions can ask for the actions to be reviewed by a judicial court. Standards have been created through state and federal legislature in order to prevent excess arbitrary decision making.
Congress tried to ensure this balance between protection of individual rights and giving agencies enough freedom to function through the Administrative Procedure Act. This act limited the range of judicial review of the court in question. It limited the scope of the court’s authority to decide whether an administrative agency made an arbitrary and capricious decision.
More specifically, the act said that the reviewing court must figure out whether the agency specified a rational connection between the facts and its decision. The court must also look at the record of the agency to ensure that the decision was based on a reasonable evaluation of the relevant facts. 

Alibi

Alibi

An alibi is a form of defense used in legal proceedings and trials that shows that a defendant was not in a location where the alleged offense occurred. The alibi defense relies on the idea that the defendant is in fact actually innocent and has not committed the alleged crime. When an alibi defense is used by a defendant, the appropriate strategy for the defense is to work to prove innocence as opposed to simply being not guilty.
If the defendant does not have an alibi, the attorney for the defendant can say that the prosecution is unable to prove the case beyond a point of reasonable doubt. However, having an alibi defense changes the focus and the defendant case must be able to convince the jury of his or her innocence. If the jury does not think the alibi is true, it becomes more difficult for the defense to suggest that the prosecution is unable to prove the case.
Most legal jurisdictions have certain notice rules that are used for an alibi defense. The defense attorney usually must give notice to the prosecution about using an alibi defense. The defense also must disclose the location of the alibi where the defendant was during the crime as well as names, telephone numbers, and addresses of the alibi witnesses.
In return, the prosecution then discloses the names, telephone numbers, and addresses of the witnesses to the alleged crime along with witnesses that the prosecution plans to use to dispute the alibi defense.
If the alibi defense of the defendant is good enough to raise any reasonable doubt concerning his or her guilt in the alleged crime, the burden is then on the prosecution who must then disprove the alibi defense to a point beyond a reasonable doubt.
When the defense presents an alibi defense, the entire case switches focus and looks at how poorly or how well the witnesses of the alibi handles the cross-examination. Sometimes, an alibi witness can be vulnerable to attack in the following areas during a cross-examination:
Personal attacks on the alibi witness:
The relationship the alibi witness has with the defendant.
Any bias or unusual interest the witness appears to may have in the case’s outcome.
Any refusal by the witness to speak with the prosecution before the trial.
Failure by the witness to report the alibi to any law enforcement before trial.
The witness’s pretrial preparation:
How the witness learns about the importance of the date in question
The witness’s timing of the request to testify
Any prior meetings with the defense team or other alibi witnesses involved
The witness’s trial testimony:
Failure to give a reason for knowing or remembering the alibi date
The overall chance that the alibi is legitimate or probable
Inability to recall other dates
Inconsistencies between the statements with other alibi witness statements.
Inability to remember certain details about the alibi
Unusually perfect ability to remember the details
Lack of proof to support the alibi
Proof that is not consistent with the alibi given

Prosecutors

Prosecutors

The Role of a Prosecutor


A prosecutor acts as the government’s attorney in any criminal case. The prosecutor’s role is to represent the people, which can include the United States Attorney, States Attorney, District Attorney, Solicitor General, Attorney General, or a special prosecutor. Being a prosecutor may require investigating certain criminal offenses on his or her own initiative, or by request of a government body or government officer.
A prosecutor can work with law enforcement agents to make sure that justice is served. He or she will make decisions about whether or not to put forth charges for a crime against the individual or group who the charges will be brought. A prosecutor must convince the judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt about the facts needed to consist of the crime charged.
The prosecutor must do all of this while refraining from the use of any improper methods with the intention of producing a wrongful conviction. He or she also must use every legitimate method available to obtain just convictions.
Both county and state governments can employ a prosecutor to represent a local community in an against a criminal defendant. On a federal level, the President of the United States appoints the prosecutors that will represent the United States in any complaints against criminal defendants.
In certain states, a prosecutor will present the court with a written statement containing the charges. In other states, a prosecutor may be required to convene a Grand Jury for the court before charging a defendant with any serious criminal charge.
A grand jury is a collection of potential jurors selected by the prosecutor who will then examine the evidence and decide whether or not to indict the defendant and by doing so, authorizing prosecution. On a federal level, the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires a prosecutor to get an indictment for certain crimes, such as those that are capital or otherwise infamous, excluding crimes that come out of active military service.
In regards to most criminal cases, a prosecutor must argue with the defense attorney, the attorney who represents the defendant. In the majority of cases, the criminal defendant is represented by an attorney, even when the defendant cannot afford the services of one. If a judicial court does not offer this legal representation in the form of a defense attorney to a criminal defendant, the criminal defendant may avoid being incarcerated upon a conviction.
Prosecutors have a very broad discretion in deciding whether to prosecute a particular criminal defendant. A prosecutor does not personally have to believe in the guilt of a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, but must simply have enough evidence to support a good enough belief that the defendant has in fact committed the crime.

Intervention

Intervention

Intervention in a Legal Context


In a legal context, intervention is a procedure used to allow a nonparty to join an ongoing litigation as an intervenor. This party can join in without original litigant’s permission at the discretion of the court.  The reason behind having an intervention is that the nonparties involved may be affected by the judgment.
In the federal judiciary system in the United States, intervention is discussed by rule 24 of the United States Code of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
The first part of Rule 24 discusses the intervention of right, which is when the intervenor can show that his interest is not represented adequately by the currently involved parties. The court must allow anyone to intervene if:
The person is given an unconditional right by a federal statute to intervene or
The person claims some interest related to the transaction or property that the action is revolved around. The intervenor’s ability to protect his or her interest must be impaired or impeded if the action is dropped unless the party is represented.
The second part discusses permissive intervention which relies on the judge’s opinion on the matter. It states that a court may allow a person to intervene if:
A federal grants the individual a conditional right of intervention.
The individual has a defense or claim that is related to the main action by having a common fact or law or question of law.
Note that the court can decide whether an intervention will somehow prejudice or delay the settlement of the rights of the original parties.
The second part also allows permissive intervention but by a government agency or officer if:
The agency or officer administers an executive order or statute.
An agreement, regulation, requirement, or order is created under the executive order or statute.
The third part of Rule 24 talks about when a notice and pleading is required. Any motion to intervene has to be served on the original parties as shown in rule 5. A pleading that sets the defense or claim must accompany the intervention.
In both permissive intervention and intervention of right, the potential intervenor must submit an application of intervention in an early enough time in order for the request to be heard. If the intervenor knows that his own interests may be affected adversely by a decision in litigation, he or she must attempt to intervene as soon as possible.
Furthermore, the intervention procedure cannot happen when it violates the requirements of diversity jurisdiction as found in U.S. federal law (meaning that the parties are diverse in citizenship).

De Novo

De Novo

A Trial De Novo


In general, de novo is a Latin phrase that means something along the lines of anew, beginning again, afresh, or from the beginning. In a legal context is most commonly used in a trial de novo, or a new trial. In a trial de novo, a different tribunal is used, often by the authority of the appellate court. A trial de novo is most often ordered when the original court did not properly make a determination in a case in the way that is appropriate by the law.
Unlike an appeals court, a trial de novo is tried as though there was never any prior trial, although it is a form of an appeal. New evidence cannot be submitted in a trial de novo. However, if is often done in a small claims court. A trial de novo may not only be requested by an individual who was involved in arbitration, but it can also be requested by someone involved in an administrative agency decision.
The general rule of the court is that appeal must be based only on the points of law instead of the points of fact. Appeals are usually rely on the claim that the judge or jury did not look at all the facts. If this claim is found to be true, the appeal judge often will order a trial de novo. The important issue is protecting an individual’s rights against being tried for the same crime twice, or double jeopardy.
In order to apply for a trial de novo, an application is often required. The application can be given to the clerk associated to the circuit judge within 10 days of the when the first judgment was rendered in order to secure a trial de novo. 
The application for a trial de novo application also gets mailed to the opposing party or his or her attorney by the clerk, or it can also be served as provided by the law for the service of notices up to 15 days after the rendered judgment
A trial de novo application often cannot be served until the applicant is approved by the associate circuit judge. This must be performed within the time given before the circuit judge to the adverse party. A sufficient fee is also needed to secure the payment of the costs of another judgment, all under the condition that an applicant will carry through the prosecution for trial de novo with due diligence to a decision.
If the trial de novo judgment is found against the individual, the defendant must pay for the judgment, and if the application for trial de novo is dismissed, the individual will pay also the judgment rendered by the circuit judge, in addition to the costs.

Moratorium

Moratorium

Legal Use of a Moratorium
A moratorium is an authorized period of suspension or delay of an activity in a legal context. Sometimes, a moratorium can be agreed on by the relevant parties. Other times, it is authorized by the law to oppose some sort of operation. A moratorium can also be used to indicate a period of time legally authorized by the law of delay in performance, debt, or another legal obligation. This is often used in emergency situations or times of distress, for example a natural disaster or a war.
A moratorium is often declared by a government body for a variety of reasons. A moratorium’s legality is often judged based on its impact on the parties related to the moratorium. For example, the U.S. Supreme court upheld a 30-day moratorium in 1995 that prohibited lawyer advertising in Florida Bar v Went for It, Inc. On the other hand, the Supreme Court felt that in the 1987 case First English Evangelical Lutheran Church v LA County, the moratorium on property development was unconstitutional.
Moratorium legislation has been passed by various state legislatures as forms of debt relief during emergencies as well. In order to determine the constitutionality of these statutes, the courts first look at the moratorium’s effect on the rights of the parties who have impaired contracts. If the moratorium only changes the remedy for the breach and not the contract terms, the courts will usually find it constitutional, such as in Sturges v Crowninshield.
Furthermore, if the moratorium is passed in response to a genuine emergency, it will most likely be upheld as well, such as in Johnson v Duncan.
In an effort to enforce the law, a state may also use a moratorium to suspend contractual rights when safety, public welfare, or health is threatened. This police power is often carefully limited by the standards of reasonableness. During World War I, there was a housing shortage that caused many New York landlords to raise their rents to extraordinarily high levels. The state legislature passed a moratorium that limited these increase because it was a safety and public health concern. The Supreme Court sustained this ruling in Marcus Brown Holding Co. v Feldman in 1921.
A contemporary example of a debt moratorium was in 1933 when foreclosure rates on farm property rose sharply in Minnesota. The Minnesota Mortgage Moratorium Act of 1933 was passed in response by the Minnesota legislature, which was then challenged in in Home Building and Loan Association v Blaisdell in 1934. The Supreme Court upheld this case because there was a legitimate emergency as well as a societal interest. 

Fiduciary

Fiduciary

How a Fiduciary Relationship Works


A fiduciary is a legal relationship where an individual, association, corporation, or another party has the legal authority and duty to make decisions on behalf of another party regarding financial issues. This fiduciary relationship is between a principal and a fiduciary. 
In a fiduciary relationship, one party is in a vulnerable position and reposes good faith, confidence, trust, and reliance in another party whose participation, advice, aid, or protection is desired for whatever reason. In this sort of relationship, the fiduciary must act in good conscious for the sole interest and benefit of the other party, while maintaining loyalty to the interests.
The most common fiduciary relationships are between a beneficiary and a trustee, but can also include those of a corporate director with a trustee, or a legal guardian with a conservator. Other examples include:
Broker and a principal
Client and a lawyer
Partner with a partner
Stock subscriber and a promoter
Patient and a doctor
Student and a teacher
Parishioner and a priest
In certain situations, a fiduciary may have to file with a judge or a probate court a probate bond or a fiduciary bond. The purpose of this is to guarantee that the fiduciary will be faithful to his duties. The fiduciary must be accountable for his actions and cannot profit or benefit from the relationship in certain ways. The profit or benefit cannot be benefited through:
An action that is a conflict of duty, whether or not it is a duty to another
An action that takes advantage of the position of the fiduciary
Because of this, the fiduciary must be in a situation where fiduciary obligations and personal interests do not conflict. Unless there is previous consent and knowledge, a fiduciary should not profit or have a conflict of interest.
In certain circumstances, there is a potential conflict between two fiduciary duties, for example when a lawyer represents two different clients with different and opposing interests. This situation is not allowed to happen in a fiduciary duty.
In the case that a fiduciary does not complete his obligations, his conduct may be considered constructive fraud despite the lack of primary fraudulent actions. In these situations, courts will often returned the benefit that was given to the fiduciary to the principal unless the fiduciary can somehow show that the conflict had been fully disclosed and the principle consented to the actions of the fiduciary.

Clay County Clerk of Court

Clay County Clerk of Court

Information About Florida’s Clay County Clerk of Court
Clay County Clerk of Court: Background Information
A clerk of the court is an officer of the court who has the responsibility of maintaining the court records. Another duty of the clerk of court is to administer oaths to jurors, witnesses, and grand jurors. Formally, the clerk is also the holder of the seal of the court, used to give authenticity to court orders, records, and judgments.
In Clay County, Florida, the Clerk of Court is James B. Jett. His personal mission statement claims that he is very committed to giving the citizens of Clay County efficient, responsive court services. He provides information about the wide range of services that are available through the court for not only the public, but also those in the legal profession. 
Clay County Clerk of Court: Website Services
The Clay County Clerk of Court website contains a large amount of information about available services that can be redeemed. These services include the following:
Child Support: Clay County and Florida’s child support laws create  a way for children supported financially by the parent who does not have custody after a separation. Through information on the Clay County Clerk of Court website, it is possible to find the guidelines of the obtaining the pay needed from a supporting parents.
Both the supporting and parents’ financial circumstances are looked at when determining amounts. The Clay County Clerk of Court also provides information about the Florida Department of Revenue, driver’s license suspension program, and online payments.
Civil Court: Through the Clay County clerk of Court website, it is possible to find out how to go to civil court. The two typical issues that are dealt with that the civil court are landlord-tenant disputes and small claims.
The landlord-tenant dispute comes out of issues of missed rent and evictions. In small claims court, civil disputes that do not involve property or value beyond $5,000 are resolved. 
Criminal Court:  The courts discussed on the Clay County Clerk of Court can handle criminal issues as well. These courts involve judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. 
Document Recording: It is possible to look through official records such as marriage records as well as deeds from 1872 and on. There is also a microfilm archive of civil and criminal court records available. Copies and recordings are made available. 
Family Law: Family law issues are discussed here, particularly marriage, license applications, domestic violence, divorce, and visitation guidelines. 
Fines: Fines can also be taken care of that occurred in Clay County, Florida. Some of these include traffic fines, boating fines, and hunting fines. 

Barrister

Barrister


What is a Barrister?
In England and Wales (and countries based on the British system), legal counsel is made up of two litigating professions: solicitors and barristers. A barrister is a type of lawyer in a common law jurisdiction. A barrister specializes in courtroom advocacy; as a courtroom advocate, a barrister will draft legal pleadings and provide expert legal opinions. Because of this function, a barrister is held separate from a solicitor—another class of legal aid—who is directly connected with a client. A barrister is rarely hired by a client directly; barristers are retained by solicitors to act on behalf of a client. 
A barrister is a lawyer authorized to practice before the bar. A solicitor will draft wills, contracts and deeds, while meeting with clients and alleged criminals. After the paperwork has been completed, the solicitor will choose a barrister to go before the bar and advocate on behalf of the client. 
A solicitor is an attorney; these professionals can act in the place of their client to conduct litigation. To act in place of their client, the solicitor will provide applications to the court and write letters to the opposing side. In contrast, a barrister is not an attorney and is typically forbidden from conducting litigation. This characteristic denotes the core function of the barrister; while the individual is able—according to law or professional rules—to speak on the client’s behalf in a court setting, the barrister is only permitted to do so when instructed by a solicitor or a qualified professional, such as a patent agent. That being said, a number of countries, including the United States, do not observe the distinction between solicitors and barristers.
A barrister is regulated by the Bar only for the jurisdiction where they practice. In some jurisdictions, the barrister will be regulated by the Inn of Court to which they practice. Inns of Court will regulate admission to the profession. These courts are independent organizations are responsible for training, calling and disciplining the barristers. The bar will collectively describe members of the profession within a given jurisdiction.  
How is a Barrister Different from a Solicitor?
In essence, a barrister is the lawyer who will represent litigants as their advocate before a court. A barrister will speak in court and present the case before a jury and/or judge. In contrast, a solicitor will engage in detailed preparatory work to provide advice. A solicitor will draft and review legal documents, receive and respond to instructions delivered from their clients, prepare evidence, and manage the day-to-day administration of legal matters. 
A solicitor will provide support to barristers in court; solicitors will manage large volumes of legal documents and negotiate settlements outside the court. 
Barristers typically have rights of audience in higher courts, whereas other legal aids will have more limited actions or will require additional qualifications to be awarded such a right. In most jurisdictions, a barrister will operate as a sole practitioner—barristers are typically prohibited from forming partnerships. 

Notary Public

Notary Public

What Can a Notary Public Do for You?
A Notary Public is a public official who has the legal authority to witness signatures and certify that a legal document is valid. This is usually applicable to specific types of documents for example contracts, mortgages and deeds. The individual can also administer oaths, identify an individual, solemnize a marriage, attest to photocopies of certain documents, take affidavits, and other duties, jurisdiction.
Notary Publics are found in common law practicing countries including Australia, Canada, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the US, a notary public is not appointed by the federal government but rather by the state government, usually by the secretary of state. Because of this, the role of a notary public varies from state to state. 
To find a notary public, most state websites provide a directory or way to search for the nearest locations based on town and state or zip code. If this is not possible, one can look for a notary public at these local locations:
County Courthouse
Local school
City or town halls
Law offices
Insurance companies
Pharmacies
Banks
Pharmacies
Post office
Real Estate Office
Shipping companies
Library
There are also services available for a mobile notary public, meaning they will make the trip. These as well as other notary publics can be found either online or in a phonebook.
Because a notary public is appointed by state, it is important to see just what services can be provided before attempting to get something notarized. More information on services provided by a notary public can be found on the state’s government website.
The variation between states also applies to the fees for the services. Depending on the jurisdiction and services required, fees will vary and should be inquired about in advance.
In order to become a notary public, the National Notary Association can provide assistance to an individual 18 years or older who is an official resident of the state in which he or she wants to become a notary. By qualifying for the eligibility criteria for the state, filling out an application, and paying a filing fee as well as possibly posting a bond, it is possible to assume office as a notary.

Defendant

Defendant

What is a Defendant?
A defendant is any individual or legal party that is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff in a civil suit or any party who is formally charged or accused of violating a criminal law. In the majority of jurisdictions, a criminal defendant is any party formally tried as the accused. Defendants in criminal trials are taken into custody by law enforcement agents and brought before a court. This process is held distinct from the defendant’s initial actions in a civil suit. In civil trials, the defendant will typically make a voluntary court appearance in response to a summons. The actions of a defendant and the efforts of his or representing legal counsel, is regarding as the party’s defense. 

The Rights of a Criminal Defendant:
When a party (legal entity or person) is charged with a crime, they officially become a criminal defendant. In order for the party to be convicted and subsequently punished for the underlying crime, the presiding court must bring a case against the party to prove that he or she is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 
The rights of the criminal defendant are affirmed by the United States Constitution. The constitution assures all criminal defendants to a number of rights which limit the manner in which the court can investigate, prosecute and punish the accused. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to seek legal aid, the right to a speedy, public trial (heard by a jury) and the right not to be tried for the same crime more than once. 
The Right to Remain Silent: All criminal defendants have the right to remain silent; this liberty impedes the defendant from self-incrimination during the arrest process and the subsequent trial. In most instances, the defendant’s counsel will advise the individual on when it is best to remain silent or provide a testimony on his or her behalf.
The Right to Representation: A criminal defendant is awarded the right to legal representation. If the defendant is not in the financial state to hire a lawyer, legal aid will provided by the state. The right to adequate legal representation impedes the defendant from further prosecution as a result of his or her lawyer’s blunders. Moreover, the defendant is awarded the right to decline legal representation and represent him or herself. 
The Right to a Speedy, Public Trial by Jury: All criminal defendants are awarded the right to a public trial, held before a jury comprised of unbiased citizens. This right affirms that the state will not conduct clandestine hearings that may violate the defendant’s individual liberties. 
Criminal defendants have the right to be tried by a jury. The jury, in regards to its makeup, will vary from state to state, however, all juries must consist of members of the community randomly selected by the court and approved by the lawyers for the defendant and prosecuting side. Furthermore, a criminal defendant possesses the right to a speedy trial. This right will protect the defendant from sitting idle in jail for extended periods of time before guilt has been established. Courts will not guarantee the defendant a trial within a set amount of time; rather, the right to carry-out judicial efficiency is simply encouraged and promoted by this right. 
Double-Jeopardy: When a trial is properly conducted, the state is not allowed to retry the defendant for the same crime. That being said, criminal defendants may face civil claims that overlap or are added to the individual’s criminal charges. For example, in murder cases, the government or state is responsible for prosecuting the suspect for the murder, however, the victim’s family or friends can file additional claims against the suspect for the murder. Moreover, a criminal defendant can be charged by the state and the federal government for the same infraction. 
The Criminal Defense Timeline:
The criminal defense process begins with a formal stop made by a law enforcement officer. A police officer can legally stop any party for questioning under probable cause law. Though this initial stop is not an arrest, the officer may pose questions inferring to a possible arrest. In addition to questioning, the officer can frisk the suspect, if the officer believes the suspect is dangerous or in possession of contraband. During a pat down search, an officer is not allowed to reach into the suspect’s pockets, unless they identify or feel objects that they believe are contraband. 
In addition to a stop, a criminal defendant can be formally accused following a search. Search warrants are court orders that legally allow a law enforcement officer to search for specific items, within a specific place—such as the suspect’s home or place of work. To secure a warrant, the officer must demonstrate probable cause; this means the officer can only secure and use specific items latent in the warrant to prosecute the suspect. Furthermore, the officer must present the warrant to the suspect before searching the individual’s property. The following elucidates on the different types of searches connected to the criminal defense timeline:
Consent Search: The suspect may allow him or herself, their residence, or their vehicle to be searched with their expressed consent. Law enforcement officers may not search the individual’s property without probable cause, consent or a warrant. 
Vehicle Searches: When an individual is stopped and arrested for a traffic or driving violation, the officer will need probable cause to search the compartments (glove compartment and trunk) of the vehicle. The officer is permitted to observe the contents inside the vehicle that are in plain sight. 
A Search Incident to Arrest: Occurs when a law enforcement officer searches a person’s body and clothing for illegal items while making a valid arrest. 
Plain View: Refers to an officer’s ability to search an individual’s property for any incriminating evidence that is in direct sight of the officer. The officer has the right be in the position to view illegal objects. 

Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney

Understanding and Creating a Power of Attorney
A “power of attorney” is a written legal document that allows an adult individual to act on someone else’s behalf for a specified matter. Often a power of attorney is used in regards to property or financial matters, but it can also be used for non-tax issues such as Child Support collection, and Homeowner and Renter assistant.
An individual who is authorized to be a power of attorney can do many acts including:
Delegating the authority or substitutive another representative
Sign an income tax return on behalf of an individual
Receive confidential tax information
Sign waivers extending the statutory period for determining or assessing taxes
Execute closing agreements or settlement agreements
Receive cash or checks that are issued on behalf of the individual
While a power of attorney is a legal form, it is not a court form. The court is generally not involved with it although this can change if a person becomes unable to make their own rational decisions and a power of attorney must be assigned to the individual.
When creating a power of attorney document, the person who is creating is referred to as the principal while the individual who is being given authority is the attorney-in-fact. Despite the name the attorney-in fact does not have to be a lawyer, but must be at least 18 years or older and competent. 
There are two major types of powers of attorney. The first is one that lasts until the principal chooses to end it. The second is only applicable and put into action when an event happens, such as a disease that leaves the principal incapacitated.
In order to create make a power of attorney, a form that is state specific must be filled out. The form will require both the names of the principal and the attorney-in-fact and will often have check boxes that indicate what matters the attorney-in-fact will have control over.
When considering who to choose as an attorney-in-fact, is in necessary to consider many issues:
Is the person trustworthy?
Does the person understand my perspective?
Will the person act in my best interest?
Is the person readily available?
Does the person knowledgably about the issues at hand?
It is important to note that an attorney-in-fact must keep finances separated and is not allowed to transfer or give away any money to himself unless given the authority to do so. If this is desired, a private attorney must be hired to draft a specific document.
If for whatever reason, a power of attorney is not appropriate, there are other options. Conservatorship as well as guardianship can also be used, but they unlike a power of attorney, they are only granted by the state.

Discovery

Discovery

The Discovery Process Explained:
“Discovery” is a legal process designed to facilitate the gathering of information before a civil trial is undertaken. Discovery is the formal pre-trial phase in which parties to a suit can obtain evidence from the opposing side by means of discovery devices, including requests for production of documents, requests for answers to inquiries or requests for admissions and depositions.  
Discovery is commonly applied to divorce proceedings. During this pre-trial phase, an individual is awarded several mechanisms to gain evidence or information from the other party before going to court. Typically, civil hearings do not evolve beyond the discovery phase; the exchange of information during the discovery process will illuminate on the case and in essence, forecast the result. Because of this, party’s will likely engage in an out-of-court settlement to avoid legal fees and a costly trial. 
Although individual states and their laws vary during the discovery process, the steps below are common and will typically become a part of a divorce or other civil hearing. 
The Disclosure Process: This portion of the discovery process requires both parties to request certain items from the other party. The list of items is sent to the opposing party, who is responsible for responding within 30 days. 
Interrogatory Phase: This portion of the discovery process requires one side to send a list of questions to other side concerning the case. Most states will set constraints regarding the number of questions and the allotted time to produce a response. 
Admission of Fact: This mechanism in the discovery process is a written list of facts that is delivered to the other party. The party who receives this list is formally asked to either admit or deny each fact on the document.
Request for Production: This portion of the discovery process is used to obtain documents from the opposing party. Common documents requested in this phase include: bank statements, tax returns, bank statements, information concerning a mortgage, testimonies etc. 
Depositions: During this portion of the discovery process, a party will take a sworn testimony from the opposing party and any witnesses involved in the case. Any information said during this process can be used in the subsequent hearing should an agreement not be reached. 

Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor: Being a Careful Customer


Caveat emptor, which is Latin for “let the buyer beware” is the idea that a buyer should be responsible for reasonably examining an item before choosing to buy it. By doing so, the buyer is responsible for the condition of the product. This is often applied to items that are not covered by a strict warranty. In the United States, caveat emptor is most often used for fitness type of implied warranties.
An implied warranty of fitness does not require a seller to be a merchant of physical goods, but rather he must simply possess knowledge and expertise that the buyer can use. In the Uniform Commercial Code it specifically states that when a buyer is relying on a seller’s knowledge and skill to purchase the correct item, there is an implied warranty that whatever goods are being sold will be useful. Caveat emptor does apply to this warranty.
Not only is caveat emptor applied to an implied warranty of fitness, it is also often done with purchasing merchandise. In most circumstances, a seller is not required to allow have a return policy. Here caveat emptor is applied. The customer has the responsibility to inspect the quality of the product.  If the customer finds a problem with the product, the store is not liable for this.
While the law does support caveat emptor most stores do provide some sort of return policy, whether it is a refund, exchange or credit. Most of these situations require a receipt or proof of purchase or when without it, a photo ID.
Caveat emptor was first established In American law by the precedent of Laidlaw v. Organ (1817). In this case, Organ bought tobacco from Laidlaw & Co, on the day where a peace treaty had ended the War of 1812 between Britain and America. Because of this, the price of American tobacco deceased between 30 to 50%. While Organ was aware of this fact, Laidlaw was not. Organ did not mention this change, which caused a large loss on the sale. Laidlaw & Co. used force to get the tobacco back, causing Organ to file a lawsuit against them for breach of contract.
The ruling said that a buyer did not need to share any knowledge of other factors that might have an effect on the goods as long as there isn’t any imposition on either party. This was the first example of the United States Supreme Court using caveat emptor in a court case.

Evidence

Evidence

In a broad sense, evidence refers to anything that is used to demonstrate or determine the truth of a legal matter. It is the information for which a legal case is built-on; evidence helps formulate a conclusion or judgment. 
Types of Evidence:
There are four types of evidence: demonstrative, documentary, testimonial and real.
Real Evidence: This form of evidence is any object or matter relevant to the case in question. Real evidence is typically an object that is directly involved in some aspect of the case. To be deemed admissible, real evidence—similar to the other forms of evidence—must be material, competent and relevant. Murder weapons, clothing or wrecked vehicles may all be deemed real evidence when collected at the scene of a crime. 
Real evidence is authenticated in three ways—through identification of a unique matter or object, by identification of the said object that is made unique or establishing a chain of custody. For the evidence to be deemed admissible it only has to be authenticated using one of the above means. 
Demonstrative Evidence: This form of evidence illustrates a witness testimony. Demonstrative evidence is admissible when it can fairly and accurately reflect the testimony and is otherwise deemed unobjectionable—it is authenticated by the witness whose testimony is being illuminated. The witness will identify salient features of the evidence and testify that it accurately reflects what the individual saw or heard during the particular occasion. Common examples of demonstrative evidence may include: diagrams of the crime scene, maps or animations. 
Documentary Evidence: A form of real evidence in document form, such as a contract. When a document is offered to the court, it is authenticated in the same way as other forms of real evidence—a witness must identify it or establishes a chain custody for it. 
Testimonial Evidence: This form of evidence is the most basic form of evidence and the only kind that does not require a prerequisite for its admissibility. Testimonial evidence consists of witness testimonies, expert opinions and everything that is said in the court. That being said, the witness or source providing the testimony must be deemed competent by the court for the individual’s words to be taken into account. In general, witnesses are deemed competent if the individual meets the following requirements: 
The individual must, with understanding, take the oath of the court or an admissible substitute
The individual must have personal knowledge about the information he or she is speaking on. The witness must have perceived something with his or her senses that is relevant to the case. 
The witness must accurately remember what he or she perceived
The witness must be able to communicate—lucidly—what he or she perceived. 
How is Evidence Collected at a Crime Scene?
The bulk of crime scenes are surrounded by crucial evidence that must be collected for analysis and use in future prosecution efforts. The process of collecting evidence is stringent; law enforcement officers must employ exacting techniques to avoid tampering with the evidence. Without use of these techniques, evidence may be lost, contaminated or overlooked. Moreover, improper collection of evidence can be deemed inadmissible in court or at a trial.
The following steps must be taken by a law enforcement officer when collecting evidence:
1. The officer must secure and preserve the crime scene. Before evidence can be collected, the scene must be taped-off and secured to prevent further contamination. The crime scene must be formally established; a perimeter must be secured to only allow the entry of necessary personnel. The scene should also be photographed before any evidence is collected. 
2. The officer must put on gloves and protective clothing to prevent contamination. The officers must first collect evidence that is fragile or susceptible to the elements. For example, hair, seminal fluid or other liquid evidence can be contaminated or lost quickly. 
3. The officers or investigators must use cotton swabs or gauze to gather liquid evidence, such as blood. Items containing seminal fluid or blood should be transported into paper bags to hold moisture and prevent bacteria from forming. When collecting hair, thread or fibers, the officers must use tweezers. Each piece of evidence must be placed individually in sealed bags or containers. 
4. For fingerprints, the officer must employ a special powder that adheres to the oil found on the human finger. When a print is detected it will be “lifted” through the use of a special adhesive. This tape is placed on a glass slide, marked and then transported into a sealed plastic evidence bag. 
5. For larger pieces of evidence, such as weapons or clothing, the officers must use plastic gloves when transporting the items. It is essential that the officers or agents at the scene do not contaminate the evidence with finger prints, liquids, bacteria or anything else that would manipulate the item or alter it’s surface.  

Res Judicata

Writ of Mandamus

Prosecutors

Alibi

Arbitrary

Esquire

Caveat