Technology Feed

Rhode Island Family Courts are Moving to an E-Filing System!

Picture of Attorney Christopher Pearsall
Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

Google+ Author Profile

Publisher on Google+

By October of 2014 the Rhode Island Family Court's expect to move to a new CMS system called "Odyssey" and an e-filing system called "File & Serve."

This is a huge endeavor for the courts and hopefully the benefits will be just as great for the court's efficiency and accessibility both for attorneys and for the public.  At present the expected date for the systems to be online and implemented in the Rhode Island Family Courts is October of 2014.

Continuing legal education classes will be offered for attorneys some of which may involve credit for the education.  Instruction will be provided online both for lawyers and for the general public. 

Court staff are already being trained in the new systems in the Worker's Compensation Court which is the first court that will come online with this new system on or about March of 2014.  

The systems will enable the filing of new cases anywhere there is internet access at any time of day from any place in the world.  According to the President of the Rhode Island Bar Association, Attorney J. Robert Weisberger, Jr. in the January/February 2014 Edition of the Rhode Island Bar Journal  there will also be a public portal that will provide users with greater access to the court files.

According to Attorney Weisberger the systems will allow individual document scanning or batch scanning using bar-coded instructions to route the filings to appropriate work queues.

The courts will each be changing their procedural rules to account for the filing in each of their various courts as they see fit so the implementation will be most effective for each court based upon their systems currently in effect.

The Rhode Island Court System will be entering a new era of technology.  As with any technological progress there may be more questions as the system progresses in it's implementation than there are answers.

At a cost of a 5.9 million dollars with the Rhode Island Judiciary we can only hope that this will be a good advancement for the court and the citizens of our state.

Technology like Facebook Can Wreak Havoc on a Relationship!

Picture of Attorney Christopher Pearsall
Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

Google+ Author Profile

Publisher on Google+


Facebook and many other social networking websites have changed the world but not necessarily for the better.

Facebook in particular has opened up a doorway for people to find what they are missing in their lives.  It sounds like a good thing, doesn't it?  

But if that "something" that a husband or wife needs is something that they need from their spouse an issue arises.  Facebook's easy access to millions of people at the touch of a button allows men and women to avoid reaching out to their partners to solve their relationship issues and find that missing relationship element elsewhere.

Avoidance of relationship issues is far from the best way to maintain a positive, strong, and loving relationship with someone.  In fact, avoidance leads to a breakdown by drawing one or both of the partners in the relationship in opposite directions.

On the surface it may seem harmless.  Sometimes, it starts as finding old friends and a little bit of chat here and there to catch up on old times.  At other times it might start as a partner intentionally finding groups or people who have the same relationship issue in their life and are therefore sympathetic too it.  Before long people may have connected and cultivated and internet friendship.


It is common for this internet friendship and/or other interactions to develop into what is seemingly harmless flirting and sympathetic understanding for each others problems and gaining a deeper respect and appreciation for the person on Facebook than you otherwise have with your partner.  Many times this occurs because the person on Facebook is sympathetic to what is missing in your life because as a give and take typing over the internet there is a focus on what is missing in your life and since the person is not likely to judge you since they are not your partner, you feel comforted and perhaps even empowered and loved by the Facebook person.

Before you know it you are exchanging pictures of each other, expanding into other subjects about family and likes and dislikes while subconsiously examining your compatibility with this person.  All the while most people never notice that they are sinking deeper and deeper into the trap of destroying their own marriage by reaching out to a third-party on Facebook for their needs rather than addressing the issue they have with their partner and resolving if not strengthing the relationship.  

The person's avoidance by using technology in the form of Facebook or any other social networking forum or Instant messaging service, etc. . . becomes destructive to the relationship as they someone begin to believe that the "grass is greener on the other side of the fence."  This may or may not lead to a physical meeting which, because of the bond created over Facebook or other social media often ends up in a physical relationship which is likely to destroy their relationship with their present partner.

It is sad that social media technology like Facebook now lends itself to such ease of use on a 24/7 basis that rather than dealing with issues at hand with those who are physically in our lives here and now.  We seek fulfillment elsewhere and let present relationships deteriorate and sometimes die because it is an easy way not to deal with issues that have arisen.

Yes, technology is more and more becoming the cause of the destruction of relationships in our society and it is questionable whether the benefit of touching base with old friends from long ago is enough of a benefit to offset the destruction of our current relationships.  Certainly it prompts in many people an avoidance mentality so that it is easier to avoid relationship issues and find someone else to fulfill a missing need.  In the end, we shirk our responsibilities and destroy our own relationships by failing to take responsibility for the issues in our current relationships and running away to a person on Facebook.

In the end, Facebook has become such a tremendous tool that it has been used to justify divorces on a fault basis for what some judges consider "internet affairs" or "internet infidelities" which justify an offset in the distribution of marital assets and debts.  In some cases it has destroyed relationships between a mother and child as some judges make determinations about the change in the physical placement of a child based upon statements and pictures on a child's Facebook account which remained unsupervised by the parent.

Unfortunately Facebook is only one forum that demonstrates how technology has been able to wreak havoc on today's relationships.

Perhaps the Zuckerbergs of the world will one day realize that other than the financial bottom line, sometimes the price paid on relationships and families is too much.  When that day occurs I hope they find a way to remedy the damage that is being done by the product they created and find a way to minimize the damage it creates.

Or, is the user to be considered completely at fault for using so easily available a technology forum like Facebook rather than correcting their own relationships?


Divorce Lawyer Is Sued Along with Client Who Secretly Monitored Wife on Video

[Excerpt by Dan Hart of the Cincinnatti Enquirer

Even when Catherine Zang was home alone, her husband was watching.

A hidden video camera tracked her movements inside parts of the couple's Green Township home. A microphone behind a wall recorded sound in the living room and kitchen. Software in the computer copied her emails and instant messages.

The secret recordings went on for months, maybe longer, Zang believes. In that time, she thinks her husband spied on her day after day while she talked on the phone, sat on the couch or used the computer in what she thought was the privacy of her own home.


[Additional Excerpt by Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal]

A well-known Cincinnati lawyer is among the defendants in two federal privacy lawsuits filed by a woman and her online friend claiming the attorney intended to use secret surveillance in divorce proceedings.

Plaintiff Catherine Zang alleges her then-husband, Cincinnati home builder Joseph Zang, spied on her with a hidden video camera and microphone, as well as computer-tracking software, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Catherine Zang and the friend, Javier Luis, seek hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for wiretapping and invasion of privacy.

Catherine Zang says she discovered the devices in 2009 after her husband’s divorce lawyer, Mary Jill Donovan, revealed she had evidence portraying Catherine Zang in “unflattering, embarrassing and private settings,” the suit says. The complaint claims Donovan intended to use the evidence to obtain a favorable settlement for Joseph Zang.

 . . . . 

At issue in the suit is the reach of federal and Ohio federal wiretapping laws, the story says. The laws permit audio recordings as long as one of the parties is aware of the recording. Catherine Zang argues near constant surveillance was not permitted under the laws, however, because her husband wasn’t always at home during the taping.

Surveillance between spouses is becoming more common, according to Ken Altshuler, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “There’s absolutely been an increase in this,” he told the Enquirer. “They have very sophisticated technology now.”

Rhode Island Divorce Coaching Tip - Divorce in RI Could Go As Far as Criminal Acts!

Whether you like it or not Rhode Island Divorces with bitter spouses are no longer simple anymore.  They have risen to the level of cyber terrorism yet the law has yet to catch up with it in the area of Rhode Island Family Law.  Only criminal law seems to have reached the area of computer crime and infiltration of private information.  Here is only one example of what computer hackers are capable of.

IMF becomes latest known target of major cyber attack

WASHINGTON/BOSTON | Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:25am EDT

(Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund, the intergovernmental group that oversees the global financial system and brings together 187 member nations, has become the latest known target of a significant cyber attack.

A cybersecurity expert who has worked for both the Washington-headquartered IMF and the World Bank, its sister institution, said the intruders' goal had been to install software that would give a nation-state a "digital insider presence" on the IMF network.

Such a presence could yield a trove of non-public economic data used by the Fund to promote exchange rate stability, support balanced international trade and provide resources to remedy members' balance-of-payments crises.

"It was a targeted attack," said Tom Kellerman, who has worked for both international financial institutions and who serves on the board of a group known as the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance.

The code used in the IMF incident was developed specifically for the attack on the institution, said Kellerman, formerly responsible for cyber-intelligence within the World Bank's treasury team and now chief technology officer at AirPatrol, a cyber consultancy.

The attack on the IMF was the latest to become known in a rash of cyber break-ins that have targeted high-profile companies and institutions, often to steal secrets with potentially far-reaching economic implications. The list of victims includes Lockheed Martin Corp, Sony Corp and Citigroup Inc.

IMF spokesman David Hawley said Saturday the Fund was "fully functional," despite the attack.

"I can confirm that we are investigating an incident," he said, adding that he was not in a position to elaborate on the extent of it. He declined to respond to requests for comment on Kellerman's conclusion about the intruders' goal.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is helping to investigate the attack on the IMF, according to a U.S. Defense Department spokeswoman.


A World Bank official said the Bank had cut its network connection with the IMF out of "caution" even though the information shared on that link was "non sensitive."

Rich Mills, a Bank spokesman, said "the World Bank Group, like any other large organization, is increasingly aware of potential threats to the security of our information system and we are constantly working to improve our defenses."

Jeff Moss, a self-described computer hacker and member of the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Committee, said he believed the attack was conducted on behalf of a nation-state looking to either steal sensitive information about key IMF strategies or embarrass the organization to undermine its clout.

He said it could inspire attacks on other large institutions. "If they can't catch them, I'm afraid it might embolden others to try," said Moss, who is chief security officer for ICANN.

But cyber security experts cautioned it might be difficult for investigators to prove which nation was behind the attack.

"Even developing nations are able to leverage the Internet in order to change their standing and ability to influence," said Jeffrey Carr, author of the book, "Inside Cyber Warfare."

"It's something they never could have done before without gold or without military might," Carr said.

Experts say cyber threats are increasing worldwide. CIA Director Leon Panetta told the U.S. Congress this week the United States faced the "real possibility" of a crippling cyber attack.

"The next Pearl Harbor that we confront," he said, could be a cyber attack that "cripples our power systems, our grid, our security systems, our financial systems, our governmental systems."

"This is a real possibility in today's world," Panetta told a June 9 confirmation hearing in his bid to become the next U.S. defense secretary.


Bloomberg News reported the attack occurred before the May 14 arrest of former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges. It resulted in the loss of e-mails and other documents, Bloomberg said.

The New York Times cited computer experts as saying the IMF's board of directors was told of the attack on Wednesday, though the assault had lasted several months.

An Internal IMF memo issued on Wednesday warned employees to be on their guard.

"Last week we detected some suspicious file transfers, and the subsequent investigation established that a Fund desktop computer had been compromised and used to access some Fund systems," said a June 8 email to employees from Chief Information Officer Jonathan Palmer.

Details of the email were first reported by Bloomberg. Reuters' sources confirmed the wording of the email.

"At this point, we have no reason to believe that any personal information was sought for fraud purposes," the message to employees said.

Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier by sales and the biggest information technology provider to the U.S. government, disclosed two weeks ago that it had thwarted a "significant" cyber attack. It said it had become a "frequent target of adversaries around the world."

Also hit recently have been Citigroup Inc, Sony Corp and Google Inc.

The IMF is seeking a new head following the resignation of Strauss-Kahn after he was charged with the sexual assault of a New York hotel maid.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, Jim Finkle, Jim Wolf, Jim Vicini; Editing by Peter Cooney, Todd Eastham and Paul Simao)


Privacy is no longer something to be considered sacred anymore and some parties in a divorce have taken matters to new heights, going so far as infecting computers with hidden software programs that go virtually unnoticed by the user while the spouse is constantly fed your private information.

Imagine being in a Rhode Island divorce proceeding only to have your private emails and banking records thrown at your own attorney in the courtroom hallway. 

Imagine having your account at BANK RI drained of funds by a transfer you never authorized.

Imagine having fraudulent information published on your Facebook page to be used against you in your divorce when they were planted by your spouse who has stooped to a new low in guerilla divorce tactics.

These are only a few of the actions that spouses have taken or could take to cripple you in a divorce proceeding whether they contain accurate information or fraudulent information.

Denial is usually the first level a spouse will arrive at if these things are even mentioned, yet the reality of the things are that people who can do these things are readily available through the internet or through internet contacts.  Sadly there are even companies that sell little known programs that will do some very damaging and intrusive things to you in your RI Divorce proceeding without having the slightest amount of computer knowledge at all.

In the end, depending upon how the person engaged by your spouse approaches the situation, or which spouse performs the actions, or which spouse even "owns" the computer, the spouse taking these denigrating acts of violation or hires a person to do so may have committed a state or federal computer crime punishable by fines or jail time.  Yet many spouses, especially those with children, bank on the very fact that the spouse begin victimized by these computer invasions of privacy would never cause the mother or the father of their children to be labeled as a criminal.

Ultimately, if you have a computer, especially one connected to the internet by a cable or DSL internet service your level of awareness during a divorce should be increased as should that of your divorce lawyer. 

Yes, Rhode Island divorces could (and frankly have) become subject to criminal acts out of everything from emotion, to vengeance to extreme acts of protection which may be, in fact, criminal.

Watch your back!  Watch your front!  Watch your kids!  But be ever vigilant that your computer may be used to watch YOU!

A Tip for Rhode Island Lawyers to Protect Divorce Files and Clients

Protecting yourself and your clients is more than just about the law we know.  Tragedy could strike at any time.  A hard drive quits on you.  Files get corrupted from a sudden surge of electricity.  Files can get lost based upon an immediate loss of power without proper battery backup systems.  This should be a concern of lawyers in Rhode Island practicing divorce.  

You and your clients deserve to be protected in more ways than one.  I've tried and tested virtually every major internet backup system from its security regarding your client files to its backup speed.  My recommendation is head and shoulders above the rest.  Feel free to check out their free account and their free trial.  This company is top notch for a reason.  I have yet to find something they don't have covered.  So, lawyers here you have it below..... and clients you should be checking to see if your attorney is on the internet from their law office and, if so, who do they have backing up your file data securely.  Sloppy backups mean your personal information is subject to access and could be in anyone's hands if they aren't careful.  

Attorney/Client privilege doesn't mean too much if your attorney doesn't have your file information securely protected and backed up.


Try SugarSync Free!

In my humble opinion, this company is hands-down one of the best secure backup companies for legal professions.  Fast, Encrypted, Multi-Location Access, Syncing Between Computers and so much more.  I was convinced on the free trial.  Go ahead.  Put these guys to the test and Try SugarSync for Free and share your opinion with me.  I'd like to hear what you have to say.  I want the best for my clients and for the security of my law practice.  Your opinion matters.  Let me know what you think.  Feel free to click the graphic and give them a shot with their free account.  There is no obligation whatsoever.  Then try Mozy, Carbonite and the others and give me your honest opinion.  In the end, you get what you pay for and when you pay for this service I think you get the best.  If you think someone out there is offering something better, please let me know.