Letters to the Editor

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."

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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'.

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.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Remembering Justice Scalia

By Arthur L. Aidala |

Of the many lessons I learned from Scalia (always lead with your strongest argument to a judge; only wear a navy or dark gray suit to the court; you can never be over prepared when you enter a courtroom; have dinner with your family as often as possible), the overarching theme was that if you were going to do something, do it right!

A gavel in front of clock

Look Outside NY for Examples of Speedy Trial Reform

City Council member Rory Lancman's thesis is correct, that the system can and must be improved to reduce pretrial delays. Doing so must start with understanding that New York has an antiquated and overly complicated approach to pretrial criminal procedure.

An Invite to Robust Debate on Impact of 'Davis'

By Robert Vizza |

Having argued 'Davis v. S. Nassau Communities Hosp.' before the Court of Appeals as counsel for defendant-respondent South Nassau Communities Hospital, I would like to respectfully respond to recent columns on that decision.

The Impact of Court of Appeals Ruling in 'Davis'

By Joseph G. Dell, Christopher R. Dean and Jay J. Massaro |

The medical industry's uproar against the limited accountability created by 'Davis v. South Nassau Communities Hospital' contrasts sharply with its unified silence about real medical epidemics, such as the rising numbers of injuries and deaths from medical errors and the significant societal waste associated with such avoidable harms.

Punishment, Redemption, Mercy and Clemency

By Steven Zeidman |

If New York is truly going to be a national leader in the clemency movement we must reach higher than the low hanging fruit of so-called non-violent drug offenders.

Ben Brafman, right, counsels his client Martin Shkreli during his appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Feb. 4.

Congress Versus Shkreli

By Benjamin Brafman |

Benjamin Brafman writes: I accompanied Martin Shkreli to a congressional hearing on pharmaceutical pricing that he was compelled to attend, despite advance knowledge that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege. Indeed, in my judgment, the only reason for the committee to force Shkreli to appear in person was to try to publicly humiliate him.

Plenty of Opportunity in Specialty Firms

A New York Law Journal article, "Midsize Firms Face Increased Pressure to Merge or Grow," suggests that the only way for many firms to survive in today's competitive environment is to expand. The article misses the point that, for many of us, bigger is not better.

Contract Lawyer Overtime Suits Raised Industry Awareness

By John Tarbox |

Even before recent cases on overtime pay for contract attorneys were resolved, law firms sought to make changes in contractor procedure. But now they are even more sensitive to this topic as it regularly comes up in client meetings.

Judith Kaye

Remembering Judith Kaye

By David Saxe |

Judith Kaye was a commanding presence and an astute legal thinker, an innovator and an acute strategist, able to reconcile disparate elements of her court into a controlling consensus. She was all those things, but that was only really a small part of a much larger picture.

Parole Board Drags Its Feet on COMPAS

In order to address the tragedy of mass incarceration, we must include in the conversation the issues of parole and release for incarcerated people.

A Career in Law That Almost Didn't Happen

By Aaron Twerski |

I was a Harvard teaching fellow in the 1966-67 school year. which in those times meant an almost automatic entre into a teaching position; five other teaching fellows that year received multiple offers from various law schools. It did not take much to figure out why I did not. I am a Chassidic Orthodox Jew. I wear a yarmulke, have a beard that was never trimmed and wear the classic Chassidic garb.

Given Risk to Client, Lawyer Should Let Dissent Speak for Him

Your coverage of the Appellate Division, First Department, decision in 'People v. Kindell' made me think about how an attorney should react when allegations of his incompetence give a client a chance to undo a 19 1/2 year-to-life jail sentence.

Sarah Kramer and her dad Herbert Kramer in his Riverside Drive apartment

Film Shows Pride of Practicing Law

It is wonderful to learn that Sarah Kramer, a documentary filmmaker, has prepared a film about the law practice and career of her father Herb Kramer.

Pro Bono Makes All the Difference in Family Matters

By Laura Israel Sinrod |

Justice Jeffrey Sunshine's moving, landmark decision in 'Alice M. v. Terrance T.' is about more than the impact of egregious conduct on the equitable distribution of the marital portion of a city worker's pension; it is also about access to economic justice and the right to counsel.

The courthouses of the four divisions of New York's Appellate Division

Beware of 'Harmonizing' Attorney Discipline

By Leon Polsky |

The Commission on Statewide Attorney Discipline's advocacy of inter-departmental uniformity and the "harmonizing" of disciplinary sanctions smacks of the sentence uniformity of the federal sentencing guidelines, something which has been wisely and repeatedly rejected by New York.

A Proposed Path to Ethics Reform

By Robert Tembeckjian |

When the Legislature returned to Albany last week for a new session, leaders in both houses declared that ethics reform was high on their agenda, and the governor has also made it a priority. In the wake of a numbing string of convictions by federal prosecutors against numerous legislators, it is no wonder.

It Is Important to Fill Vacancies in the Judiciary

By Roy L. Reardon |

It is unfortunate that the people of our great state have been denied the confirmation by the New York State Senate of the governor's appointment of Janet DiFiore as chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals.

Justice Denied When Court Calendars Are Unmanagable

By Leonard J. Levenson |

Although I generally practice criminal law in New York County, I recently had cause to appear in Civil Court Kings County. The experience was eye opening.

The Appellate Division, First Department, at 27 Madison Ave.

'Artcorp' and Curing Improper Assignments

By Menachem J. Kastner |

While I totally agree with the conclusions reached by the authors of "Yellowstone Injunctions: Timeliness is Critical" that the 'Reisenberger' court held that assignments are per se incurable, the authors' reasoning is questionable in light of the First Department's decision in 'Artcorp Inc. v. Citireach Realty Corp.'

The Benefits of New York City's Civil Rights Law

By Gregory Antollino |

It did take years for the plaintiff's bar to make the courts, both state and federal, aware of the uniqueness of the New York City Human Rights Law. But we shouldn't be discouraged by one disagreeable decision in a tough case.

A courtroom in the new Staten Island courthouse.

Court Clerks Deserve Raise, Contract

By Christopher A. DePietto |

As the second vice president of the New York State Court Clerks Association, I write to express dismay and frustration over the failure of the Office of Court Administration to reclassify the clerks' judicial grade and offer clerks a decent raise and contract.

The Reality of 'Matter of G.S.'

In a Nov. 20, 2015 article, "When Nursing Homes Use Guardianship Law to Collect Debts," Daniel G. Fish claimed that my firm filed a guardianship petition on behalf of a nursing home client for debt collection. This is not true.

An alcoholic drink next to car keys

Hit and Run Bill: A Positive Step, But Misses the Mark

By Steven B. Epstein |

The proposed "hit-and-run" bill approved by the New York State Senate and Assembly, awaiting signature by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, does not go far enough to accomplish its intended purpose.