With Same-Sex Marriage Illegal in Ohio, This Couple Can’t Get a Divorce There, Either

Mallet, legal code and scales of justice

Brenda Mohney and Erin O’Leary filed for divorce in July and were granted the split in November. But now the Athens County, Ohio, judge who made the decision has reversed it.

Common Pleas Court Judge George McCarthy ruled on Tuesday, Dec. 23, that “it was not apparent” that two women were seeking the divorce rather than a man and a woman.

The confusion stems from the forms filed in July: Mohney’s name and earnings had been listed under the “wife” column on the document, whereas O’Leary’s name and earnings were underneath the “husband” column.

And although Mohney and O’Leary were both summoned to attend a hearing under a magistrate for their case, only Mohney showed up. The magistrate, however, was aware that O’Leary was a woman.

As a result of the ruling, Mohney and O’Leary are back to being married in states that recognize same-sex marriage, but not in Ohio, where such unions are not legalized.

“The issue of same-sex marriage is one of nationwide concern, and higher courts than this will eventually determine the constitutional issues related thereto with finality,” McCarthy wrote in his order. “In the meantime, Ohio law and policy … mandate that this court not recognize the parties’ union as a lawful marriage for purposes of Ohio divorce law.”

McCarthy also said that Ohio’s same-sex marriage laws make divorce for same-sex couples a gray area legally. However, other areas of Ohio, and other states where such marriages are illegal, have granted divorces by giving “full faith and credit” to out-of-state courts.

But because the marriage wasn’t legally valid in Ohio, McCarthy’s original Nov. 25 decision is void.

To give Mohney and O’Leary a chance to talk about their situation and to explain why he planned to overturn their divorce, McCarthy held two hearings earlier this month. However, O’Leary, who left the state, again did not show up.

Mohney and O’Leary legally married in California in 2008 before Proposition 8 was passed to bar same-sex unions in the state.

Atlanta Police Apprehend Two Brothers for Roofing Scam Targeting Elderly

Man Examining and Repairing Rotten Leaking House Roof

Atlanta police have placed two men under arrest for their suspected involvement in a roofing scam that targeted elderly residents in the Druid Hills and Emory University area.

Jeffrey Glen Ogles from Griffin and Keith Derrick Ogles, of Jonesboro, are facing the accusation that they swindled tens of thousands of dollars from roofing victims, including an 84-year-old Morningside woman with short-term memory loss, who allegedly gave them over $40,000.

According to police, the woman was approached several times by the brothers, who demanded more money for repairs on her roof each time they visited. According to the investigation, the shoddy repairs that the men performed would have only cost $1,500 in work and materials if they were done properly.

Police found several additional victims around the area of Druid Hills and Emory University. Another victim, an 85-year-old man, paid the Ogles $72,000 for similar repairs. When the victim grew suspicious and began refusing to make additional payments, the suspects tried to intimidate him and threatened to destroy the work they’d already done.

Police caught up with the brothers at the Druid Hills home of another possible victim on Nov. 21 and brought them to Dekalb County Jail. They are currently being held on $50,000 bond each and have been charged with financial exploitation of the elderly.

Roofing scams frequently target the elderly, and similar scams have cropped up across the country. Some involve shoddy repairs for outrageous prices, while others involve one con man distracting the resident with a roofing evaluation while the other robs the house. Roofing schemes are especially common after major weather events that damage roofs and leave residents desperate for repair.

Investigators believe that the Ogle brothers targeted more victims, and urge anyone who hasn’t come forward yet out of fear of retaliation or embarrassment to contact the Atlanta Police Department at 404-546-4240.

Why Are Android Mobile Devices Now More Attractive to Photographers Than iOS Devices?

Stampe fotografiche

Photographers have been getting higher image quality for more than 10 years by “shooting raw,” which means that the image file from the camera’s image sensor is saved as is, before it’s processed into a JPEG, PNG, or other format. Although this means the photographer will have to do more work processing the photos manually, most enjoy the flexibility of shooting raw.

Digital single lens reflex cameras, mirrorless cameras, and even high-end compact cameras all have the ability to shoot in raw, but smartphones, unfortunately, do not — until now. Google’s latest update to its Android mobile operating system has allowed programmers to add raw photo support to apps, allowing photographers to finally shoot raw with their mobile devices.

“Because no information is compressed when shooting RAW a photographer is generally able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct issues with images that would be beyond fixing if shot in the JPEG format,” according to Jonathan Davis, manager at 42nd Street Photo, a top New York City camera store.

Prior to the new update, the only phones that supported raw were the Nokia Lumia 1520 and 1020, but now Google’s Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 will also be able to shoot in raw with the FV-5 camera app, which costs only a couple of dollars in the Google Play Store.

As mentioned, there are several advantages of shooting raw. First, no image data is lost as a result of compression algorithms. Second, there’s more depth, which means there are finer gradations that allow photographers to work with more details. Third, there’s more control over white balance.

At the same time, there are several distinct disadvantages of shooting raw. Firstly, working with the raw data is far more complicated. The average smartphone user would likely not be able to even share, edit, or do much of anything with it. Secondly, raw files are about three times as big as JPEGs and other formats.

Although shooting raw is much more complicated than pointing and shooting, those who need to scratch the itch from being bit by the photo bug will definitely want to take advantage of Android’s new feature.

Low Rental-Vacancy Leading to Increased Rents

Business Man Displaying a Spread of Cash

With demand outpacing construction and more Americans preferring to lease instead of buy, the U.S. is undergoing one of the worst rental housing shortages in over a decade, which is giving benefits to corporate landlords.

For the first time since 2001, there’s an undersupply of single-family homes and apartments to rent, according to Freddie Mac’s chief economist Frank Nothaft. His analysis reveals that the third quarter’s deficit was about 350,000, which is the most in 14 years.

“We have rentals in the Saint Louis metro and demand for rentals is as strong as it has been in over 10 years,” says Bryan Schroeder, Owner, FasterHouse Property Management. “We are raising rents slightly and keeping our vacancy rate below 7%. A lot of our renters were homeowners eight years ago and lost their homes to foreclosure and have no choice but to rent for the next several years. This combined with the traditional younger renters is keeping the rental market for single family homes very strong.”

Consequently, institutional investors are getting the upper hand. A balanced market — with neither tenants nor landlords having the upper hand — has a rental-vacancy rate of 8.2%, according to Nothaft. Census Bureau data reveals that in the third quarter, the rental-vacancy rate fell to 7.4%.

“It’s that supply-demand equation that allows us to get aggressive about raising rents,” said American Residential Properties Inc.’s chief executive officer Stephen Schmitz, who is also a landlord with more than 8,500 homes. “Three years ago, you would go to raise somebody’s rent and they could say, ‘I’ll go down the street and pay $100 less than I’m paying you now.’ But today they can’t because all those houses down the street are occupied.”

Since 2012, institutional investors have spent over $25 billion on single-family homes, which they rent out. Although the market for apartments has been in the favor of landlords for half a decade, owners of houses are now able to reduce turnover and increase rents.

Looking forward, institutional single-family landlords are going to prioritize raising rents next year, once they learn to maneuver the market’s new landscape, getting a better grip on how higher rates affect their pace of leasing, explained a JPMorgan Chase and Co. analyst.

It’s also highly likely that rental-vacancy rates will remain low, which means that this could be how the market works for awhile.

“Many of [the average families looking to rent] saw their parents lose their home, and they’re a little bit disillusioned,” said American Homes 4 Rent CEO David Singelyn. “How long will that last? I don’t know. But today there’s a significant movement to becoming a renter nation as opposed to an owner nation.”

Samsung Invests $17 Million in Electric Battery Start Up for a Less Flammable, Better Performing Electric Battery

dcc14064f86633643ed060352eca8aef-e1418103003949-1940x1091

As with any new technology, there are more and more advancements in the development of better electric cars, and an integral component of that are the electric batteries that allow them to function. The difference with electric batteries, however, is that development is often slow.

That’s about to change, at least for one battery start-up in California.

According to Forbes, a company called Seeo, based in Hayward, CA, has just received a whopping $17 million in investments from Samsung Ventures to help develop a less flammable and more efficient electric battery.

Seeo is endeavoring to create a lithium ion battery that doesn’t use a flammable liquid as an electrolyte solution. The electrolyte solution — which moves lithium ions between the cathode and the anode in the battery for energy storage — is made from a solid polymer instead.

Seeo says that their batteries will also boast a 350 Watt-hour per kilogram but aims to create one with 400 Watt/kg by 2015. This basically means that the battery will have a significantly longer range of charge than the electric batteries that are currently available.

Though these advancements could mean a more impressive battery, it is still in the developmental stages. Additionally, many Americans are not ready to make the shift to driving fully electric cars.

A popular alternative to fully electric cars (and traditional internal combustion engine vehicles) is the traditional hybrid; about 4.5 million of these vehicles were sold worldwide in 2012. Hybrids don’t run from just one power source — electric or gas — they run from both.

Though battery replacement has been a source of anxiety for hybrid owners, advancements in the hybrid battery industry have already created a better-quality, higher-performing, and more reliable battery.

Baltimore Woman Arrested on False Felony Charges Has Police Misconduct on Video to Back Up Her Claim

Pursuit police
In the wake of the grand jury verdicts over the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, in which officers were found not guilty, another case out of Baltimore, MD, has surfaced over a video recorded by a woman during a man’s arrest on the street back on March 30, 2014.

Kianga Mwamba, 36, began recording video on her cell phone after seeing a man getting arrested and potentially mistreated by Baltimore City police. Because Mwamba was behind the wheel of her car, she was told by officers that she could film — which is her legal right — but she had to find a place to park.

On the video, Mwamba is seen attempting to move the car but had been blocked in by another police car. Although she was willing to move but unable to do so, an officer approaches her vehicle.

The officer in the video then repeatedly orders Mwamba to “Get out of the f***ing car,” and although not seen on camera, the sound of a Taser can be heard over the commotion. Upon restraining Mwamba, the same officer is heard telling her, “You’re a dumb b*tch, you know that?”

Mwamba was then arrested and charged with trying to strike an officer with her vehicle — a felony charge that was later dropped after she and her criminal law attorney disputed it. Police then took Mwamba’s phone and deleted the video.

Fortunately, Mwamba’s daughter was able to recover the deleted video from the cloud storage DropBox it was sent to. The video was uploaded this past week onto YouTube by Mwamba’s attorney as evidence.

The officer filed a probable cause report and said that Mwamba, who is the daughter of a capitol police officer, refused to get out of the car and had struck another police officer with her vehicle, a claim that is not evident in the video.

The Baltimore Police Department released a statement to reporters, saying that although the video mostly captures the sound from the event rather than the visuals, the language in the video was “both offensive and unacceptable.”

“The Baltimore police department expects and demands that officers treat every citizen with respect regardless of the situation,” said the statement to WJZ News in Baltimore.

Meanwhile, the arresting officer, who has not been named, is still on the job. The incident left Mwamba with cuts, bruises, a severe sprain after the officer allegedly slammed on the ground, and emotional scars since her arrest.

But Mwamba continues to search for justice. “I want him to be charged, and I want him to understand what he did to me was wrong,” she told reporters.

First Personal Injury Claim to Use Fitbit Data Heads to Court

Athlete running road silhouette
Personal injury cases can be notoriously hard to prove, especially when it comes to claims that are difficult to quantify, like pain and suffering. But personal injury litigation just got a little easier with the help of a personal fitness tracker called Fitbit.According to Forbes, a Canadian law firm is currently putting together the first personal injury case that will use activity data gathered from a client’s Fitbit as evidence in court. The lawyers are hoping that the Fitbit data proves that the accident in which their client was involved forced her to live a less active lifestyle.

Normally, lawyers have to rely on doctor testimony to prove that their client’s fitness and lifestyle have been affected by an accident. Often these opinions face bias issues and are usually given after a doctor spends only a small amount of time with the client.

The lawyers at McLeod Law are looking to change that. Though their client was injured in an accident four years ago, before fitness trackers were widely proliferated, they’re hoping that her current Fitbit data will prove her drop in activity. Prior to the accident, the young woman was a fitness trainer. Her lawyers believe that data from her Fitbit will show that she now has lower activity levels than the average for someone of her age and profession.

“We’re expecting the results to show that her activity level is less and compromised as a result of her injury,” the woman’s lawyer, Simon Muller of McLeod Law, told Forbes.

Her lawyers won’t show raw Fitbit data in court; they’re planning to run it through an analytics platform called Vivametrica, which will compare her activity data over several months to the activity data of the general population.

“Till now we’ve always had to rely on clinical interpretation,” Muller told Forbes. “Now we’re looking at longer periods of time though the course of a day, and we have hard data.”

Muller believes that wearable fitness trackers will become crucial components not just of personal injury cases but of prosecutions as well, to disprove claims that seem less than legitimate.

“I think that this technology is an excellent source of evidence when dealing with a personal injury case such as this. In the future, I will be asking clients if they would wear anything like this to track their physical fitness in the wake of a personal injury,” says Mark Cantor, Principal Attorney at Cantor & Burger, LLC.

Muller also said that the firm is lining up several other clients who plan to use this technology to make their cases.

Brazil’s ‘Day of I Do’ Sees 2,000 Couples Tie the Knot in Sports Stadium

3a5aa1030c68eb2f660f6a70670099ad_r620x349

On Sunday, Nov. 30, as Americans were winding down their Thanksgiving weekend, or getting ready to shop for the Christmas season, nearly 2,000 couples in Brazil were saying “I do” in Rio de Janeiro.

The state hosted the ceremony for couples that make less than $1,000 per month, giving them free marriage certificates at the end. This is the eighth year for the mass wedding, which is referred to as “Dia do Sim,” which translates to “The Day of I Do” or “The Day of Yes.”

The couples were married by volunteer civil judges, but a priest representing the Archdiocese and evangelical Christian pastors were also on hand to bless the couples.

Collective weddings are nothing new. The ceremonies are common throughout the world, both as part of religion and as an option for low-income couples.

Many of the couples waited for years to get married, and some even brought their children to the ceremony. Including relatives and friends joining the celebration at the Maracanazinho sports venue, the indoor stadium saw about 12,000 people for the ceremony.

The arena, which is next to the Maracana stadium, will host Olympic events in 2016.

In order to save on transportation costs, many couples took commuter trains instead of arriving in rented limousines. Brides were seen applying their makeup and fixing their hair on the way to the wedding.

This wasn’t the only “big” wedding during the weekend. Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi married her beau Jionni LaValle in a Great Gatsby-themed ceremony on Nov. 29.

The lavish ceremony and reception were followed by an after party, where the bride and her bridesmaids wore velour tracksuits emblazoned with the word “GATSBY” in gold letters.

Earlier this year, other celebrity couples, like George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, and Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, were also married in over-the-top ceremonies. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, however, kept their event low-key, with just their children and close family present.

Florida Man Arrested After Providing Dental Treatment Without a License

Dental instruments and tools in a dentists office

A man was arrested last week for reportedly practicing dentistry out of his Jacksonville home without a license to do so.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip in January regarding the suspicious activities of 54-year-old Edgardo Paje. After collecting enough evidence over the past several months, police finally arrested the man on felony charges of practicing dentistry without a license on November 26.

According to the police report, Paje had converted one of the rooms in his home into a working dentist office, complete with a chair for patients, professional dentistry tools and Lidocaine, an anesthetic commonly used during dental procedures. Police also discovered two firearms while searching the home.

The Florida Department of Health does not have Paje listed as a licensed dental professional in the state of Florida, yet he still saw patients in his home located at 2542 Alden Trace Blvd West near Florida State College.

Neighbors believed him to be a dentist and were unaware of any illegal activity going on in the home. Paje was able to post bail a day after his arrest but has not returned to his Southside home since.

Surprisingly, this is not the first incident of its kind in Florida. Back in June, a 43-year-old man in Kissimmee was arrested for practicing dentistry out of his home without a license and for drug possession with the intent to dispense.

Gustavo Hernan Aranguren admitted to treating between 15 and 20 people in his home, mostly for orthodontic purposes. According to investigators, he had tried to obtain a license to practice dentistry in the state but was unsuccessful. Aranguren’s lawyer claims that his client has a background in dentistry and was using his skills to provide treatment to those who could not afford it.

Regardless of their intentions, practicing dentistry without a license is not only illegal, but also poses a risk for patients.

The Florida Department of Health reminds residents of the importance of seeking medical treatments only from a licensed professional. Dentists are required by law to visibly display their license in their office. Patients should be extra cautious when receiving dental treatments out of a home or garage.

It May Be Getting Cold Outside, but Home Sales Are Just Heating Up

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of Beautiful New House.

Anyone looking to list their home might think the smart thing to do is wait until spring arrives, but a new study by the online real estate agency Redfin suggests otherwise.

Contrary to popular belief, Redfin’s research shows that winter is often the best time to sell, shop for or buy a home. After looking at nationwide data of home listings, time on the market and sale price between 2010 and this past October, Redfin found that listing a home in December, January, February or March is the ideal time for homeowners to receive more than their asking price, according to the Los Angeles Times. In fact, 17% of home sales from December of 2012 were above asking price, which was the highest for the year.

The study also found that 66% of homes listed in the month of February sold within 90 days, making it a good month to sell for homeowners who are in a hurry. After the first two years of the study, researchers concluded that winter was the best time to list a home for sellers in all 19 major U.S. housing markets, including cold-weather cities like Boston and Chicago.

While there are advantages to selling in the winter, they are not monumental compared the spring and summer selling season. Still, the benefits of winter home sales keep the cold season competitive with the warmer months.

Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson says that part of what makes the winter a great season for real estate is that unlike the spring and summer months, winter home shoppers are more serious about actually purchasing a home. It also helps that many sellers take their homes off the market over the winter and wait for spring to list them again. This makes for less competition among those sellers who keep their houses on the market throughout the winter.

For home shoppers, winter also presents an opportunity to get a bargain on a great home. Many winter sellers are more willing to negotiate prices over the winter, especially if they didn’t get an offer during the fall.

“One of the best reasons to sell a home in the winter time is that even though the buyer time is down, the buyers that are out there doing open houses and shopping around are actually qualified buyers. Another reason is that during the holiday season is when most people’s homes are in the cleanest conditions it’s been in all year, preparing for family, friends, guests to visit and such. Thirdly, a lot of families that are looking to move mid year start looking during Christmas break because it’s when they have time and their kids have already finished half of the school year. All in all, winter is a great time to buy/sell a home.”

Temperatures may be cooling down across the country, but for home sellers and shoppers willing to stick it out during the cold winter, things are just heating up.