Arlington, VA

Local and international police departments came together at Justice Center Plaza (1425 N. Courthouse Road) this morning (Friday) to commemorate the seven Arlington police officers who died in the line of duty.

“We’re here for a show of compassion and solidarity to those who are no longer with us,” said Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr. “There is a unique sense here — a kindred spirit that brings us together.”

The names of the officers, and the circumstances of their deaths, were read aloud as roses were placed at their memorial. The most recent was Corporal Harvey Snook III, who died in 2016 as a result of cancer contracted from rescue and recovery operations at the Pentagon following the 9/11 attacks.

After the names were read, Deputy Anne Nardolilli performed an original song called “More Than a Name,” celebrating the lives of the fallen officers.

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By Person Injury Attorney Darryl B. Kogan of Kogan and DiSalvo. P.A

It is getting safer to go to work!

A study conducted by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has found that workplace injuries and illnesses are down by approximately two to three percent around the country. During the study, NCCI used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the frequency of injuries and illnesses sustained by full-time workers in the United States.

The study divided incidences of injuries and work-related sicknesses into categories of industry, gender and the age of workers. One of the most interesting results to come from the study showed that the age group that reduced the amount of work-related injuries were younger people aged 25 to 34.

While historically, this group has regularly seen the most amount of workplace injuries, the numbers dropped by almost 50 percent between 2006 and 2017. Within this group, the majority of injuries were from contact, which made up 32 percent of injuries, and overexertion, which constituted 35 percent of injuries for those under the age of 34.

“It is difficult to say why this younger group has seen such a drop in injuries,” says Darryl B. Kogan of Kogan and DiSalvo. P.A. “Regardless, it is certainly good news. It is even better that while this age group may have seen the largest reduction in workplace accidents, all age groups saw a drop, which means workplace accidents are being reduced nationwide.”

Overexertion, a main cause of workplace accidents, was also seen in workers aged 45 to 64. This group saw the most amount of overexertion injuries, however, they were also prone to slip and falls. For those in this older age group, slip and falls made up 44 percent of workers’ compensation claims.

Interestingly, while there still may be a nationwide wage gap between the sexes, it simply does not exist when it comes to workplace injuries. Incident rates among men fell to 95 per 100,000 for workers’ compensation claims in 2017 from 142 in 2006.

Women, on the other hand, did not see as big of a reduction, but they too, reduced workplace accidents from 106 per 100,000 in 2006 to just 82 in 2017.

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By Family Law Attorney Brian W. Reidy of Reidy Law Office, LLC

In divorce, it is more common than people think for one spouse to hide assets from another spouse.

By doing so, the spouse hiding the assets may be required to pay less in child support, alimony and other expenses related to the divorce. Luckily, hidden assets do not always stay hidden forever.

“There are ways to discover a spouse is hiding assets and make sure the final divorce agreement is fair to all parties,” says Brian W. Reidy of the Reidy Law Office, LLC. “You just have to know where to look, and what to look for, which is why having the help of a family lawyer is so important.”

The first place to start looking is the spouse’s paystubs. These contain a lot of information, including how much money has been diverted into a 401(k) or been withheld for taxes. If these combined amounts are grossly more than the spouse’s take-home pay, they are likely using those tools as a place to park their income, and hide it from you.

A person’s tax return will also shed significant light on a spouse’s hidden assets. Schedule B of a tax return outlines the interest and dividends a person may be earning, while Schedule D will outline all capital gains and losses.

In addition, if a Form 1099-R is included with the tax return, it means a spouse is using a retirement account to park money in, possibly until shortly after the divorce is finalized.

Both pay stubs and tax returns can be accessed during the discovery phase of a divorce. During this stage of the proceedings, both sides can request information from the other side that can help support their case in court. If one party asks the other side for this type of documentation, it must be provided to them.

In an ideal world, divorces would always be an honest and open process. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Everyone wants the terms of a divorce to be fair. Knowing how to spot hidden assets is one way to ensure they will be.

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By Family Law Attorney Brian W. Reidy of Reidy Law Office LLC

Millennials often say that it is more difficult for their generation to get a job, buy a house and secure their financial future.

Perhaps this is the reason attorneys are reporting an increase in prenuptial agreements among millennials that want to protect that future.

A survey among the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that over half of these professionals were seeing an increase in the number of millennial prenuptial agreements they were drafting.

This indicates that more millennials are understanding these agreements are contracts, but not seeing them as the divorce contracts they were once thought to be. While once people may have thought that these agreements were counting on a divorce, millennials do not seem to think that way.

“The truth is, marriage is a contract,” said Brian W. Reidy of Reidy Law Office LLC. “It is just one that many do not realize they are entering into at the beginning of marriage. The state will determine what each spouse receives in the event of a divorce. Having a prenuptial agreement just allows those involved in the contract to have a say in its final terms. It’s a great move for many millennials.”

It is true that every couple should have several conversations about finances before getting married. Each person should understand the other’s debt, income, assets and more, as it will affect their financial future.

Each person also has the right to protect the things they bring into the marriage.

While a prenuptial agreement may not make sense for every couple, it should at least be considered by all. Those that decide on a prenuptial agreement should always seek the advice of a family lawyer. Each spouse will also need to have their own lawyer that will represent their interests while the contract is drawn up.

Many millennials are finding that love and marriage are of course, very romantic things. At the same time, they are looking for ways to secure the financial future they worked so hard for.

Having a prenuptial agreement beforehand is helping them do it.

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By Veterans Disability Attorney Brendan Garcia of VetLaw

There is no doubt that veterans have an extremely difficult time when they come home from overseas, or anywhere else they serve.

After facing the most extreme conditions, they are then expected to come home and re-enter civilian life. For most, this is challenging at best. It is one of the reasons state and federal governments are constantly trying to improve the lives of veterans upon their return. Now, a new bill enacted earlier this year is going to do just that.

The bill was signed earlier this year, and it specifically looks to help veterans that wish to become entrepreneurs upon their return home. It adds veterans to The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, which allows them to receive surplus property from the federal government.

What is surplus property? Once the government no longer has a need for items such as furnishings, equipment and machinery, they pass it down to entrepreneurs that could use them. Before, female entrepreneurs and minority business owners were given this surplus property in addition to Veteran Service Organizations such as the VFW and the American Legion. Now, any veteran that wishes to become an entrepreneur can also receive the property.

Entrepreneurship is often an ideal situation for veterans. While adjusting to civilian life once again, they can be their own boss, run a business in an industry they love, and acclimate to civilian life at their own pace. This is of huge importance for veterans.

In addition, having more people to give surplus property also saves the federal government millions of dollars. Without it, they would spend a great deal of money on disposing the items, or finding a place to store them.

The other bonus that comes with passing on surplus property is that it helps many business owners, not just veterans, and that boosts the economy and helps create jobs.

Any veteran that thinks they may want to become an entrepreneur and start their own business should speak to the General Services Administration. This is the agency that distributes the surplus property and can provide further information on how veterans can get the help they need to open the doors of their business.

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By Personal Injury Attorney Jeff Shiver of Shiver Hamilton

Ring doorbells were not a hit on the show Shark Tank when inventor Jamie Siminoff first brought his project to the sharks.

However, that did not keep him from launching the product in 2013 and in 2018, Amazon bought his company for $1 billion. Now though, Amazon has had to scurry to fix a security flaw in their Ring doorbells that actually posed a danger to homeowners instead of keeping them safer.

The Ring doorbell is a smart doorbell. When someone is at the door and presses it, the homeowner can see through a camera in the device who rang the bell. The device also allows homeowners to open their door remotely to let someone they know into the home. Recently though, a hack has been exposed that tricks homeowners into letting thieves and criminals into their home.

So, how does the scheme work? Those wishing to interfere with the device hack into a homeowner’s Wifi network at the same time the homeowner is connected. Once connected, the hacker can then see the video and hear the audio that is transmitted from the device.

The element of the hack that is even scarier is that hackers can also insert their own video into the feed. They may use footage of a trusted person ringing the doorbell to get the homeowner to remotely open the door when that trusted person is not actually there.

Instead, the hackers are waiting to be granted entry. The dangers of this type of negligent security are quite clear. If someone’s not in the home, thieves could take whatever they wanted. If someone was in the house, particularly children, the dangers become much greater.

“It is good that Amazon took quick action on this security flaw before anyone was seriously hurt or had their home invaded,” says Jeff Shiver of Shiver Hamilton. “If they had waited much longer, they would have certainly faced lawsuits from homeowners that entrusted both the company and the device with keeping them safe.”

Indeed, Amazon has fixed the device. In their latest software update, they corrected the glitch that allowed hackers into the device. All Ring owners need to do now is update the Ring app. This will install the fix, and keep their home secure.

Amazon recommends installing all updates as soon as they become available to keep Ring doorbells working in the manner they were intended.

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By Immigration Attorney Mario A. Godoy of Godoy Law Office

The U.S. Census is an important document filled out by every person in America.

The census results not only tell lawmakers how many people are in the country, but it also determines the number of seats held in the House of Representatives by each state.

The census is taken once every decade and as the time approaches for the next one, President Donald Trump has made one significant change that some say is simply continuing his war on immigration.

The Trump administration now wishes to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. If this is allowed, along with filling out information such as a name and income levels, a person will also have to state if they are a citizen or a legal or illegal immigrant. Last month, a New York federal judge, Judge Jesse Furman, struck down the ruling, saying it would negatively affect too many states.

Now, it’s up to the Supreme Court to decide if they want the question included.

“This will do nothing but keep non-citizens from taking part in the upcoming census,” says Mario A. Godoy of Godoy Law Office. “That not only means the census results in 2020 are going to be inaccurate, it also means several states will lose seats in the House, along with losing federal funding.”

The state that has the most to lose in terms of seats within the House is California, which would be a major blow to Democrats. When making his ruling on the issue, Judge Furman also states that eight other states, along with D.C., would feel the negative impact. These include Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Washington.

If the citizenship question is allowed on the census, it will be the first time since 1950 that the document asks for this information. However, after Justice Brett Kavanuagh was confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court in the fall of 2018, conservatives currently hold the majority on the bench. That majority likely means that the Supreme Court will overturn Judge Furman’s decision.

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By Personal Injury Attorney Peter Bowman of Billings, Barrett and Bowman, LLC

After two new laws were proposed in Connecticut that would change the state’s helmet laws for motorcyclists, a group of bikers headed to the state’s Capitol in February to oppose at least one of the new laws.

While this is a situation occurring in Connecticut, it has shone a light on the helmet laws for bikers around the country. With the majority of states, 28 in fact, only requiring some motorcyclists to strap on headgear before hitting the road, those in The Constitution State are wondering why their laws need to change.

One of the proposed laws in Connecticut is to increase the required age of younger motorcycle operators and passengers that currently must wear helmets from 17 to 21. The group of bikers that went to the Capitol does not have a problem with this. However, they say that is as much as they are willing to budge when it comes to any new laws.

The other, more hotly contested proposed legislation, would require all bikers in the state to wear a helmet.

“It has been our experience that increasing the following distance, proactive, defensive driving, wearing visible clothes and other safety equipment (jacket, pants, etc.) is the most effective way to be safe on a motorcycle.” says Peter Bowman of Billings, Barrett and Bowman, LLC.

Currently, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Pennsylvania do not require all bikers to wear a helmet. In turn, proponents of the proposed laws pointed to other states that do have universal motorcycle helmet laws. These states include New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and California.

It is worth noting though, that these states have a far denser population, meaning their roads could already be considered more dangerous. That is just not the case in Connecticut.

What it all comes down to, said many of the bikers in attendance, is choice. There are many behaviors that could be described as risky including smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. However, those over the age of 21 are allowed to partake in these activities. Why can that same theory not apply to motorcycle helmets?

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By Family Law Attorney Galit Moskowitz of Moskowitz Law Group, LLC

Divorce is never easy, but when it involves a great amount of wealth, it becomes so much more complicated due to the amount of property that must be divided.

While each divorce is governed by the state it is filed in, there are some complexities anyone with a high net worth, and in the middle of a divorce, will face. In divorce, property is divided in a 50/50 split, or by equitable distribution.

Community states use the straight-down-the-middle formula while equitable distribution states will divide property up fairly, or justly. This does not always mean that it will be split equally, though.

In community states, dividing property evenly in a high net worth divorce is fairly simple, although it does have its own complications. In equitable distribution states, it is a bit more complex. For example, a judge may award one spouse $5 million and the other $10 million, as both amounts provide plenty for a spouse to live off.

“There are many factors judges across the country will take into consideration,” says Galit Moskowitz of Moskowitz Law Group, LLC. “But the one factor that any judge will weigh is the contribution of each spouse to their earnings. If one made the bulk of the income and was highly involved in a business that made most of that income and the other was not, the judge will likely award those with greater involvement more.”

However, complications will still be at play. One similarity all high net worth divorces have is that their assets are complex. It is not merely houses and cars that make up the assets. It is often stocks and shares in companies. When this is the case, those shares are sometimes divided equally.

In other instances, both spouses will co-manage the shares, which can often put investors and corporate directors of the companies at greater ease.

Another commonality in all divorces, no matter where they occur in the country, is that prenuptial agreements supersede any state property division laws. While a judge will still have to determine that a prenuptial agreement is fair and enforceable, whatever the couple outlined when they signed it is how their property will be divided in the end.

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By Criminal Defense Attorney John S. Berry Jr. of Berry Law Firm

Veterans’ benefits are forever changing, and this year some major modifications have been made to the federal program.

The biggest changes affect the GI Bill, Space-A travel, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, reservists’ allowance and the Tricare dental program.

Changes to the GI Bill

The GI Bill is a huge benefit of being in the military, as it helps veterans and their family members with their educational goals. This year Veterans Affairs will give eligible individuals enrolled in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program nine more months of coverage.

The VA may also pay up to $30,000 instead of the nine months. Typically the lesser amount will be paid. To be eligible for these additional months, individuals must have already completed 60-semester or 90-quarter hours in an applicable program. Enrollment in a 128-semester or 192-quarter hours course is also required.

Space-A Travel

Space-A flights allow members of the military, and their families, to travel on military planes and charters when the aircraft has empty seats. In 2019, disabled veterans that have a disability rating of 100 percent are eligible for these flights.

New Addition to Uniform Code of Military Justice

The Uniform Code of Military Justice outlines military law in the United States. Now the Code will include Article 128b, which addresses domestic violence. It will include provisions for assault, intimidation, violation of a protective order, damaging property and injuring animals.

Allowance for Reservists

A new law allows reservists a high-deployment allowance up to $1,000 a month. There are eligibility requirements, such as reservists must be mobilized under Section 1104(b).

Tricare Dental Program Changes

Retired veterans enjoying Tricare coverage should know that the FEDVIP program will replace the Tricare Retiree Dental Plan (TRDO). This change also allows those with family members on active duty access to vision insurance.

“All veterans should know about these changes, to ensure they are taking advantage of all benefits that are available to them,” says John S. Berry, Jr. of Berry Law. “It is also important veterans understand that while these are federal changes, they should also investigate the many changes occurring at the state level across the country.”

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By Criminal Defense Attorney Shawn Sukumar of Price Benowitz LLP

As legalization of medical and recreational marijuana continues to spread throughout many states, a major alcohol association has appealed to Congress to legalize the drug federally.

It was in late November 2018 that the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) appeared on Capitol Hill. They had been fighting for federal legalization of marijuana since July, but went one step further when they appealed to lawmakers and congressional staff in the nation’s capital.

The WSWA pointed to the fact that federal legalization would prevent the diversion of marijuana to other states. That is something lawmakers are currently trying to combat, as those in nearby states that have not yet legalized marijuana travel to states that have and bring it home.

During the meeting, the development of technologies that could detect drivers under the influence of marijuana was also discussed. By implementing new driving standards that would correspond with legalization, the association argued that it would not be a threat to the general public.

“It simply does not make sense that marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug at the federal level,” says Shawn Sukumar, Washington D.C. criminal defense attorney. “It does not have the harmful effects of LSD or heroin, yet it is classified as being the same.”

Some at the briefing by WSWA criticized the group. This was due to a suggestion that the alcohol industry simply wanted marijuana legalized so they could sell it, and therefore reap the profits that could be distributed to other businesses. WSWA was adamant though, that was not the case.

Instead, the association provided many other benefits that legalizing marijuana federally would bring. These included keeping marijuana out of the hands of underage individuals and increasing the safety of marijuana. The association also argued that legalizing cannabis throughout the entire country would also allow all states to reap the tax benefits of selling the drug.

There was no word after the briefing on how WSWA’s presentation was received by lawmakers. However, with this first step, it is possible that more major associations could follow in WSWA footsteps.

If that happens, legislators may begin to feel the pressure. That ultimately could lead to marijuana being federally legalized, and fewer innocent people being convicted.

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