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US and Cuba OK Commercial Flights

President Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro continue to work on improving US-Cuban relations, last week announcing flights between the two countries will resume. But most Americans are still officially prohibited from traveling to Cuba, according to the State Department, and there are no plans in place to actually resume commercial flights anytime soon. They have just been approved. Despite the prohibition on American tourist travel to Cuba, some Americans and countless other tourists from around the world have long visited the island nation even without direct flights. And tourism in Cuba today is booming, according to reports from National Public Radio. Sticking Points Remain In the past year, Cuba and the U.S. have agreed to cooperate on drug traffic control, environmental protections, and the re-establishment of direct mail. But full relations have yet to be restored and neither country has seen all its demands met by the other. Cuba wants the U.S. to lift its economic embargo and pay reparations, which the Castro regime says amount to $120 billion. The U.S. is seeking $18 billion for property seized in the communist takeover, and an improvement in human rights. "Most tourists still cannot legally visit Cuba, but a State Department spokesman says having a stronger aviation relationship will promote authorized travel and improve people-to-people contact," according to NPR's Carrie Kahn. Island Vacations? American planes are not going to be flying tourists to Cuba immediately, but the aviation agreement is a clear signal that relations between the nations continue to improve and that we could be vacationing in Cuba soon. The deal struck between Obama and Castro will allow up 20 flights a day to Havana from the US and up to 10 daily flights to Cuba's other airports. In total, this will allow for about 110 possible flights between the countries every day. Right now, there are no commercial flights actually planned between the countries, just approved. Currently, charter flights do travel directly between Cuba and the U.S. and are allowed to travel with unlimited frequency. Hopefully soon, the rest of will be allowed to do so, too. If you have questions foreign travel, obtaining a visa to go abroad, or even foreign adoption, speak to a lawyer. Counsel can help you sort out your options. Related Resources: Find a Lawyer (FindLaw Directory) Who Can Legally Travel to Cuba? (FindLaw) Can US Passport Holders Travel to Cuba Now? (FindLaw)
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Supreme Court Calendar: 3 Cases to Watch in January 2016

After a momentous 2015 that saw the Supreme Court save Obamacare (again), give same-sex couples the right to marry, and preserve the death penalty (for now), the Court's October term moves into 2016. While the January session doesn't appear as juicy as previous dockets, there are some cases that will no doubt have a lasting impact. Here are three cases to watch in January 2016 as the Supreme Court closes out the October 2015 term: 1. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (January 11) Even if teachers and other public employees don't want to join a union, they can benefit from the union's collective bargaining on their behalf. Therefore, the Court has previous held that public employees may be required to pay union fees, even if they have opted out of joining the union. These are called "agency shop" arrangements, whereby public employees are still represented by the union for purposes of collective bargaining, but those who opt out of union membership only an agency fee for a "fair share" of the union's costs and unions are prohibited from spending nonmembers' agency fees on "ideological activities unrelated to collective bargaining." But a group of California teachers are saying that even public-sector collective bargaining is political speech and they shouldn't be compelled them to subsidize that speech. The Supreme Court will decide whether these "agency shop" arrangements and violate the First Amendment. 2. Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle (January 13) Is Puerto Rico part of the United States? Sort of -- it is a U.S. territory and Puerto Ricans have U.S. citizenship, but no star on the flag or senator in Congress. Puerto Rico has its own Supreme Court, but also a U.S. District Court. So how does double jeopardy work with these two court systems? Luis Sanchez Valle was indicted in a Puerto Rican court on gun charges, and then also indicted in a U.S. federal court based on the same facts. His lawyers argued that this was essentially charging someone twice for the same crime, violating the prohibitions on double jeopardy. The Supreme Court will decide whether Puerto Rico and the federal government are separate sovereigns for purposes of double jeopardy. 3. Heffernan v. City of Paterson (January 19) Can public employees get demoted if their boss thinks they support a certain candidate? In this case a city police officer (Heffernan) was demoted after another officer saw him holding a campaign sign for a mayoral candidate (Spagnola) who was running against his chief's chosen candidate (Torres). And here's where it gets even murkier: Heffernan is friends with Spagnola, but wasn't working with the campaign or even campaigning at the time -- he was picking up the sign for his bed-ridden mother. The Court will have to decide whether Heffernan has a valid First Amendment claim based on his boss's incorrect perception of his "speech." Keep an eye on FindLaw's Law and Daily Life blog and Supreme Court blog as we update the oral arguments and the rulings in these and other major SCOTUS cases throughout 2016. Related Resources: The Big 4: Major Cases and Legal Issues of 2015 (FindLaw's Decided) The 5 Most Important Supreme Court Cases of 2015 (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog) Supreme Court Could Soon Ban the Death Penalty, Scalia Says (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog) Supreme Court Calendar: 3 Cases to Watch in November (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Texas Law Puts Cameras in Special Needs Classrooms

A new Texas law will require cameras in classrooms with special education students and teachers after an investigation revealed questionable practices in some schools, according to a report from National Public Radio. Last year, a video of an 8-year-old autistic child held captive on the floor in a "calm room" resembling a closet -- over his protests -- was publicized. It prompted parents of special education students to demand cameras in classrooms across the state. The Texas law is the first of its kind in the country but it may be the beginning of a new trend in teaching, given the rise of cameras in policing. Child and Teacher Protection Some teachers resent the intrusion, although video could protect them from false accusations of mistreatment. But there are limits on filming in place in the law. Footage cannot be used in teacher evaluations, audio capability is required for context, and cameras are forbidden in bathrooms. The law's critics say Texas missed the opportunity to better train and compensate teachers, rather than spending on educator surveillance. There is concern that cameras will be a strain on school budgets. Not every school has to install them automatically or even at all. But districts must provide cameras upon request by a parent or school staff member. "Teachers are mixed, and the districts don't like the mandates," said Monty Exter, a lobbyist with the Austin-based Association of Texas Professional Educators. The law, which takes effect at the start of the next school year, applies to all of the state's public schools and charters, and to any self-contained classroom in which at least half the students receive special-ed services for at least half the day. A Major Expense The potential expense imposed by the new law is significant, as there are costs beyond camera equipment, such as added servers, microphones, archival capabilities, ceiling mounts, and labor fees. Plus, some rooms may need more than one camera. "We have to figure out how to store the video and audio, and that's a very expensive thing to do," said Robbie Stinnett, a director of special education for the Duncanville Independent School District. She says she has already received requests for cameras from three parents and expects more. "Schools are stretched," Stinnett said. "If [a bill] becomes law, it needs to be funded, because public education isn't funded well enough to add stuff on top of it." Consult With Counsel If you have a child with special needs, speak to a special education lawyer. Consult with counsel and get help even if you do not suspect mistreatment. A lawyer can help you secure the services your child needs at school. Related Resources: Find a Lawyer (FindLaw Directory) Disability Access to Education (FindLaw) Selecting a Special Education Lawyer (FindLaw)
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When Can You Serve Someone via Publication in a Newspaper?

Serving the other side with notice of a lawsuit is typically done in person or through the mail. In some cases, however, a person may be served by publication in a newspaper. Following the filing of a complaint -- the document which describes the lawsuit and identifies the parties involved -- the party filing the lawsuit must complete what is known as "service of process." There are typically very specific rules for how service must be completed, depending on the type of case and the jurisdiction in which it is being filed. Generally speaking, however, when can you serve process via publication? When All Else Fails... Typically, a plaintiff is first required to attempt to locate the defendant and serve him or her through personal service -- in which a defendant is personally handed the summons and complaint -- or substitute service in which the papers are left at a defendant's home or business, or delivered via certified mail. Many times, a person who may not know where to find a defendant can hire a professional process server to accomplish service of process. However, when the defendant is unable to be located or avoids being served by other means, a plaintiff may be able to request to serve the defendant via publication, usually in a newspaper or other widely distributed publication. The notice is then posted in a newspaper or publication approved by the court for the required length of time. In California family law cases, for example, the required document must be published once a week for four weeks in a row. How Does Service by Publication Work? Service of process is intended to put the defendant on notice of a lawsuit and give him the opportunity to defend himself should he so choose. In order to proceed with the lawsuit, the plaintiff filing the lawsuit must show that he has put the defendant on notice by showing proof of service. In the event that service by publication is allowed, the defendant is typically considered to have been put on constructive notice. Constructive notice does not require that the defendant ever actually received notice of the lawsuit, only that the means by which process was legally sufficient to fulfill the notice requirement. If you need help with your lawsuit, a lawyer who specializes in civil litigation can explain the legal options available for service of process. You can also find more tips for how to sue at FindLaw's section on Filing a Lawsuit. Related Resources: Find a Lawyer by Practice Area and Location (FindLaw) Legal How-To: Responding to a Lawsuit (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Proof of Service Can Often Prove Tricky (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Kesha, Dr. Luke's Lawsuit, and the Chicken-Sticker Process Server (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
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Labor Day: 5 Employment Law Changes in 2014

For more than 100 years, Labor Day has been a federal holiday celebrating the role played by the American worker in shaping our nation's prosperity. And though Labor Day remains the first Monday of every September, what have certainly changed over the last 100 years are the laws governing labor. From wage and hour rules to workplace safety regulations, employment law is constantly evolving. To mark this year's Labor Day, here are five noteworthy changes to employment laws so far in 2014: Minimum wage increase for federal contract workers. During his State of the Union speech earlier this year, President Obama announced that he was going to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers. A month later, he signed an executive order to that effect, reports Reuters, raising the federal contract worker minimum wage to $10.10 an hour starting January 1st, 2015. State minimum wage increases. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 11 states and Washington D.C. raised the state minimum wage in 2014. These states include Hawaii, Michigan, Vermont, and Rhode Island. California whistleblower protections. California kicked off 2014 by rolling out changes to state employment laws protecting whistleblowers, reports The Wall Street Journal. Among the new rules are expanded prohibitions from employer retaliation against employees who report suspected illegal activity internally, including rules guarding against employers who take action against an employee in anticipation of that employee reporting illegal activity. Veteran discrimination protection. There were several new laws passed in 2014 prohibiting employers from discriminating against veterans of the armed services. In Indiana, HEA 1242 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against veterans of any armed services branch or current members of the Indiana National Guard. Added protections for pregnant women. Also added to the list of protected classes for purposes of workplace discrimination law: pregnant women. Earlier this year, New Jersey amended its state Law Against Discrimination to include pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, reports Think Progress. The federal Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission also issued new guidelines clarifying federal rules against pregnancy discrimination. If you have a question about labor law or feel your rights have been violated, an employment lawyer can help explain your legal options. And regardless, enjoy your Labor Day! Related Resources: What is Labor Day? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Things an Employment Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can't) (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal How-To: Requesting FMLA Leave From Your Employer (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can Your Boss Make You Work on a Holiday? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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ABAJ: Lawyer suspended for posting video of undercover drug buy in mistaken belief it exonerated client [it didn’t]

ABAJ: Lawyer suspended for posting video of undercover drug buy in mistaken belief it exonerated client by Debra Cassens Weiss: An Illinois lawyer will be suspended for five months for posting a discovery video of an undercover drug buy in the initial but apparently mistaken belief that it exonerated his client. Lawyer Jesse Raymond Gilsdorf was suspended in an Illinois Supreme Court order issued on March 14. The court agreed with the five-month-suspension recommendation by the Review Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
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NLJ: Judiciary Hiring Public Defenders Again

NLJ: INADMISSIBLE: Judiciary Hiring Public Defenders Again: Federal defender offices, which lost approximately 400 employees because of last year's mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration, have enough money in this year's budget to begin backfilling most of those positions, court officials said on March 11.
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Been There, Done That Dept.: NYT: A Dragnet at Dewey & LeBoeuf Snares a Minnow

NYT: A Dragnet at Dewey & LeBoeuf Snares a Minnow by James Stewart: How did a 29-year-old with an impeccable record, someone who had never even taken an accounting course, end up as an accused mastermind of what the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., called 'a massive effort to cook the books' of the once-giant law firm? And how did he get there without realizing he should hire a lawyer? According to several criminal defense lawyers I spoke to this week, Mr. Warren became caught up in an increasingly common prosecutorial tactic. Mr. Warren may have been naive, but he thought he was being questioned as part of a civil Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. He thought he might be a witness, and thus did not need a lawyer. Only too late did it dawn on him that he might be a target of a criminal investigation. The defense lawyers said prosecutors were increasingly using so-called parallel investigations to insert criminal investigators into what their targets thought were civil proceedings. The SEC will lie to you about what they have planned for you. They did to me.
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