Stalking laws are generally designed to protect victims from being threatened by the speech or conduct of the stalker. In Oregon, for example, stalking is two contacts between the stalker and the victim, each of which must cause the victim to be reasonably alarmed for his or her safety or the safety of a member of his or her family or household. When the alarm is caused by speech, it must include a threat of harm. A recent case demonstrates the difference between simply offensive and alarming speech and conduct.
In all states, there is a principle of law called adverse possession, by which a person who uses another person’s property for long enough for the statute of limitations to expire can claim title to the property he or she used. To some extent, this is based on the fact that there are statutes of limitations, and to some extent, it seeks to ensure confidence in the possessor that his or her efforts will not go to waste. To a large extent, the modern application of the rule is to resolve boundary disputes and mistakes in transfers instead of taking over otherwise unused land. The exact details of how the rule applies varies from state to state, and a new case from Oregon clarifies that the use in question has to be clearly distinct from the general public and clearly continuous, making Oregon’s already strict interpretation of adverse possession even stricter.
When a client asks a lawyer for advice, the lawyer may make a mistake if the client leaves out some information. This is particularly true when the proposed advice relates to a broader plan instead of just a single transaction. A recent case from Nevada illustrates what might go wrong.
Recently, it was reported that a restaurant in North Carolina has been offering discounts to customers who pray in public. Unfortunately, this practice is probably illegal, but it illustrates the occasional need to find out if a well-meaning idea might cause legal problems.
If a child is endangered when with one parent, but that parent has rights under a custody or visitation order, the other parent may want to know what to do. If you think your child is in a dangerous situation, but the child welfare agencies haven’t stepped in, then it is possible to ask the courts for help, sometimes on an emergency basis. The law does make this a fairly difficult process and tries to limit emergency changes to real emergencies.
Guardianships and conservatorships are used to protect people who are unable to handle their own affairs. Before imposing a guardianship, a court has to find that the protected person (Oregon uses this term instead of “ward”) does not have full capacity to handle his or her own affairs. Is that finding enough to take away the protected person’s right to make a will? The answer in most states is no, but the protected person might be found incapable on a case-by-case basis. A recent case from Washington illustrates the situation.
The Supreme Court has recently confirmed that public employees’ First Amendment rights extend to when they testify about matters they may have learned about on the job. They can’t be disciplined if they testify truthfully, do not violate confidentiality requirements or similar restrictions, and their testimony is not part of their ordinary job duties.
On the other hand, private employees generally do not have the same protection because the First Amendment applies only to government action.