CHILD’S PREFERENCE IN CUSTODY LITIGATION: LEGAL ELEMENT

The Court of Appeals in DUGUMA v. AYALEW recently decided addressed the issue of preference of the children in a custody and divorce proceeding among parents. Appellant mother lost the custody trial with the court granting sole physical custody to the father and argued on appeal mainly:  That the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to grant her counsel’s request for a continuance,  That the court erred in failing to interview the children or appoint a guardian ad litem to determine the children’s wishes as to their custody and, That even aside from the absence of evidence as to
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DC SUPERIOR COURT CASE HEARING DIRECTIVE & SCHEDULE AS OF 3/15

The court has posted a detailed plan for adjustments in operations for all  case types on its website in light of the current public health emergency.  For  more information, counsel and parties are asked to review the plan. The court is limiting the matters it will hear before May 1, 2020.  A  summary of the plan is as follows: The court is not closing and is open for all new filings and  pleadings in any Division.  Electronic filing will continue. All jury trials in progress shall proceed as scheduled – jurors in  those trials should report. New jury trials in criminal cases including those with detained defendants are deferred until at least March 30 and may be  extended beyond then – all persons summoned for jury duty  from March 16‐27 should not come to the courthouse. The court will only hear emergency matters in the Civil, Family Court, Probate and Tax Divisions and Auditor Master – in  general all other matters are continued but counsel and  parties should review the plan to be certain. All evictions including those involving foreclosed homeowners  are stayed. All Stay Away Orders and all Protection Orders in Domestic  Violence cases are extended until May 1.  Petitioners seeking  new protection orders will have access to the court processes. The court will conduct hearings in the following matters in  criminal cases: Drug Court and Mental Health Community Court Extradition matters Presentment of indictments and other grand jury  matters : Presentments, arraignments, preliminary hearings  and status hearings for detained defendants  Pretrial and Probation show cause hearings   Motions to review conditions of release The Family Court will conduct hearings in the following  matters: Juvenile cases: initial hearings, trials with detained  respondents, petition for writ of habeas corpus and  JBDP and HOPE court hearings for detained  respondents. Mental Health Commission hearings for inpatient  respondents Mental Health (MHE) Probable Cause hearings Abuse and Neglect Cases: New removals/initial  hearings and all trials to achieve permanency, unless  continued by consent of all parties.  The Marriage Bureau will be open to issue marriage licenses. Wedding  ceremonies previously scheduled will go forward, please limit the  numbers of attendees.  If you wish to reschedule your ceremony, please  contact the Marriage Bureau at 202‐879‐1212 .  No additional weddings  will be scheduled. FOR MORE DETAILED AND UP TO DATE INFORMATION: DC SUPERIOR COURT
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SEALING OF THE ARREST RECORD STATUTE DECONSTRUCTED: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS CASE

The Court of Appeals in Washington v. U.S., decided recently addressed and interpreted the implications of “interest of Justice” in connection with sealing of the arrest records. DC Code 16-803.02 provides in pertinent parts: (a) person arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal offense pursuant to the District of Columbia Official Code or the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations that was decriminalized or legalized after the date of the arrest, charge, or conviction may file a motion to seal the record of the arrest, charge, conviction, and related Superior Court proceedings at any time, and (A) In cases
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DC PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS: FAQ

1) I have no assets or property now to protect or to designate, do I still need a prenuptial agreement? Yes, because not only prenuptial agreements protect assets and property before marriage, certain language can be drafted to protect future assets as potentially non-marital. 2) What are the common items prenuptial agreements protect? Assets and property, inheritance, retirement accounts, trust benefits and distributions,  business and partnership ownership to name a few. 3) How can one insure that the agreements drafted are enforceable? Premarital agreements are not enforceable if: Not voluntarily executed by both parties The agreement was unconscionable The unconscionability
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DISCOVERY UNDER THE JENCKS ACT, LEGAL ELEMENTS OF UNLAWFUL ENTRY STATUTE

The Court of Appeals recently in Rahman v. U.S., addressed the legal elements of the unlawful entry statute as well as addressing the appellant’s discovery requests pursuant to the Jencks act. Factually, appellant was told to leave the premises at a Mcdonald’s location by a special police officer (“SPO”) as it appeared that he was loitering or panhandling at the location. Appellant initially refused to leave but eventually left the premises and returned few minutes later at which time he was arrested for unlawful entry by a police officer. On appeal, the appellant essentially argued that he could not have
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ILLEGAL STOP AND ARREST VALID: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Campbell v. U.S. decided on January 30, 2020, in essence affirmed the trial court’s ruling and convictions denying the ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Factually, Campbell was approached by a police officer in a middle of a night sitting in a stolen car, visibly drinking from an open container of alcohol (vodka bottle).  The critical factual element being that the car was parked in a private church parking lot. Campbell was arrested for POCA (Possession of Open Container of Alcohol), and the ensuing search revealed that the car was stolen and thus was charged with
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DC CIVIL PROTECTION HEARINGS/TRIAL AND DISCOVERY

The Civil Protection filing and litigation although has an expansive reach in enforcing a range of orders, has a limited scope with regards to witness statement under the Jencks Act and generally discovery before the hearing. Moreover, the threshold burden of proof is rather low.  Specifically, the Statute provides: If, after hearing, the judicial officer finds that there is good cause to believe the respondent has committed or threatened to commit a criminal offense against the petitioner or against petitioner’s animal or an animal in petitioner’s household, the judicial officer may issue a protection order that: Directs the respondent to
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UNSEAL ADOPTION RECORDS: DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals in In re G.D.L., decided on January 2, 2020, addressed the legal criteria to have the adoption records unsealed. The appellant who was no longer a minor sought a court order release of his adoption records, original birth certificate, and biological parental information. The trial court in balancing all interests  involved in deciding the motion for disclosure ordered to protect G.D.L.’s birth father’s information and directed the child-placement agency to give G.D.L. redacted copies of the original birth certificate and adoption records.  The biological mother’s information was already known to the appellant and not subject of
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SEALING OF AN ARREST RECORD & THE “INTEREST OF JUSTICE” STANDARD: DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals recently in Larracuente v. U.S., determined and defined more precisely application of “Interest of Justice” provision of the sealing of the arrest record Statute. Appellant moved pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-803.02 to seal his records where he had pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute (PWID) marijuana.  The trial court concluded that the government had shown by a preponderance of the evidence that appellant possessed an amount of marijuana that exceeded the amount decriminalized, that is more than two ounces and moreover sealing of the record was not available nor discretionary under the “interest
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LEGAL CRITERIA FOR PENDENTE LITE ALIMONY

DC Code § 16–911, titled Pendente lite relief, allows for filing of a petition for support during the pendency of: A legal separation, Divorce; or The termination of a domestic partnership In such cases, the court may require one party after holding a hearing to make payment of: A pendente lite alimony, or Child support Health insurance coverage or Suit money, including counsel fees. The Court generally considers the same factors in awarding alimony to dispense Pendente lite alimony and support, that is: Ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting; Time necessary for the party
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