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Yanic Chan and his bride were trying to enter the United States from Cambodia when they got rather a shock. It seems he was still married to a woman he thought he’d legally divorced in 1995. “I felt very upset. I could not eat for three days,” Chan told the Los Angeles Times. According to the newspaper, there’s a lot of that sort of thing going around in California, where high legal costs have encouraged estranged couples to untie the knot without benefit of counsel-about 80% of divorcing couples handle their own paperwork. But the process is complicated and a lot of petitioners don’t understand it. Officials estimate that about one-third of all petitions have not been finalized. It isn’t unusual for people to show up in court after learning they’re accidental bigamists. “They come in screaming,” paralegal Norma Valencia said. “They say, ‘You don’t understand my situation. I want a divorce right now.’ “ Chan’s new attorney, Faith Nouri, said that securing a retroactive divorce is not going to be easy. Nor will be bringing his new wife into the country. “Then he is in a bigamous marriage,” Nouri said. “There will be a lot of explaining to do.” -STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS Ford’s legal legacy By most accounts, President Gerald R. Ford’s legal legacy was one of the high points of his 896 days in office. Taking over after the Watergate scandal, his attempt to end the “national nightmare” was, at its core, a legal matter. “The remarkable thing about Ford’s administration was how independent the Justice Department was from any political influence,” said former Justice Department official John Buckley, now a partner at Williams & Connolly. Although Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon was highly unpopular at the time, Ford thought it was an important part of the “healing process”-a belief many observers have come to agree with. Of the 62 judges Ford sent to the courts, one proved his proudest official accomplishment: John Paul Stevens, his sole Supreme Court nominee. “I am prepared to allow history’s judgment of my term in office to rest (if necessary, exclusively) on my nomination 30 years ago,” Ford wrote in 2005. Ford’s efforts to influence the Supreme Court were not always as moderate. In 1970, as House Republican leader, Ford tried to impeach Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. “You’re surprised to remember Ford being a devout partisan when you look at his legacy in the White House,” said A.E. Dick Howard, a University of Virginia School of Law professor. “It’s a small part of a large career but shows how even decent people can fall prey to partisanship.”- LEGAL TIMES Naming rights It has taken more than two years and time in court for one unmarried Oregon couple to choose their baby’s name. Christy M. Wizner and Chad M. Doherty had a baby girl on April 8, 2004. Wizner decided that the child should have the same last name as her three other children. Doherty wanted the girl to have his surname. The case landed before the Oregon Court of Appeals, which reviewed nearly 1,000 years of naming customs. Children born in wedlock used to receive the name of the father because he held all legal rights in the family, the court said. The mother’s name usually attached if she was unmarried. Now what matters is the child’s best interest. Here, factors including the avoidance of confusion outweighed giving the girl her father’s last name. “Development of a bond between father and daughter will depend on the love and devotion that father exhibits toward his daughter, not on whether the child bears his name,” the court said.- ASSOCIATED PRESS

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