Baby-Daddy Court — Singer, author, television personality and lawyer Lauren Lake has almost done it all, but her latest endeavor is taking her back to her legal roots.
The Michigan-born Lake, who moved to northern New Jersey in the late 1990s, practiced family and entertainment law here and remains a N.J. State Bar Association member, debuted Sept. 23 as the judge in the syndicated reality show “Paternity Court,” which hears the cases of people questioning the parentage of their children (or themselves) and provides them with a DNA test.
Counselors and therapists are on hand to meet with everyone who appears and Lake has no beforehand knowledge of the test results.
While a little Jersey attitude may be expected on a show like this, especially when dealing with unruly litigants, don’t be surprised if the outcome lacks the bedlam of a typical daytime talk show.
In an interview with NorthJersey.com, Lake says it’s more like “a talk show in a courtroom setting,” shunning comparisons to fellow daytime syndicate Maury, which is famous for its over-the-top reactions to paternity claims.
Though there will be some screaming families and outlandish scenarios, Lake insists there is a positive message.
Doggy DNA — If dogs could talk, they might be barking at a Morris County condo community’s latest attempt to get pet owners to clean up their act.
The Grande at Riverdale, a condo community in Morris County, recently announced they have hired PooPrints, a subsidiary of Knoxville, Tenn.-based BioPet Vet Lab, to provide testing that will match dog waste left on the grounds with the DNA of pups living on the property. Residents are required to bring their dogs for a mouth swab before Nov. 1 or risk a $100 fine.
Eric Mayer, a BioPet spokesman, tells NorthJersey.com that “pet waste is not fertilizer,” and the measure isn’t just cosmetic. Dog waste poses health risks if it contaminates drinking water.
The Grande intends to charge some hefty fines for pooper-scooper law violators. First offenders will owe $250 and second-timers $500. Multiple offenders after that may find it easier to simply move: a third-time offense will scoop up $1,000.
No word yet on whether civil rights activists will stand up on behalf of the dogs, whose DNA gets tested without consent.
Cat Fight — A Burlington City resident, disgruntled that officials didn’t do enough to curb a stray-cat problem, invented a novel form of civil disobedience.
On June 8, perceiving that his protests about the feral felines were going unheard at city council meetings, Harry Heck went onto the properties of Councilwomen Jeanette Mercuri and Suzanne Woodard and Council President Ila Marie Lollar and left trays of cat food, in the hopes that the strays would congregate and provide a display of what his neighborhood was dealing with.
The councilwomen, along with Lollar’s husband, Ralph, retaliated by making complaints of trespassing, littering and harassment, though Heck was only formally charged with littering. The case was heard before Florence Municipal Court Judge Richard Andronici after conflicts of interest transferred it out of both Burlington and Edgewater Park.
Heck on Sept. 23 pleaded guilty to three counts of littering and was hit with a $250 fine and court fees. He apologized to the council and the court, says his lawyer, Moorestown solo A.J. Talone.
The stunt seems to have made an impression: Burlington officials say they plan to begin enforcing a feral-cat ordinance, which would provide for trapping and neutering the animals and letting them back in the wild.
Back to Reality — Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jacqueline Laurita and her husband Christopher can get back to filming without worrying about jail time, as the assault case against them was dismissed Thursday in Ridgewood Municipal Court without them even having to appear.
The Lauritas, along with their brother-in-law (and fellow Housewives cast member) Joe Gorga, were charged after John Karagiorgis of Paramus sued them in April over a fight at a Ridgewood salon that was filmed by television cameras. It started when the Lauritas accused Karagiorgis of making off-color comments about their autistic son.
Karagiorgis, hit with a stiletto heel, claimed to have suffered a broken nose and a head injury. Gorga and the Lauritas maintained their innocence, and both sides came to an agreement shortly before their case was to be heard.
But while the court battle is over, the war rages on: Both Jacqueline and Karagiorgis are still occupied with trading insults about each other. Laurita tweeted, “I don’t know any man that would lie about a woman hitting him with a shoe! #neverhappened.” Karagiorgis countered with, “If it #neverhappened then why do the texts state different … No worries, they’ll be shown in the next venue.”
Drunk on Information — A state ban on alcohol advertisements in college newspapers violated the First Amendment, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board adopted the regulation to combat underage and abusive drinking. But a split three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit said the ban unlawfully prevented students 21 and older — the majority of the papers’ readers — from reading truthful information about a product they could legally buy and consume.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia represented newspapers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and the University of Virginia. “We found it particularly disturbing that the regulation singles out college newspapers for special burdens,” said ACLU attorney Rebecca Glenberg.
A spokesman for the Virginia attorney general’s office, Brian Gottstein, said in an email that the state had yet to decide whether to appeal. “Unless our analysis shows that a Virginia regulation is unconstitutional, this office has a duty to defend it,” he said.
— By Jennifer Genova and Zoe Tillman (The National Law Journal)