This week's Lis on Law takes a new twist: Lis answers your questions!
My inbox has been FLOODED with questions from viewers! I'm going to try to answer as many as I can, so keep them coming! Remember to check my column archive to find my latest blog!
— Lis Wiehl
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I was watching the Winkler trial and saw the defense attorney introduce several pages of pictures allegedly representing what Matthew Winkler had on his computer at home (Mary in sexual acts in progress.) Now, I have a question — these photos were only representations of what allegedly transpired on the computer. This does not constitute a fact — it is only speculation or assumption. The judge allowed the introduction of these photos as defense exhibits without any basis in fact. It seems to me the judge would have required the computer, or the drive to be introduced with the actual downloads being the best available evidence. What is the correct thinking here? — Tom
Answer: I think you went to law school on me ... this is a question worthy of a law school exam! You are right to say that the "best evidence" of the computer images would be from the computer or hard drive itself, not pictures of the pictures. My educated guess is that the parties agreed to "stipulate" to the authenticity of the photos. This kind of stipulation is common in trials as sort of a quid pro quo ... in other words, you stipulate to some of my evidence, and I'll stipulate to yours. — Lis
I was divorced in 1986 or 1987 and lost my divorce papers. I've contacted my ex and he doesn't have a copy of his either. The courthouse also doesn't have a copy. I've now been married to my current husband for 19 years. I'm very scared if I don't find my paperwork, my marriage could be void. Can/will a judge backdate a divorce? There was no wrongdoing on mine or my ex's part, and we did get our divorce, but if the courts dropped the ball and didn't get the paperwork recorded, what can I do to resolve this? My current husband is retiring from the military and this is affecting 20 years of benefits and I can't think of our marriage being void. — Worried in Virginia
Answer: Dear Worried in Virginia, I've never seen a case of a judge "backdating" a divorce, especially if there is no documentation that the divorce decree was actually granted. So, I'd suggest two steps: first, gather up any paperwork you have relating to the divorce, such as as a summons, or even a journal or calendar detailing the events in your life around the time of the divorce — that could help you make your case. Second, I'm assuming you got the divorce without a lawyer (who would have a copy of the decree) ... so now it's time to get a lawyer to help you reconstruct a record of the divorce. If you need an attorney referral, you can call the Virginia State Bar's referral service at: 1 800 552-7977. In case you can't afford a lawyer, you can try the Legal Aid Society in Virginia at: 1-866-LEGALAID. Good luck! — Lis
How do we become included in the class action law suit regarding the tainted pet food? Is there anyone we should contact? We live in N.Y. and have had our cat affected by these foods. I believe we can get our vet to confirm our situation. — Nick
Answer: Dear Nick, You're in luck ... the law firm of Berding and Weil has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all pet owners nationwide that purchased Menu Foods brand pet food and subsequently became sick or died. The suit seeks compensation for pet owners as well as vet bills, medications, special foods and other costs incurred because of the tainted food. Additionally, the lawyers and settlements Web site provides a link at the bottom that allows you to submit your complaint to a lawyer for a free consultation. I hope this helps! — Lis
Lately in the news regarding child predators, I have been hearing defense lawyers trying to argue that their client was entrapped by the police using computers and posing as an underage child. I think that is a foolish notion and feel that the police can and should use any means available to catch these men. I think that the Perverted Justice program teaming up with law enforcement is working. Do you think letting the police use the Internet to catch child predators is wrong? It seems to me that the suspect thinks he's making contact with a child. I'm not a lawyer. I don't even know that much about the law. But it seems to me that these people are making their desires known by their actions. I think that once convicted they should never be released. I feel personally affected by this, since my wife was molested as a child. — Terry
Answer: Dear Terry, First of all, my sympathy to you and your wife ... those predators who molest children are amongst the lowest of the low in our society. So, you will not be surprised to learn that I think the police absolutely can and should use ruses such as posing as underage girls on the Internet to find and expose those predators. The predators say that such posing is unfair, but I say you should expect the police to use whatever means they legally can to reel you in and bring you to justice if you cross the line to molest children. — Lis
My apologies, but this is just a girl question. In my travels today, I happened to see you on Geraldo and just loved your lip gloss. Would you mind at all letting me know what brand you were wearing. It looked very nice on you!— Holly
Answer: Dear Holly, I'm happy to answer a "girl question." My lip gloss is "M.A.C. Lipglass" ... there’s all sorts of great shades, and they last a long time. — Lis
Your entire premise is flawed. Women are not accepting unequal pay for equal work, nor are they relying on a man to pick up the slack. To the contrary, on average, single women with college degrees make more than single men with college degrees.
Further, women have trouble getting hired for leadership positions in the rich countries you seem inclined to want to praise, such as Sweden, because employers don't want to hire a woman who gets like two years of paid maternity leave.
Maybe women aren't falling in line behind you "to achieve such swift justice" because only a few women think there actually is an injustice. (They're probably law professors, as well.)— Ben
Answer: With all due respect, my premise is absolutely not flawed. One year out of college women working full time earn 80 percent of what men earn. Ten years later, women earn 69 percent as much as men earn. (This according to the brand new study by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, based in Washington D.C.) And we're not just talking law professors: women attorneys earn nearly $375 per week less than male attorneys, women doctors earn nearly $680 per week less than male doctors, and women schoolteachers earn $86 per week less than male teachers. You can check out my book, "The 51% Minority: How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It" for all the facts and figures. — Lis
I understand your frustration, Lis, as many parents would. Thank you for your outcry on this outrageous crime. I personally feel that "evil" has entered yet again through another path which happens to be the Internet. I know, many people say that the knowledge that can be obtained through the Internet (and I agree somewhat) is astounding; however, I believe it has come to open the door for pure evil!
Thank you again for your compassion toward these parents. Hopefully, more parents will heed your warning and never let a teen have a computer in their own room. It needs to be in a public place in the home. Too many parents these days want to be their children's "friend" rather than the loving disciplinary authority of a household that they should be. — Julie
Answer: We parents have to be watchdogs for our children, letting them know what they can and cannot do ... for their own safety. But that is not enough. We also should keep pushing for increased safety on the Internet, encouraging both our children and the computer service providers to act with intelligence and common sense. We have a common goal: keeping our children safe! — Lis
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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.