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About James Cushing
James W. Cushing, Esquire is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He is an associate at the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., research attorney for Legal Research, Inc., and a volunteer attorney for the Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia.
Legal • Published: October 10, 2013
Much has been said about the so-called War on Christmas and, more generally, the expression of religion in the public square. I think we all have seen the increase in the use of "Happy Holidays" over "Merry Christmas" and the decline (and sometimes cessation) of decorations in public spaces of Manger Scenes (i.e.: decorations showing Jesus' birth) and other such things. Regarding religion, if you have been paying attention, I am sure you have seen or heard the news stories of controversies over using a Bible for swearing in, having "In God We Trust" on American money, praying publicly during a public school ceremony, holding church services within a school building, and other such things.
Legal: Employment Law • Published: October 9, 2013
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.
Legal: Real Estate Law • Published: September 19, 2013
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.
Legal • Published: July 25, 2013
When people ask me what I do at work, I often joke that "I hear complaints and get yelled at all day." By that I mean, my clients come to me with complaints about others, or yell at or argue with me over their case, judges are often not the nicest people to interact with, other attorneys, by the nature of their jobs, argue with me, opposing parties and witnesses, of course, hate my guts, and, my boss, like any other boss, is someone who tells me what to do in not always the gentlest of fashions. I am lucky in some ways, as other lawyers do not have the benefit of working with nice people as I do, so I suppose I should count my blessings on that score. Otherwise, I could add my unpleasant co-workers to the above list.
Legal: Traffic Law • Published: June 20, 2013
The benefit of plea bargaining could have significant implications. Keeping plea bargaining in mind is important because, if we are honest with ourselves, when the police pull us over it is generally because we were actually speeding or breaking some other traffic law, so winning at trial is unlikely. So, plea bargaining gives you another way to try and lessen the impact of a traffic violation. Obviously it is always good to have a less severe penalty and lower fine assessed, but the implications go further than that. Plea bargaining which results in no or fewer points on your record could mean the difference between insurance rates increasing or staying the same, being on the brink of suspension or still having a buffer, or getting your license suspended or not. So, needless to say, it is advisable to explore all of your options in court when you get a ticket as it may be the difference between driving and not driving.
Legal • Published: May 22, 2013
The Rules of Civil Procedure are designed to facilitate litigation so it can be performed smoothly and predictably. Unfortunately, one simply cannot predict and write a rule for every possible contingency that could happen in the life of a case. There will always be circumstances that seem to fall into the cracks between the rules.
Legal • Published: April 26, 2013
I am excited to say that I won a recent alimony pendente lite ("APL") case on the basis of entitlement. This is a pretty rare occurrence as evidenced by the paltry amount of case law on the subject. A little background may help. First, APL is the support a spouse receives while a divorce case is pending. The spouse who receives is, probably obviously, the spouse with the lower income and fewer assets. The purpose of APL is to help the spouse with less income/assets to be able to adequately provide for him/herself and litigate the divorce simultaneously. Most of the time, entitlement is merely assumed either because the numbers are clear or many practitioners presume there is no defense against it if s/he represents the spouse earning more money.
Legal: Employment Law • Published: January 17, 2013
I have litigated dozens, if not hundreds, of unemployment compensation cases. I represent both claimants and employers but I more frequently represent claimants. I think it is fair to say that claimants are more likely to win an unemployment compensation case against an employer due the nature of the law, but I think employers could increase their chances of success if they just spent a little more time and effort pursuing, preparing, and presenting their cases.
Legal • Published: January 3, 2013
A question was recently posed to me asking whether a withdrawal from a 401(k) would cause one's unemployment compensation benefits to be denied, be diminished or even cease if already in payment. The answer to this inquiry is not totally clear.
Legal: Child Custody • Published: December 11, 2012
A child custody case is often among the most divisive and personally visceral case one can litigate, from both the attorney's and party's point of view. A custody order can go a long way to helping resolve many items of dispute, including where the child will live/sleep and when and how often. A custody order also goes a long way to help estranged parents sort out how the holidays are to be distributed in a reasonable way. Unfortunately, however, custody orders can only go so far. A custody order cannot make the estranged parents suddenly get along. It cannot make the other parent more reasonable or nicer or less contentious. It certainly cannot make the other parent go beyond its terms.
Legal: Real Estate Law • Published: November 26, 2012
Back in the early 1970s, when the band Genesis, a progressive/art-rock band at the time, still had musical credibility, they released one of their more theatrical songs called "Get 'em Out by Friday" on their classic album Foxtrot. It is one of my favorite albums, and every time I hear the song, with many of the lyrics being dialogue between landlord and tenants, it quickly brings to mind my own landlord-tenant cases. In the song, despite the desperate pleas of the pathetic tenants to stay - even offering to pay double the rent - Peter Gabriel, playing the role of the landlord, bellows "Get 'em out by Friday!"
Legal • Published: November 16, 2012
Those of us in Generation X and perhaps a little older remember LeVar Burton's constant refrain in his PBS children's show "Reading Rainbow": "But you don't have to take my word for it!" Mr. Burton was telling his young viewers that they do not have to take his word when it comes to what a book is about, they should read it themselves to find out.
Legal: Family Law and Divorce • Published: October 10, 2012
I am sure you have seen billboard or newspaper advertisements that read something like "$250 Divorce!" or "Divorce Only $350!" Usually, the prices indicated are less than $500; indeed they are so low that they are less than the typical lawyer's hourly rate for one hour of work, let alone a proper full retainer. How can these rates be so low for this sort of work? Clearly there has to be a catch.
Legal • Published: May 25, 2012
I recently discussed in this space how technology has aided attorneys in their representation of the deaf. Since that time, I have received some feedback that I think is worthwhile to share.
Legal • Published: April 19, 2012
In 2005, Philadelphia started its participation in the red-light camera program. Per this program, cameras have been set up at high-risk intersections in the city in order to effectively catch motorists running red lights. So far, the cameras have been set up around the city, including the intersections around City Hall and at a few intersections along Roosevelt Blvd. Presently, a debate is ongoing in Harrisburg as to whether to continue and/or extend the red-light program in Philadelphia and into about a dozen other Pennsylvania cities.
Legal: Child Custody • Published: April 4, 2012
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.
Legal • Published: March 7, 2012
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.
Legal: Employment Law • Published: November 23, 2011
On June 17, 2011 Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law the Legislature's latest modifications to Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law. The changes described below will take effect on January 1, 2012. Though presumably designed as a cost-cutting measure with regard to the Commonwealth's budget issues, the modifications may have some unexpected consequences for attorneys and their clients when negotiating severance packages, and lawyers who practice in this area of the law should expect some interesting, and probably confusing, issues to arise in the future.
Legal: Family Law and Divorce • Published: July 19, 2011
Last month Upon Further Review published an article I submitted called "Till Death Does Your Stuff Part" regarding the latest development in the law regarding the interaction between divorce litigation, estate litigation, and the death of a litigant. I am now following up that article with the instant one because within a few days of publication, I received some pretty interesting and clever responses to the aforesaid article, and I would like to address them here as I think the issues they raise are food for attorneys' thought.
Legal: Family Law and Divorce • Published: June 14, 2011
While the traditional marriage rite contains the words or variations of "till death do you part," unfortunately sometimes marriages part in divorce instead. Sometimes, however, divorce and death nearly overlap; when that happens, how does your property part?
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