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Attorneys for a Nebraska death row inmate whose case inspired the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry say he should be ruled ineligible for execution because he has the intellect of a young child. John Lotter was sentenced to death for his role in the 1993 killings of Brandon Teena, a…
The judge in Bill Cosby’s retrial rejected demands from the comedian’s defense lawyers to step aside during a Thursday hearing in which they made clear they plan to attack his accuser as a greedy liar who falsely accused him of sexually assaulting her to collect a payoff. Judge Steven O’Neill…
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Lawyers across the state of Utah on Monday all received one very Not Safe For Work image in their email inboxes: a photo of a topless woman.
Several lawyers have discussed some of the challenges that arise from cryptocurrency ownership during divorce. The anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies creates the possibility for spouses to accumulate wealth that is concealed from their partner. However, this often can lead to parties searching for “pots of gold” that don’t exist.
Cryptocurrency Holdings Complicate Divorce Proceedings
Several lawyers specializing in divorce have shared some of the issues that are now arising during the judicial separation process as a consequence of cryptocurrencies.
One of the major challenges posed by cryptocurrencies is the ability for an individual to hide assets from their partner, owing to the anonymizing qualities of cryptocurrency. Toby Yerburgh, the head of family law of Collyer Bristow in the UK, recently told media that “Often in a divorce one spouse is looking for a pot of gold that doesn’t exist. But with cryptocurrencies, it’s possible the pot does exist.”
Mr. Yerburgh attests to having begun to receive cases involving one party suspecting that the other is failing to disclose cryptocurrency holdings following the spike in the popularity of virtual currencies last year.
Lawyers Seek to Educate Themselves Regarding Cryptocurrency
Victoria Clarke of UK-based Stowe Family Law, stated “Cryptocurrencies make things complex if you have a spouse who’s determined to hold on to their money, same as if they were hiding assets overseas. We have the tools to trace Bitcoin. The difficulty is that some lawyers don’t necessarily understand it yet — you need knowledge of the asset you’re trying to get hold of.”
The president-elect of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Peter Walzer, states that many American lawyers are seeking to better understand cryptocurrencies in response to their increasing persistence as an issue during the matrimonial separation.
“I’m getting calls from lawyers all over the US trying to get familiar with the language around cryptocurrencies. We have to learn some new words for old ideas,” Mr, Walzer said. Jonathan Fields of Massachusetts-based firm Fields and Dennis described cryptocurrency as “now” comprising “a standard part of our discovery process. I will make sure I’ve got the right language and questions to ensure a partner discloses their cryptocurrencies.”
Uncovering Evidence of Cryptocurrency Ownership Comprises Long and Uncertain Process
Jo Carr-West of UK-based law firm Hunters stated that cryptocurrencies are “creating another layer of distrust that we haven’t had to deal with before,” adding that “The public perception that there is a lack of a paper trail causes the anxiety.”
Concerns that a spouse may be concealing undisclosed cryptocurrency holdings from their partner can add considerable time and expense to the divorce process, as the services of a digital forensics expert are often required in order to scour for evidence of hidden crypto. However, cryptocurrencies held offline will leave scant digital footprints, resulting in little guarantee that the efforts to evidence concealed holdings will prove fruitful.
“Courts Are Being Faced With a Challenge It Doesn’t Have the Power to Deal With”
Vandana Chitroda, a partner at Royds Withy King, has emphasized that challenges that the significant volatility in the virtual currency markets poses in attempting to estimate the value of cryptocurrency holdings during a divorce. “It’s not as straightforward as valuing your ordinary shares and investments, Mrs. Chitroda said. “There will have to be valuations made at every step in the proceedings. You would then have to agree a value on the date of the final hearing.”
Mrs. Chitroda also stated that “The courts are being faced with a challenge it doesn’t have the power to deal with,” adding that “The courts have only recently started allowing people to send documents to court using email. We’re going to really have to run to keep ahead of all of this. It’s a big challenge for all of us. We’re trying hard to educate ourselves and be ready.”
Do you think that cryptocurrencies pose unique challenges to divorce proceedings? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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An increasing number of lawyers are taking payment in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. With many ICO startups destitute until their crowdsale, ether or tokens are often all they can offer. Rather than turn away business, some lawyers have admitted to taking payment in crypto. While increased acceptance of cryptocurrency – especially in such circles – is to be welcomed, it’s led to concerns that lawyers who are financially invested in a project may struggle to dispense impartial advice.
Meet the Crypto-Chasing Lawyers
It would be easy to assume that cryptocurrency acceptance in the legal profession is limited to a handful of fringe mavericks and libertarians, but it’s attracted a number of mainstream advocates. A recent article in Law.com (paywalled) quotes several lawyers who now accept crypto including Washington-based lawyer Carol Van Cleef, who helps crypto clients with compliance matters. She explains: “I’ve known for a long time that my opportunity to expand in certain areas has been affected by not taking [cryptocurrency]”.
Historically, lawyers who’ve served the poorest and most marginalized members of society have done so for ideological reasons rather than pecuniary gain. In times gone by, it was not unheard of for defense attorneys to take payment in the form of firewood, food or whatever else their clients could spare. Had Breaking Bad been filmed five years later, it’s easy to imagine wheeler-dealer lawyer Saul Goodman accepting crypto and using it to help Walter White account for his vertiginous pallets of $ 20 bills.
Tokens for Attorneys
As cryptocurrencies have entered the mainstream, their association with illicit activities has diminished, and so has the stigma of accepting them. Lawyers must tread more carefully than professionals from other sectors however and accepting crypto from startups they’re advising raise possible conflict of interest concerns. It’s common practice for cash-strapped startups to offer team members payment in tokens.
Everyone from web designers to marketers can be pacified with the promise of tokens as soon as the project launches. Any legal expert entering into such an agreement would be obliged to rule that the token constituted a utility and not a security, as to do otherwise would mean they wouldn’t get paid.
Conflict of Interest or Credibility Booster?
If a lawyer has never sent or received cryptocurrency, they seem ill-equipped to advise crypto startups on their structuring model. Cryptocurrency theory is all well and good, but to truly appreciate and understand it, proponents insist, it is necessary to experience it in action, and not just once for test purposes, but as part of everyday life. Lawyers who have gotten their hands dirty, so to speak, by using crypto should be able to understand and explain it more effectively than their counterparts who are still crypto virgins. It would be hard to see bitcoin or ethereum acceptance as presenting a conflict of interest; a lawyer taking tokens for the platform they’re advising on, however, would be a much narrower crypto case, and one that is much harder to defend.
Mainstream media organizations such as the New York Times forbid their bitcoin reporters from owning cryptocurrency, while other news sites expect their journalists to disclose any potential conflict of interest. While scribes such as the NYT’s Nathaniel Popper have earned praise for the quality of their reporting, it’s hard to shake the feeling that by watching from the sidelines, their reporting is in danger of being too detached. Just as Vietnam war journos had no qualms about hunkering down with the troops, crypto reporters with personal experience of the subject matter are likely to be better informed and more attuned to community matters.
Dirty Digital Money
Accepting crypto is “a symbol for the client about how vested you are in the area,” says DC lawyer Carol Van Cleef. Defense attorney Jay Cohen also accepts bitcoin but confesses “We cash it out when it comes in, because of the volatility”. This practice tallies with an opinion delivered by a Nebraska Supreme Court committee which advises lawyers to convert crypto to fiat expeditiously to prevent conflicts of interest caused by lawyers getting vastly over or underpaid due to bitcoin volatility.
There’s another problem though that defense lawyers accepting crypto from their clients must address: ensuring that it has not come from illegitimate activities. Cohen confesses to having to turn down bitcoin payment from a client who was charged with money laundering. Obvious red flag-raising cases aside, there’s nothing to stop lawyers from accepting crypto, as a number of firms in the U.S. and elsewhere do.
Former assistant U.S. attorney Kathryn Haun put it best when she told Law.com via email: “There is no reason to believe that cryptocurrency is illegitimate and criminally-derived any more than any other form of currency or payment. Cryptocurrencies are not special in that regard and I would think would be treated like any other funds.”
Do you think lawyers should be entitled to accept payment in crypto? Let us know in the comments section below.
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The post Lawyers Are Taking Payment in Bitcoin Despite Conflict of Interest Concerns appeared first on Bitcoin News.
Bill Cosby’s lawyers are accusing prosecutors of withholding and destroying evidence that could have helped him, reports the AP . Cosby’s lawyers, who want his criminal sexual assault case dismissed before his April retrial, say in court papers Thursday that prosecutors only recently informed them of an interview last year with…