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Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Unemployment Compensation Hearings: Best Evidence Rule Not So Great

Unemployment Compensation Referee’s hearings, due to their nature as administrative hearings and of limited scope, traditionally have allowed a somewhat lax application of the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence.  For the most part, this tends toward keeping the hearings fast moving, relatively inexpensive to litigate, efficient, and to the point.  I stress the word “lax,” as opposed to say “eliminated,” as the rules of evidence are not disposed of or vitiated, but simply given common sense application to a quasi-judicial hearing regarding the very narrow issue of whether one is entitled to receive government benefits during one’s unemployment.

For the most part, easing up on the rules makes a lot of sense as litigants, especially the newly cash strapped claimant, has not got the money to call in experts, subœna extensive records, or find and secure multiple witnesses.  Indeed, such an approach would seem to only serve to mud up the gears of an already overburdened Department of Labor regarding such generally simple issues.  So, for example, some flexibility on hearsay is allowed, as well as allowing the admission of medical records without a medical expert, or even allowing some “narrative” testimony, if only for the practical purpose of bringing these matters to a relatively speedy and efficient close.

I think the general flexibility on the rules of evidence makes some sense and I generally do not have a problem with it, especially since I have never had an experience where the flexibility in the rules centered on the main issues or any dispostive aspect of the many cases I have handled.  Actually, allow me one caveat on that statement: when a Referee’s laxity on the rules on a central issue causes me to lose a case, I have had pretty consistent success in having the decision overturned by the Board of Review on appeal.

So, why am I writing all of this?  Let us focus on a specific rule of evidence, specifically Rule 1002, which reads as follows:

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An original writing, recording, or photograph is required in order to prove its content unless these rules, other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court, or a statute provides otherwise.

Comment: Pa.R.E. 1002 differs from F.R.E. 1002 to eliminate the reference to Federal law. This rule corresponds to the common law “best evidence rule.” See Hera v. McCormick, 425 Pa. Super. 432, 625 A.2d 682 (1993). The rationale for the rule was not expressed in Pennsylvania cases, but commentators have mentioned four reasons justifying the rule. (1) The exact words of many documents, especially operative or dispositive documents, such as deeds, wills or contracts, are so important in determining a party’s rights accruing under those documents. (2) Secondary evidence of the contents of documents, whether copies or testimony, is susceptible to inaccuracy. (3) The rule inhibits fraud because it allows the parties to examine the original documents to detect alterations and erroneous testimony about the contents of the document. (4) The appearance of the original may furnish information as to its authenticity.

5 Weinstein & Berger, Weinstein’s Evidence § 1002(2) (Sandra D. Katz rev. 1994).

The common law formulation of the rule provided that the rule was applicable when the terms of the document were “material.” The materiality requirement has not been eliminated, but is now dealt with in Pa. R.E. 1004(d). That rule provides that the original is not required when the writing, recording or photograph is not closely related to a controlling issue.  The case law has not been entirely clear as to when a party is trying “to prove the content of a writing, recording, or photograph.” However, writings that are viewed as operative or dispositive have usually been considered to be subject to the operation of the rule. On the other hand, writings are not usually treated as subject to the rule if they are only evidence of the transaction, thing or event. See Hamill-Quinlan, Inc. v. Fisher, 404 Pa. Super. 482, 591 A.2d 309 (1991); Noble C. Quandel Co. v. Slough Flooring, Inc., 384 Pa. Super. 236, 558 A.2d 99 (1989). Thus, testimony as to a person’s age may be offered; it is not necessary to produce a birth certificate. See Commonwealth ex rel. Park v. Joyce, 316 Pa. 434, 175 A. 422 (1934). Or, a party’s earnings may be proven by testimony; it is not necessary to offer business records. See Noble C. Quandel Co., supra.  Traditionally, the best evidence rule applied only to writings, but Pa.R.E. 1002 may be applicable to recordings or photographs. However, recordings and photographs are usually only evidence of the transaction, thing or event. It is rare that a recording or photograph would be operative or dispositive, but in cases involving matters such as infringement of copyright, defamation, pornography and invasion of privacy, the requirement for the production of the original should be applicable. There is support for this approach in Pennsylvania law. See Commonwealth v. Lewis, 424 Pa. Super. 531, 623 A.2d 355 (1993) (video tape); Anderson v. Commonwealth, 121 Pa. Cmwlth. 521, 550 A.2d 1049 (1988) (film).

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This rule is commonly known as “the best evidence rule,” and, as you can see it, more or less, requires the best available version or copy (or what have you) of a piece of evidence is to be produced at a hearing as opposed to a duplicate.  So, for example, an original signed copy of a contract is always preferred to a duplicate.  The way this rule would be employed is if an attorney, through his witness, attempts to introduce that copy as evidence.  The opposing attorney would object on the basis that the copy is not “the best evidence” and the judge would rule on whether it was.  If it was not the best evidence, the objection would generally be sustained and the document would be inadmissible.

I recently had a case before an Unemployment Compensation Referee in Philadelphia.  The opposition (the employer) attempted to introduce a Collective Bargaining Agreement (which laid out relevant issues to the case I was handling) into evidence.  The copy of aforesaid Agreement presented by the employer did not contain a signature from the employer!  I objected to the admission of the Agreement on the basis that it was not the best evidence; a contract with no signature is hardly a contract!

The Referee’s ruling on my objection was quite startling and is the inspiration of this article.  I would not have been surprised if my objection was overruled on the basis of the above-mentioned need for efficiency or something like that; for example, the Referee could have said that the employer’s testimony identified the copy of Agreement as being a true and accurate copy of the original Agreement executed by, and applicable to, both parties regardless of whether the signatures were present.  Unfortunately, that is not what the Referee ruled.  He ruled that, by order of his superiors within the Department of Labor, the best evidence rule will no longer be applied at unemployment compensation hearings and, therefore, any objections made on that basis will be overruled.

I was absolutely shocked!  Suddenly practical laxity has declined into total abdication and ignorance of clearly established rules of evidence.

So, let this article forewarn any of you who practice Unemployment Compensation Law: the best evidence rule is currently, and indefinitely, in abeyance at Referee’s hearings in Pennsylvania.

Adopting the New Amendments Regarding Post-Adoption Contact

Recently the state legislature passed amendments (hereinafter “Amendments”) to Pennsylvania’s adoption statutes, found in 23 Pa.C.S. Section 2731 et seq, regarding post-adoption contact agreements. Understanding these amendments is crucial for any practitioner who handles adoption matters, however it should be noted that each local jurisdiction has procedural idiosyncrasies that must be accounted for when so doing. The Amendments certainly apply to adoptions to be filed going forward, but it is unclear if the Amendments apply to adoptions filed prior to the passage of the Amendments.

The Amendments are designed to provide a statutory basis to create, facilitate the enforcement of, and standardize post-adoption contact agreements. A post-adoption contact agreement is one in which the adopting parent(s) enter into a contract with the adopted-child’s biological parent(s) and relative(s) to lay out the terms and conditions of the biological parent(s) and relative(s)’ contact and/or communication with the adopted-child after the adoption of the child is completed.

Under the terms of the Amendments, any post-adoption contract (“Contract”) must include four (4) essential elements. First, the Contract must be in the best interests of the adopted-child. Second, the Contract must indicate recognition of the parties’ interest and desire for ongoing communication and/or contract with the child. Third, the Contract’s terms are to be appropriate considering the role each party is to take in the adopted-child’s life after his adoption. Finally, fourth, the Contract is, of course, subject to the approval of the Court.

Approval of the court is dependent upon a variety of factors. First, the parties must enter into the Contract knowingly and voluntarily and an affidavit of the same must be made under oath to affirm the same and that coercion, fraud, and/or duress played no role in the formation of the Contract. Second, the court must determine that the Contract must be in the best interest of the adopted-child. When determining whether the Contract is in the best interests of the adopted-child, the court may consider factors as follows: “(i) The length of time that the child has been under actual care, custody and control of a person other than a birth parent and the circumstances relating thereto. (ii) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with birth relatives and other persons who routinely interact with the birth relatives and may significantly affect the child’s best interests. (iii) The adjustment to the child’s home, school and community. (iv) The willingness and ability of the birth relative to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and prospective adoptive parent. (v) The willingness and ability of the prospective adoptive parent to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and the birth relative. (vi) Any evidence of abuse or neglect of the child.” 23 Pa.C.S. Section 2735(b)(2). A Contract may only be modified by an adoptive parent and/or adopted-child twelve (12) years old or older by filing an action with the court that finalized the adoption. A modification may only be approved by a Court if it “finds by clear and convincing evidence that modification serves the needs, welfare and best interest of the child.” 23 Pa.C.S. 2737(b).

The possible parties to the Contract are also specifically laid out by statute. The parties may include the adoptive parent(s) as well as so-called “birth relatives.” Birth relatives may include parents, grandparents, step-parents, siblings, uncles, and aunts. Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. Section 2733, siblings in this context also include the adopted-child’s blood siblings who are not also being adopted by the adopting parents. In the event that the adopted-child’s siblings are minors and are to have contact with the adopted-child post-adoption per a Contract, the minor siblings are to be represented by a guardian ad litem to negotiate the Contract. Finally, although the adopted-child is technically the subject of a Contract as opposed to a party, if the adopted-child is twelve (12) years old or older, the Contract cannot be ratified unless the adopted-child gives his consent.

The Amendments also include notice requirements for the Contract and its filing. The requirements for notice are unclear and nebulous. It is notable that while a variety of birth relatives may be parties to the Contract, only the birth parents have to be given notice and there is no requirement to provide the presumptive father notice. There is also virtually no guidance of how notice is to be provided. The only guidelines provided by the Amendments for notice is that it must be provided, and court approved, before the entrance of the adoption decree. Furthermore, sufficient time must be provided to the birth parents to engage the process of contracting before the expiration of the thirty (30) day period wherein they may revoke their consent to the adoption process.

The Amendments also lay out enforcement and discontinuance provisions. The Amendments state rather obviously that a Contract can only be enforced if it is in compliance with the terms of the Amendments described above. The Amendments first make clear that regardless of whether the Contract is violated, the adoption decree cannot be set aside on that basis alone. When seeking enforcement, a party may only see specific performance of the Contract. A party may only seek enforcement of the Contract if that same party is also in substantial performance of the Contract and can show by clear and convincing evidence that enforcement serves the needs, welfare, and best interest of the child. The Contract’s enforceability terminates per its own terms and/or when the adopted-child turns eighteen (18) years old, whichever comes first. Finally, the above constitutes the exclusive and entire remedy available for a party seeking enforcement of a Contract, and “no statutory or common law remedy shall be available for enforcement or damages in connection with an agreement.” 23 Pa.C.S. Section 2738(f) Alternatively, an adopted-child, upon reaching the age of twelve (12), may petition the Court for discontinuance of the Contract. A Court may only order discontinuance if there is clear and convincing evidence that it would serve the needs, welfare, and best interests of the adopted-child. If a party seeks enforcement and/or discontinuance for reasons which are “insubstantial, frivolous or not advanced in good faith, the court may award attorney fees and costs to the prevailing parties.” 23 Pa.C.S. Section 2742.

The above is simply an overview of the Amendments. It is clear that when handling an adoption matter, a practitioner must ensure full compliance with them and facilitate, to the best of his ability, the formation and ratification of a post-adoption contact agreement.

This article was originally published in The Legal Intelligencer on April 2, 2012 and can be found here and reprinted in Volume 34 Issue No. 2 (June 2012) of Pennsylvania Family Lawyer.

Mortgage Company Madness!

Part of my practice is litigating foreclosure cases.  Granted, I would not call it a focus of my practice, but I would say that I have a fair amount of involvement with such cases at any given time.  Sometimes people retain my office for their foreclosure from the start, while others come to my office for their divorce matter or their estate matter or something similar and through that work we discover a looming foreclosure issue which needs to be addressed.

I am not going to write about the various arguments, tactics, and issues which one may encounter during a foreclosure matter.  Instead, I would like to focus on one particular aspect: the seemingly duplicitous approach taken by mortgage companies with their borrowers.  Sound scandalous?  Well, to me it is.

Here is what happens: something significant happens in a mortgage borrowers’ life which causes him to be unable to pay the mortgage payments for whatever reason.  The mortgage company, naturally, approaches this borrower and informs him of his payment delinquency.  At some point, if no remedy is reached, the mortgage company will file suit against the borrower in court for foreclosure, and it is here where the duplicity rears its head.

I am basing my thoughts here on literally dozens of foreclosure cases which have crossed my desk over my ten plus years of practicing law.  I have seen this scenario play out time and time again with many unsuspecting clients who are acting in good faith.

Here is what happens: the borrower is sued in foreclosure.  If the borrower was not vigilant before in trying remedy the problem, having the local sheriff knock on his door and hand him papers saying that he is being sued to take his house away will almost always make him take notice and seek a remedy.  The borrower then contacts the mortgage company and engages some sort of “loss mitigation” office.  Once that contact is made, the borrower and mortgage company discuss various possible options to resolve the foreclosure case, whether that be restructuring the loan, or looking into a deed in lieu of foreclosure, or looking into a short sale, or looking into a pay off, or looking into putting the house up for sale, or any number of other options.  During this time, the mortgage company representative with which the borrower interacts gives assurances that they will do their best to work this matter out and explore all of the viable options and so on, and that they will need a little time to review the documents exchanged in pursuit of these options.  

Here is where the duplicity lies: while all of the above is happening between borrower and mortgage company, the mortgage company (virtually?) never informs the borrower that despite all of the options explored and no matter how productive their discussions and pursuit of a remedy are and regardless of how positive their conversations seem to be, the foreclosure litigation happening in Court never stops proceeding.  Practically every client I have had over the years regarding an issue like this says the same thing:  “since I was making such progress resolving the matter with the mortgage company, I thought the Court case would not go forward anymore.”

In my first few years of practice, I sort of chalked this up to clients who were either naive, negligent, not-too-bright, or just plain lazy; however, as my years of practice increased, and the number of foreclosure cases I handled increased, the story I heard from all of my clients in this sort of situation continued to be practically all the same (as described above), including clients who are objectively conscientious and smart.  Given this, I came to realize that perhaps the issue is not with the clients but with the mixed message sent to them by the mortgage companies.

So, what happens?  While the borrower thinks he is nearing a resolution to either save his house or get him out of the foreclosure mess with a reasonable remedy through dealing with the mortgage company, the mortgage company’s attorney litigating the foreclosure case, at the same time and unbeknownst to the borrower, secures a judgment in default against the borrower and then seeks to put the real estate at issue up for Sheriff’s Sale pursuant to the judgment!  The borrower, who thinks he is negotiating in good faith with the mortgage company in good faith and nearing resolution, is then suddenly blind sided when the mortgage company refuses further discussion and he is suddenly informed that his house will be sold at auction in a few weeks regardless of his efforts to negotiate with the mortgage company.

Now, of course, the borrower is much further behind the eight-ball than ever as he now has to attempt to open the default judgment (which is not always permitted), attempt to stay the Sheriff’s Sale, and then litigate the foreclosure despite all of the progress and assurances made to him personally by the mortgage company.

So, if you are a party to a mortgage and get into some trouble paying on it, please allow the above to be a cautionary tale: just because the representative from the mortgage company is “nice” or assured you that they will seek a resolution with you, and regardless of how much progress you have made in seeking that resolution, always remember that the foreclosure case will NOT stop and you will have to defend against that in Court WHILE you negotiate with the company for a resolution at the same time.

A Lesson in Waste

Check out Faye Cohen’s blog post “A Lesson in Waste” on her blog Toughlawyerlady here.

Volunteer Opportunities Around the Philadelphia Region

I have been a volunteer attorney for the Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (CLCP) since April 2007. The CLCP states that its volunteers are “Christian legal professionals and law students called by the Word of God to do justice among the poor … [by] provid[ing] services to low-income clients in the name of Christ.” The CLCP currently has three clinic locations, each of which meets twice per month. The clinics are located at the Salvation Army facility in West Philadelphia, Sweet Union Baptist Church in West Philadelphia and Spirit and Truth Reformed Church in North Philadelphia. At each clinic, clients from the local neighborhood meet with attorneys who volunteer their time at the clinic to discuss and help them resolve their problems and inquiries. Of course, as the CLCP is Christian in nature, the attorneys and clients often pray with and for one another and the Gospel message is shared with the client.

Over my five years of serving with the CLCP, I have had the privilege of helping hundreds of people with their legal issues. I have been approached with all manner of issues, including but not limited to landlord-tenant, custody, support, divorce, social security, unemployment compensation, disability, debt collection, criminal and estate cases. The experience has blessed both me and the client; the client receives free or greatly discounted legal assistance while I reap the benefits of knowing I am truly helping the less fortunate and living out my Christian faith in a practical way. I am confident in saying that virtually everyone who has served with the CLCP has had a similar experience.

Attorneys have received the great gift of knowing about the law, how to navigate it and how to help people with their legal issues, and they bear some responsibility for sharing it with others. Accordingly, the Pennsylvania Bar Association recommends that attorneys perform 50 pro bono hours per year and the CLCP is a wonderful place to volunteer. Aside from the CLCP, the Philadelphia area has many opportunities and organizations to assist people on a pro bono or low-fee basis. These include:

It is an extremely satisfying feeling knowing that one has given of oneself to help someone else in a profound way, not to mention the practical legal experience it can give an attorney simply because of the wide scope and breadth of the legal issues involved with the clients. Furthermore, the impact a volunteer attorney can have on someone’s life cannot be underestimated. If you are not involved in pro bono work, or with an organization as described above, I truly encourage you to become involved; you will be greatly rewarded. Indeed, the great irony of my volunteering experience is that the benefit I can provide to my clients is far less than the benefit I receive from them by the privilege of serving them.

Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer Blog on March 23, 2012 and can be found here.

 

“Proceeding” to Relocate Under the New Custody Law

The recent Pennsylvania Superior Court matter ofE.D. v. M.P., 33 A.3d 73 (Pa. Super. 2011) stands as the first reported case in Pennsylvania interpreting the relocation provision under the new Pennsylvania custody statute. In E.D., the party known as E.D., who was the child’s primary custodian, requested to relocate with the child to another state while M.P. argued against such a move.

In the E.D. case, E.D. attempted to relocate the child to another state simply by filing a Petition for Special Relief (“Petition”) requesting the same. Such a tactic would not be out of place under the old custody statute, and the previously controlling case of Gruber v. Gruber, 400 Pa. Super. 174 (1990). In response, M.P. filed an answer to the Petition and a Counterclaim seeking a modification of custody, and also made claims regarding the interaction between her older son and the child-at-issue.

Under the new custody statute (23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5337), if one seeks to relocate a child under a custody order, certain notice procedures must be followed, including ensuring specific service requirements are fulfilled and providing specific documents to the other party(ies). E.D. failed to follow the requirements of Section 5337. Despite this failure, the trial court granted the Petition and allowed the relocation. M.P. filed an appeal of the trial court’s ruling that was heard by the Superior Court which entered the E.D. v. M. P. Opinion.

Perhaps the single most important aspect of E.D. is its ruling on the applicability of the above-mentioned relocation portion of the new custody statute. The new statute requires that any custody “proceeding” commenced before the effective date of the new statute would be governed by the prior custody statute. It appears that E.D. conducted his affairs as if the prior custody statute was still in effect while M.P. argued that the requirements of the new custody statute ought to apply. The underlying matter had been initiated and litigated under the prior custody statute; however, when E.D. attempted to secure relocation of the child, the new custody statute was then in effect. After hearing arguments, the Pennsylvania Superior Court rejected the interpretation that the new custody statute ought only to apply to custody actions initiated after its passage. It ruled that the new custody statute applies to any motion or petition filed in any custody action of any age provided it was filed after the passage of the new custody statute. Otherwise there could be the absurd result of the old custody statute still applying, perhaps nearly eighteen (18) years from now, while concurrent matters are controlled by the new custody statute.

Unfortunately for M.P., despite the procedural blunder of E.D. in failing to adhere to the requirements of the new custody statute, M.P., in turn, failed to raise E.D.’s procedural non-compliance with Section 5337 as an issue when she opposed the Petition. As a result, the Superior Court ruled that she waived her right to raise the argument that E.D. violated Section 5337 in his bid for relocation.

Regardless of the above setback, the Court did positively respond to M.P.’s additional arguments regarding other provisions of the new custody statute. When reviewing the trial court’s decision, the Superior Court found that the trial court dispensed with the matter with a single sentence despite that Section 5337 requires the strict analysis of ten (10) different factors for relocation by the trial court before rendering a decision and Section 5823 requires the trial court to provide a delineation of all of the reasons for its decision on the record in open court or in a written decision with regard to the aforesaid ten (10) factors. Therefore, in the face of Section 5823 of the new custody statute, it was clear to the Superior Court that the trial court’s single sentence did not fulfill Section 5823’s requirements for a detailed decision. As a result, the Superior Court was unable to adequately review the trial court’s decision.

Similar to Section 5337’s requirements for a relocation matter, Section 5328 of the new custody statute requires a trial court to analyze sixteen (16) different factors when rendering a decision regarding a complaint/petition for, and/or to modify, custody. Also as above, Section 5323 requires the trial court to provide a delineation of all of the reasons for its decision on the record in open court or in a written decision with regard to the aforesaid sixteen (16) factors. Needless to say, if the ten (10) factors for relocation were not considered in the trial court’s single-sentence-order, neither were sixteen (16) factors dealt with for M.P’s counterclaim for custody modification. Clearly then, when ruling upon M.P.’s counterclaim for custody modification, the trial court again fell far short of Section 5823’s requirements for a detailed decision. Indeed, the trial court’s decision made no mention of M.P.’s claims regarding the interaction between her son and the child-at-issue.

Ultimately, the Superior Court remanded the case back to the trial court, directing it to comply with the requirements of the new custody statute and issue an opinion with considered analysis of the twenty-six (26) different factors mentioned above. Furthermore, the Superior Court specifically directed the trial court to address the relationship between M.P.’s child and the child-at-issue. Finally, the Superior Court, noting additional non-compliance with the new custody statute by the trial court in the first hearing, also directed the trial court to comply withall of the provisions of the new custody statute, requiring the trial court to address all members of the parents’ households, review all criminal and substance abuse histories for each, as well as their health records.

In sum, the Superior Court has made it clear that there must be full compliance with the requirements of the new custody statute, that the new custody statute applies to all motions and petitions filed after its passage regardless of the age of the underlying case, and that theGruber case is no longer in effect for Pennsylvania’s custody relocation cases.

Originally published on March 13, 2012 as the featured story in “Upon Further Review” and can be found here and reprinted in Volume 34 Issue No. 2 (June 2012) of Pennsylvania Family Lawyer.

Hate Thy Neighbor

Check out Faye Cohen’s blog post “Hate Thy Neighbor ” on her blog Toughlawyerlady here.

Justice is Blind, But is it Also Deaf?

Justice is supposed to be blind, but can it also serve the deaf? One of the most legally underserved groups in America is the deaf. The deaf community is enigmatic. It is said that Americans and the British are separated by a common language. The relationship between the hearing and the deaf is similar; although both speak a common language, they are separated by vastly different modes of communication, which creates a challenge for a hearing attorney attempting to represent a deaf client.

Over the years, technology has made it possible to improve communication between the hearing and the deaf. In the second half of the 20th century, the teletypewriter (TTY) and telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) were invented, which enabled the deaf to communicate with one another over telephone lines through a typewriter-like apparatus. The deaf and hearing could speak to one another over the telephone by calling 711. 711 called a relay service where a hearing person, using a TTY/TDD, would type the hearing person’s words to the deaf person and read the deaf person’s words to the hearing.

With the advent of the Internet, the ability of the hearing and deaf to communicate with each other has advanced exponentially. The deaf first, like the hearing, used e-mail to great effect. However, it was the introduction of instant messaging that truly brought the deaf community into the 21st century. Whether it is through AOL IM, Yahoo messenger or MSN messenger, or newer software like Skype, typed communication between the deaf and between the deaf and hearing has become nearly instantaneous and extremely convenient. Instant messaging, almost single-handedly, has led to the near-obsolescence of TTY and TDD communication.

Instant messaging now includes the use of webcams. As the deaf communicate visually through their hands, web-camming while instant messaging has completely revolutionized deaf communication. Advancing even further, now the deaf can call one another over the telephone using their televisions to serve as videophones, a la Star Trek. Using videophones, much like the now-antiquated 711, the deaf and hearing can communicate through a relay service where the deaf person signs to an interpreter over videophone and the interpreter speaks to the hearing person over a standard telephone. Indeed, technology has now reached such heights that a hearing person can call a deaf person over the videophone relay and a deaf person can now answer himself using the internal camera and screen on his smartphone to communicate over videophone.

Needless to say, opportunities for communication between the hearing and the deaf are greater than ever in human history. These technologies should make it possible for a hearing attorney to be able to serve the deaf community better than ever and the practitioner can easily avail himself or herself of them as they are all now standard elements to any Internet service.

Originally published on March 6, 2012 in “The Legal Intelligencer Blog” and can be found here.

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