Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Georgia Immigration Bill


Georgia’s State Legislature recently approved a new immigration bill (HB 87 - Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011) but it has yet to be signed into law by Governor Deal. AJC 4/15/11. This new bill is similar to the much publicized Arizona immigration bill, with a few changes. 

Similar to Arizona, the Georgia bill allows local law enforcement to demand documentation of residency. It also empowers police to detain people they reasonably suspect are here illegally. NYTtimes 4/16/11. The Georgia bill also establishes an Immigration Enforcement Review Board to investigate complaints about those same enforcements. 

Unlike the Arizona bill, the Georgia bill softens the requirements for the federal E-Verify program and requires the investigation into a State run guest worker program by the state Agriculture Department.

Opponents to the bill state that it will lead to discrimination and harassment towards Georgia immigrants. Those in support of the bill state that the Georgia bill does not supersede federal immigration law, but puts more enforcement power into local governments. 

Information about Atlanta’s current immigration law can be found at Atlanta's Immigration Court Website.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sunday Alcohol Sales in Loganville?

You decide. Georgia is one of only a few states that still ban retail sales of alcohol on Sundays, but that may soon change. 

This week the state approved a bill to allow local communities to determine alcohol sales. WaltonTribune 4/14/11. This change will allow local governments to decide about Sunday alcohol sales instead of the state, and  Loganvile may be one of the first cities to take on this issue. Voters can expect to see this topic on ballots soon. AJC 4/12/11.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Does Georgia Recognize Grandparent Rights?


Yes and no. Georgia does not have specific statutes providing a presumptive grandparent-grandchild legal right, however, Georgia law does allow grandparents to seek custody or visitation with their grandchildren in some situations.

Child custody and visitation are both based on the best interests of the child. http://bechtold-law.blogspot.com/2011/02/who-determines-child-custody.html. Georgia Courts have a strong preference to keep children with their parents; therefore when there is a disagreement, grandparents often have to endure a full legal proceeding in order to exercise their legal rights with their grandchildren. Even when grandparents have cared for their grandchildren in the absence of their parents, grandparent rights are not automatic; a Court Order is required to ensure custody or visitation with grandchildren. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3(b).

Additionally, grandparents are not authorized in Georgia to file an original action for grandchild custody or visitation when the parents of the grandchild are not separated and the grandchild is living with both parents. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3.

In order for grandparents to obtain custody of their grandchild they must show that parental custody would harm the child and that granting custody to the grandparent will promote the child's health, welfare, and happiness. Grandparents can also seek visitation with their grandchild, much like a divorcing spouse. Grandparent visitation rights are granted when a Court finds that the health or welfare of the grandchild would be harmed unless the visitation was granted and that granting the visitation would be in the best interests of the grandchild.

Both grandparent custody or visitation actions can be very lengthy and stressful. There are alternative approaches to deal with visiting your grandchildren, call us today to discuss your options. http://www.bechtold-law.com/CONTACT.HTML

Additional free legal information about grandparent rights can be found on nolo.com.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Can I Get Out of Jury Duty?

When you receive a jury summons in the mail it is required by law that you appear at the place listed on the summons. Being summoned for jury duty does not guarantee that you will actually serve on a jury. In fact, many counties in Georgia allow you to call the weekend before to see if you even need to be present for jury duty during the date listed.

Many people have ideas about how to get out of jury duty, but there are only a few ways to legally avoid jury duty in Georgia:
1.      be seventy years old or above and sign an affidavit from the Clerk of Court’s office asking that you be removed from the jury list,
2.      be permanently mentally or physically disabled with an affidavit from your doctor,
3.      no longer be a resident of the county which summoned you to jury duty, or
4.      be a convicted felon whose civil rights have not been restored as the result of pardon.

You can request that the Court make a onetime deferral or postponement of your jury duty date if you are
  1. engaging in work necessary to the public health, safety, or good order during the time you have been summoned,
  2. a full-time student,
  3. the primary caregiver of a child under six years of age,
  4. a primary teacher in a home study program,
  5. on active-duty military status, or
  6. able to show “other good cause.
Even if you fit into one of the categories above, the Court does not have to grant you a onetime deferral. You need to make a formal request in writing to the Clerk of Court for the county in which you were summoned to make your deferral request. If granted, the deferral may delay your date of service, but it will not remove your responsibility to eventually fulfill this duty of citizenship.

Don’t count on a deferral! Recently, the owner of the New York Giants was unable to obtain a deferral when he told a Federal Court that he would be unavailable for jury duty because of the upcoming NFL draft. ABAJournal 4/6/11.

Some people think that appearing as a bad person will automatically get you out of jury duty, but be careful, “an incensed federal judge sentenced a racist Brooklyn woman to indefinite jury duty on Tuesday after she trashed the NYPD and minorities.” NYDailyNews 4/6/11.

The good news is that being part of jury duty allows you to see firsthand how our local judicial system works. “The jury is responsible for correctly deciding the facts which are in dispute in a given case . . . . a juror's duty is one of responsibility and importance.” http://www.gabar.org/public/pdf/cps/jurorsmanual_09.pdf. Jury duty is one of the most important civic duties you can perform. Instead of trying to get out of jury duty, why not embrace your chance to participate in the protection of rights and liberties our judicial system provides!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Can My Parental Rights be Terminated?

Yes! Parent-child legal rights may be terminated by Georgia Juvenile Courts when it is in the best interests of the child.

Parental right termination begins with a filed petition with the Court. These petitions can be filed by any person who has knowledge of deprivation. A deprived child is any child who is without proper parental care or control. O.C.G.A. § 15-11-2. Georgia Courts have held that deprivation may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, and even neglect of hygiene. Daily Report A10A2215. Even if the abuse is not the fault of the parents, a Court can still find deprivation and terminate parental rights in the best interest of the child. Daily Report A10A2257.

Georgia Courts will appointment a Guardian Ad Litem when there is proceeding for termination of parental rights. O.C.G.A. § 15-11-9. This Guardian Ad Litem is an officer of the court who is appointed to represent the best interests of the child. They will conduct an investigation into the life of the child and provide a report and recommendation to the Court for consideration. This investigation is just the start of this lengthy process.

If you know a child who is suffering from deprivation or if you are a parent facing termination of your parent-child legal rights contact our office today to discuss your case. http://www.bechtold-law.com/CONTACT.HTML