Friday, August 16, 2013

Divorce Case Longest Ever at 17 Years and Counting

Two Law Professors Still Battling Over Divorce Details

Do you feel like your divorce has been dragging on for months? It may seem like a long time, but a few months is nothing compared to one couple’s divorce that took 17 years to make its way through the court system.

That’s right, a whopping 17 years, though you shouldn’t fear that your divorce will take this long. Unless you and your divorcing spouse are law professors.

Why So Long?

What many are saying is the longest divorce case ever involves two law professors in Ohio. The marriage between Christo and Sharlene Lassiter lasted 10 years and the actual divorce took five years, but both have now been involved in 28 other related court battles against each other that continue to this day, according to The Cincinatti Enquirer.

What Did the Courts Do?

“This court has not seen many domestic relations cases more contentious and acrimonious ... than this case,” wrote judges from the 1st District Court of Appeals in Ohio in 2002.

“The parties, who are both law professors and who ought to know better, engaged in thoroughly inappropriate behavior that was detrimental to the resolution of their case and to the welfare of their children for which both claimed to be primarily concerned,”

The judges made those statements in 2002.

Marriage Lasted 10 Years

The Lassiters married in 1986 and began divorce proceedings in 1996.

Christo Lassiter, 56, is a law professor at the University of Cincinnati. Sharlene Lassiter, 52, remarried and is now known as Sharlene Boltz. She is a law professor at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law.

What Took So Long?

You may wonder what took so long for their divorce proceedings to finalize. Obviously, both parties couldn’t agree on a host of issues. According to the report in The Cincinnati Enquirer, the couple battled over child support, child custody, their kids’ education and various other issues. Still outstanding is the issue of whether Lassiter owes his ex-wife any money.

Could This Happen Again?

The fact of the matter is that there is no typical divorce case. A myriad of factors affect how long it will take for a divorce case to become final. Most divorces can be finalized within a year, or two at most.

Photo credit: Monik Markus

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bicyclists, Are You Riding Responsibly?

Bicyclists Who Hit Pedestrians Could Face Serious Charges

Bicyclists may face more serious criminal charges for failing to ride their bikes responsibly, following a recent case involving a San Francisco man who became the first bicyclist in the United States ever to be convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter. The bicyclist plowed through an intersection and collided with a man who later died of his injuries.

Case Could Set a Precedent

Since the conviction was announced last month, biking blogs and other transportation safety advocates have been abuzz with related discussions, including the difficulties that bikers face on the streets. The case could set precedent for how other municipalities, including those in Florida, handle cases of vehicular homicide involving a bicycle.

Chris Bucchere, 37, agreed to plead guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter in order to avoid jail time. In California, felony vehicular manslaughter carries a possible sentence of up to six years in prison; misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter is punishable by up to a year in jail. In exchange for his guilty plea, the bicyclist avoids jail time and instead has been ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service and will be on three years of probation.

Bicyclist Collided With 71-year-old

Bucchere was riding his bike in the Castro neighborhood on March 29, 2012, when he encountered an intersection with crossing pedestrians. Prosecutors say Bucchere had already run a couple of red lights before he ran a third red light, colliding with 71-year-old Sutchi Hui, who was crossing with his wife. Hui suffered blunt force trauma and died a few days later from his injuries.

"This tragic death caused by a bicyclist illustrates the worst-case scenario when traffic laws are not obeyed," District Attorney George Gascón said.

Defense Says Bicyclist Crossed on Yellow Light

The defense attorney said Bucchere went through the intersection when the street light was still yellow. However, prosecutors said surveillance cameras showed that Bucchere did not try to stop and ran the red light. They also said some witnesses reported the bicyclist running through stop signs and red lights minutes before the accident.

Bucchere further complicated his case when he posted his thoughts on an online bicyclists message board after the accident, evidence which prosecutors used against him.

"Too Committed to Stop"

"I was already way too committed to stop ... I couldn't see a line through the crowd and I couldn't stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find," the post said. “... I hope he ends up OK.”

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes