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Study finds judges biased against black defendants

Some black defendants might be more likely to go to jail while awaiting a court hearing in Ohio or in other states compared to white defendants. This was the conclusion of a study that will appear in The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

The study examined tens of thousands of cases over a number of years in Philadelphia County and Miami-Dade County and found that on average, the bail for black defendants was more than $7,000 higher than it was for white defendants. This can be a factor in who stays in jail prior to a trial since some defendants may be unable to pay the bail amount. Black defendants had a 2.4 percent higher chance of staying in jail than white defendants prior to the court hearing.

Social consequences of an underage OVI

Although the legal drinking age is 21, plenty of teenagers find ways to obtain alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 230,000 teenagers had to go to the emergency room for injuries sustained while operating a vehicle intoxicated.

In addition to the legal consequences of an Ohio OVI, such as fines and jail time, teenagers can face various other consequences. A teen's entire social life can be up in the air due to one mistake. 

Preparing for retirement after a divorce

It has been widely reported in Ohio and around the country that many people are financially unprepared for retirement, but figures from the Center for Retirement Research reveal that divorced individuals are in an even more precarious position. The CRR developed a retirement risk index in 2006 to find out how many households will be able to maintain their standards of living during retirement, and they discovered that the risk factor for divorced spouses was 7 percent higher than the population as a whole.

Experts say that this is due to the financial adjustments that divorced spouses must make. Married couples are able to share household expenses while they save for retirement, but divorced individuals must often meet these obligations from a single paycheck. Catching up on their retirement savings can be especially difficult for people who divorce later in life, which is concerning because the divorce rate among persons aged 50 or older has more than doubled since 1990.

Marijuana laws in flux in Ohio

While Ohio's marijuana laws have loosened in recent years along with many other states across the country, the federal government still considers sale, possession and trafficking of marijuana to be illegal across the country. A growing number of states have also legalized medical marijuana, including Ohio. While dispensaries have not been established in the state, people who are eligible for medical marijuana can receive a patient identification card which can help to establish a defense in case a person is charged with a marijuana offense.

Under current law, the possession of fewer than 100 grams of cannabis is considered a minor misdemeanor in Ohio, as is the transfer of fewer than 20 grams. While a person cannot be sent to jail on this type of drug charge, they could face a driver's license suspension or up to $150 in fines. However, possession of over 200 grams of marijuana or selling or transferring over 20 grams could result in felony charges.

U.S. Supreme Court limits Fourth Amendment vehicle exception

The Fourth Amendment provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure, but police officers in Ohio and around the country are permitted to conduct warrantless searches in certain situations. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1925 that police could search a motor vehicle without first obtaining a search warrant provided they have probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal activity will be discovered. The nation's highest court issued another ruling on May 29 that clarified the scope of this exception.

The case involved a Virginia man who was convicted of receiving stolen property after police discovered a motorcycle at a Charlottesville residence. The man appealed his conviction because the police officers involved did not obtain a search warrant. Police found the motorcycle parked just a few feet from the residence and covered with a tarpaulin. Officers made the discovery while looking for a motorcycle that had been used to evade law enforcement on two occasions.

Parents can consider college costs when planning for divorce

Planning for a child's college education can seem difficult and out of reach for Ohio parents, a problem that can be magnified in the case of divorce. University fees rise each year; in fact, the College Board estimates that the cost of attending college rises annually by 3 percent, an amount that can make a significant difference when dealing with tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees. While parents may work to develop a plan for their child's education, it is very rare for such a plan to include contingencies in the case of divorce.

While around 40 percent of marriages across the country end in divorce, over two-thirds of married couples do not have a financial plan in case of divorce or widowhood. Of course, college expenses can be a major part of a financial plan for any family with children looking forward to future university attendance. Including tuition, fees and room and board, annual costs to attend a private university are an average of $46,950, while the same costs at a public university are $20,770 each year.

Pitfalls of agreeing to pay college support when marriage ends

You are getting a divorce or marriage dissolution and have a 13-year-old and a 5-year-old. Your spouse wants the agreement to include a provision dealing with college support. He or she puts forth good reasons for doing so, but committing to that makes you nervous.

The reality is that you do have good reasons to be nervous. Agreeing to pay some college support when your children are still far from college can be risky.

Divorce can cause problems with other children's parents

When Ohio parents get divorced, they are still responsible for raising their children. Part of raising a child is working with other parents to schedule play dates and other activities that the children can take part in together. In some cases, parents may struggle to develop relationships with other mothers and fathers, which could have an impact on a child's social life.

The key to resolving the issue could be developing a better relationship with the child's other parent. This is because some may view one person as a pariah after a marriage ends. By showing that there are no lingering bad feelings between a former couple, others may let go of their negative viewpoints as well. Talking to a former spouse may also allow a parent to better understand if other issues are causing the other adults to shy away from that individual.

TV personality goes to rehab after DUI crash

Ohio residents may recognize Steve Wilkos from his time on "The Jerry Springer Show". In January, he crashed his car while driving under the influence of alcohol. He initially claimed that he was looking for his glasses at the time of the accident. However, an investigation determined that alcohol caused the crash that left Wilkos injured.

There were no details as to how that determination was made. If he completes an alcohol education program, the charge will be removed from his record. The program lasts for 15 weeks, and he will take part in a panel involving victims of drunk driving. In addition to the education program, Wilkos said that he went through a rehab program in an effort to better handle his alcohol addiction.

Mediation can help divorcing spouses when negotiations stall

Negotiating divorce settlements in Ohio and around the country involves tackling some delicate and potentially contentious matters. Discussing issues like spousal support and property division can be difficult when spouses harbor animosity toward one another or the marital estate is complex, but leaving these matters for a judge to decide involves taking risks and airing grievances in public. Resolving civil matters in court can also be expensive, but there are alternative approaches to dispute resolution that could help spouses to reach amicable agreements even in situations where protracted litigation seems inevitable.

Divorcing spouses may agree to mediation voluntarily, or it may be ordered by a judge. Courts are more likely to order mediation when young children are involved and divorcing spouses are unable to reach an agreement concerning custody and visitation. Judges see mediation as being particularly useful in family law disputes because the parties involved will often continue to have a relationship after their legal issues have been resolved.

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