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October 30, 2009

Law of Dead Bodies

pumpkin.JPGIt's almost Halloween, so there's no better time to blog about the law of dead bodies.

In Utah, a person is deemed to be dead if the person has experienced
(a) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions; or
(b) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.
A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards. U.C.A. §26-34-2

When someone dies, there is a clear hierarchy of survivors who may determine the location and manner of disposition of the dead body. If the deceased has listed someone in their will (or other written instrument) and followed the other statutory requirements, that person makes the determination of disposition. If no one has been listed in a will, the surviving spouse is next in line, and then the decedent's child or majority of the decedent's children. Check out U.C.A. §59-9-602 to find out who is next in line to make the determination of disposition.

But what happens if there is a dispute about what to do with the body? The legislature has provided the probate court six factors to consider when resolving this type of dispute. The six factors are:
(1) the reasonableness and practicality of the proposed funeral arrangements and disposition;
(2) the degree of the personal relationship between the decedent and each of the persons claiming the right of disposition;
(3) the desires of the person or persons who are ready, able, and willing to pay the cost of the funeral arrangements and disposition;
(4) the convenience and needs of other families and friends wishing to pay their respects;
(5) the desires of the decedent; and
(6) the degree to which the funeral arrangements would allow maximum participation by all who wish to pay their respects. U.C.A. §58-9-605

A body may be exhumed when death occurred in certain circumstances and no determination of cause and manner of death was made by a medical examiner. U.C.A. §26-4-7 and §26-4-12.

Regarding exhumation for another reason, the Supreme Court of Utah has stated that "it is therefore a sound and well-established policy of the law that a person, once buried, should not be exhumed except for the most compelling reasons." Matter of Mayer's Estate, 577 P.2d 108, 110-111 (1978).

Daylight Saving Time

DaylightSaving.JPG Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday - November 1st - at 2:00 am. For many of us that means turning clocks back one hour. Why do we do this?

Daylight saving originated with the Standard Time Act of 1918, P.L. 65-106. This law was repealed the next year, but was made law again with the Uniform Time Act of 1966. The law was codified as 15 U.S. Code §260 et seq.

To see how this law has changed over time, visit the law library and we'll show you how to use HeinOnline, or our print versions of the U.S. Code and U.S. Statutes at Large.

Want to learn more about the history of daylight saving? Check out these resources:

October 29, 2009

New Books: The JAG's School Guide to the SCRA and The Military Divorce Handbook

scra.jpgmilitarydivorce.jpgIssues related to military servicemembers continue to impact legal proceedings, from service and stays to child custody and temporary orders. That's why the Law Library has recently added these two books to the collection.

For a general overview of the protections and rights provided by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), check out the American Bar Association's publication, The Judge Advocate General's School Guide to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This excellent and brief guide includes analysis of general provisions, procedural protections, and specific explanations of taxation, voting rights and financial protections. It also includes analysis of the Act's specific provisions on evictions, leases, installment contracts, and mortgages. Each section provides citations to pertinent case law. The authors also highlight terms that may be ambiguous, as certain terms have been interpreted in various ways in different jurisdictions.

For a detailed examination of divorce-specific issues that arise when a servicemember is a party, check out Mark E. Sullivan's The Military Divorce Handbook: A Practical Guide to Representing Military Personnel and Their Families. This practical manual has a wealth of information on parent time, custody, and alimony issues that may arise during a military divorce. Also includes a sample motion for stay under SCRA and domicile checklist for servicemembers and spouses. Includes a CD-ROM with sample language and forms.

October 27, 2009

Keeping up with the Federal Government

The Blogs from the U.S. Government website offers a list of federal government offices who are blogging. Topics are wide ranging and the agencies are varied and include:

  • Business and Economics
  • Defense and International Relations
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Public Safety and Law
  • Travel and Recreation

New blogs are added all the time, and you can sign up to receive an email whenever pages are updated.

Gov Gab is a one-stop federal government blog. Each day a different blogger posts in the areas of home and family, health, money and travel. Blog posts examine everything from the visa lottery, hand washing vs. hand sanitizers, the importance of sleep and the benefits of calcium.

October 26, 2009

Wireless Password: jumps

IMG_1851.JPGThe wireless password for the week of October 26, 2009 is jumps.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

October 23, 2009

2009 Guide to the Freedom of Information Act

BOOK COVER0001.JPGAs a Federal Depository Library, we receive select U.S. Government Printing Office publications at no charge. One recent acquisition is the 2009 Guide to the Freedom of Information Act. FOIA, 5 U.S.C. §552, establishes which records federal agencies should and can make available to the public via request and which records can be withheld.

The annotated 2009 Guide covers all aspects of the Freedom of Information Act, including:

  • Procedural Requirements for filing a FOIA, including fees.
  • Records exempt from a FOIA request, as described under 5 U.S.C. §552(b).
  • Litigation Considerations, including a general description of a FOIA lawsuit.

If you don't have time to stop by the law library to read the guide, you can find the full text online at the U.S. Department of Justice FOIA page. You can also find links to FOIA pages from a variety of federal agencies and a list of Federal Agency FOIA contacts.

October 21, 2009

November Classes

columnsOur November class list is here!

New class!
Collecting a Judgment Basics
Thursday, 11/12, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Topics include identifying a debtor's property, writs of garnishment and execution, exemptions and satisfaction of judgment in civil and criminal cases.

Resources for People Representing Themselves in Utah's State Courts
Friday, 11/13, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Introduces the resources available for people representing themselves in court, including how to find an attorney, legal clinics, forms, the Online Court Assistance Program and other resources. The presentation will be followed by a tour of the Utah State Law Library introducing the print and electronic resources available.

Guardianship of a Minor Basics
Thursday, 11/19, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Topics include who can be a guardian, why you might want a guardianship, the rights and responsibilities of a guardian, how to establish a guardianship appointment, and how to terminate a guardianship appointment.

All classes are held in the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City.

To register for these free classes call 801-238-7990 or email library@email.utcourts.gov.

October 20, 2009

Backyard Chickens

chicken.jpgThe most important thing you need to know before buying chickens for your backyard chicken coop is whether your local law permits you to raise chickens. There isn't one Utah law that applies to the entire state. Rather, if you live within city limits, check to see if your city code has any laws about raising chickens; if you don't live within city limits, check the county code.

For example, in Salt Lake City, you must first apply for a permit from the office of animal services in order to raise chickens and the fee is $5/animal. Salt Lake City Code 8.08.010. A permit will not be granted for more than 25 chickens. Salt Lake City Code 8.08.020. Different rules apply to people who want to raise chickens for commercial purposes. However, no animals may be housed closer than 50 feet from a building used for human habitation. Salt Lake City Code 8.08.060.

Another example of local laws regarding chickens is found in the Brigham City Code. Brigham City residents may keep up to six chickens but the chicken coop may not be larger than 50 cubic feet per household. Brigham City Code 4.01(16).

Another example is found in the Vernal City Code. In Vernal, if property has been zoned RA-1 (residential-agricultural), up to 25 chickens may be kept on a lot that is at least 20,000 square feet. Vernal City Code 16.38.020. However, if other animals are kept on the same lot, that number decreases.

To find your city or county code, begin at the Utah.gov page and then select your city or county. Once directed to the city or county's page, you'll need to locate the code. Local codes are sometimes referred to as "municipal ordinances" or simply "ordinances." If you can't locate the code online, contact your local government.

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October 19, 2009

Wireless Password: icons

IMG_1851.JPGThe wireless password for the week of October 19, 2009 is icons.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

October 15, 2009

2009 Juvenile Court Report Card to the Community

Hopscotch.JPGUtah's Juvenile Courts release a report every year that charts the Juvenile Courts' progress in improving community safety and reducing youth crime recidivism.

The Report Card measures improvement in the following categories:

  • Delinquency Referrals
  • Juvenile Crime
  • Restitution Paid
  • Law Abiding Behavior
  • Drug Testing
  • Community Service

The 2009 Report Card to the Community is now available at the Utah State Courts website. Among the report's findings:

  • Delinquency referrals for male felony cases dropped 1% from 2007 to 2008, while the referrals for female status offenses dropped 2%.
  • The Re-Offense rate for both male and female offenders rose 2% between 2005 and 2006.
  • Offenders paid over $750,000 in restitution in 2008, an increase of over $100,000 from 2007.
  • Offenders completed over 410,000 hours of community service in 2008.

October 14, 2009

Stop Medicare Fraud

The Department of Justice and Health and Human Services have partnered to create the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT). The Team has created a website called Stop Medicare Fraud, which provides resources to help identify and protect against Medicare fraud and information on how to report it.

To protect against fraud
- Guard your Medicare and Social Security Numbers.
- Be suspicious of anyone who offers you free medical equipment or services and then requests your Medicare number.
- Do not let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare ID card or your identity.

Common Medicare fraud schemes include
- People who approach you in parking lots, shopping centers, or other public areas and offer free services, groceries, transportation, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number.
- People who call you claiming to be conducting a health survey and ask for your Medicare number.
- Telephone marketers who pretend to be from Medicare or Social Security and ask for payment over the phone or Internet.

If you suspect you have been the victim of a Medicare fraud scheme, contact the Office of Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477.

October 13, 2009

Wireless Password: hypes

IMG_1851.JPGThe wireless password for the week of October 12, 2009 is hypes.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

October 09, 2009

New on OCAP: Protective Orders for Minor Children and Enforcement of Domestic Orders

OCAP, the Online Court Assistance Program, offers an interactive electronic tool to prepare the documents needed for several types of civil actions in Utah's state courts. For example, among the existing programs are divorce, parentage, and guardianship of a minor child.

Now available are two new programs. One provides the court documents to try to obtain a protective order on behalf of a minor child. You can choose to use either OCAP or to download fill-in-the-blank forms already available on the court website.

OCAP's new enforcement of domestic orders system provides documents required to ask the court to enforce existing domestic orders. It offers help with preparing orders to show cause, responses to orders to show cause, registrations of foreign orders, as well as several others.

October 08, 2009

October Holiday Hours: Columbus Day

The Law Library, and all Utah State Courts, will be closed on Monday, October 12 in celebration of Columbus Day.

Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1971; the first recorded celebration in the U.S. took place on October 12, 1792, 300 years after Columbus' landing.

For more information about Columbus Day, check out the Library of Congress' page about the holiday.

October 06, 2009

Parenting Plan Form Now Available on Court Website

A parenting plan outlines how parents who are now living separately will raise their children. It encourages parents to think ahead about how they will make decisions and resolve disagreements. A parenting plan is required in Utah for shared parenting or custody arrangements and is permitted in other parenting arrangements approved by the court.

Parents in a domestic relations case must file a parenting plan whenever a party asks the court to create or change a shared parenting arrangement. Any arrangement other than full legal and physical custody held by one parent is a shared parenting arrangement.

Parenting plans are part of the Online Court Assistance Program for divorce or parentage actions. However, sometimes parents need to create a parenting plan on their own or are ordered to do so by the court. Now available on the court website is a stand-alone parenting plan form. Information about the legal requirements of a parenting plan and links to further resources are also available on the website.

October 05, 2009

Court of Appeals Briefs

The library has received additional Court of Appeal briefs. The docket numbers range from 20080144 to 20080943 (list not inclusive).

If you're looking for a specific brief, contact the library by phone (801-238-7990) or email to make sure we have it. If you can't come in to make copies yourself, we offer a document delivery service for 25¢ per page and will scan the briefs and email them to you.


Wireless Password: genre

IMG_1851.JPGThe wireless password for the week of October 5, 2009 is genre.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

October 02, 2009

The First Monday in October


Monday October 5th (the first Monday in October) is the start of the new term of the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court website provides information about the history of the court, its members, oral argument calendar and slip opinions.

Last week the U.S. Postal Service issued a series of commemorative stamps honoring four U.S. Supreme Court Justices: Joseph Story, Louis D. Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter and William J. Brennan Jr.

The U.S. Postal Service press release provides the following information about the honored justices:

Joseph Story (1779-1845)
Joseph Story ranks as one of the nation’s most influential jurists. The author of dozens of volumes of legal commentary, Story, who viewed law as a science, gave shape to American jurisprudence while also making the law more accessible to practicing attorneys. His devotion to the uniform enforcement of federal regulations by all the states helped establish the preeminence of the Supreme Court.

Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941)
Louis Brandeis was the associate justice most responsible for helping the Supreme Court shape the tools it needed to interpret the Constitution in light of the sociological and economic conditions of the 20th century. “If we would guide by the light of reason,” he once exhorted his colleagues, “we must let our minds be bold.” A progressive and champion of reform, Brandeis devoted his life to social justice.

Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965)
Felix Frankfurter was arguably one of the most enigmatic and controversial figures ever to sit on the Supreme Court. As the Court’s strongest proponent of judicial restraint, Frankfurter, who served 23 years as an associate justice, believed that judges should disregard their own social views when making decisions. “History teaches,” he wrote, “that the independence of the judiciary is jeopardized when courts become embroiled in the passions of the day.”

William J. Brennan Jr. (1906-1997)
William J. Brennan Jr. was the author of numerous landmark decisions and the inspiration behind many others. He believed that law is an essential force for social and political change. The Court’s most determined opponent of the death penalty, he championed equal rights for all citizens and steadfastly regarded the Constitution as a living document that should be interpreted to fit modern life.

October 01, 2009

Federal Credit Card Law Updates

CREDIT CARD.JPGThe Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, signed and passed into law this May, has several consumer protection provisions that have already gone into effect, according to a recent FDIC Consumer Alert, including:

• Credit card issuers must provide a 45-day advance notice of rate increases and inform a card holder of his or her right to cancel an account before the rate increase begins.

• Monthly credit card statements must be mailed or delivered to customers at least 21 days prior to a payment due date.

While most of the provisions were set to be effective in February and August of 2010, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee recently introduced H.R. 3639, Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009, which would move the effective date for those provisions back to December 1, 2009.

You can keep track of this legislation at THOMAS. Search by bill number H.R. 3639 under Search Bill Status & Summary to follow the bill's latest actions.