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What is Oil & Gas Law?

What is Oil & Gas Law?

Oil & Gas Law

Oil and gas law is the body of law that controls oil and gas production. Oil and gas laws establish who owns the right to mine for oil and gas. It determine the conditions that mines have to follow when they extract oil and gas.

oil-and-gas-law-palm-springs-lawyer What is Oil & Gas Law? Lawyer Palm Springs | Orange CountyThe area of oil and gas law is a combination of common law, statutory law, and administrative regulations that controls the mining and harvesting of these natural resources in the US.

Attorneys at SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) law firm provides professional legal advice and services to clients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and surrounding locations.

What are oil and gas rights?

Oil and gas rights are an element of the wider topic of mineral rights. A segment of real property may be rich in natural resources, such as precious metals or water. Energy-producing substances such as oil and gas can be lucrative for those who capture them for consumption.

A majority of oil and gas laws are state laws. The federal government has relatively little control over oil and gas law. However, it is involved in leasing and permitting on federal lands. In addition, the federal government also controls offshore drilling.

Oil and gas laws establish who may mine for oil and gas, how they may mine, and what occurs when a dispute happens.

Who can own oil and gas?

Oil and gas rights can be owned by any entity that can own property in the US. An individual may own oil and gas rights. Stemming from this, federal, state, and local can be owners as well. A significant amount of oil and gas mining is undertaken through lease agreements to third-party oil and gas production firms.

Who practices oil and gas law?

Oil and gas lawyers represent people and entities who are involved in various aspects of oil and gas production. As many oil and gas corporations have significant legal needs, they are likely to hire lawyers as in-house counsel to manage all of their legal work.

Similar to the companies that drill, landowners require lawyers to help them negotiate and draft agreements.

While oil and gas law is mainly transactional law, oil and gas disputes may also involve litigation. In case of disputes, litigation may be necessary to resolve these issues. Attorneys may draft pleadings, conduct discovery and present cases in contested hearings. Oil and gas attorneys may be both litigators and transactional lawyers, depending on their client’s needs.

The law of natural resources

Oil and gas law is a form of energy law. Oil and gas lawyers represent energy-producing companies and landowners. The body of law provides attorneys with the opportunity to work in various settings.

A majority of oil and gas law is state law. However, federal law may apply. Oil and gas attorneys must understand various regulations, permitting needs, contract laws, and property laws that may be in their client’s case.

Lawyers at the SBEMP law firm serve clients from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and nearby locations for a range of legal practice areas.

For more information or to request a consultation please contact the law offices of SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) by clicking here. 

SBEMP LLP is a full service law firm with attorney offices in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, Inland Empire, Rancho Mirage), CA; Indian Wells, CA; Costa Mesa (Orange County), CA; San Diego, CA; Princeton, NJ; and New York, NY.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This blog post may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this blog post. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

What is Obscenity Law?

Obscenity Law

Obscenity-Law-Lawyer-Palm-Springs What is Obscenity Law? Lawyer Palm Springs | Orange CountyObscenity law is the body of law that controls what images, speech, and other expressions people can legally communicate. Obscenity law pertains to suppressing or banning speech that is in violation of standards of good taste and decency.

This body of law creates a balance between legitimate communication in a free society with the purposes of public censorship. Obscenity law involves the prosecution and defense cases that contradict and interpret obscenity laws.

Attorneys at SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) law firm provides professional legal advice and services to clients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and surrounding communities.

What does the US federal government state about obscenity?

Federal obscenity law does not exist. The US government does not explicitly ban obscene conduct. In reality, the American government expressly protects some communications in the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

According to the Supreme Court, the US government has well-defined obscenity laws that can be constitutional if they are written and applied appropriately.

State laws create obscenity laws

While the federal government does not have obscenity laws, a majority of states have laws that prohibit obscene communications. The laws differ between states.

State obscenity laws are derived from the state’s police power. Obscenity laws refer to criminal laws that prescribe punishments, including fines and jail time, for disseminating obscene material.

The federal government’s power is restricted by the US Constitution, but states have extensive powers to control the conduct of those within their borders.  They may control behavior as long as their prohibitions are not in violation of US laws.

Obscenity laws are typically constitutional and enforceable as long as they do not run against the First Amendment protections of free speech and expression.

What qualifies as obscene?

While obscenity laws are usually enforceable, the body of law still prompts the question of what speech and materials are deemed obscene and what speech is merely controversial or artistic. The definition of obscenity by the US Supreme Court has changed throughout the years. While there is a three-part test in place today, the definition of obscenity remains subjective.

Censorship and Telecommunications

Obscenity laws also encompass rules pertaining to what broadcasters can present on TV and radio. The regulations from the Federal Communications Commission require broadcasters not to publish anything obscene at any time.

In addition, they cannot publish anything obscene between the hours of 6:00 am and 10:00 pm. They define indecent as anything that is offensive in comparison to general community standards.

Since the regulations are so vague, it can be challenging for broadcasters to understand how to comply with regulations while still maintaining creative power over the materials that they publish.

Obscenity laws remain controversial

As one judge stated, what one man believes is vulgar, another man sees as just a song lyric. Obscenity laws remain controversial as the standards of morality and decency differ significantly between people and communities.

Additionally, standards of morality can change over time. Restrictions that seem justifiable at some point in time, such as a prohibition on sending contraceptives through the mail, might appear offensive only a few years later.

Lawyers who practice obscenity law have to balance all of the facets as they advocate on behalf of their private clients or for public interests.

Lawyers at the SBEMP law firm serve clients from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and nearby locations for a range of legal practice areas.

For more information or to request a consultation please contact the law offices of SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) by clicking here. 

SBEMP LLP is a full service law firm with attorney offices in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, Inland Empire, Rancho Mirage), CA; Indian Wells, CA; Costa Mesa (Orange County), CA; San Diego, CA; Princeton, NJ; and New York, NY.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This blog post may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this blog post. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

Posted in Law

What are Mergers & Acquisitions?

Mergers & Acquisitions

Mergers-Acquisitions-lawyer What are Mergers & Acquisitions? Lawyer Palm Springs | Orange CountyMergers and acquisitions refer to business transactions that occur as a result of a purchase or takeover of one company by another. A merger or acquisition is combining businesses or absorbing one business entity into the other.

The transaction enables a business to become bigger or smaller or change its organizational structure. Mergers and acquisitions law involves offering advice to companies on potential mergers and acquisitions.

In addition, it involves negotiating the transaction as well as the preparation of the necessary paperwork to complete the merger or acquisition.

Attorneys at SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) law firm provides professional legal advice and services to clients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and surrounding communities.

What is a Merger in Business?

A merger occurs when two companies combine to create a new company. After a merger, the two companies combine to conduct business operations together.

While every merger develops a unique organizational structure and climate, the nature of a merger is such that both companies involved are on an equal plane during and following the merger. Usually, after a merger, the old shares from each company are transferred to create new shares in the name of the new entity.

There are various types of different business entities that merge. For instance, two companies that are in direct competition to offer the same goods or service might combine to compete together.

Two organizations offering similar products in diverse markets may combine to expand the market size. On the other hand, a manufacturer might merge with a supplier, or companies offering different but related products to offer combined products in a single territory.

What is an Acquisition in Business?

When one company purchases another company and takes over operations, it is known as an acquisition or a takeover. Acquisitions may involve private as well as public companies.

The acquired company may or may not be open to the transaction. It is known as a hostile acquisition when the management of the acquired company is against the transaction.

A majority of acquisitions involve an older or larger company taking over a smaller or newer company. A reverse takeover refers to a smaller or younger company acquiring a larger company but retaining the name of the larger company.

Why do Companies pursue a Merger or an Acquisition?

Companies might consider a merger or acquisition to enhance their business position. One or both organizations might increase the value of their company due to the transaction.

The transaction might enable a company to increase the geographical territories where they conduct operations or diversify their interests. The transaction can result in a payday for owners or shareholders of the acquired company.

Who practices Mergers and Acquisitions Law?

Business attorneys practice mergers and acquisition law. As a merger or acquisition is a time-intensive and involved process, most lawyers who work on mergers and acquisitions specialize in business law at least if not entirely focus on mergers and acquisitions. But not all mergers and acquisitions lawyers are engaged by large firms.

A small company that operates in a single geographical territory might use a local, solo practitioner to pursue a merger or acquisition. Alternatively, a large company pursuing a merger or acquisition usually works with larger law firms.

Lawyers at the SBEMP law firm serve clients from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and nearby locations for a range of legal practice areas.

For more information or to request a consultation please contact the law offices of SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) by clicking here. 

SBEMP LLP is a full service law firm with attorney offices in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, Inland Empire, Rancho Mirage), CA; Indian Wells, CA; Costa Mesa (Orange County), CA; San Diego, CA; Princeton, NJ; and New York, NY.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This blog post may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this blog post. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

October is National Special Needs Law Month

Do you or a loved one have a disability and need to plan for your future?

National-Academy-of-Elder-Law-Attorneys-logo-300x126 October is National Special Needs Law Month Lawyer Palm Springs | Orange CountyThe National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (“NAELA”) has designated October as National Special Needs Law Month. NAELA wanted to spotlight special needs law to help spread the word to people with disabilities and their families that there are attorneys who specifically focus on helping them with a wide variety of legal needs, including becoming qualified for government benefits.

For needs based government benefits programs such as Medicaid or SSI, the applicant must satisfy income and asset restrictions. One way a special needs lawyer can help an applicant meet the restrictions for the assets test is to create a special needs trust. There are two types of special needs trusts. A special needs trust that is established using the money of the person who has a disability (1st party trust) or a special needs trust that is established by another person, with their money, for the benefit of the person with a disability (3rd party trust).

One of the important distinctions between a 1st party special needs trust and a 3rd party special needs trust is that a 1st party trust has a Medicaid payback provision and a 3rdparty trust does not. This distinction is crucial for family members who want to leave the person with a disability an inheritance to understand. (An inheritance can greatly enhance the quality of life for a person with a disability by making things such as additional therapies available, but an unplanned inheritance can potentially disrupt the quality of life by threatening the continued receipt of much needed government benefits). An attorney familiar with special needs law can assist the family members in planning ahead for inheritances by including the appropriate 3rd party special needs trust provisions in their estate plans.

Using special needs trusts in estate plans is just one example of the ways in which an attorney with knowledge of the special needs area of the law can help people with disabilities and their families. There are many other ways that an attorney with this knowledge can be of assistance in planning for the present and future wellbeing of the person with a disability.

SBEMP’s Special Needs & Elder Law practice group provides representation and advocacy for individuals and families with special needs due to disability or age, providing a broad range of services, including; but, not limited to the following:

  • Special needs trusts (SNT)
    • A First Party or Self-Settled (a.k.a., d(4)(A)) SNT is funded with the assets of the individual with special needs, which typically come from settlement funds derived from a medical malpractice or personal injury lawsuit or assets the individual with the disability has accumulated or inherited. The purpose of creating such an SNT is to preserve current and future eligibility for means-tested governmental programs for the individual with the disability.
    • A Third Party SNT is funded with the assets of family and friends (a.k.a., third parties) for the benefit of an individual with special needs.
  • Guardianships & Conservatorships
    • A Guardianship or Conservatorship of the Person grants powers to the guardian over the incapacitated individual to make decisions regarding everyday matters such as medical care, residency and living arrangements, education, employment, and recreational activities.
    • A Guardianship or Conservatorship of the Estate or Property grants powers to the guardian to exercise decision making with regard to the incapacitated individual’s finances.
  • Trust, guardianship, and conservatorship accountings
  • Access to federal and state disability based programs
  • Medicaid planning
  • Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurance coverage
  • Special Education

Valerie_KP1_6247-Edit-200x300 October is National Special Needs Law Month Lawyer Palm Springs | Orange County

Valerie A. Powers Smith handles special needs and elder law matters for the firm.

For more information or to request a consultation please contact the law offices of SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) by clicking here. 

SBEMP LLP is a full service law firm with attorney offices in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, Inland Empire, Rancho Mirage), CA; Indian Wells, CA; Costa Mesa (Orange County), CA; San Diego, CA; Princeton, NJ; and New York, NY.

Healthcare Fraud Update: The Forest Park Medical Center Case and Federal Enforcement of Private Insurance Referrals

In recent years the federal government has shown increased aggression and creativity in its prosecution of fraudulent referral activities within the healthcare profession. This creativity is front and center in the recent case of USA v. Beauchamp et al. (“Forest Park”).

There, prosecutors alleged that 21 individuals used fraudulent marketing agreements to pay kickbacks or bribes to physicians for referring surgical patients to Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Although the federal government typically uses the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute to combat healthcare fraud, some of the fraud involved in this case would traditionally fall outside of the jurisdiction for those laws. Therefore, in order for the government to extend its reach, it employed an anti-racketeering law, the Travel Act, to “federalize” the underlying state law bribery violations. In what follows, we briefly detail this case and discuss its implications for providers.

What happened in the Forest Park case?

In Forest Park, the government detailed a conspiracy whereby Forest Park Medical Center, a physician-owned surgical hospital, sought to increase reimbursement by refusing to join insurance plan networks, paid bribes and kickbacks to physicians and other providers in exchange for referrals and for performing medical procedures at the hospital, and laundered these bribes through sham business ventures (marketing and management agreements). As additional inducement to high reimbursing out-of-network patients, the hospital also waived copays and paid for their travel and lodging.

The effect of this fraud on the private insurance plans was that plans paid many times the normal rate for what these same procedures would have cost at in-network facilities. This generated a huge amount of profit for the hospital which then shared those illegal gains with referring providers. According to the prosecutors, between 2009 and 2013, these providers were paid approximately $40 million in “marketing money”. In one particularly egregious example, a single spinal surgeon received $7 million for his referrals.

Ultimately, 10 of the initial the 21 defendants pled guilty before trial. Of the remaining 11 defendants, 7 were found guilty of violating the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) (which prohibits anyone from offering, paying, soliciting or receiving anything of value in exchange for referrals of items or services reimbursable under a federal healthcare program) and sentenced to federal prison terms ranging from 10 to 65 years.

However, what makes this case unique is that 2 of the 11 defendants were also found guilty under the Travel Act for paying or receiving kickbacks for referrals of privately insured patients.

What is the Travel Act and how did the Federal Government apply it to the Forest Park Case?

The Travel Act is a federal law originally used to fight organized crime involving gambling, narcotics, and bribery of corrupt politicians. Under the Travel Act it is illegal to use a facility in interstate commerce (e.g. email, wires between states, or the federal banking system) with the intent to distribute the proceeds of “unlawful activity”. “Unlawful activity” includes bribery, as defined by state law.

In Forest Park the prosecutors predicated their Travel Act claims on underlying violations of the Texas commercial bribery statute by alleging that the directors used email instructions and a Federal Reserve Bank’s computer network to transmit bribery payments to a shell company, which in turn sent the money to referring physicians. Although the crime, the bribery of physicians to refer patients to the hospital, was purely a state law violation, because “interstate commerce” was used to carry out the crime the prosecutors can “federalize” that state law violation under the Travel Act.  This allows the government to pursue commercial insurance kickbacks under federal criminal law.

Conclusion –How Does this affect my hospital and/or practice?

The Forest Park case should serve as a reminder to hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare professionals that there is risk of criminal and civil exposure whenever healthcare professionals receive compensation for patient referrals. Since most federal healthcare fraud prosecutions have involved Medicare, Medicaid or other federal healthcare programs, many medical providers overlook the risk that federal enforcement agencies will also scrutinize arrangements with purely private payers.

As such, healthcare organizations should review any compensation arrangements that have been specifically designed to carve out federal program business to confirm that they are not prohibited under other state laws which might form the basis for exposure under the Travel Act. Compliance procedures and training materials should also be re-evaluated and updated with information on how to spot problematic arrangements under the Travel Act.

For more information or for legal guidance concerning these matters, please contact the Healthcare Department at sbemp.com. Our attorneys have years of experience in this field and will ensure that your practice remains an ethical and compliant environment both for workers and patients.

What is Native American Law?

Native American Law

Native-American-Law-palm-springs-1024x683 What is Native American Law? Lawyer Palm Springs | Orange CountyNative American law refers to the collection of laws, administrative rules, and other authorities that affect Native American populations as well as their relationship to the US and state governments.

Native American law defines the relationships between Native American tribes and other governments. Additionally, it includes rules pertaining to the self-government of Native American tribes.

Attorneys at SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) law firm provides professional legal advice and services to clients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and surrounding locations.

Achievements in Native American law

Native American law has several purposes. The law seeks to enable Native Americans to self-govern in a fair and effective manner. Preservation of the Native American culture is an aim of these laws.

Besides, the definition of jurisdictional matters pertaining to Native American tribes promotes access to fairness and justice in civil and criminal proceedings that affect both Native Americans and non-Natives. In addition, these laws promote health services, particularly for Native American populations.

Native American Autonomy and Courts

Native American laws uphold the right of recognized American tribes to create and enforce their own law. Federal law dictates when, where, and how Native American tribes can hear legal disputes. On top of this, the law clarifies when US federal and state courts may hear cases involving Native Americans.

There are laws that reserve specific lands for the exclusive ownership and disposition of tribal members. In general, Native American tribes have their own courts, constitution, and laws.

Jurisdictional Issues and Questions

Many of the matters that arise in the practice of Native American law are jurisdictional issues. Rules exist for when a Native American court can hear a case involving a corporation or a non-native individual.

Additionally, there are rules for when a US or state court may hear a case involving a Native American. Jurisdictional issues usually depend on where the crime or civil dispute took place and whether the victim or perpetrator is a member of a Native American tribe.

Native American law involves, to a great deal, understanding what jurisdictional issues exist in a case and understanding how to raise those claims.

Civil Disputes

In general, the rule is that a Native American court can resolve issues that arise on Native-owned land. Besides, they may also hear a case that is a threat to Native American land.

The US Supreme Court ruled in the 2008 Plains Commerce Bank v Long Family Cattle Company that a tribal court had no jurisdiction over a case if the dispute occurs on property that is not native-owned even if the property is located on a reservation. The only exception is if the dispute is a threat to the well-being of the tribe.

Preserving Native American Culture through the Practice of Law

Native American laws help preserve the culture and encourage the fair origination and application of the law. Lawyers focusing on Native American law play a vital role. They help a client comprehend and assert their rights related to Native American laws and jurisdiction, which is a crucial part of representing to a client and contributing to the intricate US legal system.

Lawyers at the SBEMP law firm serve clients from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and nearby locations for a range of legal practice areas.

For more information or to request a consultation please contact the law offices of SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) by clicking here. 

SBEMP LLP is a full service law firm with attorney offices in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, Inland Empire, Rancho Mirage), CA; Indian Wells, CA; Costa Mesa (Orange County), CA; San Diego, CA; Princeton, NJ; and New York, NY.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This blog post may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this blog post. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

Posted in Law

SBEMP WINS SIGNIFICANT RULING VOIDING HOA ELECTION

SBEMP-WINS-SIGNIFICANT-RULING-VOIDING-HOA-ELECTION-1024x598 SBEMP WINS SIGNIFICANT RULING VOIDING HOA ELECTION Lawyer Palm Springs | Orange CountyA group of homeowners represented by SBEMP has prevailed on a Motion for Summary Adjudication against Morningside County Club (“Morningside”), a common-interest development in Rancho Mirage, California, which asked the court to void the results of an election which imposed a $250 monthly fee (“Proprietary Fee”) on all homeowners to support The Club at Morningside (“Club”), a private Golf and Tennis Club at Morningside, regardless of whether a homeowner was a member of the Club. Concurrent with the adoption of the Proprietary Fee, the Club gave its members a credit against their monthly dues in the same amount as the Proprietary Fee. Thus, in effect, non-Club members were required to pay the fee to subsidize the Club without obtaining any privileges at the Club. The court further held that Plaintiffs were entitled to restitution (reimbursement) of all amounts paid on the Proprietary Fee.

In 2015, SBEMP filed a lawsuit on behalf of 23 non-Club member homeowners against Morningside, the Club, the law firm of Peters & Freedman LLP (which acted as the Inspector of Elections), as well as various individual members of the governing boards of Morningside and the Club, challenging the validity of the Proprietary Fee under the Davis-Stirling Act. The lawsuit alleged that the Proprietary Fee was an impermissible unequal assessment and exceeded the amount necessary to defray the costs for which it was levied, both in violation of the Davis-Stirling Act. The lawsuit also alleged that Defendants engaged in election fraud by using information secretly obtained from the Inspector of Elections during the course of the election regarding who had voted. Defendants then used that information to tally the vote and determine who to contact in order to increase the number of votes in favor of the Proprietary Fee.

The court held that the undisputed facts showed that there were clear election violations which justified voiding the election results. Relying on provisions of the Davis-Stirling Act governing HOA elections (Civil Code section 5100 et seq.), the court concluded that the Inspector of Elections’ actions in providing Defendants ongoing updates of who had voted violated the principle of the secret ballot and the Inspector’s duty of fairness and impartiality to all homeowners primarily because the information was useful only to those in favor of the Proprietary Fee. The court further found that the Proprietary Fee disproportionately affected non-Club members (was “grievous and unjust” to them), which weighed heavily in favor of the court exercising its discretion in voiding the election and ordering restitution for Plaintiffs.

The ruling is particularly significant in that, like Morningside, several common interest developments with private golf clubs have also been looking for ways to shift a portion of the cost of supporting such clubs to non-club members. In light of the ruling in favor of SBEMP’s clients, they will likely now be wary of trying to do this by the means attempted by Morningside.

 

For more information or to request a consultation please contact the law offices of SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) by clicking here. 

SBEMP LLP is a full service law firm with attorney offices in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, Inland Empire, Rancho Mirage), CA; Indian Wells, CA; Costa Mesa (Orange County), CA; San Diego, CA; Princeton, NJ; and New York, NY.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This blog post may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this blog post. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

What is Nationality Law?

Nationality Law

Nationality-Law-Palm-Springs-1024x759 What is Nationality Law? Lawyer Palm Springs | Orange CountyNationality law is an agency of law that regulates how an individual gains or loses citizenship.

It is also known as citizenship law and is the law that governs how a person becomes a citizen of a country or forfeits the citizenship of a nation. This area of law encompasses the rights and obligations of a citizen.

Attorneys at SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) law firm provides professional legal advice and services to clients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and surrounding communities.

Nationality law is different from immigration law

While immigration law has significant overall with nationality, they are not quite the same. Immigration law governs who can enter a country and what documentation they need to come to the US Nationality law specifically controls who can become a citizen and under what conditions.

Rights of citizens

US citizenship comes with significant rights. All citizens have the complete protection of the United States Constitution.

They are eligible to participate in government by voting as well as running for elected office. However, some states restrict the rights of felons to vote. Correlating with this, citizens have the right to receive assistance from US embassies and consulates when traveling overseas. They may reside in US states and territories without meeting further requirements.

Non-citizens do not have the same rights as citizens

While non-citizens present inside the borders of the US have many of the same protections as citizens, they do not have the same rights that citizens enjoy. For instance, in the Matthews v. Diaz case in 1976, the US Supreme Court upheld the authority of Congress to create distinct rules for non-citizens.

Responsibilties of citizens

Along with rights, citizens also have responsibilities. In the US, citizens must serve on a jury if they are selected. They must pay taxes as well as have a passport for travel. Male citizens must register for the Selective Service System upon attaining the age of 18 years.

Naturalization rules may change over time

Congress instates rules regarding who may become a citizen and how they can become one. The US President also has some control over setting immigration policies and managing the policy of the Department of Homeland Security.

Parties that seek to challenge immigration laws and decisions may bring their case to the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review as well as the US federal courts.

The structure of immigration courts in the US

In general, the US Department of Justice hears nationality cases via its Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).

The Department of Homeland Security may begin proceedings and require an individual to appear to answer to allegations. The allegations may be that the individual is inadmissible to the US or otherwise deportable. The EOIR establishes whether an individual should be removed from the US or allowed to stay.

Practicing nationality law

Lawyers who practice nationality law have a deep effect on the lives of their clients and their clients’ families. They prepare essential documents as well as represent their client in hearings and appeals. If they work for the US government or private clients, nationality attorneys undertake the critically vital task of executing nationality laws in the country.

Lawyers at the SBEMP law firm serve clients from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and nearby locations for a range of legal practice areas.

For more information or to request a consultation please contact the law offices of SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) by clicking here. 

SBEMP LLP is a full service law firm with attorney offices in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, Inland Empire, Rancho Mirage), CA; Indian Wells, CA; Costa Mesa (Orange County), CA; San Diego, CA; Princeton, NJ; and New York, NY.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This blog post may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this blog post. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

NEW CASE ALERTS

Sapp v. Rogers

Cite as E068030
Filed June 11, 2019
California Court of Appeal, Fourth District
Case Overview: Court removes trust administrator for delay and breach of duties.
After the passing of Roscoe Sapp, Sr. in 1994, Edith Rogers and Roscoe Sapp, Jr., his granddaughter and son, were appointed co-administrators of his estate. The Estate included 11 parcels of land worth approximately $6-9 million. On June 22, 2001, Rogers and Sapp, Jr. petitioned the probate court of California for instructions on how to administer the estate because each had a different opinion as to what the Decedent had intended. One believed the Decedent intended for all but one of the real property parcels to be liquidated and that proceeds of the same would be distributed to heirs capable of caring for themselves with the remaining assets to be used to establish a care facility for heirs who were incapable of caring for themselves; whereas, the other believed said real property parcels should be sold and net proceeds distributed to the heirs outright. The living heirs executed documents indicating they agreed with the latter and wished for the net proceeds to be distributed equally to them, outright and free of any restriction. On August 30, 2001, the petition for instructions was granted and the Judge directed the co-administrators to “sell the [estate’s] property.”
Before the properties were sold pursuant to the 2001 Order, however, Sapp, Jr. died (in 2003), leaving Rogers as the sole administrator. By 2016, the real property parcels still had not been sold. In light of the delay,two of the decedent’s grandsons, Brian Lincoln and Armuress Sapp, each filed petitions to remove Rogers as administrator of the Estate, claiming Rogers never showed real intent to distribute the estate to Roscoe Sapp Sr.’s heirs.
The probate court filed a tentative decision granting the petitions to remove Rogers as administrator and appoint Armuress as successor administrator. According to the testimony, Rogers “tried to buy out various beneficiaries for $10,000 per person,” although the properties were worth millions. Based on this, the probate court concluded Rogers had acted in bad faith toward the heirs of the Estate and was “not capable of acting as an impartial fiduciary.” Rogers appealed (in 2017). The Appellate Court concluded that Rogers resisted implementing the 2001 instructions and acted in bad faith toward the heirs, which was deemed by the Court as “mismanagement”, necessitating the removal of Rogers and the appointment of a new administrator in order for the estate to be resolved.
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North Carolina Dep. of Revenue v. Kaestner

Cite as  588 U. S. ____ (2019)
Opinion Decided June 21,2019
Supreme Court of the United States
Case Overview: Court rules that Department of Revenue cannot tax a trust created and maintained in another state.
Joseph Lee Rice, a New York resident, formed a trust which was passed on to his daughter, Kimberley Rice Kaestner, who, at the time, was also a New York resident. After moving to North Carolina, the trustee, Kaestner, divided the trust into three separate sub-trusts for her and her children’s lawful benefit. During the tax years of 2005 through 2008, North Carolina imposed a tax of more than $1.3 million even though the Trust did not have a physically presence in the State of North Carolina, did not make direct investments in the State of North Carolina, or posses any property in the State of North Carolina. Kaestner paid the tax under protest and, then, sued the North Carolina Department of Revenue for violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The Supreme Court of North Carolina ruled in Kaestner’s favor, holding that in-state residence was not enough grounds to tax the Trust.
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Gonzales v. City National Bank

Cite as B284521
Filed June 24, 2019
California Court of Appeal, Second District
Case Overview: Department of Health Care Services Entitled to reimbursement for Medi-Cal expenses.
Having suffered complications at birth, leaving her severely disabled, Brenda Gonzales received a $2.4 million settlement from a malpractice lawsuit instituted thereafter. Her settlement was irrevocably assigned to a special needs trust (“SNT”). The SNT was established by court order, pursuant to Probate Code Sections 3604 and 3605 (permitting the court to approve payment of settlements or judgments to special needs trusts established for minors or disabled persons). The SNT would terminate upon Brenda’s death. The SNT stated that its “intent and purpose…is to provide a discretionary, spendthrift trust, to supplement public resources and benefits when such resources and benefits are unavailable or insufficient to provide for the Special Needs of the Beneficiary [Brenda]…This is not a trust for the support of the Beneficiary [Brenda].” Furthermore, “no part of the principal or income of the trust shall be construed to be part of the Beneficiary’s estate.’”
After Brenda’s death, her parents, Josue Gonzales and Juanita Gonzales Garcia (Plaintiffs), requested that the remainder of her SNT be distributed to them, rather than to the Department of Health Care Services (Department) as reimbursement for Medi-Cal payments for their daughter’s medical care. The probate court denied their request and they appealed. The Appellate Court affirmed, stating that the probate court properly found the Department was entitled to reimbursement for these Medi-Cal expenses.
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Does Your Estate Plan Include Your Pets?

Have you considered your pet or pets when planning your estate? If not, you should, according to The Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization.
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Firm Announcements

Trusts, Estates & Probate Services Now Available in Indian Wells Office

With the expansion of SBEMP, Ms. Powers Smith will now provide Trusts, Estates & Probate services in the new Indian Wells office. The Indian Wells office is the newest addition to the firm, which has locations in Costa Mesa, Palm Springs, San Diego, and New York and New Jersey.


When is the Right Time to Get Your Estate Planning Affairs in Order?

The answer is, now. Whether it is because you have yet to do your estate plan or that your plan is needing updating due to the passage of time, change in laws, or life events such as marriage, divorce, incapacity, death, or the birth or adoption of a child.

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Estate Planning and Special Needs Speaking Engagements and On-Site Training.

SBEMP offers free speaking engagements and on-site check-ups on the topics of estate planning, special needs trusts, guardianships/ conservatorships, and special education. Contact SBEMP to schedule a special engagement or on-site check-up for your group.


With locations in Palm Springs and Indian Wells, CA, Princeton, NJ, and Manhattan, NY, SBEMP’S Trusts, Estates & Probate Department is comprised of attorneys with decades of experience in a broad range of issues from planning to administration to when incapacity or death occurs – all while using a mindful approach to identify a client’s special, business or litigation needs.  SBEMP’S Special Needs & Elder Law Department has over twenty years of experience including the following highly specialized practice areas: health care insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, special needs trusts, trust administration, estate planning & administration, guardianships and conservatorships, and accessing disability-based benefits.

DISCLAIMER: This newsletter does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This newsletter may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this newsletter. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

DO EMPLOYERS HAVE TO PAY FOR COMMUTE TIME?

Generally, an employee’s “ordinary commute”  to and from work is not compensable under California labor law. This is true even when the employee commutes in a vehicle that is owned, leased, or subsidized by the employer. Likewise, employees who are part of a home dispatch program and who may transport tools and equipment without expending extra effort or requiring extra time for transport during their commute time are not performing compensable work.

Further, a commute may be an “ordinary commute,” and thus non-compensable, even if the employee travels to different worksites on different days, located within reasonable distances.

However, the DLSE has taken the position that travel involving a substantial distance from the assigned work place to a dist ant work site to report to work on a short-term basis is compensable travel.

There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not you are required to pay for time which your employees spend traveling to job sites : whether the employees had an expectation of routinely working in different workplaces; whether the distance is reasonab le ; whether the employee is carrying the employer’s equipment ; whether the employer is exercising control over the employee will all have an effect on the final determination .

For assistance on this and other wage and hour questions, please contact the Labor & Employment Department at SBEMP.

Employment & Labor Law Attorneys of SBEMP

SBEMP’S Labor and Employment Department is comprised of attorneys with decades of experience in a broad range of labor and employment matters from day-to-day counseling to labor negotiations and litigation. Our team is prepared to guide our clients through the complex myriad of employment laws affecting California employers. We assist our clients with day-to-day personnel management issues, such as drafting employment policies, managing leaves of absence, identifying potential problems in hiring and firing practices, and ensuring wage and hour compliance. Our attorneys are also experienced litigators who regularly represent clients in all types of employment litigation, including defending wage and hour class actions as well as lawsuits alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Additionally, we regularly represent clients in administrative proceedings, such as Labor Commissioner claims, CalOSHA citations, DFEH and EEOC investigations, and DLSE complaints. Our labor and employment practice is also prepared to assist clients with labor negotiations and disputes. Our labor attorneys are experienced in negotiating labor agreements as well as representing clients before the NLRB.

DISCLAIMER: This newsletter does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This newsletter may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this newsletter. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

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