Reduce your Massachusetts alimony payments

Massachusetts reputation as the only state where alimony never ends is over as of March 1, 2012. The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act has addressed the issue of changing financial circumstances, and places time limits on payments.

Judges can now reduce or terminate alimony to your ex-spouse if he / she is living with another person and receiving financial support from that person.

Cohabiting is defined as keeping a common household with another person for a continuous period of at least 3 months. The law does not limit co-habitation to sexual relationships. Reinstatement of alimony is possible if cohabitation ends however.

If you need evidence to prove that your ex-spouse is living with someone, supporting them financially, paying rent and groceries, then we can help. Ensure that you pay only your fair share. Call us for further details.

Old news becomes new again depending on who won

Interesting note showing the national media misreporting the ongoing controversey in GPS privacy cases: "Media discovers August 27th that Pineda-Moreno was decided January 11th"

Supreme Ct. ready to settle GPS surveillance - privacy issue?

The 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches by the government continues to clash with technology as judges seem to be deciding cases, not on any objective standard, but more on former Justice Potter Stewart's hopelessly subjective "But I know it when I see it" standard.

Latest case is United States v. Maynard, where a Washington DC court struck down a man's conviction in a drug case on the grounds the police unlawfully tracked his movement with a GPS device for 24 hours per day--a device installed without a warrant. Thus the court contradicted decisions GPS-related cases by appellate panels in Chicago, St. Louis and San Francisco.

Courts have held that the Fourth Amendment does not cover surveillance of a suspect because people have no expectation of privacy for actions exposed to public view. But the DC appeals court held that people expect their overall movements to be private because most people see only isolated moments of someone's life. Contrast that to a police department’s GPS technology that inexpensively tracks someone’s comings and goings for weeks at a time: "A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individual or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.”

In other privacy cases, courts have recognized that aggregating information can lead to practices that, without technological improvements, are not a burden on privacy (for example, state databases that aggregate criminal records may have limited access, even while each court docket is considered public record).

Privacy, surveillance & civil litigation: a Massachusetts guide for private investigators

The Massachusetts Bar Association hosts a good summary of privacy laws as they apply to video surveillance in Massachusetts civil litigation, including insurance cases. One of the leading cases in Mass. is DiGirolamo v. D.P. Anderson & Associates, Inc., The court wrote that investigators may generally observe, or photograph a person in public places. A gray area arises when a person enters the privacy of their own home. The court looked at 4 scenarios as to whether a private investigator violates a person's statutory right to privacy:

~ the investigator looks through a window into an apartment with the naked eye;

~ the investigator looks with the naked eye when a person walks out onto a balcony;

~ the investigator photographs, or looks at the person on a balcony with enhanced vision;

~ the investigator photographs or looks at a person inside the home with enhanced vision.
The Mass. court concluded that only the fourth scenario would constitute an unreasonable and substantial interference with the plaintiff’s right to privacy.

The court adopted the United States Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment analysis from Oliver v. United States. It also quoted a Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ case United States v. Taborda: “Observation of objects and activities inside a person’s home by unenhanced vision from a location where the observer may properly be does not impair a legitimate expectation of privacy. However, any enhanced viewing of the interior of a home does impair a legitimate expectation of privacy.”

Written by lawyers Joseph M. Desmond & David Viens, this article has some good information on Massachusetts state laws applicable to video surveillance, audio recordings, pretext interviews and pretrial discovery.