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Georgia Judge Who Blocked Transgender Name Changes Overruled by Appeals Court

When Rebecca Elizabeth Feldhaus and Delphine Renee Baumert attempted to legally change their names -- to Rowan Elijah Feldhaus and Andrew Norman Baumert, respectively -- they were told by a Georgia judge that their choices weren't gender-neutral enough to suit his taste. "I do not approve of changing names from male to female -- male names to obvious female names, and vice versa," Columbia County Superior Court Judge J. David Roper, said in denying Feldhaus's request. "I think it is misleading to the public and think that it is dangerous in some circumstances for one -- for the public not to know whether they're dealing with a male or a female." But an appeals court has ruled that Judge Roper abused his discretion in denying the name change petitions, and ordered that the changes be granted. Names You Can Live With Both Feldhaus and Baumert were born female but identify as male. Under Georgia law, if a person follows the proper procedure to petition for a name change, "there is nothing in the law prohibiting a person from taking or assuming another name, so long as he does not assume a name for the purpose of defrauding other persons through a mistake of identity." And in rejecting Feldhaus and Baumert's petitions, he wrote that "[n]ame changes which allow a person to assume the role of a person of the opposite sex are, in effect, a type of fraud on the general public," and that "third parties should not have to contend with the quandary, predicament, and dilemma of a person who presents as a male, but who has an obviously female name, and vice versa." Roper also said that name changes that were not to more gender-neutral names "offend the sensibilities and mores of a substantial portion of the citizens of this state." When it came to Baumert's request, Roper suggested several names he said he "can live with," including Morgan, Shannon, Shaun and Jaimie, and when Baumert rejected those options, Roper denied his petition. Sound Legal Discretion In a terse opinion, the Fourth Division Court of Appeals overruled Roper's decisions, reiterating that "a trial court's conclusions about any person's 'confusion' or 'embarrassment' was 'not a valid basis for denying' a petition for a name change," and that the only basis for denying a petition for a name change was evidence that "showed that the petitioner was acting under an 'improper motive,' such as intentionally assuming another person's name for the purpose of embarrassing that person or avoiding the petitioner's own criminal past." Absent that evidence, the appeals court ruled, Roper should not have denied the name change requests. Name and gender change petitions are becoming more common in courts, even if some judges remain resistant. If you need help with a name change or a gender change petition, or if yours has been denied, contact an experienced civil rights attorney in your area. Related Resources: Find Civil Rights Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Oregon Residents Can Be 'Agender' as Well as 'Non-Binary' (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) DMV Sued by Transgender Woman Over Privacy (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can Parents Block Children's Gender Transitions? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Is Road Rage a Crime?

We've probably all been guilty of road rage at least once in our lives. However, when road rage escalates from stewing in your car to aggressive driving or vicious assaults, road rage can get you arrested. Just this week, a case of road rage was caught on camera in Yuma, Arizona. A motorcyclist, wearing a GoPro camera on his helmet, allegedly cut off another car. When both the car and motorcycle were stopped at a light, the driver got out of his vehicle, walked straight up to the motorcyclist and punched him in the face! The driver proceeds to shove a passenger on the motorcycle and try to punch the motorcyclist several more times before being taken down. The driver was taken to the hospital with an apparent broken ankle, and has been charged with endangerment, threatening, and assault. Could he also have been charged with road rage? Road Rage Laws In most cases of road rage, a driver is often charged with a slew of violations and other crimes, such as speeding, unsafe lane changing, endangerment, or assault, as happened in this case. However, some states also have laws or vehicles codes punishing road rage: Arizona -- According to Arizona's Department of Public Safety, road rage is defined as "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway." California -- California's Vehicle Code section 13210 allows for a court-ordered suspension of your driver's license if you are convicted of assault with a deadly weapon caused by road rage. Massachusetts -- If you have a junior operator's license in Massachusetts and you speed up in competition with another driver, you could be convicted of drag racing and be ordered to complete a court program against road rage. If you ever find yourself getting angry while driving, take a few deep breaths and calm down. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road rage and aggressive driving cause 66 percent of traffic fatalities. In a seven year period, 218 people were murdered and 12,610 injured because of road rage. If you are charged with road rage or any other crime in conjunction, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney for help. Related Resources: Browse Criminal Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Video: Motorcyclist Attacked in Arizona Road Rage Incident (ABC 7) 'Road Rage Lady' in Viral Video Arrested, but for What? (FindLaw's Legally Weird) Road Rage Tips: How to Not Get Shot (FindLaw's Injured)
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After a DUI Arrest, Don’t Forget Your DMV Hearing

In the aftermath of a DUI arrest, it's important to remember that in addition to the criminal charges you are facing, you may also have a limited amount of time to request a hearing with your state's DMV in order to avoid a lengthy driver's license suspension. In most states, immediately following a driving under the influence arrest, a person essentially has two different cases to deal with: the criminal case in criminal court and the administrative case through a state's Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent vehicle registration agency. Why is it important to know about this administrative hearing process? Driver's License Suspension In most states, a driver who's been pulled over and cited for suspected DUI will have his or her driver's license automatically suspended. In order to have your driver's license reinstated, a person arrested for DUI must file a request for a hearing within a specific number of days, typically 10, although the exact deadline varies by state. In Colorado, for example, drivers who have their license revoked following a DUI arrest only have 7 days to request a hearing. Even if your criminal DUI charges are dropped or you negotiate a plea to a lesser charge -- such as a "wet reckless" -- failure to request a DMV hearing may mean that your driver's license will remain suspended or revoked (although in some states, such as California, you may be able to regain your driving privileges if you are acquitted in criminal court). What Happens at a DMV Hearing? The DMV hearing is an administrative, not criminal, proceeding, but you still have the right to have an attorney present. You can also present evidence and testimony on your own behalf. Unlike in criminal court, where a person must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, DMV hearings generally operate under a lower "preponderance of the evidence" standard of proof similar to that often found in civil trials. The DMV hearing is not conducted in front of a judge, but rather a hearing officer. However, the hearing is similar to a criminal trial in that the law enforcement officer who made the arrest must show that you were lawfully arrested for operating a vehicle over the legal limit of intoxication or that you refused to submit to a chemical test in violation of a state's implied consent laws. If you have questions about DMV hearings in your state, a DUI attorney will know the law and may be able to help you regain your driving privileges. You can also learn more about DUI arrests, charges, and penalties at FindLaw's section on DUI Law. Related Resources: Browse DUI / DWI Lawyers by Location (FindLaw) How to Reinstate a License After a DUI (FindLaw's Blotter) Top 5 Questions to Ask a DUI Lawyer (FindLaw's Blotter) What Happens If You Refuse a DUI Breath Test? (FindLaw's Blotter)
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