Legislative Update: Gov. Nixon Signs Cell Phone Tracking Bill

David A. Zobel

By David A. Zobel

As recently reported by the New York Times, across America demands by law enforcement agencies for cell phone records and data are skyrocketing. In fact, records released by the top five cell phone carriers indicated that 1.3 million requests for cell phone location/tracking and other data were granted to law enforcement agencies in 2011 alone.

Originally utilized only by federal agents, much of the recent increase has resulted from smaller and local law enforcement agencies utilizing such requests in their regular law enforcement practices. As with almost all technological advances, the technology of modern cell phones and capabilities of tracking same have outpaced governmental regulation, which has allowed many law enforcement agencies to utilize this practice with little to no legislative or judicial oversight. Recently, as the practice has grown and attracted more attention, advocates on both sides of the issue have brought this issue into public debate.

Civil liberties advocates argue the increased usage of cellular surveillance and tracking raises certain constitutional questions as the legal standards for obtaining this cell phone data are generally lower and less clear than the traditional standards applied in circumstances where law enforcement attempts to wiretap or monitor traditional phone lines and conversations. Advocates are concerned these lower and less clear standards invite troublesome discretion and surreptitious usage amongst law enforcement agencies.

Additionally, privacy advocates have expressed concern in the fact that modern cell phones can provide incredibly detailed pictures of the user’s life, including information related to the user’s health, political affiliations, finances and other sensitive data. Continue reading »

Considerations Before Popping the Question: What the Law Has to Say and What You Should Know

David A. Zobel

By David A. Zobel

Part of a monthly multi-part series of discussions aimed at explaining legal and financial considerations for young professionals as they establish and develop their careers, relationships and lives.

The state where you reside shapes and defines what marriage is and what it means for you and your fiancée through its laws and licensing requirements. Because these laws and requirements govern very intimate aspects of our lives, they can be emotionally and financially significant. This discussion sets forth several legal considerations to keep in mind as you travel towards the big day.

Living Together Before Marriage

On December 14, 2011, the Pew Research Center released a report concluding that the number of young adults waiting to get married is on the rise. The study also concluded that cohabitation has risen to its highest level in decades. Cohabitation has its benefits; however, it can also have drawbacks.

In the state of Missouri, simply living together does not affect any property either of you own. Upon break up, you are each entitled to your own property. The situation becomes more complicated when you begin purchasing real estate or personal property together or if you pay off each other’s financial obligations. Depending upon the circumstances, a court may require one party to compensate the other. Paying for your share of the fifty dollar rug you purchased together is one thing, but what about your share of that car? Or the house?

Plan on moving to another state? In some states, merely living together can have great implications. Depending on where you live, who you live with, and how you present yourself, you might find it interesting that in the eyes of the state, you might already be characterized as married. Known as a “common-law marriage” and contracted in a handful of states, this type of marriage carries with it the same rights, responsibilities and obligations of a traditional marriage, including those in divorce.

Who Gets the Ring?

You’re a huge Cardinals fan. You find out she has been hiding from you that she is a dyed-in-the-wool Cubs fan and don’t think you can ever forgive her. The engagement is off. Now what? What about that ring you saved for months to buy her?

Continue reading »