Letters to the Editor

Arab Bank headquarters in Amman, Jordan

Plaintiffs Carry Heavy Burden in Terror Suits Against Banks

By Jimmy Gurulé |

While recent jury verdicts are important victories for the victims of international terrorism, it is unclear what impact, if any, these cases will have on pending cases against banks filed under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

U.S. Must Affirm Leadership Role on Human Rights

By Melissa Hooper, Ignacio Mujica and Megan Corrarino |

To reestablish its credibility on the international stage following things like the CIA's "torture report" and more than a decade of due process violations in Guantanamo, the United States must begin more seriously enforcing its own international legal obligations, which are constitutionally-binding law, in its own courts.

MFY employees and their supporters picketing in front of their offices at 299 Broadway.

MFY Urges Union to Accept 'Fair and Generous' Offer

By Jeanette Zelhof |

We at MFY are deeply disappointed that the United Auto Workers local union declared a strike on Jan. 30. Readers should know that we were in the process of negotiating a new contract and meeting regularly when the union walked away from the table on Jan. 15 and unilaterally declared the proposal on the table to be MFY's last offer.

It's Time to Act to Avoid Sequester in 2015

By Glenn Lau-Kee |

Sequestration, which resulted in the serious underfunding of the federal government in 2013, is, once again, a serious possibility in 2015.

MFY employees and their supporters picketing in front of their offices at 299 Broadway.

Prolonged Bargaining Hurts MFY Clients, Staff

A group of CUNY School of Law student organizations write: MFY Legal Services has a proud tradition of delivering high quality professional services to vulnerable communities. Its staff should be incentivized to stay as long-term employees, respected for their experience and skill.

A Missed Opportunity to Diversify the State Bench in New York

By George C. Chen |

George C. Chen writes: Asian Pacific Americans have been rising through the ranks of the legal profession in increasing numbers, but even as we achieve these new heights, we continue to need the support and commitment of elected officials and the electorate in order to ensure diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, particularly in the judiciary.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Lawyers Will March on MLK's Birthday

By Joshua Norkin |

The tragic deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos should not stop a productive conversation about police tactics in New York City from continuing. What remains so heartbreaking about the deaths of Akai Gurley and Eric Garner is that these are not isolated incidents. As public defenders we know that these deaths were a by-product of the police misconduct that many of our clients deal with every day.

There Are Many Reasons to Review Convictions

By Andrea G. Hirsch |

Besides freeing those who are innocent, the great gift provided by DNA exonerations is that they have demonstrated that, often, individuals falsely confess, innocent people plead guilty, witnesses err, scientific evidence is faulty, defense lawyers are ineffective, and prosecutors commit misconduct, and thus that many convictions in addition to ones involving DNA are flawed.

The Court of Appeals in Albany

Confirmation Delay Is Disservice to New Yorkers

By Milton L. Williams Jr. |

Yesterday, Jan. 5, 2015, the New York Court of Appeals commenced its first term of the new year with only five judges and two vacancies. This did not have to happen, but it did because of the decision of the leadership of the state Senate to delay, until January, the confirmation of Justice Leslie E. Stein, who had been nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Oct. 17 to fill a vacancy.

Right to Counsel in Housing Court Is Right Thing to Do

By Emily Jane Goodman |

There is no justice where one side in decidedly adversarial proceedings has professional legal representation and the other side has none. The landlord-tenant relationship has always been problematic, and always will be because of the imbalance of power. Nowhere is that imbalance and inequality clearer than when the antagonists get to court.

We Shouldn't Allow Eighth Amendment to Be Undermined

Sol Wachtler, the former chief judge of New York and an adjunct professor at Touro Law School, discusses the Senate Committee's Report on the CIA's Use of Torture.

Critics of Ongoing Investigation Should Hold Their Fire

By Roger Adler |

I read with interest, "Let Campaign Finance Board Do Its Job," by Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr., on Dec. 11, which is critical of my investigation into the 2009 City Council campaign of council member Debi Rose.

The Consequences of Lack of Oversight in Parole Process

By Barbara Hanson Treen |

The current die-ins going on nationwide remind me that there are inmates "can't breathe" because of the lack of oversight of the parole board's practices.

Justice Freedman

Freedman Defined a Good Judge

By William Ramos |

We, at the Appellate Division, First Department, are definitively going to miss Justice Helen Freeman's legal dexterity and most of all her humanity.

Stop Babying Law Students

I have a short and sweet message to all those law school deans whose students are "traumatized" by recent grand jury decisions.

William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench

Lord Mansfield's Continuing Influence on Law

By Norman Poser |

On Dec. 9th the U.S. Supreme Court cited a 229-year-old decision by the great Lord Mansfield to support its holding that evidence of any statement made or incident that occurred during jury deliberations is inadmissible.

Better Investor Decision-Making, Not Social Purpose

By Jean Rogers |

At the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, we wholeheartedly agree that U.S. securities law exists to protect investors, and should not be used to advance political or social purposes. For this reason, we would like to clarify that SASB is not an activist organization.

Eric Garner's arrest and subsequent death has led to calls for a federal investigation into police tactics.

Brown, Garner Cases Should Have Had Special Prosecutors

By Michael Shapiro |

In 1971 the blue-ribbon Knapp Commission recognized the inherent conflict of interest in a local district attorney investigating and prosecuting police-committed crimes. Perhaps it is time for the reestablishment of the special prosecutor's office.

Danger in Default Entries Used in EMR Software

Although electronic medical records offer laudible benefits, such as legibility and easy electronic transmission of records from one medical provider to another, they can also cause serious and potentially life threatening inaccuracies to be recorded due to the configuration of the software which provides for default entries.

Few §240 Cases Address Plaintiff Intoxication

By Brian Shoot |

Harry Steinberg, in a letter responding to my column, is correct to the extent he posits that the public policy implications of the Labor Law, and the question of whether it needs to be "reformed," are matters of public interest as to which people can and will disagree. That said, by focusing on the messenger rather than the message, he fails to disprove anything I actually said.

Lot 59: A copy of the Charter of the City of New York, printed in 1735 by John Peter Zenger, the same year he was charged in a landmark free speech case. He was found not guilty when his lawyers, Andrew Hamilton and William Smith, Sr., successfully argued to a jury that truth is a defense against charges of libel.

Sale of Rare Books Is Short Sighted

By Elliott Meisel |

I was dismayed to read of the New York City Bar Association's auction of approximately 1,000 items from its rare book collection, both for the impending loss of irreplaceable artifacts of our legal history, and for their custodians' stunning indifference to their importance to a profession built on respect, if not reverence, for the past.

§240 Has Been Stretched Beyond Breaking Point

By Harry Steinberg |

I write to address Brian Shoot's construction accident litigation column, in which he once again tirelessly defends Labor Law §240(1) against any reforms. His column, written in response to another column calling for reform, amounts to little more than plaintiff's counsel and defendant's counsel yelling back and forth at each other while ignoring that there is merit to both sides of the argument.

Courts Must Strictly Apply Rent Statutes

By Menachem Kastner |

As the attorney for the tenant in 'RAM I vs. DHCR,' I wholeheartedly agree with a recent column that the effect of 'RAM I' is limited. However, with all due respect to my esteemed brethren, I disagree that the holding of 'RAM I' is "much ado about nothing."

Welcome News for Disclosure of Forensic Reports

By Jeffrey P. Wittmann |

In a welcomed bit of judicial fresh air, Nassau County Judge Jeffrey Goodstein has examined the issue of the disclosure of forensic reports and underlying data and concluded that, in essence, due process calls for nothing short of open access by attorneys and litigants.

Why UBE Needs Careful Consideration

By John Gardiner Pieper |

As countless members of the New York State Bar will attest, taking the bar exam in New York is an experience one never forgets. We take great pride in the fact that we prepared for, survived, and ultimately conquered the most comprehensive and difficult bar exam in the country.

When Pro Bono Becomes Pro-Paperwork

By Alan Morrison |

Completing each individual employer and pro bono form may impose only a modest burden on an individual supervisor, but cumulative burden will not be. Moreover, the attorney who supervised the applicant could be doing more pro bono work if there were fewer forms to complete.

Forensic Evaluators Must Articulate Bases for Opinions

By David A. Martindale |

David A. Martindale writes: Evaluators must recognize that they must be fully prepared to articulate the bases for their opinions.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents process unaccompanied children in Brownsville, Tx. Officials say that the impact of the situation along the border will ripple through the entire nation's Immigration Courts, including an already overburdened facility in New York.

Pro Bono Call to Action for Immigrant Youth

By Lenni B. Benson |

In the past two months, the New York Immigration Court has heard more than 1,500 initial hearings for children and mothers with small children placed into removal proceedings. Sadly, there is no right to appointed counsel (even for children) in the immigration courts.

'Mexico Leasing' Follows Precedent

By Paris Baldacci |

A recent letter stating that the Appellate Term, Second Department's decision in 'Mexico Leasing v. Jones' is inconsistent with controlling authority and, thus, contributes to a perception of uncertainty about regulation is wrong on both counts.

Falling Through Cracks: Non-Paying Parties in Arbitration

By Neil M. Eiseman |

There is a hole in our arbitral system and, without being overly dramatic, our state courts don't want to fix it. As it now stands, somebody can "game" the system simply by refusing to pay for their arbitrator.

Appellate Term's Inconsistent Rulings Cause Confusion

By Matthew Brett |

The Appellate Term, Second Department's decision on Oct. 8 in Mexico Leasing, LLC v. Jones, is a perfect example of the growing perception of uncertainty when it comes to decisions concerning rent regulation.

Three children in silhouette

New York Behind in Access to Forensic Child Custody Files

By Jeffrey P. Wittmann |

New York continues to be a national embarrassment with its frequent, illogical insistence that the best way to help insure a determination of a child's best interests is to make it hard for parents (and children, through their attorneys) to have unfettered access to the full forensic files used as a basis for the often life-changing recommendations flowing from forensic evaluators.

Blocking Access to Forensic Files Is Counterproductive

By David A. Martindale |

Endorsing a custody evaluator's opinion without having examined her file is akin to expressing confidence in the structural integrity of a building without having inspected the foundation.

stack of credit cards

Research on Alternate Forms of Bail

By Mary T. Phillips |

The New York City Criminal Justice Agency has recently released the results of a study that examined the rate of return in regard to the newest alternative form of bail to be authorized: the use of a credit card.

Manhattan Supreme Court

40 Years of Delivering Equal Justice Under the Law

By Raun Rasmussen |

When the Legal Services Corporation was created in 1974, 12 percent of Americans had yearly incomes low enough to be eligible for free legal assistance. Now, 21 percent, or 65.5 million people, are eligible, and barely one in five low-income families are able to get access to legal assistance they need.

Rates of Return Under Alternative Bail Options

By Richard Montelione |

Although I am unaware of any research regarding the rate of return when alternate forms of bail are set by the court, it is interesting to postulate that the rate of return may be as high if not higher than cash or insurance company bond based on the success of micro-lending.

Impact of 'Balsys' on Prosecutions Abroad

By Judith Feigin |

Lee Spielmann's article, "Denaturalization of Nazi Perpetrators: What Have We Learned?" references two U.S. Supreme Court decisions emanating from these cases. However there were in fact three and the one omitted is arguably the most far-reaching.

 jail cells

We Can Better Employ Bail Statute

By Joshua Norkin |

In his 2013 State of the Judiciary address, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman called for "a top-to-bottom revamping of the rules governing bail in our state." Unfortunately, little has changed in the day-to-day functioning of arraignments in the wake of Lippman's call to action.

Burden of Proof in Parking Violation Cases

By Glen Bolofsky |

LeGaL Weighs In on Court of Appeals Appointments

By Janice B. Grubin and Meredith R. Miller |

While the LGBT community's historic exclusion and current underrepresentation in the state judiciary generally remains a concern, it is particularly problematic at the Court of Appeals. Our absence there, unfortunately, has been keenly reflected by precedential decisions over the years that relied upon discredited stereotypes and painful misunderstandings to reach legal conclusions very much adverse to our community members and their families.

Dangers of Coaching Parents in Custody Evaluations

By Paulette M. Selmi |

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