DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

February 13, 2014

About the Law: Burning questions

About the Law
Andrew Myers

---- — Three issues are burning a hole on my desk this week:

First: Have you ever flashed your headlights after passing a speed trap to warn oncoming motorists? Did you feel guilty about it?

According to at least one federal court, the practice does not violate the law. A driver by the name of Michael Elli was stopped for doing just that and was slapped with a $1,000 ticket. The local judge upheld the ticket, making a comment about obstruction of justice.

The driver appealed, on constitutional grounds, to the Federal District Court of Missouri. In the case of Elli v. City of Ellisville, decided Feb. 3, the court called the ticket “retaliation” for the driver having engaged in expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.

Second: Bankruptcy filings are down 13 percent from one year ago. The National Bankruptcy Institute bases that statistic on the number of filings in January 2014 compared to January 2013. That’s good news for the economy.

But one company that just filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy: Hot Dog on A Stick, the California- based chain of shopping mall fast food stands. The company, which operates largely on the West Coast and the Midwest, is known for impaled corn dogs and employees dressed in 1960s style brightly colored, striped uniforms.

Despite reducing the workforce and attempting to cut costs, the company faced catastrophic debt. Under Chapter 11, the company plans to keep the food court shops open so it can reorganize and restructure its business.

Third: Am I the only one or is spam increasing? The annoying email solicitations, which can carry viruses or a doorway to exponentially more junk email, are targeted to everyone, even attorneys.

I constantly receive bogus “Official Court Notices” to appear and file papers in cases I have nothing to do with. One clue is that the phony emails look nothing like the actual electronic notices attorneys receive informing us of events in our cases. The other tipoff is that I recently got a notice to appear immediately in “The Court of Washington.” It didn’t say whether they meant the state or the District of Columbia.

Hey, guys, I don’t practice in either one. But, the spam is so pervasive that bar authorities in both of the states in which I do practice, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, have issued warnings about this.

In 2003, Congress passed the so-called “CAN-SPAM” Act, intending to reduce the barrage of unwanted email. As the U.S. business briefing service Mondaq has observed, that law has gone largely unenforced, amounting to a virtual failure.

Send your legal questions to the email below, and next time I’ll comment on your issues, and not my own burning issues.

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Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to andrew@attorney-myers.com.