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Can I Call Witnesses in Small Claims Court? And More Legal Q&A – Free Joe 11/30/12

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On Tuesdays and Fridays, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss the last Free Joe? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Lou: Can a person call witnesses in a small claims court senario?

Joe Escalante: These rules vary by state, but in California, yes. You can issue subpoenas for documents and witnesses. It’s just a form. You serve it, and they have to appear. Cool, right? Or if they like you, they will just show up without a subpoena.

Jesse: how do you change your name?

Joe Escalante: You file some papers with the court. You place an ad that no one reads in some dumb local paper that only exists because of the law demanding these dumb ads. If no one challenges it and the court believes you are not trying to change it to harm anyone or avoid responsibilities of some kind, you get approval to change your name. Then you go to the department of vital records in your county and change your birth certificate. This is how people do it in my county anyway. Click below to see how Legalzoom can help you do this without making a mess of everything.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Jesse:

Loudine: Hi,
I’m trying to start a nonprofit organization What are the steps I have to take?

Joe Escalante: This is not easy. I would read this book from the Nolo Press. However, this book comes with the standard non-profit package that Legalzoom offers for this service. I used it once and it worked for me.

LegalZoom: You can also check out our education center for more info on starting a nonprofit:

Kat: What can I do after a failed attempt to dismiss a no good lawyer who will not drop a lien on my slip & fall case that prevents me from seeking any other help from other lawyers that will not take case under this circumstance and the Bar even informed to no avail and the statue of limitations is running out in a few months?

Joe Escalante: You have to pay the first lawyer or no other will take your case.

Andrew: Will credit reports from Canada effect a U.S. credit report? (Payment history, credit applications, bankruptcy, etc)

Joe Escalante: According to what I’ve been able to discover, it’s not common for them to share info unless info is requested by the other country’s credit reporting agencies. However, if you have debts from a company that has substantial business in Canada, they are likely to figure it out.

Ralph: I know this is a bit unorthodox for a message but under the circumstances, I need to reach out anyway. I have been served (FINALLY) by my (what I call my X wife as she left me 2 1/2 years ago!) with divorce papers. No problem with the division of physical assets as she already took them when she moved out of our house (which was in HER name by the way) and at any rate, I DO have an issue with her asking for maintainence. She is living with her mom and will inherit that home and pays nothing to live there…she works at Target and has for almost 2 years. I am on a social security disability and can little afford to give her anything! At any rate, I am in Dupage County, Illinois and wonder if you know of any decent pro bono lawyers who may help me out OR, if there is one that would be good enough to fight this and take a deferred fee. Any help would be appreciated as I KNOW her mom is paying for her lawyer and they have nothing to lose by asking for alimony but seeing as she moved out on me and took everything, I really don’t feel I owe her anything. HELP please…

Joe Escalante: I don’t have any lawyer recommendations. Divorce lawyers don’t work like that. They work for the people with cash. However, I can tell you that she will have to prove that she has expenses that need to be maintained. Get some proof that she doesn’t pay rent, etc. That will come in handy down the line.

KC: Well here is another question for Attorney Joe (If I ask anymore I’m sure you’re going to ask for a retainer).

What classes do you recommenced that an undergrad take to help them score better on LSAT’s, to prepare them to soar above their class in law school, and most importantly actually help make one a good attorney once they pass the bar?

KC: Also yesterday I posed a question to the Corporate Tax Network
“Can the California Franchise Tax Board really get away with Levying the bank account of a person who has been on SSI/SSDI for outstanding fines?”
Here was their response, “Corporate Tax Network Hi, this is a great legal question. I would recommend that you post this question during Free Joe, tomorrow.”

Joe Escalante: Regarding the California tax question, the answer is of course yes. They do whatever they want. They can’t starve you to death but they can make you prove you need the money in your bank account to eat.
Question 2: There are no college courses that prepare you for that thing. However, make sure you take a good LSAT prep course. The key is to take lots of timed practice tests. Don’t skimp on the course.

Chris: How does a las Vegas gaming company hire 80% of it’s people from Muncton, Canada…giving these people VISA’s to work here and hurting Amercan jobs? You mean they can’t find qualified people in Las Vegas? This is not right. I thought work Visa’s are only given when you can’t find people here to do the job. This is just another example of why we have the highest unemployment here. Companies like Spielo International, either hiring people from Scottsdale Arizona and especially Muncton, Canada.

Joe Escalante: Sounds like good old fashioned corruption to me. Someone should clean up that town.

Dave: If you have capital gains will charitable deductions overcome the tax on the gains?

Joe Escalante: That’s a tax question Dave. Please post it for Gary on Thursdays. That’s his thing.

LegalZoom: Here are the details for Ask the Tax Pro, Dave:

Shantel: My daughter is 22 her and her boyfriend had a baby who is 2 years old now, they lived here with me in my home, a couple of months ago he threatened my daughter and my son who is17 and then moved out, now that she is seeing someone else he insists that in addition to his friday nights, it is his right to come sit in our home to see the boy 2 days a week, this is to inconvience her and the new boyfriend, since he now wants her back the new one is very cooperative in this situation but letting him come in and sit in our home 2 days a week shouldnt be allowed he is being ridiculous, we live in MO. does he have this right, they were never married, and he didnt show this much interest till she told him she didnt want him back.

Joe Escalante: Most people in this situation seek a court approved custody agreement. A judge needs to get involved here to determine what is in the best interest of the child. So far, it looks like neither party are worried about that. With a court order, it is more clear and a violation is considered contempt of a court order and there are strict penalties.

Pamela: I am looking for the best attorney to handle a Federal EEO case in Federal court. I am located in northern Alabama. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Joe Escalante: Sorry. I don’t have any recommendations for that. If you can’t get any personal referrals you’re going to have to check with the State Bar Association.

Kiyomi: Where can I find out information about statute of limitations. I am trying to rebuild my credit and I have old debt on my credit from over 5 years ago.

Joe Escalante: You still owe the money, but after 4 years, in Nevada, they will not be able to take you to court to get it back. I’m pretty sure it’s still 4 years in Nevada.

Joshua: What is the proper way to wind down a company?

Joe Escalante: It depends on the type of entity but Legalzoom has a service for this, and some free info. Check below:

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Joshua:

Ricky: I have been apart from my wife for over 13yrs and she either tears up the papers or just won’t sign them she is in ks i think and i’m in ky any advice to get her to geta divorce without her around

Joe Escalante: You file for divorce, you publish the hearing date in the required manor, you serve her. If she doesn’t reply, you can get a contested divorce by default. You have to file in a place where they have jurisdiction over her. So it would be best to file where she lives, or where there is evidence that she has lived recently.

Neicy: After my divorce i was told my last name will have to be changed back to my maiden name, but i never did it. Is it too late to change?? If not, how do i change it? ive been divorced for 3 years.

Joe Escalante: Legally, don’t have to change it. But if you want to change it, it’s never too late. Click below for some name changing info from Legalzoom.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Neicy:

Donald: If the SCOTUS rules that section 3 of The Federal Defense of Marriage Act violates the United States Constitution, how soon would I be able to sponsor my spouse for a green card?

Joe Escalante: If you were validly married in one of the states that allows same sex marriages, it would seem to me, that once the Supreme Court determines that the federal government must recognize this, you should be able to apply immediately.

Dianne: Is there a specific document a settlor should use/must use, to remove a beneficiary from his trust? California trust. Or can the settlor simply write something, date it, sign it, witnessed by signature, and have it notarized, and added to the trust. In case he changes his mind later. Also, is it necessary to have it notarized?

Joe Escalante: There is not a specific document but most trusts have language dictating how it may be amended. It is not a legal requirement to have amendments notarized.

Erin: How stringent are copyright issues on images on the internet? For example, if I take a photo from a Google search and I put it on my own social media (e.g., Facebook, Pinterest), is there a copyright issue there?

Joe Escalante: Yes. Google “Getty Images Lawsuit” and you will see what risks you are taking by posting other people’s copyrighted images on your site willy-nilly. Listen to my radio show.One of them is on right now. This is all we talk about. .

Patricia: I work in a nursing home. Can my employer force me to stay over and then cut my hours to avoid the overtime? I am a CNA in the state of Illinois.

Joe Escalante: This is one of those things that should be reported to the State Labor Commission. Let them know this is going on.

Rodney: How can I get a lawyer to defend me when I have zero dollars? My pd left me hanging now I have warrents.. I’m mentally and physically disabled and I don’t know where to turn..

Joe Escalante: If you are accused of a felony, you have the right to a court appointed attorney.

Angela: I dont know if this applies here, but i need some advice about an employer. I live in WI. I was employed as a waitress in a local restaurant. I was only there for two months. I was taken off the schedule completly. When i asked why, i was lied to and told that it was a scheduling error and itwould be taken care of. After calling repeatedly and no one returning my calls, i finally managed to get through and was told i was fired for “poor waitressing skills” and “customer complaints”. They had never discussed these so called complaints with me and i never signed termination papers or anything. Is this even legal? Also, someone told me that if you are fired, the company must give you your last check upon termination? I never heard of this (or gotten fired) before…

Joe Escalante: It varies by state, but yes, in some circumstances they are supposed to give you your final check within a certain amount of time. Other than that, they can fire you if you don’t have a contract. Check with the state labor commission to see if they violated any of these rules.

LegalZoom: That’s a wrap for this week’s legal Q&A! Attorney Joe Escalante will be back next week to answer your legal questions. Join us then!

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December 4th, 2012 at 5:25 am