Monday, November 24, 2014

Pre-Nups Should Include Pets

The Boston Globe reports that disagreements over pet custody are on the rise. Approximately 27% of divorce lawyers surveyed have seen an increase in pet custody fights over the last five years.   Because the law considers pets property, in the event of a divorce, courts do not consider what is in the best interest of the pet.  It just does not matter who spent more time with the pet or who took more responsibility.  Some courts require the litigants to negotiate a resolution, making the animals easy fodder for emotional manipulation. To avoid this heartache, you can create a prenuptial agreement to cover your four legged family members.  This terms of the document will be enforced in the event of a divorce.   One person quoted in the article stated  “If somebody wasn’t willing to sign one, they’re probably not the best person for me.” 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Siblings With Dueling Deeds

Could your family situation be any worse?  Imagine the Thanksgiving dinners.  Take the situation of these six siblings.  In July 2001, Harold secures a deed signed by his mother Ethel giving him the family home.  He records the deed.  In November 2001, Ethel signs another deed transferring the family home to a trust, with daughter Deborah and herself as the co-trustees.  Ethel reserves a life estate for herself.  That deed and trust are recorded a few months later.  In the many estate plans created by Ethel, sons Harold and Lawrence were always excluded because they were provided for through a prior gift of the family oil business.  The other four children were to inherit the remaining estate.  Ethel's last will is in 2008, and she continues to exclude Harold and Lawrence specifically because of the lifetime gift of the business.  Ethel dies in December 2009, and shortly thereafter, Deborah learns of Harold's claim to the family home.  Her lawsuit is filed in January 2010.

Today, in Allen v. Allen, 13-P-605, the Appeals Court in Massachusetts affirmed the Land Court Judge's determination that the first deed was defective, and title to the property is held in the name of the trust. The case was one of first impression and dissects the recording statute, G.L.c. 183, Section 4.  Key to the findings was the fact that the attorney and notary of the first deed could not remember Ethel being before him to sign the deed, and after evidence indicated that Ethel may not have been in the state at the time it was signed, he agreed that the date and place on the notary acknowledgment might not be accurate.  In a 23 page decision, the court determined that even though a notary acknowledgement is not required for a deed to be valid, it is required to record the deed.  Because of the defect in the certificate of acknowledgement, the recording was in error and the deed did not provide constructive notice to the world of its existence.  Harold was unable to prove that Deborah had actual knowledge of the transfer, and the court refused to impute knowledge.  The subsequent deed was held to be valid.

There are many take-aways for lawyers from this case.  A simple online title search at the time of recording the November deed would have alerted her children to the July deed while Ethel was still alive.  The take away for clients: parents beware - you run the risk of estate disputes when children are treated differently.  Any hoped for harmony is nearly impossible without thoughtful discussion about succession and transparency while you are alive.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Glickman Turley Wins Asylum for Salvadoran Woman

El Sunza, El Salvador. Photo credit @flamencoh on pixabay.
Used under Creative Commons license
Last week, Glickman Turley attorneys Miryam Cissero and Stephanie Marzouk successfully advocated for a client's asylum petition. The client fled severe domestic violence in her home country of El Salvador. After she left the country, her sibling was killed in a violent attack by gang members. The client had great difficulty discussing the trauma she experienced, but over time she was able to tell her story.

If you are afraid to return to your home country because you will be in danger based on your political beliefs, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity, please contact us today to see if we are able to help you apply for asylum in the United States.

*Name changed to protect client's identity. Representative case results are provided as an example only, and do not guarantee or imply the same or similar results for other cases, which are evaluated on their individual merits. The content of this website should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal advisors about your particular legal issue.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Glickman Turley Wins Asylum for Ugandan Man

A bird flies in Kampala, Uganda.
Photo credit @michell zappa on Flickr.
Used under Creative Commons License
Glickman Turley recently won asylum for a man from Uganda who had faced persecution based on his identity as a bisexual man. Throughout his middle and high school years, "Joe"* was teased regularly by classmates who accused him of being gay, and on one occasion he was violently attacked by a group of older students.

As an adult, Joe had to hide his romantic relationships with men, and faced constant social stigma. His relationship with his parents and other family members became strained when he did not get married to a woman, as they expected him to. Because he supported an LGBT activist organization in his hometown, and was friends with many LGBT activists, he was arrested and beaten by the police. 

Uganda's new law from April 2014 is notoriously harsh on LGBT people. In Uganda, Joe could be sent to prison for 14 years to life -- just for having a relationship with a man.

With his new immigration status, Joe plans to continue working in the U.S. and go back to school to get a graduate degree.

If you are afraid to return to your home country because you will be in danger based on your political beliefs, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity, please contact us today to see if we are able to help you apply for asylum in the United States.

*Name changed to protect client's identity. Representative case results are provided as an example only, and do not guarantee or imply the same or similar results for other cases, which are evaluated on their individual merits. The content of this website should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal advisors about your particular legal issue.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Religious conversion, along with changed country conditions, supports motion to reopen

In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced that motions to reopen an immigration petition can be granted when there is both a change in the applicant's personal circumstances and a change in the country conditions.

Mr. Cipto Chandra initially applied for asylum because he feared persecution on account of his Chinese ancestry if he had to return to his home country of Indonesia. That petition was denied, and Mr. Chandra was ordered to leave the United States. Mr. Chandra did not leave, but instead remained in the U.S. and converted to Christianity. Four years later, he filed a motion to reopen his asylum claim. He provided evidence that conditions for Christians had worsened in Indonesia. Because Mr. Chandra had become a Christian, he would be subjected to the increased persecution if he returned to Indonesia.

I believe... I can stay.
Photo credit Kristina D.C. Hoeppner on Flickr.
Used under Creative Commons license.
Motions to reopen are generally very difficult to obtain, especially if the petitioner misses the deadline of 90 days after the decision. A petitioner must show that there are changed material circumstances in his or her home country, and that evidence of the circumstances was not available during the previous hearings. Arguing only that a petitioner's personal circumstances have changed is not sufficient.

In the Chandra decision, the Ninth Circuit joined other courts (the 6th, 7th, and 11th circuits) in saying that a change in personal circumstances, when combined with changed country conditions, can support a motion to reopen. The First Circuit has suggested this, but has never actually decided it.

Religious belief is only one type of personal circumstance that can lend support to a motion to reopen. In a case called Jiang v. U.S. Att'y Gen., the petitioner showed that she had a second child while living in the U.S., and that harsh enforcement of China's one-child policy was on the rise in her home province and home town. Because Ms. Jiang was able to show both changed personal circumstances (the second child) and changed country conditions (increased mistreatment of people who had more than one child), she was able to succeed on her motion to reopen. Other types of personal circumstances might also qualify.

The court dismissed the idea that Mr. Chandra's conversion could be self-serving. It cited religious freedom as "one of our oldest and most foundational policy interests... The timing of one's religious choice is not determinative of one's rights."

To read the full decision in Mr. Chandra's case, click here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Supreme Judicial Court Punts on Religion in Public LIfe

Continuing what appears to be a national judicial trend, today the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed a lower court's decision that the daily recitation of the pledge of allegiance in a public school does not violate art. 1 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. See Doe vs. Acton Boxborough Regional School District.  In a moderating and concurring opinion Justice Lenk left the door open for future challenges by noting  that the "presence of the phrase "under God" in the pledge of allegiance creates a classification that is potentially cognizable under the equal rights amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution ... although not on the record in the present case. Our opinion rightly notes that recitation of the Pledge, in whole or in part, is entirely voluntary. But the logical implication of the phrase "under God" is not diminished simply because children need not say those words aloud. A reference to a supreme being, by its very nature, distinguishes between those who believe such a being exists and those whose beliefs are otherwise. This distinction creates a classification, one that is based on religion. Theists are acknowledged in the text of the pledge, whereas nontheists like the plaintiffs are excluded from that text, and are, therefore, implicitly differentiated. To be sure, as our holding makes clear, the plaintiffs here did not successfully allege that their children receive negative treatment because they opt not to recite the words "under God," or that the inclusion of that phrase in the pledge has occasioned "the creation of second-class citizens." .... Absent such a showing, the plaintiffs' claim must fail."

In a 5-4 decision this week, the US Supreme Court upheld the authority of the a city counsel to open its monthly meetings with a prayer delivered by clergy.  See Town of Greece vs. Galloway.   Justice Kenendy wrote the majority opinion that the practice does not violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. Justices Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor dissented, arguing that the "practice does not square with the First Amendment’s promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share in her government."  In other words, while US citizens have the freedom to practice any religion, we also have the right to be free from religion in our government activities.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Could you and your spouse pass an immigration interview?

What time is it?
Photo credit @Matt Metz on flickr.
Used under creative commons license
How well do you know your spouse? Buzzfeed has compiled a list of possible questions that an immigration officer might ask at an interview for marriage-based green card applicants.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and it won't tell you whether or not you are actually eligible for a green card. Buzzfeed says: "The following are potential questions that could be asked, culled from newspaper articles, immigration lawyers, and testimonials. So, you know, don’t treat this an official preparation of any kind because there are a lot of different factors that go into that interview." 

Although it's not official, it's still fun. To take the quiz, click here.

And if you have any questions about family-based immigration, please contact us to see if we can help!

Friday, May 2, 2014

TPS Extended for Haitians

Port Salut Beach, Haiti.
Photo credit @MichelleWalz on flickr.
Used under Creative Commons license

Haitian nationals who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) now have until July 22, 2014, to "re-register" for status for an additional 18 months.

If you are a Haitian TPS beneficiary who wants to re-register, you should apply as soon as possible. The necessary forms are Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The Form I-821 application fee is not required; however, anyone 14 years of age and older must pay a biometric services fee or submit a fee waiver request. For work authorization, the Form I-765 fee (or a fee-waiver request) is required. If you do not want work authorization, you must still submit a completed Form I-765 but do not need to submit the I-765 fee.

For more information, please see the USCIS website here

Friday, April 25, 2014

Appeals Court Affirms Award of Veterinary Expenses for Injured Dog, but Extends Prohibition of Emotional Distress Damages.

The appeals court affirmed a lower court award of veterinary expenses to owners trying to save their small dog after an unprovoked attack by an unleashed German shepherd.  The Bichon Frisé had severe internal injuries and external wounds requiring emergency surgery to the tune of $8,000. In addition to vet costs, the court also awarded the replacement value of the dog. Because Massachusetts law considers dog personal property, the owner of the German shepherd argued that damages should be capped at the market value of the dog, regardless of the reasonableness of the veterinary costs necessary to treat the dog's injuries. See Irwin v. DegtiarovThe appeals court found that reasonable veterinary costs can be recovered even if they exceed the market value or replacement cost of an animal injured by a dog. Whether particular veterinary costs are reasonable, and whether it is reasonable to incur them, will depend on the facts of each case.  Among the factors to be considered are the type of animal involved, the severity of its injuries, the purchase and/or replacement price of the animal, its age and special traits or skills, its income-earning potential, whether it was maintained as part of the owner's household, the likelihood of success of the medical procedures employed, and whether the medical procedures involved are typical and customary to treat the injuries at issue. Once again, the appeals court affirmed that although the owner's affection for the animal may be considered in assessing the reasonableness of the decision to treat the animal, the owner cannot recover for his or her own emotional distress. Nor is the owner entitled to recover for the loss of the animal's companionship. An earlier appeals court case stated that emotional distress damages were not available because in that case the owner did not witness the damage. See Krasnecky v. Meffen.  Despite not being a question in this present case, the court suggests even if an owner witnesses the attack, he or she cannot get emotional distress damages.  The Supreme Judicial Court has yet to take up this question, but this ruling seems to close the door on the possibility of emotional distress damages.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

LGBT News - Qualified Retirement Plans Post Windsor

The IRS has release long awaited guidance to administrators to qualified retirement plans. See Notice 2014-19 .  All qualified retirement plans  in states where same sex marriage is recognized is must recognize that marriage for retirement plan purposes no later than June 26, 2014, the date of the Windsor decision.  As of September 16, 2013, all plans must recognize valid same-sex marriages regardless of whether the participant’s state of domicile recognizes the marriage. The September 16 date is when the IRS released a ruling stating that spouse, husband, wife, and marriage for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code have to be interpreted to include same sex marriages.  See  Rev. Rul. 2013-17.  Given the Obama administration's unwillingness to extend itself on same sex marriage during his first term, the pace of change in the second term is breath taking. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Big Win for Non Human Animals

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced today that in an emergency the police can enter private property to protect the lives of non-human animals. The case is Commonwealth v. Duncan , SJC-11373 (April 11, 2014).  The case involves a Lynn woman who let two of her dogs freeze to death outside and fought an animal cruelty conviction by claiming the police had no right to enter her property to rescue the third, still breathing, dog.  The court found that the emergency aid exception to the requirement of a search warrant permits the police in certain circumstances "to enter a home without a warrant when they have an objectively reasonable basis to believe that there may be [an animal] inside who is injured or in imminent danger of physical harm." It moderated that finding with the statement that "the reasonableness of the search must be determined on a case-by-case basis upon consideration of the totality of the circumstances". Massachusetts joins other states in recognizing "a public interest in the preservation of life in general and in the prevention of cruelty to animals in society values animals". Congratulations to Essex Assistant District Attorney Paul C. Wagoner who did an excellent job arguing this case before the court.

Glickman Turley LLP represents animal welfare nonprofits and others interested in animal welfare.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Getting to our office: Government Center Station closed

For our prospective and current clients who take public transit to get to our office:

Please note that the Government Center T station will be closed starting tomorrow. For more information on the Government Center station closing, please click here. You can still get to our office easily using the Haymarket station on the Orange or Green T lines, or the State Street station on the Orange or Blue T lines, or the Aquarium station on the blue line. All these are within a few blocks of our office. Here is a map:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Firm News

Glickman Turley successfully argued a criminal motion to dismiss a charge of open and lewd grossness and lascivious behavior, a sex offender registry crime, before the Boston Municipal Court.  The charge was dismissed and the minor remaining charges were dismissed with pre-trial probation.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Obama considers relief for undocumented residents with children

President Obama announced that he has instructed the Department of Homeland Security to review deportation policy to see if it can be made more humane.  One possibility would be to suspend deportation of undocumented residents who have children whom were brought to the United States when they were very young. Senator Robert Menendez called on President Obama to "halt needless deportations that are splitting apart our families and communities."  Other advocates urged the President to slow the record number of deportations and halt the need to place children whose parents have been deported in foster care.

For more information, read

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Upcoming Changes to Internet Domain Names and Your Trademark Rights

Companies commonly register for multiple domain names (or URLs) so that their customers can more easily find their website. Registering for multiple similar domain names can also preempt cybersquatters, entities that buy domain names in order to interfere with the rights of trademark holders.

Right now, most websites end in familiar domain name extensions such as .com, .net, or .org, or country extensions such as .cn for China, .us for United States, and so forth. But the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will be adding new extensions soon, to include terms such as .careers, .shoes, .builders, and many more.

The Internet is changing? You don't say!
Photo used under CC license from @LarsZi on Flickr.
To protect your business or nonprofit brand, consider registering for more domain names. You can get special advance access by providing proof of your trademark holdings to the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). (The official website is; be conscious that, ironically, there are other, unrelated services with very similar names.) If you find out that someone has registered for a domain name that is "identical to or confusingly similar to" your trademark, you can contest the registration using the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system.

To read more about the upcoming changes, check out this article at the Harvard Business Review. If you have questions about how to protect your small business' or nonprofit's brand, contact Glickman Turley to discuss ways we may be able to help. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Government announces more rights for same-sex couples

Attorney General Eric Holder released a memorandum that grants same-sex couples even more of the rights accorded to opposite-sex married couples, and clarifies certain situations for states that do not recognize same-sex marriage.
Love not H8.
Photo used under CC license from @Fibonacci Blue on Flickr.

The new rights include:
- The option to refuse to testify against one's spouse in court
- Rights for spouses of federal prisoners, including special visitation, furlough, and communication
- Benefits for programs run by the Justice Department
- Death benefits for spouses of public officers
For a more detailed explanation of these rights, please read this article by SCOTUSblog.

The New York Times noted that, while this is a big step to reduce discrimination against LGBTQ people, it does not go far enough. The government has yet to announce that federal contractors cannot make hiring decisions on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

You can read the full text of Attorney General Holder's memorandum here (pdf).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I'll stay... as long as you love me

For singer Justin Bieber, things are getting worse. He turned himself in to authorities in Toronto, Canada, this week on charges of assaulting a limousine driver. And over 100,000 people have signed a petition to the White House, asking that Bieber be deported. How could these two events impact Justin's future immigration status in the United States?

Don't make him fade away.
Photo used under Creative Commons license from @ilovejb123 on Flickr.

If it turns out that Justin is convicted of crimes in any country, and he decides to apply for a green card, he will have to explain his criminal record. Applicants for certain types of immigration benefits, such as asylum or a green card, must disclose any prior criminal convictions. This is true whether the crime occurred in the U.S. or in any other country. If a person doesn't disclose his or her criminal record, it is likely that the government may still find out. Prior criminal convictions won't necessarily prevent someone from getting approved for immigration benefits, but it is important to talk with an attorney before applying to be aware of any risks. The list of crimes that can impact someone's immigration status is very complicated, and an experienced attorney can help determine whether someone's record will cause problems.

Could the White House petition result in Justin's deportation? It's very unlikely, because Justin's crimes likely aren't serious enough to qualify him for deportation. He also has many fans in the U.S. who would like him to stay! Having broad support from your community can be important in certain immigration settings. Under certain circumstances, the law allows the government to exercise discretion, and decide whether a person should be allowed to stay in the United States despite some mishap. Again, it is important to talk to an attorney before requesting prosecutorial discretion. An attorney can help you figure out whether your circumstances would qualify you to apply, and whether you would have a good chance of success.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Never Say Never"... to Justin Bieber's deportation?

Celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Nicolas Cage, and Paris Hilton often make the news when they get on the wrong side of the law. But the recent arrest of Justin Bieber, on allegations of drag racing and driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs, could lead to more serious consequences than just a fine or jail time.

... Except the Miami Beach PD, that is.
Photo used under Creative Commons license from @jiposhy on Flickr.

Bieber is Canadian, and does not hold U.S. citizenship. He is currently in the U.S. on a temporary visa, based on his extraordinary musical abilities. However, because Justin hasn't been formally charged yet, it is unclear whether the offenses would impact his immigration status. Non-citizens in the U.S., such as Bieber, may face deportation or become ineligible for certain types of immigration relief after being convicted of certain crimes. These crimes are formally named "aggravated felonies" or "crimes of moral turpitude" in the law. Although those titles sound serious, some relatively commonplace acts can result in criminal convictions under those categories.

For more news about Justin Bieber's arrest, read this CNN article.

If you are interested in applying for immigration status based on extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (an O visa), Glickman Turley may be able to help you. Even if you aren't a musical sensation, if you are an immigrant facing criminal charges, or if you are an immigrant who already has a criminal record, then it is important for you to talk to an attorney about your immigration status. Contact us today to see how we may be able to help.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Is Boehner getting serious about immigration reform?

While we can only speculate whether immigration reform was one of House Speaker John Boehner’s New Year’s resolutions, there are some signs that he is moving in that direction.  At the end of 2013, Boehner hired Rebecca Tallent, the former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on immigration and a supporter of broad immigration reform.  Ms. Tallent fought for comprehensive overhauls of the immigration system in 2003 and 2007, albeit unsuccessfully.  She knows the landscape and will likely be able to get things moving.

Boehner has said that he is committed to a “step by step” approach to immigration reform, rather than one big comprehensive bill.  “The American people are skeptical of big, comprehensive bills, and frankly, they should be,” Mr. Boehner told reporters recently. “The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time. I think doing so will give the American people confidence that we’re dealing with these issues in a thoughtful way and a deliberative way.”

Mr. Boehner recently criticized the Tea Party opposition during the recent budget deal in Congress which further suggests that he is serious about overhauling the immigration system despite vehement opposition from conservative Republicans.  More moderate House Republicans see immigration reform as essential to gaining the Hispanic vote in the 2016 presidential election. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president in 2012, took a hard line on immigration and won only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote.

For more on this subject, see this recent New York Times article.