Operation: Adopt a Hero

We would like to take a moment and recognize a fantastic local project going on here in Murfreesboro. Matthew O’Dell, the owner of Reveille Joe Coffee Company, has started “Operation: Adopt a Hero.”

The goal of the Operation is to get at least one stocking for every military veteran currently at the Tennessee Valley VA here in Murfreesboro. Volunteers are asked to take a stocking from Reveille Joe, fill it up with around $20 worth of materials, and return it to the store on or before December 20.

If you would like to get involved, contact Matthew at Reveille Joe. You can find them on Facebook or at their website: www.reveillejoe.com.

This holiday season, take at least one small step to show appreciation for those who secured your freedom. Joe and I are proud and thankful to support Matthew and Operation: Adopt a Hero. Join us!

-Scott-

How a Lawyer Can Help: Court Grants Motion to Waive Jail Fees; Client Gets Driver License Back

This week, a former client walked into our office to show me his driver license. As I held the license in my hand, I couldn’t help but smile.

In June, this young man had come to our office for help getting his driver license back. He had made some poor choices in his past, which resulted in a series of criminal charges, including an underage consumption charge and a DUI. As part of his DUI offense, the state revoked his driver license and he could not reacquire his license until he paid his court costs and fees in full. His total bill in costs and fees was over $15,000.

Unfortunately for our client, he was caught in a circular dilemma. He could not pay his court costs and fees until he secured employment, he could not secure employment without a driver license for transportation, and he could not get a driver license for transportation until he paid his court costs and fees. In short, until his court costs and fees reached a manageable level, he could not work or go back to school.

After a consultation with our office, we decided to take the matter head on. Our office pulled all of his court files and researched the nature of every fine and cost levied against him. We discovered that, of the $15,000 in costs and fees, over $10,000 had been assessed by the county jail. Our client had served over a year in jail and had been charged for every day he served. In our experience, a court is more likely to reduce or waive jail fees than court costs, especially those arising out of DUI offense.

Our office prepared and submitted a Motion to Waive Jail and Workhouse Fees, submitted that Motion to the court, and fought for our client to get his costs and fees reduced or waived. After negotiations with the District Attorney, our office successfully reduced our client’s court costs from $15,839.15 to $5,234.15, a reduction of over $10,000.

Had our client not decided to speak with an attorney, he may have never reduced his court costs and fees, and he may have had to wait several more years to attain his driver license.

I knew that day that I had helped him get much closer to his goal of getting his driver license back. However, to hold that license in my hand and see him smiling reminded me why I do what I do.

Do you or someone you know have a similar problem? If you have a legal issue and you aren’t sure whether a lawyer can help, don’t hesitate to ask. Our office offers free consultations precisely because we think everyone should know whether there are legal options that may provide relief.

W. Scott Kimberly Nominated for 2013 Ruthies Award for Favorite Attorney

The nominees for the 2013 Ruthies Awards, which highlight the best that Rutherford County, Tennessee, has to offer, have been published by the Daily News Journal. I am honored to be among the nominees for 2013 “Favorite Attorney.”

To support our office, you can go to the ballot for Favorite Attorney and vote for W. Scott Kimberly. You will have to scroll all the way to the bottom to find me, but it’s worth the wait!

Remember, every registered user can vote once per day, so feel free to vote early and vote often!

Who Gets the Engagement Ring When the Wedding is Called Off?

The three rings of marriage are the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering. -Anonymous

Engagements and weddings are part of life. However, some engagements do not result in weddings. When two people are engaged, but the engagement is canceled, those two people often need to determine who is entitled to keep the engagement ring, if any such ring was given.

I have written extensively on this issue over the past few months. First, I published a Legal Guide on Avvo, “Who Keeps the Engagement Ring in Tennessee?” which addresses Tennessee laws surrounding ownership of the engagement ring when a wedding is called off. Second, I published an article on Primer Magazine, part of the Legally Speaking series, “Legally Speaking: Who Gets the Engagement Ring if the Wedding is Called Off?” which surveys the various approaches that courts use to decide ownership of an engagement ring when the wedding is called off.

In short, the ownership of an engagement ring is relatively easy to determine. Every state has adopted on the approaches laid out in my Primer article. For review, the primary approaches adopted by state courts are:

  • Conditional Gift – An engagement ring is considered a gift conditioned upon marriage between the parties. If the condition does not occur, i.e., if the parties do not marry, then the gift is not completed and ownership of the ring reverts to the individual who gave (and presumably purchased) the ring.
  • Conditional Gift with Fault Considerations – An engagement ring is still considered a conditional gift. However, if the individual who gave the ring is at fault for ending the relationship, he is not entitled to a return of the engagement ring, even if the condition upon which the gift was given never occurred
  • Unconditional Gift – An engagement ring is considered a simple gift, which becomes property of the recipient once the gift is completed.

However, simply because legal ownership of the engagement ring is easy to determine does not mean that it is easy to recover the ring. For example, if the man is entitled to return of the ring, but the woman has possession of the ring, she might not hand it over simply because the man claims he has a legal right to the ring.

If an individual is entitled to legal possession of an engagement ring, but the party in control of the ring refuses to hand it over, the individual entitled to possession of the ring has a right to file an action to recover the ring. The appropriate action varies by state.

In Tennessee, an individual would need to file an “Action to Recover Personal Property,” in which the individual bringing suit could clearly lay out its claim for the ring. If the individual bringing the action is indeed entitled to ownership of the ring, the court will enter an order stating as much or award a judgment in an amount equal to the value of the ring.

If you would like to read more on ownership of an engagement ring in Tennessee, please read the Legal Guide posted on Avvo.

If you would like to read more on different approaches that state courts take in addressing ownership of an engagement ring, please read the Article posted on Primer.

Scott