Shanti Michaels

A New Federal Courthouse for Humboldt County

On July 8, 2013 developers and officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new federal courthouse construction.  The new courthouse will be located in the Airport Business Park in McKinleyville and along with the new courtroom will also provide office space for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the Probation Department, the District Clerk, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S.

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New Public Trail Opening in Eureka

Thanks to funds from Proposition 84’s River Parkways Program, PG&E, and the Coastal Conservancy, the City of Eureka teamed up with local advocates at the Redwood Community Action Agency and the Humboldt Trails Council, as well as local businesses and individuals, to provide the newest addition to Eureka’s recreational trail areas, officially opening on February 23, 2013.  The Hikshari’ trail (the Wiyot name for this area), includes four new parking lots, restored wetland areas, 1.5 miles of multiple use trail, and other park facilities such as benches.  The project has been the product

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Protecting Your Property from Encroaching Trees

Tree branches or roots extending over a property boundary may be a nuisance, especially in a damp climate like Humboldt County.  Remedies for such nuisance are available to neighboring landowners, including the right to cut off branches or roots at the boundary line, the right to recover damages, and the right to compel removal by the owner or occupant of the land on which the tree grows.  However, neighbors are required to act reasonably toward each other, which includes not causing foreseeable injury to a neighboring property (for example, cutting so much of the root system back that the

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California Coastal Clean-up Day

On Saturday, September 15, 2012, close to 60,000 California residents and over 800 Humboldt County volunteers spread out on beaches and along local waterways throughout California for the 28th annual beach clean-up hosted by the California Coastal Commission and supported by California State Parks Foundation and the Ocean Conservancy. The efforts have been international for the past 25 years.

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California Lawsuits - Suspended Companies

A California Corporation or Limited Liability Company (“LLC”) can be suspended for a number of reasons, including the nonpayment of taxes under California Revenue and Taxation Code or for their failure to file updated information under the Corporations Code.

When a corporation or LLC is suspended, it loses its rights and privileges under California law.  Thus, the company cannot legally operate until revived (reinstated) with the Secretary of State.

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Speeding tickets in Humboldt County, California

Speeding tickets are annoying by most people’s standards, but few do anything to fight them since most are “infractions” and do not carry any potential jail time.  This means that most indigent defendants who are ticketed do not have the constitutional “right to an attorney” (also known as free representation), and thus they often just pay up and do not force law enforcement to meet any burden of proof.  The tickets are paid without anyone showing that the drivers are guilty by competent evidence, as our judicial system would otherwise require.

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New Airline Service to LA Likely for Humboldt

Humboldt County may soon be signing a contract with American Airlines for airline service from the Arcata/Eureka Airport (ACV) to Los Angeles (LAX).  Currently, the only commercial airline service providing flights out of Humboldt is United.  Los Angeles-bound travelers on United must transfer via San Francisco International Airport, converting a 90 minute flight into a full day’s worth of traveling.  This is very inconvenient for local business men and women, including attorneys, who have business or family and personal matters to attend to in Southern California, as well as Northern Calif

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Frequent Flyer Miles Tax Issues

Citibank has sent a number of customers 1099 tax forms to report their frequent flyer miles earned when they opened a checking or savings account last year.  (Citibank Article.)  The terms and conditions of the offer were disclosed in promotional materials, but the practice has caused confusion and concern for many who must now report their frequent flyer miles (and possibly other credit card rewards for that matter) as income.

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Pregnancy Discrimination

Discrimination based on pregnancy is illegal.  These days, a number of factors are making pregnancy discrimination and the rights associated with an employee’s pregnancy more relevant than ever.  Women are more likely to work while pregnant.  About 66 percent of first-time mothers between 2006 and 2008 worked during their pregnancy, compared with 44 percent in the early 1960s.  First-time mothers are working later into their pregnancies than before.

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New Jury Instructions Help Create Fairer Trials

Whether you love jury duty or hate it, starting in January, judges must advise that you decisively cannot text or tweet about it.  California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law last week requiring judges to admonish jurors that they are prohibited from conducting research, disseminating information, and conversing via electronic and wireless communications.  2011 Cal. Legis. Serv. Ch. 181 (A.B. 141) (WEST).  The risks for bias or confusion of the issues are simply too high.

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Bike Law 101: Beyond the Safety Corridor

May was Bike Awareness Month, with crowds of people gathering in Eureka and Arcata for bike to work rallies on designated bike to work days.  In a timely proposal, the City of Eureka is also considering installing striped bicycle lanes on Harris Street, providing additional bicycle friendly streets, but reducing the number of parking spaces available on Harris.  The Parking Place Commission will be discussing the issue at their public meeting in City Hall this Thursday (June 9, 2011, 4:40 p.m.).

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Justice Carlos Moreno Retiring

On January 5, 2011 California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno announced his planned resignation to Governor Jerry Brown, who must now appoint a replacement justice after Moreno leaves his post on February 28.   As reported in a story in SF Gate, Moreno stated that the Governor’s victory gave him some comfort about who his replacement might be.   He also stated that he may work in alternative dispute resolution or perhaps at a private law firm.

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SMS SOS: Think Before You Text

Text messages are becoming an increasingly common form of communication, even in remote areas like Humboldt County, and this can have a profound effect on both civil and criminal lawsuits.  “Smart” phones and overall increases in phones’ data capacity are creating both headaches and treasure troves for litigation attorneys.   As a cell phone user, you should know that if you are thinking of filing a lawsuit, or may have to defend against one, your text messages could be available to the opposing party and/or the court.  This may even include messages you have deleted from the phone.

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IRS Improving Domestic Partner Status

In late May, the Internal Revenue Service adopted a new position regarding taxation of registered domestic partners in its Private Letter Ruling 201021048 (the “PLR”).   See Pender, Kathleen, “IRS adopts state domestic-partner property law,” San Francisco Chronicle (June 3, 2010) available at SFGate.com.   Previously, the IRS did not apply California community property principles to registered domestic partnerships in terms of federal tax law since “[t]he relationship between registered domestic partners under the California Act is not marriage under California la

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Credit Card Basics

In the face of rising credit and debit card use nationwide, the Janssen Law Firm hopes to inform small businesses in Humboldt County and elsewhere to make the best decisions for their growth.   Whether or not to accept plastic forms of payment involves knowing the parameters of what can and cannot be done in compliance with the law and merchant contracts.   Since small businesses have little to no bargaining power in the contracts they must sign to accept cards, they should at least familiarize themselves with the rules (for an illustration of the rising use of credit and debit cards, see 

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Get it in Writing

If you want an agreement to be enforceable, get it in writing.  Of course, coming from an attorney, you probably expect that advice.  However this little pearl of wisdom would not be repeated so often if it weren’t useful.  Legally, promises or agreements that you exchange with another are classified as contracts and certain types of contracts can be unenforceable if they are not in writing.  This principle is known as the Statute of Frauds and prevents one from simply inventing agreements or terms that were never actually agreed upon.  Sterling v. Taylor, 40 Cal.

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New Member Joins Eureka Law Firm

The Janssen Law Firm is pleased to announce that Shanti Michaels has joined the firm as an associate.  Ms. Michaels is a 2009 graduate of the University of California Hastings College of Law and a member of the California  and Humboldt County Bar Associations.  She served as an Executive Editor of the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly and was a member of the Hastings International and Comparative Law Journal staff.  Ms. Michaels’ undergraduate work was at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA with study abroad at the University of Salamanca, Spain.   Ms.

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