Letters to the Editor

Making a Settlement Agreement an Arbitration Award

By Louis Castellano |

Presently, more contracts and disputes are resolved by arbitration. However, I have had a situation where the contract provided for arbitration of disputes, but before the arbitration hearing was held, the case settled.

Correcting the Record on Eminent Domain Law in New York

This letter is written in response to the letter, "Burden of Proof in Condemnation Proceedings," by Fred Kolikoff, which states that my eminent domain article was incorrect, citing 'Grossman v. Rankin'. But 'Grossman' is not a condemnation case and is not analogous.

Burden of Proof in Condemnation Proceedings

By Fred Kolikoff |

Michael Rikon's recent column is incorrect insofar as he states that a claimant in a condemnation proceeding does not generally have a burden of proof.

Could Bar Exam Pass Rates Be Returning to Normal?

By Dwayne Thomas |

I think the characterization of bar exam pass rates as "down" is misleading. The high pass rates of the last 10 years were unusually high, while the more recent results mirror historical averages.

How Structured Settlement Companies Work

While the article "Paralegal Indicted for Forging Signatures of 76 Judges" makes a key point about the importance of a regulated process to protect the best interests of injured people, we would like to clarify the role of structured settlement companies.

A courtroom in the new Staten Island courthouse.

Time to Re-evaluate Judicial Invocations of a Deity

By Brian Graifman |

A recent rash of government employees and politicians citing religion and its government-intertwining as a basis for refusals to perform legal duties makes imperative a serious reevaluation of judicial invocations of a deity.

PBI Offers Guidance on Pro Bono for Social Enterprises

By Tamela J. Taylor |

While we are usually delighted to see coverage of pro bono in the media, we were troubled by inaccuracies about our work in an earlier article, which said the Pro Bono Institute provides "little guidance" regarding the eligibility of for-profit businesses for pro bono services.

The System's Harsh Treatment of Poor and Disadvantaged

By Leonard Levenson |

When do we stop dehumanizing our poor, our disadvantaged and our powerless? This question took on a painful meaning for me last week.

Tenants, Landlords Not Equal Under New City Law

By David Hershey-Webb |

In stating that the new law anti-harassment provisions adopted by the New York City Council relating to buy-outs protects tenants but not landlords, Warren Estis and Jeffrey Turkel make the common mistake of suggesting that the bargaining positions of tenants and landlords are equal.

Drafts Not Required for Retention Under Appraisal Standards

By Fred Kolikoff |

In his article, Michael Rikon suggests that the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice requires an appraiser to retain copies of all draft, preliminary, or incomplete reports. However, this is not true.

Why the City's Credit Check Law Is Necessary

The authors of the essay "City's New Credit Check Law Is Unnecessary" got one thing right—New York City's law is the strongest in the country. But the argument that this law is unnecessary is naïve, at best, and dishonest, at worst.

City's Credit Law Tackles Serious Discrimination

The article "City's New Credit Check Law Is Unnecessary" unfortunately gets a whole lot wrong about New York City's newly-enacted employment credit checks ban.

Next Steps to Achieve Marriage Equality: Train Local Judges

By Daniel S. Alter |

It would be naïve to think that the Supreme Court's decision blew through state courthouses across this nation like a cleansing breeze, instantaneously sweeping away harmful stereotypes and stagnant bias against same-sex relationships.

Sentencing for Oxycodone Based on Faulty Calculation

By Daniel N. Arshack |

Congress fixed the sentencing disparity for crack in 2010. They now need to do so for Oxycodone, correcting sentencing ranges to reflect its potency in relation to other drugs such as heroin and morphine.

Key Change in Rent Law Was Overlooked

By David Hershey-Webb |

A recent summary of the new rent laws missed what is probably one of the most significant changes to rent stabilization in almost 20 years: a provision that a rent stabilized apartment cannot be deregulated unless the prior tenant's legal regulated rent is $2,700.

Stakes Are Too High to Put Cameras in Courtrooms

By Leon Polsky |

While I am of course concerned with the trial participant who does not wish to be made part of a broadcast docu-drama, in an odd way I am more concerned with the participant who does.

'Brandes' Decision Sets Double Standard

By Marc Brawer |

I read the recent article on Joel Brandes' failed attempt to be reinstated to the bar with a great deal of puzzlement and dismay. Apparently, the Second Department has decreed that a disbarred lawyer may do paralegal work only for lawyers who have less expertise than the disbarred lawyer.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, at  41 Monroe Place, Brooklyn

Court of Appeals Should Review 'Brandes' Ruling

By Thomas F. Liotti |

The Appellate Division, Second Department, decision denying Joel Brandes readmission on a third attempt is unfair in that it takes an unprecedented view that an online consulting service constitutes the practice of law.

Referee's Ruling Is Model of Judicial Discretion

By Michael S. Bank |

The decision published on June 22, page 17, by Special Referee Jeffery Helewitz granting a divorce despite the failure to include an authenticating certificate should be read and reread by all of the decision makers in New York State.

A screenshot of brandeslaw.com

Disciplinary Ruling Found 'Puzzling'

By Bernard Dworkin |

I read with puzzlement the front page news article in the June 22, 2015 New York Law Journal reporting the rejection by the Appellate Division, Second Department, of disbarred attorney Joel Brandes' application for readmission to the Bar.

Support for Attorney Participation in Voir Dire

Henry Miller's thoughtful article on the practice of excluding lawyers from directly participating in jury selection by forbidding an attorney's direct questioning to prospective jurors in the federal courts reminds me of a distant controversy when this was advocated for New York State courts.

It's Time to Abolish Money Bail

By Joshua Norkin |

If the New York City Council and mayor want to ensure that nobody suffers the same fate as Kalief Browder, they need to think beyond a bail fund. Reform will only come when we can all agree that nobody, that means accused felons and repeat offenders, should sit in jail for no other reason than not having enough money to buy their freedom.

One of four surviving copies of the 1215 version of the Magna Carta at an exhibit at Fraunces Tavern Museum in lower Manhattan in 2009.

History Repeats Itself

By Arthur Engoron |

Approximately 20 years ago someone said in your pages that the Writ of Habeas Corpus arose out of the Magna Carta. I wrote the Law Journal a letter pointing out that this was a common misperception. Two guest authors recently repeated this canard, which apparently originated in the 17th century, in essays celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Suggestions for Better Preparing an Expert

By Michael Einhorn |

As a testifying expert, I can report that valuation experts must sometimes prepare reports based on limited information made available after depositions and document requests have ended. In these instances, experts necessarily rely upon parties, fact witnesses or other experts to provide the support for additional information that can be useful in their forensic effort.

State Needs System to Expunge Criminal Records

By Judith Whiting |

The Coalition of Reentry Advocates write to commend Eastern District Judge John Gleeson on his well-reasoned decision to expunge a 2001 federal conviction because the barrier it has created to finding employment constitutes the sort of "extreme circumstances" warranting such action.