Showing posts from August, 2006

Bike News from the Trib

It's been a lousy summer, cycling wise. I have not had many opportunities to ride and my waistline is complaining about it. A got a flat about three weeks ago and did not get around to fixing it until Sunday. I hope to make up some miles in the fall, but I am not promising myself or anyone else. In the meantime, there were some interesting cycling stories in the paper (by which I mean the Chicago Tribune) this week. The first was another story on the sudden popularity of fixed gear bikes. Read that here: Look, Ma! No brakes Chicago Tribune . I may have mentioned that I final rode one of these. It belongs to my nephew who seems to be smack in the demographic in which fixies are popular. He is a 22 year old college kid living in Chicago. Riding it was disorienting at first. Even the process of getting on the bike required additional though. My usual habit of rolling forward while jumping on and then clicking into the pedals did not work because the pedals did not stop when

Festive Articles

Over the years, Customs and the courts have struggled with what constitutes a festive article for classification purposes. If merchandise is closely associated with a holiday, it might be a festive article and, therefore, duty free. So, that sweater you are importing at a high rate of duty might be much more profitable if you embroider it with a turkey carrying a musket and wearing a pilgrim's hat . Usually, one would think that it would not be so hard to make this determination. There is a simple reason why there are no items bearing images of snowy evergreens, Santa , candy canes, snowflakes, or reindeer in my house. As much as some people may argue that these symbols are devoid of religious meaning, everyone knows they are Christmas decorations. I don't have them in my house for the same reason you likely do not have a menorah or dreidel . If I were a litigating a festive articles case involving Christmas goods, I'd call a rabbi to the stand, show him or her the merchand

Liquidation Nation

Liquidation is an odd concept in many ways. Liquidation is the final accounting of the amount of duties, fees, and taxes owed on an entry of merchandise. Each entry is liquidated individually. If your salary were subject to liquidation, you would have to file a tax return every pay day and wait for a tax bill or refund on each return. It is kind of crazy. Customs is experimenting with tools to move away from the entry-centric process. The programs include ACS Reconciliation and Periodic Monthly Payments and Statements . But, in today's environment, it is still important to understand liquidation because the liquidation of an entry triggers a number of deadlines. The most important deadline being the time to file a protest to challenge a decision of the Port Director. Two recent Court of International Trade Cases have taken a look at the importance of liquidation and an importer's obligation to track liquidations carefully. In Gerdau Ameristeel Corp. v. United States ,

The Customs News

I am just back from St. Johns . As it turns out, that is Newfoundland and Labrador , not the U.S. Virgin Islands. When I was first approached about being on a customs law panel for the CBA, I had hopes that it was the Caribbean Bar Association calling. Turns out, it was my friends in Canada . Much to my dismay, I did not spend enough time in St. Johns . My seatmate on the Montreal to St. Johns leg (a relatively young lawyer in the Canadian Department of Justice) piqued my interest with suggestions for side trips and restaurants. Approaching the landing, I could see the rocky coast and many small islands jutting into the Atlantic . It reminded me of summers spent with my family in Maine and New Hampshire . The Canadian maritime provinces are surprisingly remote from the U.S. east coast. To put it into perspective, consider that St. Johns' time zone is two and a half hours ahead of Chicago . When I landed, I discovered anunexpectedlyy rugged and rustic town with a coll

No Job Change Here

In case you are wondering, I have not changed jobs. There is an unfortunate coincidence in that more than one customs lawyer named La*rence M. Friedman exists. The asterisk is there to note that the other one uses the deviant spelling with a "u". Henceforth, should the need arise, he will be referred to simply as U. Kind of like the W that resides in the Whitehouse. Apparently U's firm recently sent out a mailing of some sort noting that he had become a partner. Congrats to U for that. But, more than a couple people seem to have been confused by it. U is not me. I am not U. I have not changed jobs and I am currently quite happy where I am. While we are at it, I want to thank my parents for giving me what is apparently an exceedingly common name for lawyers. I am not this Lawrence M. Friedman . Nor and I this Lawrence M. Friedman . Most of all, I am not this Lawrence M. Friedman . On balance, if I had to switch, I'd take his gig: Professor of Law at Stanford and author

Prior Disclosure

What do I think about when stuck at the airport for four hours? Beer, for one. But also the beauty of the well crafted prior disclosure. Prior disclosures are interesting in that they are often the first line of defense when an importer discovers that some violation has occurred. But, making and perfecting a prior disclosure is sometimes not a simple task. Prior disclosures are authorized by 19 USC 1592(c)(4). The law provides that: If the person concerned discloses the circumstances of a violation of subsection (a) of this section before, or without knowledge of, the commencement of a formal investigation of such violation, with respect to such violation, merchandise shall not be seized and any monetary penalty to be assessed under subsection (c) of this section shall not exceed— (A) if the violation resulted from fraud— (i) an amount equal to 100 percent of the lawful duties, taxes, and fees of which the United States is or may be deprived, so long as such person tenders the unpaid

Broker Exam Tips

Anyone conducting customs business on behalf of another person needs to have a customhouse brokers license. To get that license, the applicant has to pass a written exam and a background check. The exam has a notoriously low passing rate; but, there seem to be lots of reasons for that. The test is hard. Plus, I've heard a lot of people take it cold in the hope that they pass because the credential can lead to job advancement. If you fail, you can take it again. If you fail and you are not the kind of person to admit defeat, you can sue the United States in the Court of International Trade. That is what Mr. Harak did. He challenged Customs and Border Protection's answers to nine of the questions. Tip 1: Don't think too hard. These are not trick questions . For example, the first disputed questions was: 8. What is the correct CLASSIFICATION for assembled multifunctional all-in-one office equipment consisting of a copier, facsimile, scanner, and laser printer--includi

Border Searches and Your Laptop

I have not spent too much of my career on passenger issues. They come up now and then, but for the most part, they get resolved at the border when the Inspector seizes the offending Cuban cigars, Jamaican herb, or dried rhino horn. The most common passenger issue we see is the failure to declare $10,000 or more in currency coming or going. People call a lawyer when cash is being seized. Stuart Romm, on the other hand, called a lawyer. Mr. Romm spent some time surfing the internet from his Las Vegas hotel before heading to British Columbia which, unfortunately for him, is across a border. Another unfortunate fact was that Mr. Romm has a criminal record involving the exploitation of a child by means of a computer. Not that this is relevant, but he was also the subject of an indefinite suspension from the practice of law by the Massachusetts bar. The Canada Border Services Agent asked Romm to turn on his computer and examined it. CBSA discovered that Romm's computer internet history