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Category: State Law

Remote Witnesses and Wills

Remote Witnesses and Wills

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in the number of Americans using online services to make wills. If people are subject to shelter-in-place orders, however, the witnessing condition required by statutory law is not readily satisfied—the testator and two witnesses cannot occupy the same physical place at the same time. While some states have temporarily allowed remote witnessing, such relief has not been uniformly implemented across the country. Thus, an instrument prepared online may fail to fulfill a decedent’s…

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Abuse of Contract and the July 2020 Bar Exam

Abuse of Contract and the July 2020 Bar Exam

This summer, the Kansas Board of Law Examiners (KBE) is demanding that all examinees sign a statement that they have “voluntarily” assumed COVID-related risks before they sit for the July 2020 bar examination. According to the July 2020 Kansas Bar Examination Examinee Code of Conduct Agreement (KS Code of Conduct Agreement) recently distributed by the KBE, if an examinee fails to sign and return the KS Code of Conduct Agreement by July 15, “the examinee will not be allowed to…

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Access to Public Lands During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Access to Public Lands During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In an effort to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, federal, state, and local governments have acted to limit or entirely close off access to public outdoor spaces, such as local playgrounds and state and national parks. As the country begins to reopen, governments have sought to balance the need for public access to these outdoor spaces with the risks posed by such access. Where the risks are too high—whether because of the challenge of ensuring compliance with social…

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Remember the Past: What Can a Governor Do When the Second COVID-19 Surge Comes?

Remember the Past: What Can a Governor Do When the Second COVID-19 Surge Comes?

Back on January 1st we thought that 2020 would bring clarity of vision and foresight. Since then the world has turned upside down; however, long-standing legal precedent of what states can do in times of epidemics and pandemics has not. Many are claiming that it is unlawful for any governmental entity or official, in an effort to reduce COVID-19 infections and deaths, to impose restrictions upon travel, either across state borders or in large crowds within a state. I disagree….

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Constitutional Constraints on Lawyer Licensing in the Age of COVID-19

Constitutional Constraints on Lawyer Licensing in the Age of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly disrupted the courts and the legal profession, just when access to justice is most needed. The public health crisis has generated a host of legal issues in areas as diverse as disaster relief, health law, disability issues, insurance, employment law, criminal justice, domestic violence, and civil rights. The need for lawyers to address these issues is great, but courts are struggling to license new lawyers due to the serious health consequences of administering the bar…

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Custody and Visitation in a Pandemic

Custody and Visitation in a Pandemic

Either voluntarily or through court order, most separated and divorced parents have established parenting plans that outline custody and visitation obligations. But what happens to these orders when a global pandemic rages through our communities?  Can parents unilaterally  refuse to engage in custodial transfers or keep the other parent from visiting while a government shelter-in-place order is in place? Anecdotally, family law attorneys report that the single biggest issue for their clients right now seems to be whether the regular…

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Life Hangs in the Balance: Weighing Coronavirus Church Closings Against the RFRA

Life Hangs in the Balance: Weighing Coronavirus Church Closings Against the RFRA

On March 27, the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group unanimously issued an order restricting the gatherings of non-essential businesses and services. The Rev. Rodney Howard-Browne responded that he would only cancel church services for the Rapture and that pastors who canceled services were “pansies.” After holding church services on March 29, county authorities arrested Howard-Browne for unlawful assembly and violating the public health emergency order. While the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 applies only to the federal government,…

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Sorry, Not Sorry: Temporary Practice in a Pandemic

Sorry, Not Sorry: Temporary Practice in a Pandemic

The American Bar Association (ABA) Board of Governors has issued a policy resolution urging states to adopt emergency rules that would authorize recent law graduates to engage in supervised law practice until the COVID-19 pandemic allows administration of the next bar exam. The ABA’s guidance encourages states to terminate these limited licenses if an applicant does not take or pass a bar examination by the end of 2021. This resolution sends a mixed message: On the one hand, emergency licensing…

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