General Litigation Newsletters
An ex parte communication is a written or oral communication with a judge that involves only one side of a pending lawsuit or that involves a matter that could become the subject of a future case before the judge. Ex parte communications include a judge's interactions with persons interested in the outcome of a case such as attorneys, parties, jurors, witnesses, and law enforcement personnel. Generally, ex parte communications are prohibited because they can influence the judge's decision.
Protective orders are orders issued by a judge to protect a victim of domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, or intimidation. A protective order can only be used against someone related to the victim or with whom the victim has had an intimate relationship. This would include a spouse, sibling, parent, or boyfriend/girlfriend.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that was passed in 1966. It ensures government openness and accountability. The FOIA gives a person access to federal agency records. However, agencies are allowed (but not required) to withhold records that fall within nine categories.
The number of persons who represent themselves in court proceedings has increased significantly in recent years. The increase in self-representation is placing a strain on the court system. Individuals have a constitutional right to represent themselves, and the courts have a duty to make certain that all individuals have meaningful access to the courts. Family law matters, such as uncontested divorces or dissolutions and child support modifications, are common areas where individuals choose to represent themselves.
Most states have an intermediate level appellate court, which is generally called the court of appeals. State courts of appeals have a panel of judges who review the trial court's decision. The number of judges on the panel varies. The court of appeals determines whether the trial judge followed proper procedure and correctly interpreted and applied the law to the facts of the case.