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March 31, 2010

Free CLE: The Utah State Courts Want You!

Volunteer to represent service members facing default judgment. Attend a free CLE to find out more.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides active duty service members with protections in civil cases. In cases where service members are facing default judgment, the court must appoint an attorney to locate and contact them to determine how they'd like to proceed with their case.

The court seeks attorneys to volunteer to provide limited representation to service members in this situation. This free CLE explains what protections the SCRA provides service members and describes the responsibilities of volunteer attorneys providing limited representation to service members in default cases.

When & Where

Friday, April 23, 2010, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Matheson Courthouse
450 South State Street
Room W-19, Conference Room A

Mary Jane Ciccarello, Self-Help Center Attorney, Utah State Courts
Timothy Shea, Senior Staff Attorney, Utah State Courts
Judge Marsha Thomas, Taylorsville Justice Court

CLE Credit
2 hours; 1 hour ethics credit

Register for the CLE by contacting the Utah State Law Library at 801-238-7990 or at library@email.utcourts.gov.

Can't attend the CLE? You can still sign up to be a volunteer attorney at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HF6JTTG

March 30, 2010

Law Day 2010

Law Day 2010: Law in the 21st Century

May 1, 2009 is Law Day. This year's theme is Law in the 21st Century: Enduring Traditions, Emerging Challenges.

A number of activities are planned on and around Law Day, including the Judge for a Day contest and the Hinckley Institute of Politics Panel scheduled for April 5, 2010.

More information about this year's Law Day activities is available on the Utah State Courts' website and the American Bar Assocation's Law Day website.

March 29, 2010

Wireless Password: float

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of March 29, 2010 is float.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

March 25, 2010

New U.S. Supreme Court Website

supreme court.JPGThe U.S. Supreme Court website has a new design. Some of the new features include links to recent court decisions and an interactive calendar right from the home page. Also, you can also read court orders, the annual Journal of the Supreme Court of the United States, and oral argument transcripts from the past ten years.

It's also easier to spot resources for filing Supreme Court cases right from the home page, such as bar admission forms and instructions, court rules, and case handling guides.

The official press release announcing the new website (posted online by the SCOTUS blog team) stated the court would update and add new features over time. Keep watching the new Supreme Court website for changes.

March 23, 2010

NCAA Office Pools: Is this Gambling?

basketball.jpg Is it legal to participate in an office March Madness bracket tournament? Or bet on the games amongst friends?

In Utah, gambling is illegal, so you need to determine whether your actions are legal or illegal under Utah law. Gambling and the types of convictions possible for this crime are discussed in the Utah Code at 76-10-1101 and 76-10-1102 (note that 76-10-1101 is superseded by a new version of this section on 4/1/2010).

In 2008, the Utah Attorney General's Office spoke out against betting on basketball: "If you're betting $20, a can of peas, or if you're betting $10,000, you're still risking something of value and it still could be a crime under the law" (via KSL).

At the federal level, the Department of Justice and United State Attorneys are tasked with enforcing federal anti-gambling laws, such as the Wire Wager Act. For example, see this 2001 article written by an assistant US Attorney: "Gambling Against Enforcement — Internet Sports Books and the Wire Wager Act"

March 22, 2010

April Classes

columnsOur April class list is here! Full descriptions of these classes are available on our website.

Small Claims Basics
Thursday, 4/1, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

Collecting a Judgment Basics
Thursday, 4/8, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

Resources for People Representing Themselves in Utah's State Courts
Friday, 4/9, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Guardianship of a Minor Basics
Thursday, 4/15, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Landlord-Tenant Basics
Thursday, 4/22, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

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.

Wireless Password: enjoy

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of March 22, 2010 is enjoy.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

March 19, 2010

Court of Appeals Briefs

The library has received 31 additional Court of Appeal briefs. The docket numbers range from 20070308 to 20090442 (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.

Changes Coming to PACER

PACERHDR.GIFIf you have a PACER account to search federal district court records, you may be interested to know that the Judicial Conference of the United States recently voted to make important changes to fees and records access in PACER. Among the changes:

  • Allow courts to make digital recordings of hearing available through PACER with permission from the presiding judge.
  • Adjust the fee schedule so users aren't billed unless their usage reaches $10 per quarterly billing cycle.
  • Approve a pilot project for some federal and district bankruptcy court opinions to be published online at FDSys, the Government Printing Office's new online database.

If you don't have access to PACER, you can find more information about it here. You can also access PACER free if you visit the clerk's office at the U. S. District Court for the District of Utah.

March 18, 2010

2010 Legislative Session Wrap-up

IMG_2702.jpgThursday, March 11, was the last day of the Utah State Legislature's 2010 General Session. You can view the bills that passed during the session here, and note whether Governor Herbert has signed the bills into law. If the governor does not veto or sign the passed bills, the bills become law 20 days after adjournment.

If you're interested in what happened during each day of the session, you can read the House and Senate Journals, which document vote counts, committee referrals for bills, and often include amended or substituted language in bills proposed by legislators.

The 2010 General Session page also links to 2010 Selected Highlights and 2010 Key Issues.

March 17, 2010

Sunshine Week 2010

sunshineweek.jpg We've blogged in the past about several resources that encourage open government and civic participation, such as Regulations.Gov or announcing federal agencies on Twitter and Facebook. This week marks Sunshine Week, an annual event sponsored by libraries, universities, schools, and news and nonprofit organizations to promote discussion of the importance of open government and the freedom of information.

Sunshine Week first began in 2005 by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Several states were already hosting day-long events for several years, mostly in response to state legislation on public records laws. It is held every year in March around National Freedom of Information Day.

Events are being held nationwide. If you're in Salt Lake City, the City Library will be screening a free movie, Iron Jawed Angels, about the women's suffrage movement on March 18th from 6:00-9:00 pm. The screening is cosponsored by the League of Women Voters of Utah and the Utah Foundation for Open Government.

Check your local newspaper or with your library for events in your area. If there isn't a Sunshine Week event near you, you can always attend OpentheGovernment.org's nationwide webcast on building transparency this Friday, March 19th, 12:00-2:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

March 15, 2010

New Modifying Parent-Time Forms

The new Utah State Courts' web page on Modifying Parent-Time provides information about jurisdiction (does the court have legal authority to hear the case?), default judgments and the forms necessary to both request and respond to modifying parent-time.

Use these modification forms only if you already have an original order controlling parent-time. Note that if parents do not agree to a parent-time schedule, the legislature provides for minimum parent-time for both children under 5 and children 5 to 18 years of age.

If you need assistance filling out these forms, consider hiring an attorney or speaking to a lawyer at a free legal clinic.

Wireless Password: drink

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of March 15, 2010 is drink.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

March 12, 2010

2009's Top Consumer Complaints

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's largest consumer protection agency, receives hundreds of thousands of complaints every year. They have recently issued a report documenting consumer complaints received in 2009. Identity theft tops the list of the fifteen most common complaints at 21% of all consumer complaints received.

The FTC has created a new video, seen here, on how to file a complaint. There are many options for filing a complaint online. You can use the FTC's form (also available in Spanish). If you're serving any branch of the U.S. military, you can file a complaint through FTC's Consumer Sentinel. If you want to file a complaint against an organization located in another country, file your complaint with EConsumer.Gov.

Daylight Saving Time

clock.jpegDaylight Saving Time has arrived again starting this Sunday, March 14, at 2 am when clocks move forward one hour. In a previous post, we discussed the laws that first enacted Daylight Saving.

Why is Daylight Saving Time so early in the year? The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed Daylight Saving dates in 15 U.S.C. §260a(a) to the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November starting in 2007. Previously, Daylight Saving Times were scheduled the first Sunday in April and the last Sunday in October. This law also gave Congress the authority to reverse its decision to change Daylight Saving dates.

The U.S. Department of Energy studied the effects of these changes and published a report. Among its findings:

  • Changes in gasoline consumption were small.
  • Electricity usage decreased .03% in 2007.
  • Electricity savings were slightly larger during the March Daylight Saving date than the November date. Northern sections of the United States experienced more electricity savings than southern sections.

March 11, 2010

Free Credit Reports

creditrep.jpgEverybody should check their credit history to make sure the information is correct and to watch for suspicious activity. Identity theft can wreck havoc on your life. Stay on top of things by requesting a copy of your credit report each year.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - provide you with a free copy of your credit report upon your request every 12 months. You can request your reports online, via a toll-free phone number or by mail.


Beware of imposter websites! This is the only authorized website to request your credit reports.


Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

For more information about getting free credit reports, see the FTC's Your Rights: Credit Reporting page. The FTC website also provides information about Credit Reports & Scoring and Credit Cards & Consumer Loans, among many other consumer protection topics.

March 10, 2010

Craiglist Scams

IC3.jpg If you've used Craigslist to rent an apartment, sell furniture, find a job or countless other things, you probably know you should look out for various scams. Craigslist has its own list of tips on how to avoid scams when using this service, especially when a transaction involves money. For a local Utah perspective, the Division of Consumer Protection has tips to stay safe when transacting business online based on an example of wire transfer fraud that happened here. In addition, in 2008 Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff signed an agreement with Craigslist to try to end illegal erotic ads. Per the agreement, posters who advertise erotic services must provide a real, working phone number and pay a fee that will be donated to charity.

Other Craigslist scams have included the false promise of a Better Business Bureau buyer protection program, marriage fraud after a woman advertised for a spouse, and rental housing scams.

Of course, these tips apply to any transaction made online, whether its through an online advertising site like Craigslist or KSL Classifieds or through an online merchant.

So what should you do if you think you have been victimized by a scam or fraudulent transaction? Contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a joint venture between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

March 09, 2010

Avoid Job Scams

In today's tough economy, looking for a job can be difficult and stressful. If a job ad is offering the ability to work at home, be a mystery shopper, or is advertising the opportunity to own your own business, be aware that these advertisements may be job scams. The Federal Trade Commission provides tips on how to avoid job scams, such as avoiding any company that is promising you a job or will charge you money. The FTC has also recently begun Operation Bottom Dollar against several companies that have collectively scammed thousands of job seekers.

If you're a Utah resident, you have a variety of ways to research a company offering work opportunities. Check with Utah's Better Business Bureau to find business ratings. Utah businesses are also registered with the Division of Corporations and Commercial Code--you can search for registered businesses, licensed professionals, and UCC filings.

March 08, 2010

Utah Consumer Protection Resources

Be a smart consumer and educate yourself! Start with Utah's Divison of Consumer Protection website, which provides a wide-range of useful resources including:

National Consumer Protection Week

National Consumer Protection Week

March 7 -13 is National Consumer Protection Week.

In honor of this week, State Law Library staff will blog on consumer-related topics including Utah consumer protection resources, scams, free credit reports and consumer complaints. We hope you find these posts useful!

Wireless Password: cocoa

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of March 8, 2010 is cocoa.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

March 04, 2010

Self-Help Resources Page Redesigned

The Utah State Courts' Self-Help Resources page has been redesigned so it is easier to location information. Now you can select the category of information you're looking for - whether it is Criminal Justice, Housing or Life Planning and Probate - and then narrow your results by specific topic. You can also easily access the Online Court Assistance Program from this page. The Self-Help Resources page also links to outside pages that may be of particular interest to self-represented parties, including U.S. Government agency links and consumer protection links.

March 01, 2010

Wireless Password: bagel

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of March 1, 2010 is bagel.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.