Tuesday, December 22, 2009

EdenPURE Infrared Heater - Product Review

You may have seen the infomercials featuring Bob Vila in a warm, comfortably heated living room. Vila kneels close to a portable heater while a family sits leisurely going about their activities. The message is that this portable heater is safer because of an infrared heating process that eliminates hot spots and that this heater costs less to operate.

I have a background in marketing and advertising. My father has been in the business 50 years and I have helped to write copy (the message in an advertisement) that can turn a negative into a positive. My legal background also allows me to understand how people attempt to shape the 'truth' to fit their agenda.

After seeing some of the claims made about this product I decided that it would be fun to order one knowing that it would be returned because it cannot meet the claims made.

I ordered the Gen3 Model 1000 that is supposed to heat a 1000 square foot area with eight foot ceilings. This model has a 1500 watt rating and can operate from any grounded household outlet.

Before we get to the test results let's first review some of the claims as they appear on the EdenPURE website:

"Typical heating sources like furnaces, fireplaces, corn/fuel/propane burners, and normal space heaters reduce humidity which dries out your skin and sinuses causing bloody noses, and irritated eyes." I do not doubt this at all. Winter air overall is dried whether it is artificially heated. Some type of humidity system should be used by anyone who experiences those symptoms.

"The EdenPure heating system also heats the room evenly, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. Other heating sources heat rooms unevenly with most of the heat ending up near the ceiling." This was the statement that led to the decision to purchase this product and test it. I am not a physicist by any means but physics is just one of the many subjects I have studied and I, along with nearly everyone else, know that heat rises. Vila suggest that this product defies the laws of physics saying "The result is the heat you need to feel comfortable is now down low where you dwell and you are no longer wasting money heating the ceiling!"

The most spurious claim is that "it pays for itself in a matter of weeks!"

So onto the test. The first test location was a brick three-car garage with ceiling just under eight feet.. Overall square footage is about 700. The walls are insulated with 3.5" R13 batts. The outdoor temperature starts in the high 40's and peaks around 52 Fahrenheit. According to the claims made by EdenPure this heater should make this garage very comfortable. The indoor temperature is slightly cooler, nearer the overnight temperature.

The heater is placed in the center of the garage and turned on in mid-morning. For this initial test only a single thermometer was used. The result was that by late afternoon the temperature has risen to 53 degrees.

The second test was in a lapboard siding house also with walls that are insulated with 3.5" R13 batts and ceiling under eight feet. The footprint is 42 x 23 feet resulting in square footage just under 1000. The outdoor temperature overnight and through the day ranged between 30 and 34 degrees. The temperature in the living room, where the heater was placed, was 46 degrees at the beginning of the test. After three hours of running the heater non-stop there was little overall temperature change in the house.

The living room at chest level was 52 degrees which was achieved somewhat quickly, slightly warmer at the ceiling and significantly cooler on the floor. The hallway was slightly warmer along with the two bedrooms. Further back in the house, on the North side, there was no temperature change in the kitchen or bathroom which both remained around 43 degrees.

For a comparison test a Holmes 1500 Watt ceramic portable space heater purchased at a mass retailer for $24 was used. After the room temperatures had returned to their starting levels the test was ran again using the Holmes heater. The Holmes heater produced hotter air that seemed to blow about the same distance as the EdenPure heater.

After three hours of running the heater non-stop there was little overall temperature change in the house. The results were nearly identical as the previous test except that the living room was slightly warmer at 53 degrees. The wall surfaces seemed warmer also but this could be attributable to the heating in the prior test being retained after the air temperature had dropped.

I my many years of life I have lived in homes with steam radiators, oil furnace, natural gas furnace and electric furnace as whole-house heating sources. I have found each to function better than the EdenPure heater. In comparing the cost of heating a similar sized home to 65 degrees using a natural gas heater the EdenPure would cost the same to keep the same house around 50 degrees. This is hardly a cost savings.

In looking at how to turn a negative into a positive Vila shows us a thermal imaging video of the room and points out that there are no "hot spots". This is what the claim that the EdenPure heats the room evenly is based upon. What you are not told in this advertisement is that no part of the the room is hot. There are no hot spots because the entire room is cool.

Based upon all the miraculous claims made about this heater, such as it can defy the laws of physics, I was left wondering why this heater wasn't accompanied by a perpetual motion machine that would produce its own electricity to operate it.

My best advice. Save your $397 and use a furnace at much lower cost or get the same or better results from a $24 space heater.

If you think it is too good to be true that a 1500 watt space heater can sufficiently heat an entire house that is because it is. This proves once again the old saying, If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Child Support Modification pays for itself

Nearly everyday I get a request from someone to provide legal assistance. These requests are usually for child custody and support issues. Family law is my specialty both as a lobbyist and legal instructor and is where I am usually recommended.

I provide guidance on not only what forms to use or how to draft pleadings but also what stressors to expect in the courtroom and coping skills to apply. I also have a substantial collection of cases that clients may read to gain insight into how court's apply the law and what is and is not successful. I do this for clients whether they are represented by attorneys.

In short, I am a consultant that specializes in maximizing the effectiveness of your time, the court and your attorney if you are represented. For those who are represented, my fees are easily paid for by the savings in attorney fees. Of course you cannot put a price on the cost of losing a custody issue because you were not properly training in the procedure.

What has prompted me to write about this issue today is the matter of financial compensation. I don't accept one new client per day. This is not because there are not enough legitimate cases out there, there are plenty. The interesting thing is that the vast majority of people who want to use my service simply refuse to pay for it.

In examining this issue let's first consider what money is. Money is a store of labour. That is it is a medium of exchange for the work done by a person which can be exchanged for the goods or services provided by another. Essentially when you pay for something you are working.

So why then do so many people refuse to "work" to modify custody or child support issues related to their children? There is one conclusion that stands out as obvious; these people aren't willing to put forth an effort for their children. This leads me to the harsh reality that maybe this is why they don't have custody to begin with.

There are some people who truly cannot afford to pay me for a full blown child custody battle that can run as high as $2000 through me or $25,000 using an attorney. I wonder though why someone who cannot afford $250 for a simple modification thinks he or she is financially fit enough to provide for the children.

Child support modifications pay for themselves. I used an attorney for my first modification. It took 13 weeks for that to pay for itself. I then did another modification myself which reduced my support to less than 1/3 of what the attorney got it down to.

The modifications that I have helped people obtain usually pay for themselves in about a month, sometimes less. Still, I often hear, "I can't afford that." Here is an actual quote that I recently received: "I can not cover any fees....Thanks for your time though"

I am left to wonder why allowing child support arrears to build and facing contempt hearings and potential jail time is what people can afford. It would seem that those people who really care about their children would not want to be in that situation and could afford (work) to see that it doesn't happen.

When it comes to child support or custody how can someone not afford to be prepared. Having my child support payments set $6000 per year too high was something I could not afford. As an unemployed stay-at-home parent I couldn't afford not to have it reduced. A year ago I wrote about why now may be the time to seek a child support payment modification. It still applies.

If you don't mind paying less than the value you will receive please contact me. But if you want something for nothing just stand on a street corner with a tin cup. I don't charge based upon supply and demand. I simply charge the least I can afford to live on and then only take the cases that I strongly support. That is why I have an application process for my services.

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Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

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©2008, 2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Friday, December 11, 2009

2010 Indiana Senate Bill 0070 - SB70 Adoption Paternity

In July of this year as I was reading the opinions of the Indiana Supreme Court I came across a case involving the custody of an unborn child. The mother had filed a petition for the child to be adopted. The father filed a paternity action to stop the adoption. I wrote about this case here.

The trial court ruled that the father had irrevocably consented to the adoption by not filing an objection in the trial court and the Court of Appeals agreed. The Supreme Court disagreed, correctly, and reversed the judgment.

The confusion arose from a discrepancy in the adoption and paternity laws. The local court rules permitted adoption petitions to be filed in any court, but required that all paternity cases "shall be filed" in the Circuit Court. The father complied. The adoptive parents argued to the Superior Court that the father had irrevocably and impliedly consented to the adoption solely because he had not filed a motion to contest the adoption in that court within thirty days of receiving notice.

The Superior Court entered an order finding that the father had failed to file in the Supe-rior Court a timely motion to contest the adoption as required by Indiana Code § 31-19-10-1(b) and, based solely on this ground, it found the father's consent therefore irrevocably implied under Indiana Code § 31-19-9-12(1). The court also found adoption to be in the child's best interests, granted the adoption, and ordered that the father's parental rights be terminated. The father appealed and the judgment was upheld.

The holding was that the statute authorizing the filing of a motion to contest an adoption states: "A person contesting an adoption must file a motion to contest the adoption with the court not later than thirty (30) days after service of notice of the pending adoption." Id. § 31-19-10-1(b) (emphasis added) and that the father did not file with the adoption court. The Supreme Court reversed on the ground that the statute does not specify with particularity what court.

In response I submitted this bill to my state senator, Phil Boots. Senator Boots submitted my proposal to the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) who crafted this bill which was introduced by Senator Boots.

When the bill comes on for hearing I will need people who have gone through a paternity proceeding or objected to an adoption of his child to testify. Please contact me if you can do this.


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Survey Responses - Right to remain silent

The responses to the survey about the Right to Remain Silent when Questioned by a Police Officer have been received and the survey is closed. The reason I created this survey was because I was watching one of those television programs about a criminal conviction being challenged with DNA evidence. Ultimately, it turns out that the person convicted is exonerated based upon the newly obtained DNA evidence. These types of programs go through the background of the case, a re-enactment and sometimes show interviews of witnesses and the suspect. This one showed portions of an interview of the convicted suspect who signed a confession.

Coerced police confessions are not always the result of the dramatic beating of a suspect as is often portrayed in movies. Prior to the famous Miranda case was Watts v Indiana in 1949. There the United States Supreme Court overturned the confession of a suspect who was held for days in solitary confinement in a cell with no place to sit or sleep except on the floor, and was interrogated by relays of police officers, usually until long past midnight.

In this article methods to reducing false confessions are discussed. Of course that doesn't mean that police beatings to force confessions do not still occur. This 2008 story is about a beating of a suspect by the Chicago Police Department.

The right to remain silent exist at many points during police contact. Police officers are not required to advise you of your constitutional right to remain silent and your constitutional right to an attorney unless you are “in custody.” This does not necessarily mean that you have to be in a police vehicle, or in handcuffs, or at the police station. If you have been advised by a police officer to remain somewhere then you are "in custody". The only questions you need to answer are your name and address.

The ACLU provides this article about the erosion of the right.

In Missouri v Seibert, Patrice Seibert was convicted of second-degree murder for her role in the death of Donald Rector in a fire in the mobile home they shared. Seibert was arrested five days after the fire. Before her arrest, a supervising officer told the officers sent out to question Seibert to advise her of her Miranda rights. But before doing so, an officer interrogated her alone for nearly an hour until she made a statement implicating herself.  
The officer then gave her a break and a cup of coffee, and came back 20 minutes later to read Seibert her Miranda rights. He had her sign a waiver, turned on a tape recorder and had her repeat the statements she had made prior to the Miranda warning. The officer said he had been trained to conduct the interrogation this way.
Missouri's highest court later reversed Seibert's conviction due to the unconstitutional method the police had used to obtain her statements.

That tactic is becoming more common, not less, even after the Seibert ruling. If you don't want to sit in prison awaiting the ruling of an appeals court then keep silent.

Police departments in Arizona, a bastion of corruption, are not quick to learn about the rights of citizens. I have previously written about the Arizona Attorney General stealing tax return checks. In Edwards v Arizona the US Supreme Court ruled that once a suspect invokes his right to remain silent and request for legal counsel he cannot waive that right unless the waiver is made knowingly and intelligently.

Ultimately there is one conclusion; invoke your right to remain silent and demand immunity if you are going to speak to the police. One of the alarming results was that 36% of the respondents felt that speak to the police would eliminate themselves as a suspect. The reality is that this just doesn't happen. Police interview suspects to build a case against them without regard for truth. The Miranda right clearly states this; your statements will be used against you.

The results are in no way scientific. The survey was open to anyone through my blawg, Facebook friends and a community chat forum. I have added some commentary and supporting reasoning to both documents.

Survey Answers

Survey Results


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Custody discussions with Legislators this week

On Tuesday 01 December 2009 I attended a discussion forum on the proposed constitutional amendment to cap property taxes. The event was hosted by the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association with the help of Aaron Smith of WatchDog Indiana. Senators, Breaux, Schnieder and Taylor along with Representatives Delaney and Noe attended the event.

There was lively discussion and debate about the merits of and potential problems with a constitutional limit on property taxes. Although I live in Lebanon now, I grew up in the MKNA area. This provided an opportunity to see quite a few people I know and to also make some new acquaintances. But, taxes are not my issue so I will move on to child custody issues.

Before and after the event I had the opportunity to speak with most of the legislators. Senator Schneider is the state's newest senator after having replace Terresa Lubbers in August of this year. Lubbers took a job as the Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education. Senator Schneider is a fiscal conservative who expressed interest in child custody matters and would like to be included in our efforts.

Senator Taylor and I spoke about some legislation that we have been working on since the last session. Senator Taylor sat on the Indiana Child Custody and Support Advisory Committee [ICCSAC] as a freshman member this year. He believes that he will be able to sponsor two of our bills.

Representative Noe and I discussed family law issues in general and where we would like to see Indiana headed in that arena. Representative Noe is the legislator I have worked with the longest on child custody issues. She is very firmly is support of children having access to and the care and support of both parents and other child-friendly legislation. She may be able to sponsor a bill for us although limited to only five this session.

On Tuesday I spoke with Senator Boots about a bill that I proposed to bring conformity to Indiana's adoption and paternity laws. Back in July of this year I wrote about the rare but important need for this bill and contacted Senator Boots then. I am very appreciative that Senator Boots had submitted that bill on Monday.

I do believe that this bill will go through the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Bray. I am confident that Senator Bray will set this bill for a hearing and that, with proper testimonial support, it will get passed. I would appreciate anyone having experience as a party, especially pro se, or attorney who has filed a paternity action while an adoption action involving the same child was pending to please contact me.

Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates currently has six bills we are seeking to get passed during this short session of the General Assembly. We would like to have the remaining five bills submitted by opening day on 05 January 2010. We are starting to make substantive progress to make Indiana a more child-friendly state but do need additional help. If you can do as little as forward an email please contact us.

Members of the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates will be meeting again on 21 December 2009 at 7:30pm at the Marrott in Indianapolis. Our legislative liaisons will be attending the opening day of the second session of the 116th Assembly at the State House on Tuesday, 05 January 2010.

If you would like to assist us or meet your legislators on opening day please contact me.


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Your right to remain silent when questioned by a police officer

If you haven't actually been interviewed by a detective you most likely have seen a police interview portrayed in a movie or television show. Some times the portrayal is very realistic and others times far from reality.

Before continuing I would like for you to take a simple eight question multiple choice survey about the right to remain silent when being questioned by a police officer. Please do not complete the survey after reading this article as it will skew the results. Each question has a 'most correct' answer but this survey is designed to measure common knowledge of the population prior to reading this article.

Access the survey here.

I was drawn to this topic by the recent perjured statements made by Colfax Indiana Marshal Duane Lewellen to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. More about that is available here. Lewellen had come to my house and asked about a political sign. He then lied about it to the court.

I am reminded that there is no circumstance in which a person should consent to a police interview unless immunity has been granted. There are two phenomena that occur within policing that raise concern and require that you not consent to a police interview. The first is what is known as "testilying" and occurs as part of the police training process.

Testilying is the act of police officers going into court or giving depositions in which the officers fails to abide by his oath to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth". This is often manifested by the omission of exculpatory evidence, statements or events. It can range from simply having "no recollection" of events favourable to you up to saying that you admitted to the crime when you did nothing more than say you want to speak to a lawyer.

Here is an example of "testilying" and just one of the reasons why you don't want to speak to the police. You are asked about a guy who was severely beaten in the parking lot outside a bar after being seen with you inside. During questioning, which you are told is part of gathering "witness statements" you tell the investigator, "I have no idea who could have done it. I didn't see anyone with him. You know, it could have been anyone. He was always arguing and getting into fights. I mean, we were arguing about his girlfriend that night right before he walked out. She had been in there earlier and he smacked her for dancing with some guy and then threatened him. The two of them left and I told him you can't just hit a woman like that. He got all irritated with me and left."

This sounds like helpful information to the police. You have provided information that he gets in lots of fights and had just hit his girlfriend and threatened the guy she was with right before he left the bar. But after the prosecutor finds out that you had been fired from the victim's construction company a week earlier the case takes a different turn. At your trial the officer testifies that, "The suspect told me that he and the victim had been arguing over his girlfriend right before the victim left the bar." Sounds like your "helpful" statement is being used against you.

Another thing that causes officers to target the innocent is "noble cause corruption" [NCC] which is basically a breaking of the rules with an intent to uphold the greater goal of protecting society. Street-level NCC occurs when officers plant evidence, use their “sixth sense” as opposed to establishing probable cause facts, describe the elements of a misdemeanor in such a way that it becomes a felony, and commit "testilying".  All of these are police felonies based on the passion to prevent crime, a rationale that is the linchpin of noble cause corruption.

Although not all officers engage in NCC it is still pervasive and often acquiesced by other officers and administrators. Just look at the Rodney King incident as an example. Police reports put the speed King was driving at 110mph plus in a Hyundai. Officers from three police departments observed a felony in progress, the illegal beating of King, and either participated or did nothing to stop it. These officers have rationalized such willful actions as an ends-justify-the-means rationale, arguing that their necessary violations result in societal predators being incarcerated for as long as possible.  However, our entire criminal justice system is based on the premise that all police officers always tell the truth. The informed populace knows this to not be true.

So, what should you do when the police attempt to or request to interview you? The first thing to do is ask for immunity and then a lawyer. The purpose for the Fifth Amendment protection against self incrimination is to protect the innocent. In Ullman v US [350 US 422 (1956)] the US Supreme Court said, "This constitutional protection must not be interpreted in a hostile or niggardly spirit. Too many, even those who should be better advised, view this privilege as a shelter for wrongdoers. They too readily assume that those who invoke it are either guilty of crime or commit perjury in claiming the privilege. Such a view does scant honor to the patriots who sponsored the Bill of Rights as a condition to acceptance of the Constitution by the ratifying States." In Ohio v Reiner [532 US 17 (2001)] the US Supreme Court said, "This Court has never held, however, that the privilege is unavailable to those who claim innocence. To the contrary, the Court has emphasized that one of the Fifth Amendment's basic functions is to protect innocent persons who might otherwise be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances."

Before questioning an interviewee the police are required to read a Miranda Warning. The Miranda Warning is not a right but an explanation of a right. It came about in 1966 as a result of the decision in Miranda v Arizona. Police were able to take advantage of the fact that not everyone knows their rights by heart. In fact, it is likely that most citizens could name a few of their rights as accused criminals, but not all of them. The police's position was that if the accused, for example, spoke about a crime without knowing that they did not need to, that it was the person's fault for not invoking that right, even if he or she did not know, or did not remember, that the right was available.

Misinformation is common about police techniques and the rights of citizen's. I have seen it in many movies and still hear often that "If you ask the cop a question he has to answer truthfully." That is simply not true. Sometimes an officer may say that the questions are "off the record". There is no such thing as "off the record" when talking to a police officer. The courts have ruled that there is no misconduct in police interviewers lying to suspects to elicit information and statements obtained through deceit can be used just as readily as others. United States v. Montgomery, 555 F.3d 623 (7th Cir. 2009).

When it comes to police interviews there is no such thing as an obligation to be helpful, polite, cooperative or to attend. Keep in mind that when the Miranda Warning is read that the police are telling you their bias up front. The purpose of the interview is to gain information to use "against you in a court of law."

Although you may feel that you have nothing to hide, are innocent, haven't done anything wrong, want to help, can talk your way out of it or that cooperating will get you favour with the court, none of that can help you as much as staying silent. Consider your odds of being able to outfox the interviewer. This is someone who has been trained to conduct interviews; knows how to get a subject to relax, can lie to you with a straight face and is willing to get paid overtime until he or she gets you to admit to something just to be able to leave.

If you think you could be pulled off a basketball court, handed a set of clubs and beat Tiger Woods or get yanked off your couch, put in a racecar and beat Michael Schumacher then by all means consent to a police interview. If you don't have those abilities then don't take a chance with your freedom by consenting to a police interview. Demand immunity and then a lawyer.

If you have been accused of a crime, charged, arrested or requested to consent to an interview by police you should contact me immediately.


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.