This Week's News

Conduct Commission Cautions Judges About Alcohol Issues

John Caher | April 17, 2014

With a shot-across-the-bow warning that "drinking and driving offenses almost always should and will result in disciplinary action," the Commission on Judicial Conduct in its annual report is cautioning judges to confront alcohol-related problems before they result in embarrassing or career-ending punishment.

After Rescinded Parole, Inmate Gets Another Shot at Release

By John Caher |

A state prison inmate who has been waiting more than a year for the First Department to decide whether the parole board rightly rescinded her release has been granted parole again in a decision that may make her Article 78 petition irrelevant.

Doctor's Testimony Was Improperly Blocked, Panel Finds

By Brendan Pierson |

A doctor should have been allowed to testify that the impact of a Greyhound bus could have caused a limousine driver's stroke minutes after the two vehicles collided, a divided state appeals panel ruled Tuesday, reversing a trial judge who found the testimony relied on a novel theory.

Sketches by late fashion designer Oleg Cassini. Other such drawings and artwork by Cassini were damaged in a fire at his mansion that was allegedly caused by a defective dryer.

Judge Blocks Testimony of Appraiser in Dryer Fire Suit

By Mark Hamblett |

A proposed expert in a dryer fire case won't be able to testify about the value of damaged and destroyed sketches, drawings and other artwork by the late fashion designer Oleg Cassini.

Profit Pressures Prompt Layoffs at Top Law Firms

By Julie Triedman |

Since the start of the year, seven prominent firms—six of them members of The Am Law 200—have cut their nonlawyer payrolls; at least three have let associates go.

Teresi, Who Oversaw Diallo Case, Retiring From Bench

By John Caher |

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi of Albany said Wednesday that he will retire on June 26 after nearly 21 years on the bench.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa

Citing U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Revives Madoff Suits

By Jan Wolfe |

A Southern District judge has reinstated claims against one of Bernard Madoff's so-called feeder funds, holding that the fraud claims aren't preempted by SLUSA.

New Complaint Filed in Lopez Harassment Case

By John Caher |

Two women who claim they were sexually harassed by former Assemblyman Vito Lopez have filed a new complaint against the state, alleging that the former Brooklyn pol would not have been able to abuse the plaintiffs without the acquiescence of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Staten Island Fundraiser Will Honor Schneiderman

By Tania Karas |

The state attorney general is being honored by Staten Island Legal Services for his office's work to prevent foreclosures. SILS has seen an increase in foreclosure cases in recent years due to the combination of Hurricane Sandy and the nationwide housing crisis, said director Nancy Goldhill.

Character and Fitness Panel to Interview Applicants

Approximately 257 applicants will be interviewed April 22 by the Character and Fitness Committee of the Appellate Division, First Department.

Justices appointed by Governor Cuomo to the Appellate Division on April 15, 2014.

5 Justices Join Appellate Bench

By John Caher |

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday filled three of the five vacancies on the depleted Appellate Division, Third Department, but left the court short two judges and without any minority representation. He also named one judge each to the Second and Fourth Departments.

Panel Restores Eviction of NYC Family From Public Housing

By Brendan Pierson |

A single mother and her five children, three of whom are adults, can be evicted from public housing despite there being no evidence she knew about the drugs and loaded gun found in their apartment by police.

Art Students League at 215 West 57th Street

Ruling Clears Way for Tower Over City Landmark Building

By Suevon Lee |

A Manhattan Supreme Court justice declined to block a transfer of air rights over the Art Students League of New York's historic building on West 57th Street, enabling construction of a 1,440 foot-high luxury residential tower.

Court's Role in Addressing Impairments Is Clarified

By Mark Hamblett |

The Sixth Amendment requires courts to provide reasonable accommodations to hearing-impaired defendants equal to the severity of their impairment, but "perfection is not required," the Second Circuit has ruled, because it's the defendant's responsibility to tell the court about any impairment.

Documents Reveal Hynes Thought Collins 'Not Guilty'

By John Caher |

Newly public documents in the high-profile wrongful conviction case of Jabbar Collins show former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has long believed the man is not guilty, and also that the district attorney's office held reluctant witnesses in custody.

Judge Offers Guidance on Transfers of Original Emails

By Brendan Pierson |

A party asked to produce remotely stored emails in "native format" should do more than just forward them to preserve the original data, a federal judge has held, but declined to hold the party in contempt for failing to do so.

Settlement Reached Over Tenants' Right to Organize

By Brendan Pierson |

The owners of 42 rent-regulated buildings in New York City have agreed to extend more than $1 million in rent credits to nearly 1,700 tenants under a settlement with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Judge Allows Class Action Against Dewey to Proceed

By Christine Simmons |

A bankruptcy judge has eliminated some of Dewey & LeBoeuf's defenses to a suit filed by a former staff member claiming that firm layoffs in May 2012 violated Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Acts.

DA Taps Dewey Prosecutor To Be Tax Crimes Chief

By Tania Karas |

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Peirce Moser, who is heading the team prosecuting four former Dewey & LeBoeuf lawyers for financial fraud, has been appointed as chief of the office's Tax Crimes Unit.

Attorneys Convicted of Immigration Fraud

By Mark Hamblett |

Attorneys Feng Ling Liu and Vanessa Bandrich were convicted Monday of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud by rigging asylum applications with deceptive information on the persecution applicants suffered in their native lands.

Firm Challenges Venue of Bankruptcy Petition

By Christine Simmons |

Several creditors of Jacoby & Meyers Bankruptcy LLP, including solo practitioners who claim the firm hasn't paid them for their appearance work, filed in the Southern District, but the firm says its New York location was only a satellite office and its operations are all in Chicago.

Joseph Romano

Man Gets Two Life Terms in Beheading Conspiracy

By Tania Karas |

Joseph Romano was sentenced Monday after being convicted of plotting to behead and dismember an Eastern District judge and prosecutor as revenge for their roles in convicting him in an earlier coin-fraud case.

Dean of Pace Law School David Yassky

New Dean Keeps Eye on What's 'Important'

By Tania Karas |

The new dean at Pace Law School in White Plains, David Yassky says he plans to help students meet the challenges of a profession that is changing faster than ever, and those who have met him and worked with him say he won't hesitate to push the limits to do so.

Judge Finds Police Not Justified in Denying Records

By John Caher |

The Nassau County Police Department's blanket assertion of an ongoing investigation falls far short of any justification for withholding records from the family of a college student inadvertently shot and killed by an officer, a judge has held.

Brown Rudnick Rescinds Some Fall Job Offers

By Christine Simmons |

Brown Rudnick has rescinded offers to 10 associates scheduled to join the firm this fall. The firm had planned to hire 23 new associates, many of them in its New York and Boston offices.

Family Can Keep Apartment Despite Error, Panel Finds

By Brendan Pierson |

New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development cannot reconsider its decision to give a four-bedroom subsidized co-op to a family of five, against its normal rules, because the other family challenging the decision has no standing to sue, a state appeals court recently found.

Scaffold Law Supporters Mobilize to Counter Reform Push

By Joel Stashenko |

A debate is renewed annually in Albany over §§240/241 of the Labor Law, with developers and business groups arguing for repeal and trial attorneys and construction trades unions claiming the worker protections in the law are still valuable.

Jurors Are Selected in Latest Terror Trial

A jury was chosen Monday for the federal trial of an Egyptian Islamic preacher extradited from Great Britain on charges he conspired to support al Qaida, setting the stage for the second major terrorism trial in Manhattan in two months.

Workers' Comp Benefits Survive Incarceration

By Joel Stashenko |

A workers' compensation recipient did not forfeit his entitlement to benefits when he was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and sentenced to 10 years probation, an upstate appeals court determined.

Judge Certifies Class of 'Writers' Seeking OT

By John Caher |

Employees of a Rochester communications company who were designated "writers" but denied they performed the sort of creative work that would exempt them from overtime have persuaded a Western District judge to certify a class action against their employer.

Onondagas Press Land Claim With International Entity

The Onondaga Indian Nation says it plans to file a petition asking the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to declare that the U.S. government's decision not to hear its lawsuit asking for the return of 2.5 million acres in upstate New York violates international human rights agreements.

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa in October 2012.

Jury Selection to Begin for Second Terror Trial

By Mark Hamblett |

As in the case against recently-convicted Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, jurors in Mustafa Kamel Mustafa's trial will see images of the Sept. 11 attacks, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and pictures of the late Osama bin Laden. But there are several differences between the two trials that begin with the proximity of the defendants to bin Laden.

Judge Allows Mom's Arrest for Locking Up Own Children

By John Caher |

Nearly two years after the Court of Appeals found that a custodial parent could be held criminally responsible for kidnapping his or her own child, a trial judge in Manhattan has upheld charges against a woman who locked her five children in a room with her for 80 minutes.

Ad for a gun buyback event

Gun Amnesty Effort Doesn't Shield Federal Defendant

By Mark Hamblett |

A man who said the reason he had a gun when stopped by city police in the subway was that he was on his way to collect a reward for turning over the firearm has, nevertheless, lost a bid to overturn his federal weapons possession conviction.

Firm Chastised for Overbilling for Novice Counsel

By Christine Simmons |

A six-lawyer Brooklyn firm that assigned a law student and junior associate to a client's case has been barred from collecting its legal fee by a Brooklyn judge who said the firm's bills were "overly broad, padded, excessive and unreasonable."

Cuomo Accepts Increase in Judiciary's Budget

By John Caher |

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday signed the $1.81 billion Judiciary budget, leaving completely intact the spending plan proposed by the Office of Court Administration, including funding for 20 new Family Court judges.

State Courts and CSEA Reach Contract Agreement

By John Caher |

The state court system and a union representing nearly 40 percent of its workforce have tentatively reached agreement on a contract that will boost pay 6 percent in three increments over the next two years.

stack of credit cards

Antitrust Suits Against Credit Card Giants Dismissed

By Jan Wolfe |

Somewhat grudgingly, a federal judge in New York tossed claims that American Express, Discover and other companies used meetings organized by lawyers at Wilmer and Ballard Spahr to cook up a conspiracy to preempt consumer class actions.

Two Attorneys Indicted in 'Financial Nightmare'

By Andrew Keshner |

Kenneth B. Schwartz of Huntington and Helene Stetch of Lindenhurst have been indicted for allegedly bilking homeowners, lenders and others out of more than $1 million in a mortgage fraud scheme between October 2008 and May 2010.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Poly Prep Counsel

By Andrew Keshner |

A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit by former students of a elite Brooklyn prep school against the school's outside counsel at O'Melveny & Myers for allegedly trying to "deceive" a federal court in a now-settled action challenging the school for an alleged covering up sexual abuse by a coach.

Sales Tax Refund Tracks Movements of Sports Fish

By Joel Stashenko |

A fishing boat based in Port Jefferson, Suffolk County, is off the hook for the sales taxes its owner paid on the purchase of two vessels in his charter fleet.

Auction Benefit

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

More than 1,000 people attended 2014 annual photography and auction benefit for Her Justice on Thursday, which raised more than $2.2 million.

The Mercedes-Benz 1957 300SL Coupe Gullwing is the type of car at issue in the Soghanalian case.

Missing Mercedes Gullwing Is at Center of Fraud Case

By Joel Stashenko |

A judge has ordered a defendant to spend 30 days in jail for civil contempt for weaving a "tapestry of deceit" to conceal his violation of a court order not to move a prized Mercedes Benz that is central to a fraud case.

AG's Press Strategy Memos Exempt From FOIL, Panel Rules

By John Caher |

In one of several offshoots of a lengthy and continuing civil fraud prosecution against two former executives of AIG, the Third Department has held that a government entity's internal communications on press strategy are not subject to the Freedom of Information Law.

Lawyer's 'Tactic' in Bankruptcy Cases Draws Judge's Ire

By John Caher |

An upstate bankruptcy lawyer who makes his living holding creditors' feet to the fire for procedural violations has drawn the scorn of a federal judge who suggested the attorney lured a bank into a trap in order to collect a fee.

Southern District U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara testifies before the Moreland Commission at a hearing on Sept. 17, 2013 at Pace University.

Bharara Critical of Moreland Panel Shutdown

By Michael Virtanen |

U.S. prosecutors are taking the remaining files of New York's anti-corruption commission as the panel shuts down, and they plan to complete the state investigations, Southern District U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Thursday.

Three children in silhouette

Health Dept. Regulations Out of Bounds, Court Finds

By Andrew Keshner |

The state Department of Health acted "clearly outside" its function when it imposed conflict of interest regulations and cost caps on childhood early intervention providers that had been rejected by the Legislature, a Nassau judge has determined.

Judge Accepts Plea Bargain for SAC Insider Trading

The once high-flying hedge fund SAC Capital was sentenced on criminal fraud charges Thursday under a $1.8 billion deal that prosecutors say included the largest criminal fine ever imposed in an insider trading case.

Panel Allows Lawsuit Over Golf Cart Accident

By Joel Stashenko |

A golfer who was injured when his cart flipped over while he drove down a slippery slope may sue course operators, an upstate appeals court decided Thursday.

Second Department Disbars Two After Fraud Admissions

By Andrew Keshner |

Merrill Rubin pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal tax fraud, while Mengfei Yu was one of 30 defendants, including 8 lawyers, charged in a scheme arising from thousands of fraudulent asylum requests from Chinese applicants.

Nassau Attorney Is Accused of Taking Settlement Funds

By Andrew Keshner |

According to the Nassau County District Attorney's office, Matthew Kogan of Syosset put a $32,500 settlement in his firm's operating account rather than an escrow account and used it for professional expenses like credit card payments.

Panel Faults Failure to Give Intoxication Charge to Jury

By Andrew Keshner |

A man convicted of committing a criminal sex act is entitled to a new trial because the judge should have given an intoxication charge to the jury, a Brooklyn appellate court has ruled.

Attorneys Express Doubts About Prospects for a Union Made Up of 'Student Athletes'

By Jenna Greene |

Labor lawyers are skeptical that a decision by a National Labor Relations Board official in Chicago giving 85 football players on scholarship at Northwestern University a green light to unionize would survive judicial scrutiny.

Public Service Recognized

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

The City Bar Justice Center's ninth annual gala honored Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and UBS for their leadership and dedication to pro bono and public service, and raised a record $1.3 million.

Surrogacy Shouldn't Block Adoption, Court Determines

By Joel Stashenko |

A Queens man may legally adopt his husband's biological twins even though they were born to a woman under a surrogacy agreement that is illegal in New York state, a Family Court judge determined.

Lead plaintiff Ricky Brown, left, and attorney Scott Fein listen to witness testimony during an October 2005 civil rights trial in Albany.

Film Recalls Humiliation of Oneonta 'Black List'

By John Caher |

It all started with a phone call in 1992, when attorney Scott Fein was contacted by civil rights activists about a peculiar incident up in Oneonta, where police stopped every black person they could find in the little college town over a five day period.

Evidence Suppressed Due to Faulty Warrant

By Mark Hamblett |

Cocaine and guns seized from a man's home in Queens will be kept out of evidence because police used a warrant that didn't specifically identify the apartment to be searched.

Eastern District Judge Retires

By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

Eastern District Bankruptcy Judge Dorothy Eisenberg and her colleagues celebrated her retirement after 25 years on the bench during an April 7 reception and dinner.

Questions on Office for Nonresident Lawyers Certified

By Mark Hamblett |

The Second Circuit has certified a question asking the state's highest court to wrestle with Judiciary Law §470, which requires nonresident attorneys to maintain an "office for the transaction of law business" as the price of practicing here.

Panel Says Corporate Tax Can't Be Applied Retroactively

By Brendan Pierson |

After analyzing a 2010 tax on sales of certain stock using the three factors for deciding whether a tax statute could be retroactive the Court of Appeals laid out in 2013, the First Department said applying the tax to a 2007 sale would violate taxpayers' due process rights.

Weapon Possession Plea Leads to Disbarrment

By Andrew Keshner |

Attorney Randall Cutler was staying at his parents' home, which lost electricity after Hurricane Sandy, when he became involved in a dispute with his brother and sister-in-law over the use of a generator. When police were called to the scene on reports of a domestic dispute, they found five firearms.

Cuomo Names Members of Juvenile Justice Panel

By John Caher |

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday appointed a 16-member commission to provide "concrete, actionable recommendations" on juvenile justice, with the aim of raising the age of criminal responsibility.

Sherburne Steps Down as GC at BNY Mellon

Jane Sherburne is handing over the reins of senior executive vice president and general counsel of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation to J. Kevin McCarthy, who will assume the post on April 15.

Landlord Is Sued for Failing to Provide Enough Heat

By Brendan Pierson |

Residents of a 1,700-unit Battery Park City rental complex are suing their landlord, The LeFrak Organization, for allegedly failing to provide adequate heat in winter.

Immigrant Fraud Bureau Created in Brooklyn

By Andrew Keshner |

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has tapped Assistant District Attorney Maritza Mejia-Ming to head a newly-created unit that will press cases where immigrant communities are targets of fraud.

Ex-Detective Settles Suit Against City for $280,000

A former NYPD detective who said his career was ruined because he was labeled a "rat" by other officers after he reported allegations of misconduct to the Internal Affairs Bureau has reached a settlement with the city.

(from left to right) Actors Susie Sokol, Vin Knight, Mike Iveson, and Ben Williams in the play Arguendo at the Public Theater/LuEsther Hall.

Nudity in the Court? New Play Has It and Much More

By Tony Mauro |

It's a U.S. Supreme Court ¬≠argument like none you've ever seen: justices scooting around on their chairs like whirling dervishes, advocates pushing their lecterns back and forth, one lawyer even orating and dancing—briefly—without benefit of clothing. At one point, two justices hold a side conference that looks a lot like making out.

ABA President James R. Silkenat

ABA Plans Days of Lobbying Against Tax Law Change

By Todd Ruger |

American Bar Association President James Silkenat said he wants to convince members of Congress this week that the leading tax reform proposals on Capitol Hill would harm not only law firms and lawyers but also the businesses and other clients who hire them.


By Rick Kopstein, Photographer |

The annual gala of the New York Legal Assistance Group, which provides legal services to more than 65,000 low-income New Yorkers each year, was held Tuesday at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Personal Notes on Lawyers

Holwell Shuster & Goldberg has added John DiMatteo as a partner to lead the firm's intellectual property practice, among other news of moves and promotions.

A branch of Mashreqbank is seen along Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. The Saudi bank filed suit in New York against one of its employees.

Saudi Arabia Ruled Proper Forum for Foreign Bank Dispute

By Joel Stashenko |

The reality of the modern financial world is that most significant financial transactions must pass through New York in some way, and New York courts are not obligated to entertain every fraud case arising from them, the Court of Appeals said in dismissing a suit on forum non conveniens grounds.

Eliot Spitzer

Hearing Set in Battle to Obtain Spitzer Emails Under FOIL

By John Caher |

A former AIG executive who has spent nearly seven years attempting to obtain Eliot Spitzer's private emails has issued something of a dare to the onetime attorney general and governor: If you insist there are no such emails, say so under oath.

Denial of Benefits Over 7-Minute Filing Delay Is Upheld

By Joel Stashenko |

The wife of a state police investigator was not unfairly denied disability retirement because he died seven minutes before his application for benefits was received by the state, a divided appeals court has determined.

Caitlyn Brady, left, a navigator in Brooklyn Housing Court, helps Angela Caceres.

'Navigator' Program Launches; Skeptics 'Wait and See'

By Andrew Keshner |

A pilot program to provide unrepresented litigants emotional support in a stressful process and link them to resources has begun, but some housing attorneys are not convinced of the program's benefits, saying they are skeptical of an arrangement that temporarily links nonlawyers with litigants.

Congress Questions Role of GM In-House Team in Recall

By Sue Reisinger |

The in-house lawyers at General Motors Co. are slowly being pulled into the public questions over its ignition switch recall—what did they know about the fatal defect, when did they know it, who did they tell, and how are they going to handle the whole mess now?

Harvard Law Prof to Head Conviction Review Unit

By Andrew Keshner |

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has named Ronald Sullivan Jr. special counsel to the district attorney and chief of the conviction review unit, which has the closely watched task of reviewing convictions secured under Thompson's predecessors that have come under question.

Robles-Román to Lead Women's Rights Group

By Tania Karas |

Carol Robles-Román, former deputy mayor for legal affairs and counsel to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will become president and CEO of Legal Momentum, a national nonprofit that advances the rights of women and girls, the group announced Tuesday. She starts April 21.

Panel Rejects Bid to Remove Judge From AIG Civil Case

By John Caher |

The First Department has declined to reconsider a decision it made two months ago when it refused to remove Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos from the civil fraud case of Maurice "Hank" Greenberg and Howard Smith.