Letters to the Editor

Diversity CLE Could Become Burdensome

By Howard Sayetta |

The purpose of continuing legal education is to keep attorneys current with the day-to-day practice of law. The addition of a requirement for a certain number of hours of diversity training will have the result of either making less time available for courses keeping one current with practice, or adding another burdensome requirement.

NYPD logo

New Commissioner of NYPD Has Tough Challenges Ahead

By Michael J. Gorman |

One lesson that the new police commissioner, James O'Neill, can learn from William Bratton's trail-blazing tenure as police commissioner is that in these racially contentious times, the top police boss will never be able to please everyone, no matter how low the crime rate.

CLE Should Include Diversity Training

By Raun J. Rasmussen |

Making diversity and inclusion an ongoing CLE requirement will elevate these important issues for the entire bar, helping us all to continue our work to eliminate bias and create more justice in our workplaces, our profession, and our communities.

Note to Albany: Level of Court Funding Is a Disgrace

By Leonard Levenson |

Our court system is in a state of non-functioning ineffectiveness that has not been so dysfunctional within memory. The genesis of this problem stems from the recession of 2008, when the Legislature made substantial cuts in the judiciary budget.

A gavel in front of clock

Eliminate Flaws in Speedy Trial Act

By Thomas M. O'Brien |

The now-notorious case of Kalief Browder illustrates how prosecutors' tactics to prevent the speedy-trial "clock" from running have thwarted the operation of what was intended to be a statutory protection against prolonged confinement while awaiting trial.

Pleasures of Practice Other Than Profits

By Thomas R. Newman |

Firm leaders would do well to heed the words of one of our greatest judges, Learned Hand, who said, "while I should be the last to say that the making of a profit was not in itself a pleasure, I hope I should also be one of those to agree there were other pleasures than making a profit."

Bronx Hall of Justice

Justice Denied in the Bronx

By Nancy Gertner |

Where there is no realistic or meaningful opportunity to demand a trial—in a system where a person may wait over three years for a trial on a low-level misdemeanor and lose a job in the process—the constitutional underpinnings of plea-bargaining collapse. It is a punishment system, not a trial system.

New York State Capitol in Albany

Notice and Comment Lawmaking and the NYS Assembly

By Joshua D. Brooks |

In a democratic society like New York state, the idea that the public should participate in government policymaking is generally accepted without argument, but not necessarily without qualification. Consider the differing views on the proper role of lobbyists in lawmaking or stakeholders in notice-and-comment rulemaking.

The Death of Double-Dipping in Divorce Context?

By Peter Galasso |

Occasionally, the Appellate Division, Second Department, speaks with illuminating clarity. In 'Palydowycz v. Palydowycz', it did just that. In doing so, it had to overturn the contrary precedent established in 2010 by an appellate panel composed of its very own members.

The Significance of Every Act in Family Court

By David Ayres |

I was on a recent trip when I received an email from my secretary: "A lady named Naila Amin called to speak with you. She said that she was the person you 'rescued from Pakistan years ago.' She said she is now a political activist and works in Washington D.C. and wanted to thank you and to speak to you."

D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland, left, speaks after President Barack Obama announced his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday.

Why Holding a Hearing for Garland Matters

By Dan Quart |

The opposition to granting Judge Merrick Garland a hearing is a total abdication of constitutional responsibility by the current leadership of the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to be hoping that American voters will just think that this is politics as usual, and that soon we will all just forget and move on.

Robert MacCrate

Appreciating MacCrate's Contributions

By Joseph Bellacosa |

Robert MacCrate will be remembered for many outstanding professional accomplishments. His career reflected the quintessential partnership of excellence in service to private clients and to the public. With appreciation, I wish to share a not-so-well known assignment he undertook.

Commission Targets Changes for Subset of Economic Crimes

By Patti B. Saris |

I was struck by the comments in a recent article that the sentencing guideline for federal economic crimes is "fundamentally broken" and "dysfunctional." What we learned in our multi-year study of this issue is that such a claim is not borne out by the data or in the collective view of federal judges around the country.

A gavel in front of clock

When Adjournment Requests Are Critical

By Larry Cunningham |

In his recent article, Joel Cohen laments the practice of prosecutors declaring themselves ready for trial at arraignment, something that Cohen describes as a "bold pronouncement" that "might seem … untruthful"—an unwarranted charge in light of the case law.

U.S. Should Honor Onondaga Treaty

By Joseph J. Heath |

This month marks two years since the Onondaga Nation filed a petition with the Organization of American States' InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights charging the American government with human rights violations for refusing to even consider gross violations of treaty obligations under the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

When Ideological Differences Worked

By Arthur Block |

The article, "Scalia's Law Clerks Find New Homes With Alito, Thomas" reports on the dominance of ideological affinity and political party identification in the selection of U.S. Supreme Court law clerks. It brings to mind a heartening opposite experience 40 years ago.

State Court's New E-Filing System Has Drawbacks

There are many things to like about e-filing. But, there is one aspect that is troublesome. How are attorneys ever going to get an order to show cause or judgment signed when the opposing attorney(s) are immediately notified via the e-filing system of their adversaries attempts at doing so?

The Promise of a 'No-Jail' Recommendation

By Jonathan Oberman |

If one could somehow dismiss history and context, there is every reason to laud Brooklyn D.A. Kenneth Thompson's non-jail recommendation for Peter Liang, which values restorative healing over mindless incapacitation and isolation. But it is hard to support the recommendation because, simply put, poor, mostly black and Latino defendants are unlikely to receive the same careful consideration and nuanced sentencing recommendation when convicted of manslaughter.

Child survivors of Auschwitz

Compensating Victims of Nazi Persecution

By Hal R. Lieberman and Daniel Kornstein |

The authors of a recent letter describe all the property stolen by the Nazis and now in the possession of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany as "unclaimed, formerly Jewish-owned property located in what was East Germany." But the property at issue, which prompted the complaint to the New York Attorney General, is "claimed," by its rightful Jewish owners or their heirs.

Homeowners Prevented From Telling Their Stories

By Catherine P. Isobe |

As a foreclosure defense attorney in Kings County, I can corroborate Lynn Armentrout's depiction of the daily obstacles homeowners encounter in a court system that seems determined to undermine the express public policy of the statutes that system is charged with implementing—that homeowners be afforded meaningful process and that, where possible, unnecessary foreclosures be avoided.

Ruling Discourages Pro Bono Civil Rights Work

As a witness to the repressive political atmosphere created at CUNY when 'Husain v. Springer' originated I can attest that it most certainly was not about nothing, as Second Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs said. One of the most important shields we had against repression was Ronald McGuire, a former CUNY student activist himself who dedicated many years of long hours to pro-bono civil rights work on our behalf at great personal cost.

Court Should Reconsider Fee Award

By Nicholas Penkovsky |

The draconian slashing of appellants' attorney Ronald McGuire's fees stands in stark contrast to the congressional intent to encourage attorneys in private practice to act as private attorneys general to assure that the civil rights of indigent and marginalized people are protected from governmental oppression.

Attorney Ronald McGuire at New York City Hall on Jan. 5

Civil Rights Lawyer Deserves Fees

By Sheila Dugan |

I have known Ron McGuire since 1990 and we have worked together on many civil rights cases and have won many motions, thanks to Ron's tireless legal research and brilliant writing. To deny Ron his rightful fee is shocking in itself; but to refuse to hear convincing testimony and argument regarding the decision is more than unfair.

Leon Brickman in front of 16 Court Street where he opened an office in 1948.

Remembering Leon Brickman

The legal community in February lost one of its true stalwarts, Leon Brickman. Leon was for many decades a fixture in the trial and appellate courts in New York City and beyond.

Child survivors of Auschwitz

Saving Nazi-Stolen Properties to Help Holocaust Survivors

A recent essay reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about the legal role of the Claims Conference regarding unclaimed, formerly Jewish-owned property located in what was East Germany.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia, Acerbic Footnotes and Juvenal

By James M. McGuire |

I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting and chatting with Justice Antonin Scalia in 2005 when I was a justice of the Appellate Division, First Department. I quoted several delicious statements in his opinions, and we talked in particular about one biting but hilarious footnote, note 13 in 'Blakely v. Washington'.

Give 'Med-Arb' a Chance to Break Family Law Deadlock

Med-arb, a process whereby mediation is followed by arbitration, is not a panacea for every impasse any more than mediation or collaborative law is appropriate for every controversy. However, it has proven its merit in the commercial, labor and family law settings.

Protesters at a Feb. 20 rally in Brooklyn supporting former NYPD police officer Peter Liang.

The Limits of the Liang Conviction

Instead of condemning or celebrating the Liang verdict, we would be better served by learning how to have the challenging conversation about racial inequality in policing and the criminal justice system that the Liang case demands.