Two different federal judges have tossed criminal charges relative to drug stings as “outrageous,” “fabricated crimes” for being an unconstitutional procedure.

The reasoning is not just the substance of the stings, but, as the article tells us, “Judges are getting really frustrated with not having sufficient answers on how these people were targeted or how they came to be the subject of the sting.”

It’s n interesting development where Judges are actively questioning the decisions of prosecutors instead of just defendants.

Read it here.

We are all used to seeing videos of OVI arrests on television.  Bob Huggins, Paavo Jarvi, and other luminaries’ arrest video have regularly appeared on television and following the arrest.

Well, pursuant to a recent decision from the 12th District Court of Appeals, in Clermont, Warren and Butler Counties (the area covered by the 12th District Court of Appeals) OVI arrest videos are not considered public records.  If the agencies choose not to hand them out, they won’t be disclosed until after the case is resolved.

Read the decision here.

In my career, I have been asked to evaluate two cases in which our firm’s clients were arrested for merely filming the arrest of another person.  In one instance, our client was leaving a bar in Covington, Kentucky and observed another patron (whom he did not know) being arrested.  He whipped out his camera phone and filmed the arrest.  The Covington police arrested him merely for filming the confrontation.  In the second instance, our client was a “sidewalk counselor” outside an abortion clinic.  A fellow protester was being arrested, and he filmed the same with his video camera.  Again, he was arrested.

In both instances, the charges were ultimately dropped, and our firm was asked to evaluate the claim for a constitutional violation.  In both instances, the clients ultimately decided not to pursue the claims, but we determined that the filming of an arrest is protected First Amendment activity.

This Washington Post piece highlights the continuing problem of police agencies not understanding this developing constitutional right, and the resulting arrests.  It’s an interesting topic and one that certainly will develop more fully in the coming years.

Our firm is handling an important case dealing with the cruel child abuse of multiple-handicapped, non-verbal children at Kings Local School District’s Columbia Elementary School.

The abuse occurred under the rein of Superintendent Valerie Browning.  Our readers may recall that we sued at the Ohio Supreme Court to obtain copies of eight deposition transcripts that documented the abuse.  Worse, the District gave the abusive teacher tens of thousands in severance and a glowing letter of recommendation.  Finally, Browning read a statement when the documents were released, claiming to have kept the parents of the abused children informed of what had happened to their children. This last statement was not true.

Last November, Kings voters replaced their school board with a more reform-minded group, and last month Browning announced her resignation to accept a new position in the Pickerington Ohio District, a suburb of Columbus.

Local parents are outraged, and last week, a Columbus TV station reported on the events in question.  Watch the story here.

Sunday, Adam Liptak had this interesting piece in the New York Times shining a light on a little-known practice of our nation’s highest court: corrections “after the fact” of the original released decision.

The late changes by the Justices do not change the outcomes of the decision — the winners and losers — but they do occasionally change the reasoning, which becomes the basis for decades following for other appeals, and as direction to the Courts of Appeals.

I have dealt with Liptak on our U.S. Supreme Court case (here), and on the COAST/Mark Miller “Tweets” case (here) and must say he is a brilliant writer.  Liptak devotes his coverage exclusively to the Supreme Court and has a keen understanding of the law and the workings of the nation’s highest court.

Two other posts (here and here) address techniques useful in protecting personal assets from the creditors of a corporate entity (I.e., limited liability company or corporation).  This post addresses specifically how to sign documents to aid in that effort to avoid “piercing the corporate veil.”

The key is to sign documents not in your personal name, but in the name of the corporation, to avoid essentially personally signing for or guaranteeing corporate debt.  In other words, Courts are going to ask “who is a party to this contract?” and how you sign will be indicative of your intention of who is standing behind the contractual obligation.

Thus, the proper way to sign all documents for the corporation is with a corporate (not individual) signature as follows:


an  Ohio limited liability company


Its: ____/title or signer/_______________


Read below two related topics:

When clients approach us for business formation, one of their concerns is protecting their personal assets from a business misfortune, either simple financial failure or a catastrophic situation creating an unexpected liability.

We tell clients, first, that no undertaking is made without some degree of risk.  In shorthand, we say “if you want to avoid all potential liability, don’t get out of bed in the morning.”

But with that as background, it is possible to carefully limit  the exposure one is undertaking with full consideration given to three essential layers of protection:

  1. Engage in good practices.  Despite popular lore, most legal liability arises from either from contractual undertakings — i.e., voluntarily entering into an oral or written agreement — or negligence, i.e, failing to follow the expected standard of care in some function, whether driving a car or manufacturing a product.  As to contracts, be careful what you agree to.  As to negligence claims, if your touchstone is proper hiring, proper training, proper operation and proper supervision, and that you maintain your equipment and real estate in good condition and repair, your risks should be minimal.
  2. Buy appropriate insurance.  Then, consult with your insurance agent and purchase insurance appropriate to insure the risks that you undertake and that are inherent in your operations.
  3. Properly operate under a corporate entity.  Finally, a corporate form, properly created and respected, shields your personal assets from contractual and tort claims.  Read more here about respecting the corporate entity.

Read below two related topics:

Please contact us to learn more about how to protect your assets when forming and operating a business.

Our clients form and do business in the name of corporations and limited liability companies for a variety of reasons, but one primary motivation is to achieve the benefits of limited liability protection that the entity offers.

Optimally, limited liability protection means that the exposure of the investor/owner in a corporate entity is limited to his capital contributions and personal loans to the company, and that his personal assets beyond those are not exposed to voluntary and involuntary liabilities, which are addressed immediately below.

  • Voluntary liabilities are just like they sound — those undertaken willingly: e.g., a real estate lease, a contract to buy equipment, a bank line of credit, and a professional services contracts. Primarily they arise from contractual relationships.
  • Involuntary liabilities are not typically contractual, but are tort and statutory liability such as industrial accidents, employment discrimination claims, and regulatory enforcement actions.

For both types of liabilities, a member of a limited liability company or shareholder of a corporation can cause (intentionally or unintentionally), the “corporate veil” to be pierced.

This entry explores ways to protect that “corporate veil” of limited liability protection, but before we get there, one more introductory comment is appropriate.  Frequently clients tell me something to the effect of: “Oh, why bother with a corporation, the Courts will bypass that anyway and come after my personal assets.”

As a broad principle, this simply is not true.  Ohio Courts and courts throughout the nation have been pretty vigilant in protecting the corporate veil of owners of corporations and limited liability companies.  The protection is powerful, and very difficult to penetrate.

So, forming and properly respecting a corporate form is an important “Pillar of Strength” of your investment strategy for your business.  Here are a few tips to assure that the “corporate veil” is protected of your business entity:

  1. Read here the proper way to sign every contract your company signs to assure respect of the corporate entity.
  2. Carefully consider any request to sign a personal guarantee, as this will indeed give rise to full personal liability.
  3. Every contract your company signs should clearly be in the name of the company (not your name personally) and use the corporate form of signature (see #1, above).
  4. On your printed materials (letterhead, business cards, brochures) note your company name as “XYZ, Inc., an Ohio corporation.” This is to assure for both voluntary and involuntary liabilities you have properly identified to everyone with whom they are dealing.
  5. Do not use the corporate checking account as a piggy bank for your personal finances.  Take money out only as regular pay checks or corporate distributions.  So, don’t pay personal expenses from the account (such as a dry cleaning bill), or put non-corporate income into the account.  This “no-no” is a key element of the “alter ego” analysis in which Courts will engage when a Plaintiff undertakes the difficult task of piercing a corporate veil.
  6. For corporations, have annual meetings and other meetings required by the corporate documents, an d maintain corporate minutes of those meetings and approvals of significant corporate contracts and occurrences.  The Ohio limited liability company statute dispenses with this requirement for LLCs.

Read below two related topics:

Please contact us to learn more about how to protect your assets when forming and operating a business.


One of the most common questions people ask when considering filing for bankruptcy is whether or not they can keep their house. This makes sense as a house is often the most valuable asset you own and the place you live and raise your family. Many people fall behind on their payments due to an unexpected income reduction due to a job loss or illness. Later, they find a new job and/or their financial situation changes and they need a way to catch up their house payments to stop the bank from foreclosing against their property. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy offers homeowners a way to protect their homes and stop foreclosure lawsuits in their tracks.

When you file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy you receive the protection of the automatic stay. The automatic stops any creditor’s attempts to begin, continue, or complete a foreclosure lawsuit in state court. The automatic stay goes into place immediately after you file and will stop a court ordered sheriff’s sale from proceeding. The automatic stay allows you to breathe easier knowing that your house will not be lost on the courthouse steps.

Chapter 13 offers many benefits that allow you use your income to repay some or all of your debt. You may also have the benefit of paying your unsecured creditors back a reduced amount that is based on your income. Your bankruptcy attorney will propose a Chapter 13 Plan that allows you to pay back your past-due mortgage payments and penalties over the course of 36 to 60 months depending on your income. You are still responsible for making your standard monthly mortgage payment in addition to your new additional Plan payment, but your back payments are spread out over the course of the Plan to make them affordable.

Chapter 13 can be beneficial for you if you have a 2nd mortgage that is not secured against your property because your house is worth less than the balance of your first mortgage. An example is if your 1st mortgage is $100,000 and you have a 2nd mortgage or home equity line of credit for $20,000, and your house is only worth $85,000, you may be able to ‘strip’ off the 2nd mortgage and only pay back a percentage of the amount owed on the 2nd mortgage. At the end of your Chapter 13 your 2nd mortgage is eliminated and you will only owe the balance on your 1st mortgage. Please consult your bankruptcy attorney to see if you would qualify.

If you successfully complete your Chapter 13 by making all of your plan payments, you debt will be discharged and your mortgage payments will be deemed current. From this time on you can continue to make your normal monthly payments until your mortgage is paid off. You will also have your other eligible debts discharged as well. Chapter 13 is a great vehicle for eligible homeowners to use to save their homes and reduce their debt. Contact Finney Law Firm today for a free consultation to see if Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the right option for you.

Unless a couple has assets in excess of five million dollars, estate taxes are no longer a concern for Ohio residents.  This is because Ohio has done away with its estate tax, and the Federal estate tax exemption is now over five million dollars.  For such couples, the new estate “tax” planning is income tax planning.  The income tax planning includes allocating assets between the couple to take advantage of the step up of basis on each of the individuals passing in order to minimize any capital gains taxes due.