Weed Fracking

L-Town is in the news again with passage of Ballot Question 300, which bans fracking. I get that Longmont is taking a stand, but one wonders how many lawsuits the city can handle. Gov. Hickenlooper said that the state would likely sue the city again.

The same could be said for Amendment 64 (legalization of marijuana), although the risk of the Feds arresting people smoking a joint in a park are near zero. Commercial dispensaries, though, are much more at risk.

It’ll be interesting to see how these two preemption issues unfold.

Ballot Question 300: Longmont fracking ban storms to victory – Longmont Times-Call.

Founding Fathers on Election Day 2012

Today is election day. People will be up through the night awaiting the results. We’re unlikely to know who will be president until tomorrow, at the earliest. I assume the same was true for elections held at the infancy of this country. The similarities and, especially, differences between the election landscape now compared to 1787 are fascinating if you consider what the Founding Fathers would make of the world today.

Think of how each of us consumes the information that presumably goes into the matrix of how we now decide to vote. We check our Facebook accounts and are inundated with small bits of info from friends across the country (and sometimes world) as well as “sponsored” posts from various interested parties. We are influenced, albeit nominally, when our good friend changes his profile picture to support a particular candidate. We are asked by a candidate to remind our social network to vote. A quick check of the morning news on television is marred by mostly ominous and apocalyptic political ads. Maps colored in blue and red flash before our eyes constantly; a serious news story is now about the latest poll.

These campaigns know where we live, what we search for on Google or music we listen to on Spotify/Pandora, when we watch television or check the news online, and use that information to further their agenda. Some would call that manipulation, others may see that as simple human advancement. Whatever you call it, the Founding Fathers likely wouldn’t recognize many facets of our political discourse. The debate of Big vs Small Government remains intact, but the multitude of ways that discussion is conducted has grown exponentially and morphed into something of its own.

Would Thomas Jefferson have more Twitter followers than George Washington? How would Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and/or John Jay tweet? Would anonymous comments be allowed for Federalist No. 10 online? What filter would Ben Franklin use on a picture of the signing of the Constitution for Instagram? Thoughts on whether John Adams would go negative in TV ads? These questions and others are interesting to think about as we march toward the end of the current election cycle.

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Update: Looks like I’m not the only one thinking about what the Founders would think of today’s election.

IRMO Wiggins: Clarifying Procedures for Subpoena Duces Tecums

The Colorado Supreme Court recently clarified the requirements and proper procedure for the issuance of subpoenas under Rule 45 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure in In re Marriage of Wiggins, 2012 CO 44. A party to a lawsuit may invoke the subpoena power of the court to require the attendance of a witness at a deposition, hearing or trial, and to acquire documents from that witness. A subpoena ordering a witness to produce documents is called a subpoena duces tecum, which is a Latin phrase meaning “bring with you under penalty of punishment.”

In Wiggins, the attorney for a husband involved in a divorce obtained sensitive documents from the wife’s former employer via a subpoena duces tecum without advance notice to the wife. Because the wife and her attorney were not provided notice, they could not object to the production of sensitive and potentially confidential documents. The court in Wiggins analyzed whether a witness may produce documents in advance of the time and place specified in a subpoena duces tecum.

Many attorneys erroneously believe that they can serve a subpoena duces tecum on a witness and obtain documents before ever notifying the other party.  This common practice is especially problematic in family law cases where parties can potentially inquire into topics ranging from the adverse party’s mental and physical health or income and assets. As a result, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”) filed an amicus curie brief in Wiggins arguing that Rule 45 prohibited a party from obtaining documents in lieu of a witness appearing at a deposition, hearing or trial except upon agreement of all interested parties. The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with the AAML and unequivocally held that documents are to be produced only at a deposition, hearing or trial specified in a subpoena duces tecum unless the subpoenaed witness and all interested parties agree to alternate arrangement.

529 College Plans

Morningstar recently issued a report for 529 college savings plans, including two in Colorado that earned a “bronze medal.” These plans are great vehicles for parents to save money for their children’s post-secondary education costs. The number “529” is in reference to the applicable IRS tax code provision. For more info on 529 plans, see here.

Morningstar Ratings for College Savings Plans

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