Sunday, June 29, 2008

Assisted Suicide

Caution on right to die
Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2008, at M2.

Re "A personal battle over right to die," June 22

If the issue of assisted suicide was simply about autonomy, personal choice and respect, then it would be an easy call: Let the terminally ill die with dignity. Unfortunately, other influences could affect this choice.

Insurance companies could have an incentive to "assist" terminally ill patients end their suffering. It is no doubt cheaper to prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturates than to manage a patient's suffering for months or years. Also, there could be self-imposed pressure to "choose" death to reduce the financial burden and, possibly, maximize inheritance.

Any assisted-suicide law must be carefully drafted to minimize the risk of outside influence.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Passport release article revisited

Passport Release
Riverside Lawyer, July 2008, at 10.

An updated version of my "expert advice" column, "No Pay, No International Play," originally published in California Lawyer magazine in Sept. 2005, was published in this month's Riverside Lawyer. In addition to updating the article, I also included an insert discussing other changes to federal law affecting child support.

Here is the full text of the insert:

Recent Changes to Federal Laws
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act – Servicemembers who enter active duty status may be eligible to have the interest on their pre-active duty debt reduced to 6 percent. 50 App. U.S.C. § 527 (see also Cal.Fam.Code §§ 3651(c)(4) (“ . . . no interest shall accrue on that amount of a child support obligation that would not have become due and owing if the activated service member modified his or her support order upon activation to reflect the change in income due to activation”), 3653 (court has discretion to consider activation date in setting commencement date of any modification), 17440, 17560(f)(1)(B)(client should be referred to the local child support agency for a compromise if welfare arrears owing are “as a result a decrease in income when an obligor” entered active duty).

Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 – The automatic stay no longer applies to collection of “domestic support orders” for cases filed on or after October 17, 2005. 11 U.S.C. § 362(b).

Citation to unpublished decisions – Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1 has been amended to require all federal appeals courts (and presumably district courts) to allow citation to their own unpublished (or nonprecedential) opinions issued on or after January 1, 2007. Limitations: only opinions issued on or after January 1, 2007 can be cited and, practically speaking, they are still non-precedential, i.e., one would only cite such a case in the absence of a published opinion on point.