Author: Gemma Alexander


Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based freelance writer specializing in technical topics for general readers. She holds a degree in Horticulture and has worked in a genetics lab and at a landfill. See other things she has written here.

What is the difference between common law and civil law?

Most people hear the term “common law” and automatically think of common-law marriage. That’s part of it, but common law is actually one of two fundamental approaches to a legal system, the other being civil law. Worldwide, civil law systems are more common, but common law dominates in the United States. The differences between the […]

Will SALT cap stop Washington shoppers?

The state and local tax (SALT) deduction allows taxpayers to deduct expenses like property, income, or sales taxes from their federal income tax. It primarily benefits high-income households in high cost-of-living states. Under the new tax law, the SALT deduction is subject to a cap of $10,000 – it previously had no limit – a […]

Green-card marriages

Hollywood loves a green-card marriage – typically depicted in film as marriage of convenience between a U.S. citizen and a foreigner who wants to become a permanent resident of the United States. But as any real-life couple will tell you, getting a green card – the official document of permanent residency – through marriage is […]

Startup dilemma: sole proprietor or LLC?

It’s one of the first questions you must answer when starting a business. Should I operate as a sole proprietor or an LLC? What’s the difference? There are advantages and disadvantages to both structures, but you can’t afford to put off the decision. Starting a business without an entity is one of the top 10 […]

When SCOTUS was wrong: Dred Scott v. Sandford

Everybody knows the name of Dred Scott, the enslaved man who sued for freedom and lost. Landmark Supreme Court cases often hinge on legal technicalities unrelated to the issue for which they are famous. But the decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford was every bit as racist as it looks on the surface.

When presidents get in legal trouble

Presidents aren’t above the law. They’ve been assailed in court on numerous occasions. In honor of Presidents’ Day, here is a sample of times the presidents found themselves in legal hot water.

Search and seizure at school

Decided in January of 1985, the Supreme Court case New Jersey vs. T.L.O. established that the Fourth Amendment, which addresses “unreasonable search and seizure,” has limitations when applied to minors at school and other events.