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Questions in the Law & Government category.
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June 29

Explain reparations to me like I'm an alien
I've been trying to follow the reparations debate, particularly as referenced in The Atlantic in the last few months, but I find that it's largely targeted at convincing readers of the injustices suffered by African Americans...which I don't just accept, I take for granted. That said, I don't understand the practical case for reparations, EXCEPT in terms of community rehabilitation. In scanning the wikipedia page, I felt like the practical reasons against were even more compelling. Here I'm speaking of US government taxpayer-funded reparations for slavery etc. I list the following reasons I don't see how reparations could be a good idea, and hopefully someone can explain what points I'm missing. [more inside]
posted by sarahkeebs at 9:10 AM - 11 answers

June 28

How do I get my money from class-action lawsuit after settlement?
A few months ago, I joined a class of plaintiffs in the High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation. The defendants settled a month ago. When do I get my money? [more inside]
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:53 AM - 9 answers

June 27

Is 'illegal downloading' an actual crime in the UK?
I live in the US and have followed the RIAA/MPAA suits closely. Over the years I have heard British news agencies report such-and-such as being charged with illegal downloading and wondered if that were even possible. [more inside]
posted by Quarter Pincher at 2:00 PM - 4 answers

Business correspondence via SMS
The management software my company uses recently added the ability to send messages via SMS to our clientele. We've signed up and it's tested well, but we're not clear on the legality of sending business correspondence messages (no marketing, simply "Your rent is due, please call # or pay online @ oursite.com/pay") without the client expressly opting in for SMS messaging. Do we need to have everyone opt-in or are non-marketing messages for the purpose of communicating legitimate business notices exempt? [more inside]
posted by dozo at 12:03 PM - 21 answers

Social security filter: back-pay now being an overpayment. Options?
SSI gave me 3 months of backpay and now is reversing course, saying I owe them, freezing my SSI payments. I've got a tight timeframe, not sure what to do to navigate this. Snowflake details under the fold. [more inside]
posted by dubious_dude at 10:09 AM - 7 answers

June 26

How to deal with a landlady who wants to keep an entire security deposit
On June 1, I gave month’s notice for an apartment I’ve been living in for ten years (I’m in California). I had a month-to-month lease and was never late with rent. Until now, I’ve had a cordial relationship with my landlady. When I gave her my notice, she called and said that she was going to keep my entire security deposit ($950). This came out of the blue. She claims it was for two things. A few months back, she replaced my stovetop. There was nothing wrong with it and I hadn’t asked her to replace it. [more inside]
posted by holdenjordahl at 3:39 PM - 20 answers

June 25

Whoops. Condo Board Renovation Issues
I own a small condo apartment. In December, I contacted the condo board to ask for information about how to proceed with changing my floating floor because I had a 6'X6' section of damaged flooring (just from 7 years of wear and tear... the original materials were really really shoddy). A representative responded immediately and gave me the material specifications and informed me that I would need to obtain authorization before proceeding with the work. I didn't proceed with the work at the time... [more inside]
posted by anonymous at 6:52 PM - 7 answers

What to Do When Job Requirements Change
I'm open to all suggestions on this. I started a new job in January, one that requires me to write press releases, take photos, etc. Today, the boss, who is not my biggest fan, announced to our little group that whoever is assigned to take photos will also have to shoot video at the same event, [more inside]
posted by etaoin at 5:41 PM - 5 answers

What counts as "unlawful conduct"?
I'm a reference for a friend who is applying for a license to practice law. The reference form asks me whether my friend has ever "been arrested, or engaged in unlawful conduct". My friend has not, to my knowledge, ever been arrested (or had any other trouble with the law), but like most people consumed alcohol before the age of 21, jaywalks, downloaded music as a teen, etc. Nothing serious at all. What should I say? [more inside]
posted by Cygnet at 5:07 PM - 17 answers

Prospects for UK law grad in the US?
I currently attend a top 2 law school in the UK (no prize for guessing which), and am interested in working in the US after I graduate. While I am aware that I will be eligible to take the bar exam in NY and California with a degree from a common law jurisdiction, would my prospects of landing a law firm gig be appreciably augmented if I go for an LLM (or perhaps even a JD) at a US law school? [more inside]
posted by AtavisticApple at 5:42 AM - 4 answers

June 24

Experiences at Small Claims Court in San Francisco
We moved out of our rental house and our property owner is refusing to return our full deposit or interest earned over the 9.5 years we lived there. What are our chances of winning in small claims court? A wall of snowflakes falling inside. [more inside]
posted by mamabear at 6:09 PM - 11 answers

Why would police need my birthday?
I just called up the non-emergency police station in a suburb in Long Island to report some keys I found, and upon the police coming by to pick them up, the officer asked me for my name and birthday. I was caught off guard and gave the information to the officer. While I'm sure the information is certainly not difficult to find in other ways, is there any reason I should be concerned?
posted by jangie at 5:04 PM - 9 answers

Historic Supreme Court voting records
I'd like to have a list of every US Supreme Court decision ever, including which justices voted how. I'd like the list to be easily parsable by a computer program. Details and alternatively acceptable things inside. [more inside]
posted by Flunkie at 2:02 PM - 3 answers

Is it legal in NYC to charge tenants for repairs to building?
My NYC apartment management company is charging tenants for repairs to the roof and outside of the building (the facade). These are not improvements to the units, but to the building. The repairs were finished earlier this year. My apartment is rent stabilized. As I understand it, my next rent invoice will show an extra payment due for these repairs -- although I do not know what the fee will be yet. Before I call 311 and complain, is it legal to charge tenants for building improvements? Thanks in advance!
posted by quixotictic at 11:35 AM - 14 answers

June 23

The Case for Welfare
Can someone help me find well-researched academic or think tank articles that challenge the position that current US welfare spending is a disincentive to work? I am specifically asking about debate over actual real levels of benefits in various states in the USA, not other countries or welfare as an abstract ideal. I'm looking something that engages with the basic argument of this CATO whitepaper. [more inside]
posted by Wretch729 at 10:02 AM - 9 answers

Need to find information regarding homicides perpetrated in 2013
Please help me find information regarding homicides perpetrated in 2013, either nationally or at the state level. I am compiling information on LGBTQ victims of intimate partner violence related homicides, and I need to find all of these types of homicides that occurred in 2013. Websites listing all homicides are definitely also welcome in addition to intimate partner/domestic violence related homicide websites. These two sites are examples of what I need: North Carolina and Washington.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 8:08 AM - 5 answers

June 22

Rent question (grace period falls on holiday) Oregon
My friend rents an apartment. According to the lease he signed there is a 4 day grace period before his rent is considered late. (He sometimes pays on the 4th of the month because of when he is paid). This month the grace period involves the July 4 holiday. [more inside]
posted by naplesyellow at 11:12 AM - 18 answers

June 21

Why does health club agreement waive my litigation rights?
The "health club" in my apt. building (some free weights, a few weight machines, treadmills, ellipticals) requires tenants to sign an agreement, the first two clauses of which involve litigation: The first says, paraphrasing, I hereby release, waive, discharge and covenant not to sue the management co., owners, employees, etc. from all liability to me and anyone with me for any loss or damage on account of my injury or death caused by the exercise equipment, negligence of the company, etc. [more inside]
posted by the sobsister at 11:30 AM - 9 answers

June 20

Is there a money owed here?
How to get those health care dollars? [more inside]
posted by Qberting at 12:57 PM - 4 answers

June 19

Cleaning up the massive mess the ex left
So, the ex just went to prison for 2 years, non-parole period of 1 for a despicable crime, that like everything else, he lied about - and I wouldn't be bothered except he's left a mess behind for his kids, my kids, nice young adults on limited incomes. [more inside]
posted by b33j at 10:29 AM - 48 answers

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