In 2019, Federal Judiciary Seeks Funding and Cost-Saving Successes.

Representatives of the Federal Judiciary recently asked Congress to provide $7.22 billion in 2019 to fund continued operations of the judicial branch. The request includes funding to sustain cybersecurity initiatives and ensure sufficient security at federal courthouses. “We ask that you consider the Judiciary’s unique constitutional role in our system of government,” said Judge John W. Lungstrum, chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Budget. “In return, we commit to you that we will continue to be good fiscal stewards, cutting costs where possible, spending each dollar wisely, and making smart investments to achieve long-term savings.” Lungstrum testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. He was joined by James C. Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. They presented the Judiciary’s budget request for fiscal year 2019, which starts October 1, 2018. “I would like to acknowledge the subcommittee for its generous and consistent support of the Judiciary’s needs,” Duff said. “We hope to maintain your confidence and support through another year of successful performance of our constitutional and statutory duties and efficient stewardship of taxpayer resources through the continuation of our longstanding cost containment program.” The fiscal year 2019 budget request reflects an overall increase of 3.2 percent to maintain current services and to fund priority initiatives. Lungstrum said the Judiciary is requesting $95 million for cybersecurity, saying that the Judiciary has moved aggressively to upgrade IT protections since 2015 cyber attacks compromised Office of Personnel Management records. “Inevitably, Judiciary systems have and will continue to be targeted, like numerous government and commercial entities worldwide,” Lungstrum said. The Judiciary also...

Couples seeking divorce amid changing laws in 2019

Droves of couples seeking divorce are flooding courthouses across the country, apparently agreeing on one thing: Make it official by the end of the year. Divorce attorneys are reporting that their workloads have increased four-fold, all to help their clients end their marriage by 2019 when changes from President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be felt. The new law makes significant changes to the that alimony payments are taxed, reducing tax savings by eliminating deductions. One Florida Judge is even adding extra court time, citing the change in tax law as the reason, and is making herself available on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, days when the court would otherwise typically be closed, CBS MoneyWatch reported. IRS data shows that about 586,000 filers claimed alimony deduction for the 2016 tax year, and the move is estimated to bring in $6.9 billion over the course of nine years, The Hill reports. By the end of the year, divorce filings may be up as much as 20 percent over 2017, President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Peter M. Walzer told CBS MoneyWatch. A majority of matrimonial lawyers believe that the changes to the law would lead to more contentious settlement negotiations. However, the new tax code may affect fewer people, as divorce rates overall have fallen over the past several...

New Year’s Eve 2019: Free rides and other ways home safely

Austin’s New Year’s Eve 2019 offered free rides and other ways to get home in safety. As we all know, drunken driving at any level is illegal, reprehensible, dangerous, and just plain bad form. That’s a fact the Austin Police Department will bring home for you at all times, but especially on New Year’s Eve, when it’s an unfortunately common occurrence. The department’s “no refusal” period for the holiday ran from 9 p.m. every night through 5 a.m. every morning, ending on New Year’s Day. If you are suspected of driving while intoxicated during the period, officers will have more legal resources for obtaining a blood alcohol sample, even if you refuse to submit one. That’s not to mention the life- and injury-threatening position you put yourself, your passengers, and others in when you attempt to drive while drunk. Fortunately, there are many options—including free or reduced ride-hailing prices and other ways to get to your destination—for Austinites to ring in the new year without all that danger. Here are a few of them. Free public transportation Austin’s Capital Metro extended its MetroRail and MetroRapid service until 2:30 a.m. New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day as well as offering free rides on New Year’s Eve from 5 p.m. until the end of service. MetroBus lines are included in the free fares and operated on their regular weekday-service schedule. Ride-hailing RideAustin (a locally owned, nonprofit business), Lyft, and Uber currently operate in Austin. From 8 a.m., Dec. 31, through 4 a.m., Jan. 1, Lyft riders got $5 off all rides in Texas. “NYEPLAN18” in the Lyft app. The Lyft discount was...

4 laws that are bringing big changes to California in 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  — The new year means big changes for California’s criminal justice system. Several new laws that go into effect in 2019 have an emphasis on criminal and social justice reform. Here’s a look at four new laws that are changing the way things are done in California:   End of Cash Bail California is getting rid of cash bail for suspects awaiting trial. Supporters contend it makes criminal justice fairer for people with little money, but bail agents are seeking a referendum to overturn the new law. “We had to collect 365,000 signatures,” said Topo Padilla, president of the Golden State Bail Agents Association. “We collected 550,000. So, that’s 550,000 voters who signed a piece of paper saying, ‘Yes, let’s put this on the ballot and let us decide,’ rather than 120 legislators down there.” The new law takes effect Oct. 1, 2019. Judges will use a pretrial risk assessment to determine who should be released from jail. In most nonviolent misdemeanor cases, defendants would be out within 12 hours. In other cases, defendants would be scored on the seriousness of crime – and how likely they are to show up for court. The new law means up to 8,000 people working in the bail industry statewide will be out of work, according to Padilla. “This is about public safety” Padilla said. “It’s not solely about saving our jobs. This is truly about public safety and getting rid of a constitutional right that people have.”   DUI Ignition Interlock Devices In 2019, a new California law will impact drivers caught driving while intoxicated. The legislation aims to...

Kona, HI Courthouse Scheduled to Open Late Summer 2019

The Hawaii State Judiciary’s appropriations bill, including $5.8 million to get instrumentation and furnishings for the new Kona courthouse, passed final reading within the Senate and House of Representatives. The bill has been sent to Gov. David IgE for his review and thought. “On behalf of the Hawaii State Judiciary, i would like to precise my deep appreciation to the Hawaii State general assembly for approving the funding required to outfit the new courthouse in Kona with instrumentation and furnishings,” aforesaid judge Mark E. Recktenwald. “We area unit happy to be ready to provide the West Hawaii community a full-service facility they can take care of all court-related matters in an exceedingly centralized, convenient, and secure setting.” The facility is scheduled to open in late summer 2019. The general assembly previously approved a complete of $90 million for construction costswithin the 2014 and 2015 sessions. Groundbreaking for the project was in Gregorian calendar month 2016. “The Judiciary is very grateful to any or all of the island legislators, particularly Rep. Nicole Lowen and subunit. Josh Green, still because the leadership of Senators Donovan Dela Cruz, Gil Keith-Agaran, and Brian Taniguchi, and Senate President Daffo Kouchi, and Representatives Sylvia Luke, Kyle Yamashita, Scott Nishimoto, and Speaker Scott Saiki,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald. “I additionally wish to share my acknowledgment with the West Hawaii Bar Association, the Hawaii County Bar Association, and therefore the Hawaii State Bar Association for their ongoing support,” judge Recktenwald said. “Retired choose Daffo Ibarra, West Hawaii Bar President Payesko, and HSBA Representative from Kona Carol Kitaoka have been critical supporters.”  “After years of conducting court business...

A City with one New Years Drunk Driving Arrest.

Only one drunk driving arrest New Year’s Eve in Jackson County, MS records show. With increased police presence on holidays and multiple ad campaigns warning motorists of the risks of impaired driving, maybe folks are finally getting down to get the message. Only one driver was arrested for a suspected DUI on New Year’s Eve in Jackson County, Mississippi, consistent with the Jackson County Jail log. The driver, a 23-year-old Blackman township man, was i was arrested and booked into the jail at 3:32 a.m., Jan. 1, by the Jackson local police department, records show. Law enforcement throughout Jackson County told MLive/The Jackson Citizen Patriot it was a relatively quiet night. Police throughout the state are cracking down on impaired driving following the national Law enforcement campaign “Drive Sober or Get pulled Over.” The campaign emphasizes the dangers of impaired driving while aiming to drastically reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries on the...

Indonesia Lombok Island Earthquake Death Toll Reaches 500

A terrific and horrible earthquake disaster hit off of Indonesia Lombok Island. This natural disaster has a death toll rate that is at 550 now. This earthquake hit Indonesia’s Lombok island as between July 29 and August 19.  This lead to more than 390,000 people displaced and 76,765 buildings were damaged. The National Agency for Disaster Management spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho stated in a statement that majority of the fatalities, 466 people, were from the North Lombok municipality as the most affected area. The rest of the victims were from West Lombok, 40 as well as East Lombok, 31 from Central Lombok, and 29 in the provincial capital Mataram. Apart from it, almost seven people were killed on neighboring eastern Sumbawa island and two others on Bali island. It has been further stated that the agency’s main focus was distributing humanitarian aid to the hundreds of thousands of people that are currently in displacement camps. An Indonesian Armed Forces aircraft landed along with 100 assistance packages for families, and also 100 wheelchairs, 30,000 tents, and tarps. Camps are serving clean water, providing medical treatment and materials for shelter. Only helicopters and motorcycles have been able to access the steepest and most remote areas of the island, as landslides blocked most routes. Lombok island did suffer hundreds of aftershocks since the 6.4-magnitude earthquake shook the region on July 29. Some of them are as strong as a magnitude-5.9. The most serious quake occurred on August 5 with a 6.9-magnitude, killing at least 460 people. Indonesia sits on whats known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, as being an area of...

Fire in Spa Hotel Northeastern China Kills 19 People

Recently in North-Eastern China, a fire broke out in the spa hotel that killed almost 19 people.  This fire tore through a hot springs hotel in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin that lead to killing 19 people and causing 23 others to be taken to the hospital. According to the investigations, the fire at the four-story Bailong Hot Springs Leisure Hotel, a spa resort visited mainly by domestic tourists, broke out just after 4:30 a.m. It’s believed to have started in a kitchen on the second floor. The flames of the fire swept through an area of about 400 square meters before being extinguished after three hours, as more than 30 fire engines and 100 firefighters who rushed to the scene.  Firemen successfully rescue around 20 people who were trapped in the hotel and another 80 were evacuated from the building. On another side, the casualties treated in hospital were in the 40 to 70 age range. The actual number of the people who are killed were not immediately available. Earlier reports stated the number to be 18 that has now reached 19 after a survivor died while in hospital. Local authorities said a legal representative of the hotel was in criminal custody for the sake of suspected fire safety negligence. It is known that China has a pretty good record when it comes to the safety of the buildings and malls. China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said it would launch a nationwide fire safety inspections in buildings along with hotels, sauna, hospitals, schools and shopping malls. Heartfelt condolences for the deaths, people, and families...

Woman Arrested for Drunk Driving after Police find Her Facebook Messages left open on computer in Hotel

In a recent reports, a woman was charged with drink driving after police found out with some of the incriminating messages on her Facebook page. Just as after a car crash in Michigan, investigators said they tracked one of the alleged drivers to a nearby hotel. There they found a computer which was still logged into the woman’s Facebook page and open on a series of messages to another user. This woman had allegedly told her Facebook friend that she had been involved in a automobile accident and that she was drunk. At the time of the investigative questioning, the woman did admit to being involved but denied driving the vehicle and refused to tell them who had been driving.  In this incident, she was charged with driving with an expired driver’s license,  operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, and hence leaving the scene of an accident. Investigators had also stated that the hotel’s receptionist had told officers that the woman had admitted to driving the vehicle when it crashed and had been drinking. In short, her Facebook messages with the random person lead to her caught. The woman admitted to having drunk alcohol about two hours before the crash and an initial breathalyzer test showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.12 percent. Further investigations are being carried out by the side of the police and the women is still under...

Woman Arrested for Drunk Driving after Police find Facebook Messages left open on computer in hotel

In a recent report, a woman was charged with drink driving after police found out with some of the incriminating messages on her Facebook page. Just as after a car crash in Michigan, police investigators said they had tracked one of the alleged drivers to a nearby hotel. There they found a computer which was still logged into the woman’s Facebook page and open on a series of messages to another user. This woman had allegedly told her Facebook friend that she had been involved in a crash and that she was drunk. At the time of the investigation’s questioning, the woman did admit to being involved, but denied driving the vehicle and refused to tell them who had been driving.  In this way of the incident, she was charged with driving with an expired driver’s license, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, and leaving the scene of an accident. Investigators also stated that the hotel’s receptionist had told officers that the woman had admitted to her, to driving the vehicle when it crashed and had been drinking. In short, her Facebook messages with the random person lead to her being apprehended. The woman admitted to having drunk alcohol about two hours before the crash and an initial breathalyzer test showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.12 percent. Further investigations are being carried out by police and the woman is still under...