DBTC Law Firm

Recent decisions

Tweeting and Sleeping at the Wrong Place and Time Gives Reprise to a Murderer.

17-year-old Derrick Jefferson was robbed and then shot to death in Benton County. His murderer, Mr. Dimas-Martinez, was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison for aggravated robbery and capital murder. During his trial, one of the jurors slept intermittently, and another juror, despite instructions from the judge otherwise, persisted in tweeting his friends throughout the trial. On appeal, even though it was argued that the sleeping juror heard “the vast majority” of the evidence, the juror was disqualified. The tweeting juror, because he could not follow the judge’s instructions (which were to not tweet during the trial) was deemed incapable of following the judge’s other critical instructions as to findings and was thus also disqualified. The case was reversed and remanded to the trial court for another trial. Moral of the story:   If you are a juror and do not want your several days of jury duty to go to waste, keep your fellow jurors awake and make sure they follow the instructions of the judge–including not tweeting! (Dimas-Martinez vs. State, 2011 Ark. 515)

Huge (!) development in estate and gift tax law.

On January 2, 2013, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.  Generally, it “kicked the can down the road” for a few months on the pending “fiscal cliff,” but it permanently enacted one of the most significant changes in estate and gift tax law in the last several decades.  Now couples, with proper estate planning, can leave up to $10.5 million  in estate value to their chosen beneficiaries without paying any federal estate taxes.  This resolved a vast amount of uncertainty and difficulty which has existed in the estate planning area for the last several years. Continue reading

Aesop’s Fable Finds Its Way Into the Courtroom

Grasshopper husband cannot claim the benefit of ant wife’s labors during the marriage…

A recent Arkansas decision determines that laziness precludes husband receiving the standard one-half interest in marital  property.  Arkansas law provides that in a divorce, the standard rule for division of property is that it should be divided equally between the parties. Unequal division by the divorce court is very much the exception, and before an unequal division can be sustained, Arkansas Code Annotated §9-12-315 requires the Court to consider nine factors before making an unequal division of property, and state with specificity in its  written opinion the Court’s reasons for the unequal division. Continue reading

Who’s your Daddy?!

Despite DNA evidence proving that the previously presumed father is not the actual father, the Arkansas Court of Appeals holds that “once the Daddy, always the Daddy.” Arkansas law thus indulges the conclusion that even though there is a scientific certainty that a particular man is not the father of the child, if the law has already determined that he is the father, the scientific facts are not relevant.
In a recent Arkansas Court of Appeals case, the Court addressed a mother’s challenge to the presumed father’s paternity of her daughter.  On April 23, 2007, Turley Osburn gave birth to a daughter, M.G.  At the time of birth, Miles Griffin and Osburn were in a relationship and had been living together for several months.  Around the time of the birth, Griffin and Osburn signed an acknowledgment of paternity – a document whereby the mother and purported father acknowledge paternity – regarding M.G.  In late 2007, Griffin and Osburn separated. Continue reading