This week’s question comes from Nathan P. from San Carlos who asks: “My wife died suddenly. We were separated at the time of her death but hadn’t filed any kind of papers. We were just taking some time to figure out where we were at and where we were going after 20 years of being married. We had two children, aged 10 and 14. My 14-year-old son died in the same accident. I always told my wife that she needed to draft a will, but she believed doing so could invite death, so she has no will. Her mother is angry with me for our separation and is stating that she should get all her assets and the value of her share of our home which we owned jointly. What happens when someone dies without a will?”
This week’s question comes from Lionel T. from South San Francisco who writes:
“I went shopping at a major retailer in a mall with a friend of mine. We are young and he was being uncool and he took a cheap piece of jewelry for his girl and didn’t pay for it. He walked out and the alarms went off. He took off and security chased him while another one grabbed me in front of some nearby classmates. I hadn’t done anything. I told them to let me go and they told me to come with them and led me into a back room and told me to empty my pockets. I did, and I didn’t have anything stolen on me. They then told me to call my friend and get him to come back. I said no. They told me that they would call the police and tell them that I stole something.
I said I didn’t do anything and let me go. They said no and I walked to the door and a guard stepped between me and the door. After a while they called the store manager who came in. I explained that I had nothing to do with any theft and he told the guards to let me go. I feel they did me wrong. Do I have a case?”
Kim M. from Pacific Heights asks: “I want to get my daughter a gift card for the holiday, but I have heard that they have fees and expiration dates that can result in the card losing most or all its value. What is the law regarding these gift cards?”
Gift cards can be good for the retailer and the receiver. The receiver can take advantage of the after-Christmas sales to get more for his or her money, and the retailers get cash upfront without reducing inventory. These cards used to be more of a benefit for retailers, but the California Legislature, in combination with certain consumer-rights groups, has enacted legislation designed to protect consumers.
Recently a judge asked me to republish the following article about jury service.
Bryan L. From Oakland asks; “How do I get out of jury duty.”
Dear Bryan; seriously, shame on you. Simple answer, DON’T.
One sure way to get out of being on a jury is to be a criminal defendant- then you don’t have to sit on a jury and, at the same time, you will hope to God that you will have a group of people who didn’t try and evade their civic responsibility who can sit and fairly hear your case and defense. Another way is become a convicted felon and be deprived of your constitutional rights such as bearing arms, being free from unlawful search and seizure and the ability to sit on a jury or vote.
Jim J from the Excelsior asks: “My neighbor died. She was such a nice lady I miss her and I also miss how she used to care for her yard. Her son inherited the place,he was never any good to her and was always trouble growing up. He hasn’t gotten any better with age. Since he moved in he has been “collecting things” mostly old cars but also tires, rims and other auto parts. He uses the garage to fix up old cars that he then sells. Most of the junk just stays there and rusts. It’s a scrap yard. Weeds are growing and I have seen rats running in and out. It’s disgusting. What can I do about it?”
This week’s question comes from Shelia D in South City who asks: “I am really upset about what my uncle recently did. He had, since I was young, promised me that he would give me his Camaro when he got a new car. He got a new car and, instead of giving his old car to me, he gave it to his son who he just made up with after years of hating each other. I feel that the car should be mine. Can I do anything to get the car?”
This week’s question comes from James Q., in Orinda who asks; “I voted for the legalization marijuana in the last election. I want to know about what the rules are? How much can I have? How much can I grow? Can I be fired for smoking pot off the job? I can drink while I’m not on duty. Can I smoke or can they still drug test me and fire me?”
James, Proposition 64, officially known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, is a complicated set of new regulations. Many people assumed it simply authorized the sale and use of marijuana. While that is true, there is much more to the law only a bit of which I can cover here.
Today, I will address a few questions that I have received by email or have been posted on the Dolan Law Firm’s Facebook page, and tell you about a scholarship program we have launched.
With the Presidential and statewide election set for next Tuesday, I have been asked how does California’s Time Off To Vote Law work.
This week’s question comes from Jane in San Francisco who writes: “I am pestered from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. by “robocalls” that have no person on the line when I say hello even though I am on the “do not call list”. The numbers they call from are either blocked or not functional when I try to call them back. Help! Is this legal?
Jane, every reader of The Examiner, including myself, feels your frustration. These calls are not legal. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and subsequent federal legislation, including the Do Not Call Implementation Act of 2003, “robocalls” or prerecorded telemarketing messages are illegal unless you have given the company written permission to call you. The prohibition also covers text messages to wireless numbers.
This week’s question comes from Joel F. in Berkeley who asks: “I read your article last week on Apple’s objection to the FBI demanding that they build a back door to the IPhone operating system to bypass the encryption on the phone of the San Bernardino shooter. What rights do I have over my IPhone if a cop demands that I unlock my phone and show it to him?”
Joel, your question is very timely and shows how the interpretation of our constitutional rights to privacy must constantly evolve to keep up with technology.