IMPORTANT RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AT THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Posted on: October 23rd, 2017

The FCC is designing several auctions right now that could be of interest to any telecommunications provider.  While dates for these auctions have not been set, there is significant activity at the FCC regarding these matters right now.  

The attorneys at Kitchens New Cleghorn can help you understand these opportunities.  They can guide you through the auction process.  And they can assist you in matters such as corporate formation, partnership arrangements, or acquisition of or access to spectrum or fixed facilities.   

In Auction 903, the FCC will award on-going high-cost universal service support through competitive bidding in a multiple round, reverse auction.  Telecommunications providers who are willing to deploy high-speed broadband and voice services to fixed locations in unserved communities using either wire facilities or radiofrequency spectrum are eligible for this auction.

Of course, there are still many details being worked out by the FCC at this time concerning this auction.  For example, the FCC is considering application requirements, reserve prices, bidding procedures, and many other items.  Reply comments can be filed by interested parties in October.  Thereafter, the FCC will digest these comments and then issue the necessary orders to establish the auction and set dates for filing applications.  There will be a lot to do during this period, so getting a head start makes sense.  You can start now with the help of Kitchens New Cleghorn attorneys.

The second upcoming auction will involve spectrum above 24 GHZ.  This is also referred to as millimeter wavelength spectrum.  Historically, this spectrum was not attractive because of the degradation in technical performance over relatively short distances.  However, people now think that, with smaller cell sites contemplated for 5G wireless and the Internet of Things (IoT), these characteristics are actually assets rather than liabilities.

The FCC is currently establishing necessary rules for the new wireless service and for clearing some of that spectrum or establishing safeguards for protecting existing licensees or for permitting licensees to share portions of some of these spectrum bands.  In July of last year, the FCC issued a lengthy and detailed Report and Order (R&O) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM).

In the R&O it established a new service:  Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service or UMFUS.  It designated the service as either fixed or mobile, and assigned portions of the 28, 37, and 39 GHZ bands to that service.  It also established the necessary rules for an auction and set eligibility, license term, license areas, and technical rules for UMFUS.  All of this was required to conform to international radiofrequency regulatory rules, among other reasons.

In the FNPRM the FCC is currently proposing to add portions of the 24, 32, 42, 47 and 50 GHZ bands (and maybe the 70/80 and 95 GHZ bands) to the new UMFS.  (There also were petitions for reconsideration of portions of the R&O, and these are also active and will likely be resolved in conjunctions with the FCC’s actions on the FNPRM.)

A third auction will involve the 3.5 GHZ Band (3550-3700 MHZ).  At its October 24, 2017, Open Meeting the FCC will consider a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in GN Docket No. 17-258 to take steps necessary to make the spectrum available, to set the license areas, to set the license term, etc.   A draft of the NPRM was released October 3, 2017.  Assuming the FCC adopts the NPRM, Comments will be due 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register (and Rely Comments will be due 60 days after that publication).

Finally, like many other nations, the FCC is beginning to focus on spectrum between 3.7 and 24GHZ.  In a draft Notice of Inquiry (NoI) released August 3, 2017 (GN Docket No. 17-183), the FCC sought detailed comments on three specific bands:  3.7-4.2 GHZ; 5.925-6.425 GHZ; and, 6.425-7.125 GHZ (although at also seeks comments on any of the spectrum between 3.7 and 24 GHZ).  Comments were filed October 2, 2017.  Reply comments are due November 1, 2017.  This proceeding is in the very early stages, but it has already received the attention of significant entities, so interest is high.

The attorneys at Kitchens New Cleghorn have the experience to help you understand these matters and to help you participate in these auctions if they are right for you.  Just call us at 678-244-2880.  We can provide you with some preliminary information to help you determine if and how you might like to proceed. 


MSPB MOMENT: ENFORCEMENT OF A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WHEN JURISDICTION NOT ESTABLISHED

Posted on: March 7th, 2017

Joyce Delorme was appointed to the position of Police Officer for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in March, 2011. She was terminated in July, 2012, and filed an MSPB appeal. The Agency claimed she was a probationary employee; she claimed she was only on probation one year, not two, and was a Title 5 employee. Before the jurisdiction issue was resolved, the parties entered into a settlement agreement, with the stipulation that the agreement was submitted for enforcement by the Board. The appeal was dismissed as withdrawn. In October, 2015, Ms. Delorme filed a petition for enforcement. The Administrative Judge dismissed the appeal, deciding that the agreement was not enforceable by the Board because the question of whether the Board had jurisdiction in the underlying appeal had not been resolved. Overruling Shaw v. Dept. of the Navy, 39 MSPR 586 (1989), and its progeny, the Board held that it has enforcement authority over settlement agreements that have been entered into the record, even if Board jurisdiction of the underlying appeal has not been established pursuant to 5 USC §§ 1204(a)(1)-(2) and 7701(h). The Board held that the source of the Board’s authority to enforce settlement agreements is independent of the Board’s jurisdiction over the underlying matter appealed. Delorme v. Dept. of the Interior, 2017 MSPB 2.

PRACTICE TIP: Based on the clarification provided by the Board in the above case, if you stipulate that a settlement agreement is enforceable by the Board, you can file a Petition to Enforce with the Administrative Judge, even if the issue of Board jurisdiction over the underlying appeal was not resolved before settlement.

Discuss your MSPB Case

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MSPB MOMENT: APPEAL FROM A TEMPORARY APPOINTMENT – HOW MUCH TIME IN SERVICE REQUIRED?

Posted on: February 27th, 2017

          Harris Winns served the US Postal Service in a series of four temporary time-limited appointments of less than a year, separated by several days.  On February 6, 2014, he was appointed to a temporary Postal Support Employee position following a 5-day break in service.  Nine months later, before the appointment expired, he was fired for alleged misconduct.

          In order to establish jurisdiction, Mr. Winns would have to show that he had completed one year of current continuous service at the time he was terminated.  The Board in Roden v. TVA, 25 MSPR 363 (1984), held that a preference-eligible employee who held a series of five temporary appointments to the same position, separated by short breaks in service, had engaged in more than one year of continuous service.  Approximately 3 and ½ years later, OPM promulgated 5 CFR § 752.402, which states, “Current continuous employment means a period of employment or service immediately preceding an adverse action without a break in Federal civilian employment of a workday.”  Therefore, Mr. Winns’ service did not count as “current continuous service,” and the Board did not have jurisdiction over the appeal of his termination.

Winns v. US Postal Service, 2017 MSPB 1.

 

          PRACTICE TIP:  Based on the clarification provided by the Board in the above case, when a term or temporary employee has less than one year of continuous service, Kitchens New Cleghorn recommends exploring other bases for appeals, such as incidents of discrimination or whistleblowing.

Discuss your MSPB Case

Discuss your MSPB case
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MSPB Moment: Whistleblower Appeals & Hostile Work Environment

Posted on: January 10th, 2017

Tommie G. Savage, a Contract Specialist with the U. S. Army Engineer and Support Center in Huntsville, Alabama, reported what she believed to be illegal and improper contracting activities beginning in late 2006.  Her concerns were validated by a subsequent audit in 2007.  In 2008, she made additional disclosures about alleged violations of the Federal Acquisition regulations.  In 2009, she filed an EEO complaint for hostile work environment. She was terminated for AWOL, excessive absences, and unavailability to report for duty in 2009, and filed an EEO complaint.  In 2011, the Agency issued a final agency decision and she filed a timely appeal.  She requested and received a dismissal without prejudice to file a whistleblowing retaliation complaint pursuant to the Whistleblowing Protection Act (WPA) with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), and included a claim of hostile work environment.

The Merit Systems Protection Board held that “the creation of a hostile work environment is itself a personnel action for purposes of the WPA.”  Savage v. Dept. of the Army, 122 MSPR 612 , ¶ 23 (2015).

MSPB attorneys of Kitchens, New, Cleghorn LLC can help your case before the Merit Systems Protection Board. Contact us today.


Welcoming Jamie Woodard, Esq.

Posted on: August 10th, 2016

The Law Firm of Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC is pleased to announce the addition of Mr. Jamie Woodard to our firm as an Of counsel attorney.

Woodard, Jamie

Jamie’s practice focuses on matters in the business litigation and intellectual property spaces, but he is a trial lawyer at heart.  Jamie’s cases run the gamut from whistleblower investigations to patent infringement lawsuits.  A large amount of Jamie’s experience over the last 10 years has been in the Intellectual Property space, as well as Employment and Fiduciary Law.

Jamie graduated summa cum laude from Mercer University in 2000, with a degree in Political Science as well as one in Communication & Theater Arts. In 2003, he graduated cum laude from Mercer Law School where he was both an editor of the Law Review and a member of the Moot Court Board.  Jamie began practicing law in Atlanta in 2003 at Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, LLP, and later joined Wellborn & Wallace, LLC becoming a named partner in Wellborn, Wallace & Woodard, LLC in 2008.

Jamie is a native of Waycross, Georgia, and a leader in Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.  Since 2013, Jamie has provided volunteer governmental affairs work with the Trevor Project, a national organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth aged 13-24.  Jamie is also a member of the Georgia Equality committee on legislative officials and judicial nominees where he assists Georgia Equality in making recommendations as to endorsements of legislative candidates and judicial nominees/candidates.  Since 2005, Jamie has volunteered with the Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition.

Jamie is an avid reader, a self-described “political junkie” and a “geek of all trades”. He says that he is “full of useless trivia” and enjoys cooking and being out on the water.

Jamie came to Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC “because I knew my clients would be supported here, and that I would have the freedom to expand my business.” Jamie’s experience will complement and expand Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC’s capacity to provide quality business and personal legal services to our clients and the broader Atlanta community.

Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC’s practice areas also include business and corporate law, employment law, and family law including LGBT legal services.

Please join us in welcoming Jamie to our Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC team.


How to Modify Your Driver’s License in Georgia

Posted on: May 2nd, 2016

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If you’re interested in having your Georgia driver’s license or state ID changed to better reflect how you identify, the state allows you to modify both your name (Official Georgia Code Section § 19-12-1 through § 19-12-4) and sex designation (Official Georgia Code § 31-10-23(e)). While it’s not as simple as walking into a Department of Driver Services office and making a few changes, Georgia law makes it fairly easy for folks to make sure their identity is accurately reflected in state documents.

To change a name on a driver’s license, you will first need to file a petition for a legal name change in the Superior Court of the county where you live. This is typically about a two-month process that requires you to file a petition and affidavit stating that you are not seeking to change you name in an attempt to defraud others, then publishing a legal notice of your name change in the county legal organ (usually a newspaper). Once the notice has run for four weeks and the judge signs an order granting the name change, you will simply need to take a certified copy of the judge’s order to the DDS office to have your license updated.

A separate legal action is required to amend one’s sex designation, but again Georgia law makes the process relatively simple. You will need to file a petition to amend your birth certificate in the Superior Court for the county in which you live, but you are required to include a certified letter from your doctor attesting that you have undergone irreversible sex reassignment surgery (SRS).

With this petition and letter from a physician, a judge can sign an order amending the sex designation on your birth certificate as early as a month after you file the petition, although it may take a little longer depending on the county in which you reside. A certified copy of the judge’s order amending your birth certificate can be used at the Office of Vital Records, Department of Driver Services facilities, and any other government agency where your sex designation needs to be updated.

NOTES:

  • Transgender applicants do NOT have to have undergone any type of surgery or treatment to apply for a name change.
  • A name change and a sex designation change are two separate actions, and require separate court petitions to be filed.

 


Legally Changing Your ‘Sex’ on a Georgia Birth Certificate

Posted on: April 17th, 2016

Despite its (rightly earned) conservative reputation, Georgia has a surprisingly liberal policy for changing sex designation on birth certificates and other vital records. According to section § 31-10-23(e) of the Official Georgia Code, a person’s sex designation can be amended on his or her birth certificate, “Upon receipt of a certified copy of a court order indicating the sex of an individual born in this state has been changed by surgical procedure.” The person applying for the name change in Georgia is required to submit a certified letter from their doctor or physician stating that the individual has undergone irreversible sexual reassignment surgery (SRS). If you have not undergone SRS, you are not eligible to change the sex category on your birth certificate.

Transgender sex change

However, applicants who have undergone SRS simply need to file a petition to amend your birth certificate with the Superior Court in their home county. The petition must include a Verification from the applicant swearing that all of the information in the petition is accurate, along with the aforementioned letter from a physician attesting to SRS.

Once the petition is filed, the judge may issue a Final Order granting the change in sex designation without the applicant having to appear in court. Some judges in Georgia, particularly those in more conservative counties of the state, might require an applicant to appear in court, which may add to the stress and cost of this process, but shouldn’t interfere with the end result.

Once a Final Order has been issued approving the change of one’s sex designation, you will need to take a certified copy of the Final Order, along with your driver’s license, to the Georgia Office of Vital Records, which will officially change the sex designation on your birth certificate.

NOTE: To amend the sex designation of a birth certificate in Georgia, the applicant must have been born in this state. Also note, a name change and a sex designation change are two separate actions, and require two separate court petitions to be filed.

 


Meet Our New Paralegal, Mia Shaw

Posted on: April 4th, 2016

Our Atlanta law firm hires only the most talented and competent individuals. We often get compliments on our attorneys and their superior legal work, but we also get compliments on our amazing support staff. Mia Shaw, our new paralegal, joined our staff several months ago. She helps us work with our clients and we wanted those of you who don’t know her yet to get a chance to meet her.

Meet Mia Shaw

Meet Mia Shaw

How long have you been at KNC?

Mia: I joined KNC in July 2015 as a contractor. It was a good fit and in November, I was invited to join the firm as a full-time employee.

What type of work have you done in the past?

Prior to joining the dynamic KNC staff, I worked as a paralegal throughout Atlanta, primarily dealing with Federal employment disputes.

Where are you from?

I am originally from Florence, South Carolina. Before I moved to Atlanta, I studied in Washington, D.C.

Tell us about your family.

I am the proud mother of a fabulous daughter and two awesome sons!

What is the best part about working at KNC?

The best part of working at KNC is the fact that every day is a new learning experience for me. I never leave the office without knowing something that I did not know when I arrived that morning.

What do you like most about the KNC clients?

Every interaction with a KNC client is a new adventure. Our clients are a diverse group of people with diverse legal needs and it is always exciting to be trusted with the important legal matters that will impact their lives for many years to come.

What do you like most about the KNC staff?

I like the atmosphere that the KNC staff fosters. I feel that I am in an amazingly supportive environment and that we are all working together for a common goal.

Thanks, Mia! We are so happy to have you on the Kitchens New Cleghorn staff. Welcome.


LGBT Families Protected by SCOTUS

Posted on: March 27th, 2016

When a lesbian couple had a child through artificial insemination, the non-birth mother adopted the child in Georgia. The couple then moved to Alabama and later split. The birth mother wanted to end the parental rights of the adoptive mother by saying that Alabama didn’t have to recognize the Georgia adoption. The Alabama Supreme Court agreed with her and refused to recognize the Georgia adoption saying that Georgia should have never allowed an adoption by a same-sex couple.

In an unprecedented ruling, the United States Supreme Court, on March 7, 2016, summarily reversed the Alabama Supreme Court decision. OnSCOTUS protects LGBT familiese of the attorneys for the adoptive parent, Cathy Sakimura, wrote, “It was unanimous, with no dissenting opinion from any justice… sending the strongest possible message rejecting the Alabama Supreme Court’s attempt to unsettle the stability of adoptions by LGBT parents.”

The Alabama ruling is unique in that it was the first time in the history of our nation that a state failed to recognize the adoption of a child that was done in another state. Knowing that allowing that type of decision to stand risked creating disharmony (and even chaos) in our legal system, the United States Supreme Court had to step in and reverse the decision. Otherwise other lower courts might similarly completely disregard the parental rights of adoptive LGBT parents.

In its ruling, the US Supreme Court summed it up this way: “A State may not disregard the judgment of a sister State because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or deems it to be wrong on the merits.” In other words, just because you don’t like it doesn’t give you the right to say that it doesn’t exist.

This unanimous decision sends a crystal-clear message that same sex parents are entitled to equal protection under the law.

 

 


Need Help Finding The Best Atlanta Lawyers?

Posted on: February 25th, 2016

Do Your Homework!

When people in our area have a legal need, they usually start by asking who the best Atlanta lawyers are. After all, nobody wants someone who isn’t at the top of their game. We’ve all heard horror stories about incompetent lawyers and the damage they can do. Since clients are usually asked to pay for the work up front, it’s wise to find out ahead of time who the best Atlanta lawyers really are.

Best Atlanta LawyersLook For These Qualities:

  1. A Good Reputation – The proof is in the pudding. Do your research and see if they have any complaints filed against them or are under review by the Bar association.
  2. Experience – Nothing can take the place of having years of experience under your belt. Not only does it equip the lawyer to know how to handle different cases, but knowing other lawyers and judges can help in having a positive outcome.
  3. Continuing Education – It’s no small feat to have a law degree. But just as important is for a lawyer to stay updated on changes in the law. Make sure your lawyer participates in continuing education through classes, seminars and special training.
  4. Volunteerism – Why is this important? Because the best Atlanta lawyers are going to care about the community that they live in. They will spend their talents helping clients as well as their community. They will also understand that they have valuable skills that they can share to improve the lives of those around them and be generous with those skills.

Here in our Atlanta law firm our reputation speaks for itself. Our lawyers have decades of combined experience. We value continuing education and all of our lawyers serve in the community in a variety of ways. When you want the best in Atlanta, call Kitchens New Cleghorn.


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