Monday, December 26, 2005

Arbitrary and Capricious: WA: novel bank robbery theory

Arbitrary and Capricious: WA: novel bank robbery theory

Our friend Skelly over at Arbitrary and Capricious has found a case where an apparent guilty bank robber goes free after the Judge overturns his conviction, because the prosecutor failed to prove that the bank involved in the bank robbery was a "Financial institution" under the state laws definition. He wants the court to assume that because the "bank" calls itself a bank, it is in fact a bank under the statute. Now it may very well be a financial institution, but it is the prosecutor's job to prove that. He didn't, he loses. Does he accept the blame for blowing it? NO!! He belittles the judge and basically calls the law an ass.

I just wanted to put my opinion of what is to come down here for you all to consider. Here was my rant at Skelly's blog:

"The sad thing here is, that by tonight the O"Reilly's, Limbaughs, and Hannity's of the world the self appointed gaurdians of the so called right, will be screaming about a "Stupid" judge who "misread or overplayed the law".
We will have to hear how this guy got off on a technicality and of course how we have to get rid of the liberal judges.
What will get lost in the soup is that the prosecutor had the same judicial instructions as the defense attorney and that he had the same copy of the statute. All he had to do was make an element chart (see how easy it is here Theory.asp ), follow it and voila' a conviction would have been had.
If this was a football game, would we blame the winning team for exploiting the weak unprepared Cornerback. Would we blame the Referee for making the call? NO we would be yelling for the defensive player to learn his coverages. This prosecutor blew his assignment and now he wants to blame the court, the legislature, and the defense lawyer because he let one slip through his hands.
How would we feel if this had been a murder case and the prosecutor did not prove an element of Murder such as the death was not caused by the punch the defendant threw? Then we kill the defendant and lo and behold his actions didn't kill the alleged victim?
I am sick and tired of hearing about technicalities. We have a right in this country to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Each element of the crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state fails then it fails. These are rights not technicalities.

The state doesn't need another law, and no it is not necessarily a given that this "so called" bank is a financial institution, unless it fits under the statutory definition, an element of the crime to be proven by... The prosecutor!

Someday one of these holier than thou talking heads, who pretend to be law and order [they aren't you know they just order the laws they like] is going to be hung because of his own refusal to really understand that strict construction means HOLDING THE GOVERNMENT TO ITS BURDENS AND RESPONSIBILITIES, EVEN WHEN IT HURTS US. When we start to understand that, THEN we will be a truly conservative nation and not one that only cares when its own ox is being gored.
Sorry for the rant Skelly but I do feel better now."

And I do feel better now! Hope you all had (or are having) a good Christmas, Chaunukah, Kwanza or just good Holy Days and I pray you all have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

BTW: If you have an opinion on these matters, leave me a note here or at

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Stern Commission Wants to Debench Judge Who Wouldn't Let Police Run Her Courtroom

The Stern Commission is a part of the Office of Court Administration or OCA. I like to refer to them as the Office of Courtroom Atrocities. The OCA is supposed to make sure things run smoothly. They are mostly a bunch of bean counting, neverbeens, who couldn't find the front door of a courtroom, if they had a guide dog, a sherpe, and a map... make that a GPS device! OCA sets arbitrary rules and they try to thwart any attempt that can be made to individualize the courtroom experience of litigants. They would call that justice, I call it a denial of a fair day in court.

The Stern Commission is OCA's answer to the Gesatopo ( the secret police force used by the Nazi's in Germany in WWII) They answer only to the Court of Appeals. When a judge misbehaves, they "investigate", bring the charges, and try the case,in front of a hand picked group of lawyers and judges selected by??... The Office of Court Administration. Oh yeah did I mention that they do all of their work behind closed doors? And let's not forget that they can remove a judge who has been elected, not just the appointed ones.

Most Judges live in abject fear of the OCA and especially of the Stern Commission. Until now, that always seemed to me to be rather paranoid. After all the Stern Commission has never ever disciplined a judge for an error in judgement that was not of the self-interest or venal type. Nevertheless Judges tend to shutter at the thought of losing their Robes to a Stern Commission investigation.

I have never seen judge who was the subject of a defense attorney complaint ever EVER sanctioned, much less debenched. I am aware of instances where judges called defense counsel names, didn't show up for trial, said inappropriate things to and about defense attorneys in open court, and of course before juries, and even incarcerated people illegally. They never were removed from office. In fact just last week, the OCA and the Stern Commission only censured two judges who could not follow the law of contempt. These now disgraced jurists allowed their anger and frustration to spill over into their decision making. They incarcerated two people, illegally held them in jail because they were upset with them, and remembering that they are popularly elected these judges were only "censured."

That must have made those two guys that were illegally held feel better. That they could have their civil rights stripped from them for merely uttering a sigh in a courtroom then having the offending judge merely censured must engender a lot of confidence in New York and OCA's ability to punish the venal.

Let a judge do something that is at worst a mistake and at best a good use of her judicial authority, and let that negitively impact a police officer, well then the Union gets involved and Lord knows we can't let the NYC PBA get in a snit.
I handled a case a number of years ago where an off duty patrolman was drunk and armed in a bar. He shot a patron and then when police arrived they arrested the patron and 3 of his friends. At one point during the scene the cop dropped his weapon. My client picked it up and handed it to his friend (another off duty) and they also charged him with possession of a Weapon. The judge let the client out on Five Thousand Dollars bail. The PBA never forgave him and he has not won an election since. Forget the fact that the defendants were acquitted... but I digress.

In the case I am speaking of, a defendant showed up to court on the date of his schedualed court appearance. (This is what we want, defendants to show up to court.) A cop and prosecutor decided that since the defendant had to go to court they would lay in wait and arrest him on a trumped up charge and put him back into jail even though he was doing well on release.

The judge refused to allow it in her court. She felt that if the client came to court he should be allowed to go home. She had him escorted from the courthouse and the detective and the DA had to arrest him elsewhere. It seems the Judge didn't want to discourage people from keeping their court dates.

Right decision? Probably not. Even though it seems that the judge wanted to do something good, she really increased the chance that the defendant, or the police officer who had to arrest him, could get hurt. Surrenders are always the better way to go. Moreover this was a really weak case and the defendant was AQUITTED ANYWAY!!
Was it however a power grab by the court? Was the court being venal and petty? NO WAY. She ran her court the way she saw fit. What she did was not illegal (when done by a court for the rest of us it would be aiding an escape or obstruction of justice a misnomer but that's what they call it.) She had a countervailing concern. To wit: people will not come to court if they think they are going to be arrested. Moreover She was running her courtroom. She felt like she had made a promise that if the defendant showed up for court he could come there and be safe from police harrassment.

It is interesting to note that the Judge in this case is black and was a civil rights attorney she worked for the NAACP. I remember that during the 1960's Blacks in the south used to congregate on the lawns and steps of the federal courthouses to be protected from the harrassment of white police officers in the cities. I wonder if that thought had entered into the courts decision in this case.

It doesn't matter that the court here made, at worst an error of judgment. That sanctimonious unelected Stern Commission and it's appointed rubber stamp of a board said "to hell" with precedent. We want her out. She made the police and the DA's office unhappy. She made a mockery of Justice. She favored an accused over the lying accuser who just so happened to be a NYC Police Detective. Forget scolding her. We save that for the Judges that unfairly incarcerate innocent people because they had the temerity to utter a sigh in court. For running her courtroom and keeping her promise to the defendant, and for causing no harm at all (except for a little inconvienence which could have been avoided if the ADA had the brains to arrange a surrender with the guys attorney to begin with) We are going to thwart the will of the people who elected this judge and remove her. After all those voters don't know anything about the judges they vote for. We as the appointed henchmen of the All-knowing and Powerful OZ, we say who should stay and who should go.

The board that oversees the Stern Commission prosecutions should be ashamed of itself (except for the 2 members who dissented from the decision who should now be named chair and vice chair. It would figure that the author of the dissent was Richard Emory, one of NYC's great defense and civil rights attorneys and an all around decent human being). Someone remind me... If I ever become Governor remind me to defund the OCA and send a handwritten pink slip to Stern, Tembeckian and the rest of the boys in that band. It will give me a chance to remind them that when the people have spoken you better have a damn good reason to undo what the people have done.

That's what I think. If you have a different opinion leave a comment here or write to me at

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hey We're 106 Outta 206!

That's right folks out of over 200 blogs indexed by Technorati that are law related we rank as number 106 for authority. (the number other blogs cite you)which puts us almost right in the middle not bad for a year old project that is more hobby than anything else. I want to encourage any of your who do read this blog with any frequency to remember to rate the blog (look to your right... your other right----------------------------------------------------------> and hit the button to rate us. And thank you for your continued support.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Next time someone asks why it takes so long to execute a person, please hand them this blogpost!

This case was built on the strength of one "eyewitness" who turned out to be to frightened of the police to tell the truth. Not a shred of physical evidence tied Ruben Cantu to the murder for which he was put to death. The laws of evidence kept his codefendant who knew the true killers identity from telling the jury the truth. His defense team failed to look for the one witness who could have set things right while on appeal and worst of all the prosecutor who tried the case now admits that he was wrong to proceed on with a death penalty prosecution of an eighteen year old learning disabled child with only a one witness ID case. The chance for error is just to great.

On the day he was killed by the "great" state of Texas his mother stood outside the jail where they killed her baby. She held a lighted candle for him and wept. Then she said "He is resting now, he's free. He should have never been here in the first place."

The article details a case that is rife with police misconduct. No one will be prosecuted for that. There will probably be no trial for those that failed to live up to their duty to the public. No one will pay for the Murder of Ruben Cantu.

We, the American Public can pay this debt forward however. We can tell our representitives that the Death Penalty in America costs too much especially if it means that our states and nation will kill just one innocent citizen. We can tell them that even though it seems to some that Murderers have "too many rights" (a lie but most of us do not understand this)we want to make sure mistakes do not happen so we will agree that we will not kill anyone with death qualified juries. The jury will be made up of a cross section of our population and that may just include people who think it is morally wrong to kill anyone just as it will include people who do not think it is all that bad to kill the wrong person. We will require a modicum of physical evidence and not allow juries to even consider a death penalty where it is based on eye witness, snitch and confession alone. (The three biggest non-lawyer reasons for wrongful convictions are eyewitness ID which are so often bad for so many reasons it is a topic for another column, snitches who are basically paid for the testimony the prosecutor likes and confessions which are so often the result of really abusive police work.)

Maybe we should consider some other reforms such as better funded defense attorney's and investigators. How about full discovery with depositions well before trial. And why don't we legislate away the concept of harmless error in Death Penalty cases. If someone is going to die, an error is not harmless.

Of course we could actually make this even easier. We could acknowledge that our prisons are so state of the art that we have the ability to keep society safe from even the most henious prisoner, and we could do what most of the rest of the civilized world has already done. We could just do away with the death penalty. Government should just not be in the business of killing one of it's own citizens, or any other nation's either.

That is what I think, what do you think? Leave a comment here or go to and leave us a private message there.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Plain Talk About Legislative Priorities

I received this post from Angela Spenser President of ACE. It is a good piece about legislative priority, and political intestinal fortitude. I am sending a letter to this Ohio State Senate President thanking him for his leadership. I am re-printing here what I believe has appeared in Ohio Paper's today in full because I can add nothing to it. I will update this post when I find out the Author's name:

Harris was right to call CCV bluff on strip club bill
Nov 10, 2005 - Cincinnati Post
A stripper is a person, usually a woman, who sheds her clothes in a seductive manner for money -- She accepts tips, generally $1 bills, in a garter worn about her thigh.

A lap dance is an erotic gyration, wherein a stripper straddles a customer's lap and attempts to maintain balance and sex appeal. These dances typically start at $10 a song.

A lapdog is an Ohio legislator whose fear of appearing impious cows him into ignoring this state's fundamental problems and thoughtlessly adopting the agenda of a Cincinnati outfit called Citizens for Community Values.

CCV wants to put strip clubs out of business -- incrementally, if necessary, by regulating them to death. It wants to save the strippers and their patrons from an eternity in hell. The group has threatened to spend up to $50,000 to field candidates against lawmakers who don't fall in line.

CCV already owns the Ohio House. That dog is on a tight leash. In April, it voted 90-5 in favor of a bill that would regulate everything from business operating hours to permissible stripper clothing to the exact distance that must be maintained between patron and dancer.

Those 90 lapdogs swallowed whole CCV's argument that its strip joint agenda was about reducing crime and combating urban blight. By severely crimping the state's $160 million-a-year adult entertainment business, CCV argued, legislators would actually improve Ohio's economic landscape.

That specious argument carried weight in the Senate, which also appeared poised to stomp on the industry.

Then a funny thing happened: Senate President Bill Harris got mad. He put the strip joint legislation on indefinite hold.

Harris, an Ashland Republican, has respect among his party's right wing, including the religious element. He is a deeply principled man who hosts a weekly Bible class for fellow lawmakers. Anyone who even hints Bill Harris is controlled by the adult entertainment world is either a comedian or a liar.

But when CCV began to make threats against Harris and other senators, shadowing them at events, vowing to turn loose "prayer warriors" against those who didn't support the stripper legislation, Harris called their bluff.

It's nice to know an adult -- a praying adult -- is in charge of the Senate at a time when far too many of Ohio's elected officials suffer from a stunning lack of vision and a frightening inability to prioritize or lead.

Harris has simultaneously exposed the CCV as self-righteous, moralizing bullies, and -- we hope -- shown his colleagues how ridiculous it would be to bog themselves down in a big fight over something Ohio's local authorities have proven perfectly capable of regulating themselves.

The legislature has better things to do, like looking to the future of this deeply troubled state. If its members want to study strip club fashions and customs, they can do so when they're not on the taxpayers' clock.

I really wish more leaders showed the guts Senator Harris's has shown on this bill. I hope he makes them all think a little bit more before they cast the easy votes that do not make for good legislation. That's my opinion. If you want to air yours or want to make a different comment please leave it here or send it to me via our website at

Thursday, October 27, 2005

President Bush Withdraws Meirs Nomination for SCOTUS

Breaking News: President Bush has reluctantly accepted SCOTUS Associate Justice Nominee Harriet Meirs request to withdraw her name from consideration for the position presently occupied by Justice Sandra Day O'Conner. Miss Meirs has been pressured to withdraw by growing opposition in the Republican party's social conservitive ranks.

That is the news now here is the commentary. The Social Conservitive or Religious Fundementalist branch of the Republican party is inconsistant and has lied to America. They attacked Miss Meirs because they were unsure she would support the overturning of Roe v. Wade. They set up a litmus test which of course they tried to hide by attacking Meirs "credentials". Miss Miers was and is qualified to be a SCOTUS Justice. Her lack of Ivy league education and her failure to have served as a judge in her previous life do not disqualify her. In fact on this bench those "failings" were the best reason to confirm her. The Supreme court is in dire need of someone who has not been indoctrinated by the minds in the Ivy league. There is a definite different mind set in those schools that do not represent the mindset of the average American. Moreover it seems that the shortest time span known to man is the time that it takes before a judge forgets he was ever a lawyer. Because judges are really kept away from socializing with lawyers the longer they are on the bench the more out of touch they are with what is happening in the practice of law.

Meirs would not have been my choice for the O'Conner seat, however to see her destroyed by the right for the alleged reasons they gave is sad. IF the Republican party continues to allow the Religious Right to control its decision making, it is surely going to become a dinosour party sooner than it needs to be.

America is more open to conservitive and libertarian thinking now than any time in the last 20 years. It is not however willing to accept the tail of the party to wag the dog. It is not accepting their form of government here that they do not accept in other countries. Moreover it is not going to accept lies. Admit now that it is all about Roe v. Wade and get it done with. As for the rest of us, it is about getting the US Constitution right. It is not finding interpretations that do not exsist. It is not about making decisions that are popular (like a legislator) and it is not about following your heart. It is about interpreting a 225 year old document that was meant to establish a new nation but whose principals embody enduring truths that work centuries later, in situations that the original drafters never even dreamed of.

Now they have put the President in an impossible postition. If he nominates someone who is qualified but not definitively Pro life he chances they will attack that nominee again. And if he seeks a candidate who clearly passes the litmus test he chances that he will alienate the public by appearing to have caved to the right. This will cost him and his party for years to come. Finally if he nominates a stealth candidate he chances a compromising his legacy by being remembered by a judge who was not who who the President thought he or she was.

Like I said Harriet Meirs wasn't my choice. I would have loved to have seen her go through the confirmation process and see what she had to say. I am sure it would have been different, may have even been better, than what we have heard from SCOTUS nominees in the recent past.

Finally a word to the President. Get your head out of the Beltway. Want some qualified candidates? Try Reena Raggi from the 2nd Circuit and Johanna Seybert from the EDNY.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back Into The Park

Just when I think I have seen it all, the publicity loving freedom-illiterate politicians prove once again that they treat us like mushrooms. They keep us in the dark and throw manure on us.

Why am I ranting and raving? Because now in order to "protect children from 'pedophiles' (the great witchhunt of the late 20th century)" we are banning from our parks in NYC adults who go to the park without a child!!!

Nevermind that most sexual assaults on children do not come from strangers or that in fact sexual assaults on children continue to decrease in the crime statistics,
there is some idiot out there in NY City Councilland who thought this was a good idea and the rest of the sheep on the council agreed. After all "we're all against pedophiles right?" Let's not let facts blind them in their quest to placate their constituents into thinking they actually earn their paychecks. Check this out:
"Cops cited Sandra Catena, a 47-year-old belly dancer, on Saturday as she sat in Rivington Playground on Forsyth St.A sign at the entrance of the playground cites several prohibitions, including: "Adults Except in the Company of Children." Catena said she did not see it.

After confronting the woman for sitting in the playground alone, the two officers issued her a summons. Catena now faces 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted. Her case goes to court in November."

Now that is our tax dollars at work. What is worse is that some of our city's diezens think this is a good idea:
"It is wonderful to designate safe areas for children and those who do not belong there must learn not to use those facilities," one woman wrote. Another quipped, "If you're that tired, walk into a deli, buy something small and sit down."
And while they are in that deli let them eat cake!

Here is a revolutionary idea, "No Child in the Park unless accompanied by an Adult!" While we are at it, How about if you are a parent or caretaker and we catch you not playing with or watching the child you brought to the park, YOU get the $1000.00 fine!
Oh yeah we can't do that, it might require someone to take responsibility for their kid. After all, thanks to our illustrious US Senator, we all know "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child."
God, where do these imbiciles come from and when will they just go home?

Anyway that is what I think, Tell me what you think by leaving a comment here or writing to me thru our comment page at or

Monday, September 26, 2005

Defendin' Ain't Easy*

Arbitrary and Capricious

Skelly Wright is a first-rate fellow bloger who not only links to us, but teaches us everyday. His blog is a must read for anyone who practices criminal law "in the trenches" (which means a guy who goes to court and tries cases, usually for poor clients, and not one who just writes about it or has clients who can afford their share of justice) because he is first and foremost a public defender.

That Lawyer Dude was once a Legal Aid Society lawyer which is a lot like being a public defender. It means you get the clients no one else wants or no one else can afford. It means you work on cases that you don't get adequate funds to work on. Where you have to have permission of the court to hire the experts and investigators you need. Where you may need funds just to hire a secretary to type your motions. It is a rare occurance when a public defender gets a thank you much less a more formal show of appreciation. Unlike his retained colleagues, Legal aid lawyers do not have people to run down things for them or to keep their offices in order and return their calls while they are on trial. Often in rural areas, PD's and LAS lawyers work in near isolation with maybe only one or fewer staffers available to them. They often work on the hardest to win cases;for the hardest to like clients; with the hardest to deal with facts. I hav labeled them heroes and we have discussed the need for them to take on the defense of the unloved and even factually guilty client.We haven't however discussed the toll that the work takes on the lawyer who toils in these environs.

Skelly's blog quotes the Public Defender of the BTK murderer. These were a series of serial murders that took place in the Midwest. Her work was difficult and the result was that her client was not given a death sentence but did get 10 life sentences which means he is never getting out of jail. The case scared a good portion of the PD's friends family neighbors and others. By her own account she saw many things that she never wanted to see, and learned things she didn't want to know. Now some 6 weeks post verdict, with the case a memory for most of us, she remains haunted by its memory. She seems a little depressed and out of sorts. She seems to need someone to talk to. She is stuck in big case gear. I know, I've been there.

A big case is life and death. The adrenaline overflows and the work is all but consuming. Each waking hour contains snippits of time when you are thinking about the case and its ramifications. Though usually in jail, it is like your client is following you all over, asking you as you do other things, "Shouldn't you be working on my case? I am going to spend the rest of my life in here, is that haircut your getting worth more than my life?" As you study the facts the pictures and the other evidence, you think about the victims. What were they thinking at or near the end? How did they wind up there? Why did this happen to them, why did this happen to your client?

One day the case ends. The excitement, the worry, the noise and the rest ends. But not for you. You still linger with questions. Did I do the best that I could? Could I have done something different that would have changed the outcome? Was I the right one for this case? Win lose or draw your still in Big case gear, but everyone else is on the next big thing, and you are trying to pick up the pieces of your life. Calling the people whose parties you missed. Trying to find time in your loved ones schedule to make up for the time you lost with them while you worked on or thought about your case. If you are a private lawyer maybe you need to find clients to give you some income again. Maybe you need to pay bills you ignored. Maybe you have haunting memories of what was in the autopsy, a picture of a victim. Hearing the victim scream into a tape machine as she is being blugeoned to death. The PD that defended the BTK killer, was a person. A neighbor, a customer at her local stores. But first she is a Lawyer, A Trial Lawyer. That means that she is about to undergo a decompression, a disappointment, even despair. She has stood where no other dared to stand. Next to a serial murderer, in protection of his rights under the Constitution of the United States of America. Believe me when I say that you may revile the BTK murderer, but pray for his lawyer... from the reading I get in Skelly's blog today, she needs those prayers and many more as she lifts the fog from her head her heart and her practice.
*Apologies to all those who taught me english.
As always, you can leave a message for us here or at our homepage at

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Some notes from the Blogspere

While watching the NY Jets break my heart yet again this week,I took a trip around my Blawg roll and found these tidbits for you all:

C-net news has a must read on internet scams here Thanks to our friends at Cyber Crime Law blog for the link. <>

For those of you who believe in the reliability of Breath testing devices our friends at Dwi Blog gives us the best information on how dieting can cause an increase in the breath test of over .06 that is NOT alcohol level. That is to say, that radical dieting ( like the Atkins diet) that causes acetone jump, can cause a breath alcohol test to be off  over estimated by more than .06 bac.  Maybe America needs to start questioning the power that be a little more and questioning the junk science we are constantly urged to invest in. Read more here <>

Bloggers have been sending personal stories from the hurricane stricken gulf.  Ernie the attorney is one of my favorites. Check out his reports by clicking here

That Lawyer Dude hates viruses especially those caught on the internet.  As a result of this post <> I have changed my browser and boy is it an exciting change. I really like the Opera 8.5 browser and can’t wait to figure out how to use it to its fullest. It appears really powerful. Try it!

Now for those of you have been critical of That Lawyer Dude’s complaining about our shrinking rights under the “war on terror” here < >is a ridiculous ruling from a Circuit court.  I am not offended by the language suggested here, moreover the TSA should have let the guy go through the screening mechanism a second time when he thought the man’s watch set off the machine the first time. Nevertheless the 6th Circuit US Court of Appeals proves what old Ben Franklin has to say “A nation that sacrifices freedom for security gets not the latter and deserves not the former”.
Update:  Turns out the appellant was Pro Se (represented himself) which reminds me of Abe Lincoln’s advice “a man who has himself as a lawyer has a fool for a client.”  

When the prosecution wins, the government says it is because of their talent and the quality of their evidence. When the defense wins the government says it’s because the jury watches too much TV! Check out this article on the White Collar Crime Professor’s blog <>

Well that is what I found interesting in this weekends blogs. If you have something you want me to read or if you found any of this helpful, leave us a message here or at

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Uncivil Litigator: Scleroderma

The Uncivil Litigator: Scleroderma

They say that a friend in need is a friend indeed. I am here to say thank you so very much to Uncivil Litigator for this post about my family and of course about the fund raiser for the Scleroderma Foundation's National Gala.

For those of you who do not know, almost 8 years ago my beautiful wife of now 20 years (yesterday!), MaryRose, was diagnosed with Scleroderma. We were told she had 24-30 more months to live. We were told how she would die a painful and agonizing death to a killer that knows no moral boundries.

I do not have to tell you how devastated we were. For many years MaryRose had been my mate, my friend, my lover and even for a time my secretary (it was my favorite time of practice, for those who think it can't work, I have never had a better secretary and our life outside the office was just as happy.)

After having our children, MaryRose returned to working. Within a few months, she came down with a mysterious stiffening of her right wrist and pain in her fingertips. We thought it might be old age (she was mid 30's). We were sadly wrong.

Scleroderma is an auto-immune disease. In layman's terms the body is rejecting something with-in it (we think it is fetal cells we are not sure.) The body's reaction is to over-produce collagen which is scar tissue. This scar tissue builds up subcutaneously ( below the surface of the skin) crushing the bloodflow in the capillaries to the extremities and causing great pain (think frostbite only it never goes away). At the same time it is also scarring the organs (heart, liver, kidney, and most often lungs.) This scarring makes these organs inelastic and when they cannot move to pump blood, urine, air, etc our patients die. Scleroderma effects mostly young mothers or women in their child bearing years (men do get it too, about 15% of our patients are men.) With Puberty begining earlier we are seeing far too many cases of 12-18 year olds being diagnosed with the disease.

There is no cure. Thanks to research funded at the start by the Scleroderma Foundation, our patients are out-living the old prognosis's. Their quality of life is much better than it was, but I would not say that it is good. As MaryRose likes to remind me, it is better than the alternative.

Everybody with Scleroderma has a different reaction to it. In MaryRose's case, she can barely walk and her hands are so maleformed she cannot really hold even a dinner plate. Her pain is so palpable it makes me want to cry.

She has no more cushioning in her feet, she seemingly walks right on bone and cartlidge. Her skin is so tight throughout her body she can not lift her hands above her head. When she tries, you can see the skin pull up from her knees. The steroids they have given her to keep the disease at rest, has caused her to get ostioporosis.

MaryRose refuses the pain killers they can prescribe, because they need to be so strong that they will effect her alertness and she refuses not to be there for our two sons. She would rather that they remember her for her bravery than for being spaced out. Is there any wonder why she is my hero??

A few years ago, I became involved with the Scleroderma Foundation. It is the only organization dedicated to educating supporting and researching this disease. In addition to setting up teaching seminars, patient support groups and sponsoring Doctor seminars, We are the worlds largest private sponsors of research on this dreadful deadly disease.

I am now on the Board of Directors and I am one of the co-chairs of the Development committee. My youngest son Frank is our "team's" walk coordinator. He has raised nearly Twenty Thousand ($20,000)Dollars in the three walk-a-thons we have done. My older boy, Salvatore, has helped me lobby in Washington and has co-chaired a Jazz concert to benefit the foundation that raised over Thirty Five Thousand(35,000) Dollars.

In September of 2001 the Scleroderma Foundation was planning a November Gala in NYC. It was to be held at the World Trade Center's Windows on the World. On September 11th our dreams of a our most successful fundraiser fell with all those beautiful souls who perished with the downing of the Trade Center. Our Foundation took a long time to recover.

Now we were hoping for a triumpant return to NYC on October 24, 2005. However with Katrina's devastation and the wariness over the economy, philanthropic dollars are really scarce. Hence I have turned to some of my blogging buddies for help. IF YOU Would like to help, please click here
and if you can go to the event or have something to donate to our auction or better yet want to sponsor the event, click here . If you would like you can identify yourself as a friend of That Lawyer Dude.

As a final aside I want to give a big THANK YOU to all of the tireless and generous people who have already worked on or contributed to this worthwhile cause. I especially want to thank Paul Schaffer (Late Nite with David Letterman) who directs the CBS Orchestra and has agreed to host our event.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please forward it to a friend and ask that they do the same. Who knows what may happen.

As always you can reach That Lawyer Dude at and go to the comments page.

Monday, September 19, 2005

DUI Blog : Bad Drunk Driving Laws, False Evidence and a Fading Constitution

DUI Blog : Bad Drunk Driving Laws, False Evidence and a Fading Constitution
Our friend over at DUI BLOG Lawrence Taylor has written a beuatiful and faithful response to the question How can you defend those [guilty}people???
This is a question that is often posed to That Lawyer Dude. It is one that often leads me to ask,How could I not?
If freedom is to be protected, someone has to protect it. If it is not available to one who is accused, then when will it be available? Our nation of laws is one that (as long as we keep vigilant watch over it) gives both sides a fair chance to put its case forward as best it can before a decision can even be considered. What chance does someone have at winning the hard and tough cases if the best lawyers will not take their case for fear of public ridicule or worse?
In his last sentence, Brother Taylor reminds us to read To Kill A Mockingbird it was and is a major touchstone in my life and career.
"Stand up Miss Scout... your father is passing."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

George Orwell's 1984 has arrived, says Montana Supreme Court Judge

Vanishing Point: How to disappear in America without a trace

I can not think of a better post to come back to blogging on. Read Justice Nelson's opinion and understand that the same tools that bring us the future also make it possible for our futures to be far bleaker. We as a nation and as a world people must insist that civil liberties trump safety concerns in all but the most dire situations. If we do not carefully and jealously guard our civil liberties, like a sentry guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns, then we will lose them most assuredly. The judge believes extinction will come before civil libertarians are allowed to gain power. I hope we wake up soon enough or else the extinction will come far sooner than anyone predicts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Limo's and Neoconservatives Limousine liberals and crime on the rise

Limos and Neoconservatives

How can you let James P. Pinkerton represent the conservative view in this paper? He is as much of a spoiled and privileged individual as those he complains about in his recent diatribe (Limousine Liberals and Crime on the Rise June 14, 2005 opinions). Pinkerton is agitated because a judge said that a poor person in New York City has as much a right to sit on the street and seek money as any one of the many Newspaper dispensers that sell this newspaper and Pinkerton’s neoconservative dribble. Why can’t you find a real conservative to write for the right in this paper?

Pinkerton is all for prettying up the city by removing the poor. “Let’s warehouse the poor in jail. Then us real people don’t have to be bothered by them. “Give me a break. Poor people commit crime and when they do, they should be punished. Pinkerton wants to put them in jail because they are poor only. “Let’s not give ‘em a chance to commit crimes”
Why, was that not the Nazi’s idea. Hell Jimmy why not kill the poor at birth it might really cut down the murder rates in about 18 years.

It is inconvenient for Pinkerton and his neoconservative friends to be reminded that the poor exists. Tell me Jimmy when was the last time you offered one of the poor a job? Oh, they may be crazy? Well Jimbo when was the last time you called an ambulance for one of them? Do they smell too rancid for you to approach? Do they look too bad to hang with the Literati that hang out with you? When did you ever stop at a Dunkin Donut and spring for a cup of “Joe” for just one of them?

Or do you just not want to be bothered? I agree that if you think you can solve the problem of the poor answer by letting them sit on a corner and stare, or that you can throw money at them and feed them for a night that you are a limousine liberal and you are no better than the selfish Pinkerton is. But Pinkerton is no conservative.

A real conservative does not warehouse his problems at taxpayers’ expense and he certainly does not waste capital either financial or human. A real conservative sees the value of and in every life. A real conservative sees a panhandler and thinks salesman. He seeks a way to make money for and from that person. I am tired of hearing liberals give away money and just as tired of hearing the neoconservatives whine about it and offer no alternative.

Do you want to know what a real Conservative’s “answer” to the problem is? Huge tax breaks for firms and companies that innovatively and effectively train the poor. Use of the funds saved in city services to pay FICA contributions for companies that hire these people and give them medical and other benefits. Now we no longer have to provide public funds to accomplish healthcare. Why not use the money we are wasting to clog the criminal justice system with non-criminals to make money and build the economy of our city. Hey, why not partner some of the poor with some too soon retired business executives and use the money we save on services and costs to help them start companies that provide city services and hire other homeless and poor? Wouldn’t it be a kick if companies that have a significant number of workers who used to be on the public dole, (or were arrested under the now illegal panhandling statute0 built the new Olympic Stadium?

Why doesn’t some mayor make a pledge to eradicate poverty? Here is a real conservative’s platform. “No more poor and no more handouts, using private capital to build a city one person and one company at a time.” Now that is conservative.

That is my opinion. If you have an opinion on this topic then why not leave a comment here or write to us at or at

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights: A True Conservative's Reading of a Radical Document

The Suburban Ecstasies: Twenty Incontrovertible Truths About the American Criminal Justice System, From Someone Who Knows and Has No Interest in Lying to You About It

I wanted to direct your attention to a very well written article that very much reflects my thinking about the criminal justice system. I agree with about 90 percent of the post and truth be told there is a lot of truth in the other 10 percent too. I think that the part about the Constitution being a radical document is an interesting one. In fact for its day, it was in fact radical. To hold to its meaning today I think means to be conservative. The problem is how does a true conservative read and interpret the Constitution? Let's see if I can stake out the positions as I see them:

A liberal thinks the constitution is a breathing document whose interpretation needs to change with the time (think Justice Brennan and Justice Douglas.)

A Neo conservative (think Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas) thinks the that the constitution means just what it says and doesn't expand to meet the times but is relatively stagnant and must be interpreted as it would be when it was written.

As a conservative, I think the Constitution needs to be read as the libertarian document it is. When deciding a case, the courts needs to understand that the Constitution is an outgrowth of a very important document, The Declaration of independence. Courts interpreting the Constitution's meaning, need to ask themselves, "how do I decide this case in a way that gives the most liberty to the individual without hurting or destroying the nation?" "How do I keep the king (the government) out of the home and pocket of its citizenry?" (I think Justice Souter comes the closest here.)

In the criminal justice arena, two more questions need to be asked: "How do I help keep the citizenry safe from crime, while not exposing it to the greater harm of allowing the government to much room to interfere with the life and privacy of the individual." And lastly, " How do I accomplish this in the least costly and onerous way?"

These two questions make criminal law a very different arena than civil law. Criminal law is about society as a whole. It is State v. Accused not Victim v. Accused. If it was the latter, then let the victim pay a lawyer and prosecute the case themselves. Why should the rest of us worry about and pay for their private vengeance. What as a society is in it for or us.

No, the criminal prosecution is a public procedure because it is about what is best for all of us, not just the victim or the accused. Too often in this era of political correctness, we lose sight of what is really best for all of us. Victim impact statements, mandatory minimums, even sacred cows like rape shield laws, are not in the best interest of the public as a whole. They may make an individual victim feel better, but do they help society as a whole?

No, not if the law forces us to punish someone who needs not be punished; or covers up a reasonable doubt by keeping the full picture from the fact finder; or causes a court to act out of the needs of a particularly sympathetic victim, rather than do what is in our best interest as a whole society.

The pendulum swings the other way too. Prison needs to be corrective and rehabiliative. People who threaten the safety of all of us, need to be warehoused at least for a sufficient period of time to render us safe from harm. Country Club prisons (of which their are probably none anymore) are as ridiculous and wasteful as their opposite hell holes.

Probation and parole are presently a joke. There are too many people per parole officer. Money needed to be beef up these departments is scarce, while we overspend by over incarcerating. Strong post arrest oversight requires that it be sufficiently able to ensure that the vast majority of "at risk re-offenders" do not reoffend. Finally personal improvement should not just be the goal, but ought be required of every sentence. The concept of "good time" should mean exactly that; no one gets out of jail or prison early who has not made a good faith attempt to better themselves while in jail or prison. Academic or trade school should be required, as should self help group participation, and or therapy if found to be necessary.

Once released, the ex con should be accepted back into our society to work and repay the victim her damages, or if none, then to repay society for their time incarcerated. A true conservative tries to improve society while costing it the least amount of capital, whether that be financial or human capital.

Hence that is why it is important that courts not be onerous. Sure we all want to punish the bad guy as much as we can. It makes sense and is what we are taught from a young age. However if we over or under punish we cost ourselves resources. Waste is not a conservative's friend. Government pays for waste, which is to say We pay for this. A court should never lose sight of what it costs us as a society, and what our gain will be as a society, when fashioning a sentence. No court has a right to waste an iota of our capital for personal pique.

Conservative means preserving what is good while not destroying growth and opportunity. One is not more important than the other. A true conservative harmonizes the two competing interests. A true Conservative realizes that he does what is best for the majority by protecting the civil liberties of the individual. Even when those property or civil liberty interests may seem to go against what the majority thinks it wants at any given moment.

When the societal need arises, A True Conservative sacrifices his own want for that of the betterment of society as a whole. A True Conservative understands that principal is more important than symbolism. He understands the value of one is not more than, or less than, the value of another, or all.

A True Conservative understands that teaching a person to fish, is better than giving him a fish, but you can't teach a hungry person all that much.

A True Conservative realizes that his willingness to make "it" happen, can overcome the failure of the village to pitch in, and that he has no right to force the village to act. In other words it doesn't take a village, but it is nice when the village wants to pitch in to help make "it" happen too.

A True Conservative understands that the devil is in the details. That when you sweat the small stuff the big stuff comes out right. When it comes to government, doing it right and getting it right is success. Doing it wrong but getting it right is luck. A society cannot count on luck.

The guy who invented Zen, was probably a True Conservative.

Anyway that's what I think, let me know what you think. Leave me a message here or visit me at my website by going to or Both links take you to the same place but you're free to chose your own path :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

In Oregon The Scarlet Letter is P.

My Way News

It’s not that a former prostitute can’t teach in Oregon, it’s just that they won’t let her. That’s right; a conviction for prostitution at anytime in your life is a lifetime bar to getting a license and job as a schoolteacher. Now I am not advocating putting active street prostitutes into elementary schools and letting them teach minors. I am however wondering how a crime which is a misdemeanor (a less serious offense) can work as a lifetime prohibition to a career in the teaching profession.

I have been working with people in the adult entertainment field since I started practicing law. I have represented everyone from street-walking-male-transvestite prostitutes, to expensive escorts, from strippers and strip club owners, to madams and even a few adult entertainment movie “stars.” I have never once interview one and found that the work they were doing was a life long dream. In fact most of the lower pay scale sex industry workers (street prostitutes and pimps) were in “the life” (their euphemism for the work they do) because of drug addiction alcoholism and other social and medical problems. Few of these people get out of “the life” intact. Many die of disease or are murdered or suicide. Others just keep falling out of society deeper and deeper into homelessness and despair.

Those higher up on the food chain of the sex industry have a better chance of making it. If they are young enough and pretty enough they can bring in a lot of money for a while. The work and “the life” take its toll on a young person. There is nothing worse than seeing a kid just starting out in that business. They are still hopeful that it will all be over in a short while, and still optimistic enough to think that they can beat the odds. See them just a few months later and it is sad to say you see a dull glaze in their eyes. They are cynical and keep others at a safe distance. They build a wall around themselves so high that few if any can scale it. They grow cold toward others and their chances of coming out normal have all but faded away into the night. They often turn to drugs to help them block out the work and the people.

Now of course this is not everyone’s experience. Some of these kids find true love in a john who takes them off the streets, or out of the massage parlors, and takes care of them. However, that is so few that it is almost a statistical anomaly. Others however do make it out. They are smart enough or lucky enough to meet someone who will mentor them. Someone who will help them reach goals they used to dream about in better days. Many of my clients’ are here because the have no other skill that can pay them enough to keep them clothed and fed with a roof over their heads. Many suffer abuse and have no choice; they either play... or die. Others still have little children with no one to help them care for them physically or financially.

So then why do I think that the Oregon law is so awful? Because every so often someone of them makes it. Every so often one saves enough to get a home, or to pay tuition or to get the mental or physical help they need. Every so often one will surprise you. If you think that those that make it out have no value, you are just burying your head in the sand. What those kids can teach another about perseverance and keeping out of the gutter is amazing.

From the beginning of my career in criminal law, I have always tried to get this group to the next level of their life as quickly as possible. I have advised many of these (mostly) women on how to save money and how to find a financial adviser or accountant. The result of my work has yielded some truly amazing stories.

I have one former client who has finished medical school after 2 years of being a NYC street walker and homeless person. She cleaned up in a shelter for battered women that I took her to after securing her release from custody. Her pimp had been beating her from the time she was 16. It has been sixteen hard years. Now in her 30’s, she is an OB/GYN. She donates her time to a charity that works with runaways. She is giving back and she has told me I was her inspiration for that. I have a couple of law school graduates and more than a handful of social workers, schoolteachers, and even a couple of psychologists in the group.

This week I am attending one of my former client’s graduation ceremonies. She is getting her Master’s degree. She was a homeless mother of a young child when I met her. She became pregnant in her last year of college and left school. The baby’s father is of no help and her own family thinks her a disgrace. At least they did until she achieved her master’s degree. They were not there for her when she needed them so she did it on her own, (with a little encouragement from some others and me.)

I hope that her case will not come back to haunt her. She took the road she had in front of her to clothe feed and shelter her little one and herself. I am of the belief that she will be a great public servant and a role model to many women in the future. I already have her mentoring a young Hispanic mother who is trying her hardest to make it out of “the life” and into a program that will help her to become a teacher. We are not there yet. She is still working out there, but she has potential.

Imagine what would happen to her if she lived in Oregon. Imagine more what will happen to the kids that she could mentor. Like the Doc, the lawyers, and the shrinks we have worked with, she too has the ability to help others not be where she is. In Oregon, they fail to see the value in having someone who has “been there.” They only see the scarlet letter on her chest. They do not care about the child she raises while still a child herself. They are oblivious to the sexual and physical abuse she endured that led her to the work she now does. They fail to see the value of the person she is and can be. They focus instead on a behavior. They would rather point at her and ridicule than learn from the rich lessons that she can teach. Seeing and encouraging potential in a person is what a leader does. The state house in Oregon is devoid tonight of leaders.

Shame on leaders who will not lead! Opinion polls should not be the sole basis of political decision-making. Polls need to be consulted no doubt about it, but sometimes you have to lead people through a forest and hope they will not hate you for it in the end. That too is what leadership is.

Those of my clients who have been in this crazy life and made their way out, have more insight into human nature and more courage than the entirety of the state senate and the state assembly of the state of Oregon. I pity the taxpayers there.

If you want to comment, you may leave one here, or, you can write to me directly, by visiting our website at

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Testilying: Where perjury goes unpunished

Public Defender Dude: PD Liable in Rampart Frame-ups

There is a joke that criminal defense lawyers sometimes tell when they talk about cases like those cited above. It goes something like this "Q: How can you tell when a cop is lying A: You see his lips move." Cynical? Yes. But like all jokes there is a grain of truth to it. The fact is that police perjury, or testilying, is a reality that supports a bigger lie, That a trial is a search for the truth. It can't be unless all of the witnesses do in fact tell, at least their version, of the truth.

What bothers me most is not the idea that police lie. No group: police, lawyers, judges, politicians, is immune from having bad apples. What bothers me is the level of toleration for such behavior if it comes from a person or group that is supposed to uphold the law.

I once had a trial with a very good Assistant District Attorney. A real straight shooter if ever I met one. We both agreed after the trial (which I miraculously had won) at least two of the police witnesses had lied. I asked my friend what he would do. He shrugged and said he was going to report it to a superior in his office who would let it drop. I asked why they would not prosecute what I saw as a clearly important case of wrongdoing. The reply astounded me and to this day disappoints me. My friend said " If we were to go after these guys, Win lose or draw we get trouble. We give defense attorney's fodder for their cannons and we may lose a bunch of important prosecutions of drug and mob guys." He continued, "their friends and the rest of the patrol, rather than see us as watchdogs will see us as soft on crime. They think of us as a team and when you turn against one of them you are the enemy of all of them. Our office cannot afford an adversarial relationship with the police." So why report it at all? "Well next time they come in with a case I will not have to handle it." This of course reminded me of Pontius Pilot who "washed his hands" of his deeds. Sure that police officer is no longer your concern but...

People ask me all the time how I can represent those people who are guilty of crimes against others. I guess it is because more than anything I have come to realize that the worst crime I can think of is convicting someone who is innocent, especially because someone wanted to profit, advance their career or do something else other than solve a crime by arresting and reforming the wrongdoer for their action. When we stand quiet for such behavior we too become a part of it, we are complicit in its wrongdoing. I have always felt that a crime by someone against someone else is not as bad as a crime committed in all our names against any one or more of us.

The political realities of a prosecutor's office are such that I do not think they are the one's to bring this type of behavior to for punishment. Rather I think there should be a special prosecutor appointed by the courts to oversee police and government corruption and perjury. There should be laws that force compensation from the wrongdoer's pension to the person who has been wronged ( after all the people of the state should not have to pay twice, once for the wrongdoers salary and once again because he fails to do his job) and there should be a further requirement that any other compensation above and beyond that given from the pension fund be reduced from the budget of the police department and prosecutor's office that permitted the atmosphere of corruption to exist. That might curb testilying. May not cure it but if it stops just one innocent person from being set up by a cop or prosecutor, it will have been worth it. Maybe then we can believe that a trial is in fact the search for the truth and be closer to most of our definition of justice.

Friday, May 20, 2005

In the absence of leadership the people will drink sand

My Way News

There is a scene in the film The American President when an advisor played by Michael J. Fox tells the president, played by Michael Douglas, that the people want leadership! In the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert to a mirage and when they discover there is no water, they will drink the sand.

As often happens in the world of criminal law, fear rules the politicians and other so called "leaders." Those that are supposed to govern fear the loss of their jobs. Hence, they pander to the fears of the public. They do easy things that have little positive effect but seem hardlined,rather than do and say things that can really makelife better.

The news story above is a perfect example of how people in power treat the rest of us like mushrooms. They don't tell us the truth. They keep us in the dark, and they throw manure on us. The new "no sex offender" rules at all Six Flags amusement parks is the perfect example of the "mushroom phenomena."

It seems the good folks at Six Flags were sued last year, because a worker at one of their theme parks molested three(3) children. They were hit with a six figure settlement. Their answer to the problem? They have decided to ostracize anyone who has ever been convicted of a sex crime whether they are an employee or a visitor.

According to the Associated Press:
"Six Flags added wording on the back of (2005)season passes to all 30 of its U.S. amusement parks this year stating that it reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone convicted of a sex crime. The amusement park said it does not actually plan to run background checks on everyone entering the park, but visitors seen acting inappropriately could be subjected to a check and thrown out."

Didn't they already had a right to throw out anyone in the park who acts inappropriately? So why am I complaining about this rule? Because it is nonsense. It is meant to give unsuspecting parents the idea that Six Flags parks are safer because of this rule. It is not true. It is no safer than last year. It is however an idea that will catch on because it is easy to do and costs the park nearly nothing. It does however ostracize further, a group of people who have a bunch of problems to begin with. Worse yet Sex offenders have no one who can fight for them, as they are on the outs in their communities,schools, even in their own families.

Soon we will hear about how it is legal to ban them at church! ("I don't want to sit next to this guy, he is on that sex registry even though his "crime" was having sex with his 15 year old girlfriend when he was 20, 40 years ago.")

How about this as a solution. Six Flags will step up security at their parks. They will do a better job of screening their employees. They will also give instruction about this crime to their supervisors. Then they can give a great big donation to groups that work to rehabilitate offenders.

Oh, I can hear the great masses now: "You call yourself conservative? Don't you know you can't rehabilitate a sex offender? You have to keep them off the streets for as long as possible, and once the get out, keep them out of your town. They are dangerous"

WRONG. I have worked on a great many sex offense cases, and I can tell you (and so can most other professionals in this area) many of these individuals can be helped. Some however cannot be helped. Sex offenders fall into distinct categories, and their rehabilitation experience must be tailored to their needs individually.

In fact those most likely to reoffend after successful rehabilitation are those that molest children under ten (10) years old of the same sex.
Rehabilitation is very possible for over 80% of offenders. It is costly and lengthy. In fact it is a well known theory that jailing most sex offenders makes it harder to rehabilitate them.

A Recent study in Canada following nearly Five Thousand (5000) offenders found:

"...using the data from 10 follow-up studies of adult male sexual offenders (combined sample of 4,724). Results indicated that most sexual offenders do not re-offend sexually, that first-time sexual offenders are significantly less likely to sexually re-offend than those with previous sexual convictions, and that offenders over the age of 50 are less likely to re-offend than younger offenders.
In addition, it was found that the longer offenders remained offence-free in the community the less likely they are to re-offend sexually. Data shows that rapists, incest offenders, “girl-victim” child molesters, and “boy-victim” child molesters recidivist at significantly different rates. These results challenge some commonly held beliefs about sexual recidivism and have implications for policies
designed to manage the risk posed by convicted sexual offenders." .

So if this is true, why not spend our tax dollars helping those we can help, and further incarcerating those we cannot help? Because it is easier to tell us none of them can be rehabilitated. Then pass a few laws that play into the fears of our constituents over incarcerate offenders so we seem tough on crime.

From the days of Sen. Joe McCarthy (actually earlier, try the Salem Witch Trials) politicians and so called leaders, foster mass hysteria for their own political gain, and then to keep their jobs blame a straw man for the problem that they refused to address. This has always been the answer for those that will not lead but will stand up at the mike and sell us sand.

Mine is not the popular view of sex offender correction, and it is not one that the parents of the injured child want to hear, but most sex offenders can and should be rehabilitated as quickly as possible. Not only is Jail not a deterrent to a real sex offender but it actually can aggravate the problem, most, if not all of the time. Again I am not advocating light jail sentencing for all sex offenders. I understand that there are a some that will be recidivists and in fact will probably take bigger chances in order to get their thrills. I am however saying, that passing stupid rules or ineffective laws makes us no safer. It fosters a false sense of security which could lead us to be less diligent. In fact it surely doesn't help us to address the issues in an honest and forthright way.

That is the real crime here. That we are not safer and could be in greater danger, and we are not talking about it because no one has the intestinal fortitude to confront the conventional thinking.

A true conservative wants government to interfere in the lives of its citizens as little as possible. Politicians who call for keeping someone in prison for even one day longer than necessary to rehabilitate them, are not conservative. They are lazy and are wasting our resources. Those are not conservative values. Waste is a tool of the left who love throwing money at a problem even if it fails to yeild a desired result.

It is time for true conservative politicians to start having the hard conversations about the principals in our Constitution, its Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. Now those guys in 1776, They were leaders.

As always if you want to reach or speak to That Lawyer Dude, you can reach me here by leaving me a message or sending a email through the contact page of our website:

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Everyday heroes

Man's greatest actions are performed in minor struggles. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment and poverty are battlefields which have their heroes - obscure heroes who are at times greater than illustrious heroes.- Victor Hugo

A number of times each year, it seems the people we serve up as heroes to our young, fail us. Ballplayers take steroids; a singer molests a kid, or drinks and drugs; a politician has their hands in the wrong pocket or some other more tawdry place. I am sure the problem is not that these people are all that bad, as I am sure that they were never all that good. I mean what qualities qualify them to be roll models anyway. Being able to run faster, or jump higher, or make friends easier, does not qualify for hero status in my book. No, in fact many who do have these gifts are rare to share them. It may be because of the heavy scrutiny they are under, or the pressure of their career forces them to keep others away.

No, the heroes in my book, are those that suffer with us when we fail, or when we hurt. They are the people who are there for us when no one else is home (or when others are hiding behind their curtains too afraid to come out and be counted on our side.) They toil on our behalf for little or no renumeration and no thanks. They aid the poor and often take money from their own meager wages to help out those even less fortunate.

Many are very talented, but because they are dedicated, (and I mean really dedicated to a proposition far more important than money) they stay and work for ridiculously low wages in ridiculously harsh circumstances. They get the scorn not only of those whom they prevail against, but also of those they serve. They are the most underappreciated lot of professionals I have ever met. They are Legal Aid Society Counsel, Public Defenders and Assigned counsel lawyers.

These folks take on the wrath of the court house and the courts. They take the toughest cases, ones that no one else will handle, and they rarely say no to any assignment. They occasionally do snap (usually when a client they have worked hard for announces that he wants a "real lawyer" thinking that someone he doesn't pay either is not that smart, or not willing to work that hard.) In actuality many people are far better off with legal aid lawyers because they can rarely afford a lawyer who has that much experience trying criminal cases.

May is Law month. It is the time when we celebrate our being a nation of laws not one of cult or of tyranny. I would like to dedicate this month this year to lawyers for the poor and accused. I would like it to be dedicated to the men and women of the Legal Aid Society, the Public Defender's office and those that work as Assigned Counsel in the courts. I would also like to dedicate it to the memory of a friend and collegue Tom Concannon who was the head of the Federal Defenders Bureau of the NY Legal Aid Society in the Eastern District of New York. Tom was the quintessential public defender and he will surely be missed.

If you have any comments feel free to leave them here or contact me directly at

The Positive Review

The Positive Review

Hey we have a new sister!! Check her out and let us know what you think. Leave us a message or write to us at home at Hope you enjoy her and can use the information in this new venture

Friday, May 06, 2005

Honor thy Mother and get suspended from school! Happy Mother's day..Not

Student Suspended for Call to Mom in Iraq

That Lawyer Dude has always had profound respect for school teachers. They taught me to read and write, opened my eyes to a world beyond my home town and stoked the fires of my dreams when I almost gave up on them so many years ago. The same cannot be said of School administrators. The story above is just the type of thing that boils my disdain for those that "administer."

Seems that a High school Junior (age 17) was suspended for accepting a telephone call on his cell phone from his mother who is serves our country in Iraq. When he was told to end the call he said, "this is my mom calling from Iraq. I am not hanging up on my Mom." I say RIGHT ON! No one knows when the next time will be when he speaks to her. In fact as I am sure he is painfully aware, there may never be a next time. Hang up? Because of some silly school rule? I would be hard pressed to think of anything short of shooting breaking out over there that could get me to hang up first.

I tend to like teachers as jurors. You see I have found that teachers are very good at paying attention to rules. Hence when I am trying a case, a teacher on the jury is like a watchdog. She is bound to keep the jury focused on the issues and on the rules of law such as: "Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" and the "Presumption of Innocence." There is little room for free thought in a jury room, when it comes to such important bedrock principals such as those received in a jury charge. I do not want jurors who guess at what "really" happened. I want them to determine only if what the prosecution alleges happened, was proven by the government, beyond a reasonable doubt. Teachers understand the principals and pay attention to the rules. They also have the courage to say when they disagree, and seem to respect others who disagree with them in the jury room. Two very sought after traits. I have never lost a case where I have had a teacher as the jury foreman.

Administrators are another story entirely. I get frustrated with them because they are so stringent in their rules. They think that their rules are inviolate, and I have met very few who understand the meaning of flexibility of the law. They often over react when challenged, and have difficulty admitting mistakes. They do not like to have their behavior questioned. They do not see themselves as public servents, however they are not protected by tenure, they are not their to teach, they are infact public servents and just like any other beauracrat they must be held accountable for their decisions and behaviors. They are policymakers. Their refusal to see that every rule has an exception often leads to ridiculous decisions that are indefensible (even by good defense lawyers like me :) )

How great a child psychologist do you need to be to realize that a seventeen year old boy whose mother is serving in a forward position in Iraq is bound to be a little protective of her and maybe a little touchy about getting to speak to her 2 days before Mothers day? Suspension?! How absurd. Even if the child did become verbally abusive (which happened after the fact) is there no understanding of the stress that kid is under, especially at this time of the year?

Now an Administrator will tell you that "if we make an exception for one we have to do it for all." WRONG!! Exceptions are exactly what they are. They get decided on a case by case basis, and if you cannot differentiate between an emergency or a situation that calls for rule bending, and one that does not, then you should not be in a position to make the call to begin with.

Another favorite is "our lawyers said that this is the rule and so we must follow it to the letter or risk lawsuits." Yes, it is a very good idea to listen to your lawyer. In fact one who pays a lawyer and doesn't heed her good advice is an idiot. However most seasoned lawyers would tell you that laws are living breathing documents. They are to be applied in appropriate doses and at appropriate times. If I were this school district's attorney, I would quickly advise them to end the suspension, clear the child's school record, and see if they could arrange for the kid to speak to his mom through the military's lawyer on Mother's day. I would also speak to the idiot assistant principal that decided the discipline and try to teach him how to apply the rules of law (and my advice) so that he doesn't tick off half the people in the district; county; state; and nation.

Now for those that do not understand why am so upset that I would write a column on this issue, let me be real blunt. I have been ambivalent about our involvement in Iraq. I do not believe it is morally wrong for us to be there, but I am very "confused" about why we went. This does not in any way lessen my concern and admiration for those that are there doing our bidding. Our service men and women are brave and honorable people who have agreed to sacrifice their families, their careers and their lives for our enduring freedom. This does not mean that they are saints or that they do not have to be held to a high standard of conduct (as the recent El Gahrib prison scandal has proven), it does mean I think they and their families deserve a little slack from those over here who benefit from their sacrifice.

If I had been the youngster whose mother called him on the phone I would not have hung up either. After we had finished our call, I would have reminded the "powers that be", that there is a commandment that says "Honor thy Mother and Father." Hanging up on his mom would not be in keeping with the spirit of that commandment. I know of no commandment that says Honor the stupid inflexible rules of self important overpaid executives who cannot see the forest for the trees.

I hope someone in the state of Georgia has the guts to stand up and say that the adults in this situation made a mistake. I hope that they have the power to force an apology to this child and to the rest of the military families they have insulted, and that they will try to do better to distinguish the shades of gray in life. That type of behavior would be a really good teaching tool and a great lesson for their students. I only hope they have the ability to admit a mistake and the wherewithal to right it. Lastly if these denizens of scholastic society do not set things straight, I hope there is a lawyer there just as angry as me who makes them pay for their inflexibility. Then they might "get it" so that this zero tolerance garbage is better understood to mean zero under normal circumstances. War has never been, is not and hopefully will never be, a normal circumstance in any child's life in this country. Let us all pray this Mother's day that it is not a circumstance we ever become accustom to.

One more thing, I hope for the sake of all our soldiers families, that they are all safe this Mother's day and that they return to their families soon. Very soon. That's it for today. As always you can reach That Lawyer Dude by leaving a comment below or by visiting our law firm web site at Have a happy and safe Mother's day.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Real Ten Best Law Schools

FindLaw's Writ - Goldstein: The Real Ten Best Law Schools

Every year, various publications put out top ten law school rankings. I know that many people worry about their law school's rankings. I don't. I received a great law education at my school ( Hofstra) which has just recently been moved into the second tier by US News and World report. However in reading Writs blawg at I am reminded that there are lots of reasons to chose a school. I am a New Yorkophile so of course I am very partial to the Schools in and around the Big Apple. The following is my reply to Writ, a tongue in cheek review of why young people should chose a law school in NY and nowhere else! I hope you enjoy it. If you want to tell me why you think your school should be on a top ten list then... Contact us at or leave us a comment right here.

Dear Writ,

OK, I really enjoyed the article on the Real top ten law schools and no I do not have any disagreement with Pepperdine as the No.1 on the left coast. Really if they ever open a law school in Monterey Ca. I may apply for the Dean's position. (Dean's hour meetings to be held at the Pebble halfway house)
However... How in the world can you overlook the really best law schools in the absolutely best city in the world? Come on Miami? LA?? Boulder???? GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!!
Any top 10 that ignores the Law schools in NEW YORK can't be serious. WHY
In Order:
10. It is home to the original top 10 lists (David Letterman works HERE) (apply to Pace University Law, you'll have plenty of time to stand on the line.)

9. Broadway. Who the heck hums the theme to Desperate Housewives? Every law exam I ever took was always accompanied by the humming of "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha or "Luck be a Lady Tonight" from Guys and Dolls. (Columbia. You'll need "Luck" to pass the "Impossible" NY Bar Exam if you come from this 'National law schools')

8. Jazz. Alright you can tell me about the home of Rock and Roll and put it in La or Cleveland, but the real music of the night is being played in the Jazz clubs of NYC. All of them have half price for students. BTW try seducing a woman w/ Motley Crue. Now try it with John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme." Nuff said. ( Saint John's Law school, after all, the guys there can use all the help with girls they can get.)

7. Central Park. Forget The Gates, The concerts and the muggings. Try the serenity of a morning jog. The announcement of Spring after a tough winter when boys and girls remember the excitement of the return of the Sun. (Remember time and distance make the Heart grow fonder.)

6. The Yankees. The Mets. The rest of the NY sports scene. OK not always affordable but usually a 20 minute train ride away. (The New York Law School's students have a torts classroom eye view of the victory parades.)

5. Fashion Week. You get the first look at the worlds hottest fashion trends way before they ever hit the red carpets in LA or Cannes. And guys you get the first look at the worlds hottest models way before they grace the cover of Sports Illustrated! (New York University law student's (or should I say their dad's are the only ones that can afford the prices, but the knock offs are available the next day on Fulton Ave for Brooklyn law students, and who can resist the bargain.)

4. Lincoln Center. You are going to be earning a nice big salary and you are prima facia going to be a leader in your community. You have got to be exposed to some class in music. It is fine to swing to Alabama or rock out to the Goo Goo Dolls or Phish, but lets get real. Wouldn't it be nice to have said you actually have seen an Opera that didn't star your aunt Ethel and had a real orchestra and not Ole' Uncle Fred playing Verdi or Wagner on the accordion? (Fordam Law school student face the decision everyday... Rachmaninoff or Contracts that is the question)

3. The Hampton and Point Lookout. One hour or less away, it is the party capital of the world. Really good restaurants too. And of course it is always nice to get out into the country or at least suburbia (Touro has just started building it's new campus in Central Islip about a half hour away, Hofstra students live in Point Lookout all winter long then go to the Hamptons for the summer it really doesn't get any better than that.)

2. Atlantic City and the Indian Casinos. A trip out of town for entertainment, gaming, and revelry Michael Jordan style. You can have it in many other cities ( like Vegas) but then you don't get the rest ( see 10-3 above.) ( City University {CUNY} students have the time and life experiences to really know how to get the most out of the odds at places like this. Odds were they were never going to even get into a law school now they are changing the face of law for the poor in NYC)

And the number one reason that the top 10 schools are All in NY is:

1. The Statute of Liberty. A constant reminder of why most of us started going to law school to begin with. Following her torch can keep one from burning out!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Jury Duty: It takes a Nation

DUI Blog : Bad Drunk Driving Laws, False Evidence and a Fading Constitution

The hardest thing to do for most folks is to sit in judgment of a fellow citizen. I have always thought of people who serve on juries in our country as real patriots. They allow themselves to be dragged into a dispute that they are otherwise not involved in and have to participate in a very tough ritual to finally be selected to "enjoy" the "privilege" of service. They risk their jobs and often are reimbursed next to nothing ( I am aware of one state where it costs more an hour to park near the court than a juror makes an hour during service.) They are inconvenienced in so many ways and yet without them our system of fair trial grinds to a halt.

Then you get cases like the one my fellow criminal defense lawyer and blawgger talks about in the link above. Judges showing all the judicial qualities of hungry irritable dinosaurs and Attorney sore losers who just don't know when they should shut up. Help is on the way however in the form of a new American Bar Association Report entitled "The American Jury Project" . The report has Nineteen principals which Courts and States will want to implement to help keep people involved in jury duty and assure the health of our legal system and especially our Trial rights.

In reviewing the report there are some strikingly good suggestions such as:

Principal 1 (E):A quality and accessible jury system should be maintained with budget procedures that will ensure adequate, stable, long-term funding under all economic conditions.
In other words government's shouldn't cut the jury when they have to cut corners.

SERVICE AND THEIR SERVICE SHOULD BE FACILITATED A. All persons should be eligible for jury service except those who:
5. Have been convicted of a felony and are in actual confinement or
on probation, parole or other court supervision.

I think this is a great idea. Many states deny the right of jury service to people who have been convicted of a felony there by disenfranchising many minority and poor people ( as they are more densely represented in the convicted felon ranks than Caucasians and wealthy people)
Including convicted felons who have served their sentences is a good way to welcome the felon back into societies ranks and to start the healing process that usually seems not to occur after the felon has paid his debt to society,
I would like to go one step further here to assure a jury of ones peers and also a cross-section of the community and bring an end to the practice of death qualifying a jury. If a death penalty case is on the docket and one is opposed to the death penalty they are forbidden from serving on the jury. This is unfair and means that people who oppose the death penalty do not get a say on that jury. They are discriminated against and so is the accused who often loses a juror who maybe more disposed to his side of the case whether or not there was a death sentence involved in the matter.

Principal 2 (C)(1) & (2) stands for the proposition that no one should have to spend more than one day in a central jury room waiting to see if they get called on a case. The proposition is that they serve one day or one trial whichever is longer. Where that cannot be accomplished the principal requires no more than 2 weeks service ( unless on a jury that is going longer) at least you are not stuck there forever.

And then there is Principal 2 (F) (1-3) which I reprint here:
"F. Persons called for jury service should receive a reasonable fee.
1. Persons called for jury service should be paid a reasonable fee that
will, at a minimum, defray routine expenses such as travel,
parking, meals and child-care. Courts should be encouraged to
increase the amount of the fee for persons serving on lengthy trials.
2. Employers should be prohibited from discharging, laying off,
denying advancement opportunities to, or otherwise penalizing
employees who miss work because of jury service.
3. Employers should be prohibited from requiring jurors to use leave
or vacation time for the time spent on jury service or be required to
make up the time they served.
I think this section needs to take in the needs of employers also. Small offices or highly technical jobs of course put a big burden on small employers. On the other hand businesses need jurors also and they need to know that they must suck up the cost of this type of service. Maybe there should be insurance for losing a key employee so that the employee is guaranteed to get his regular salary and the employer can then use the salary to hire a temp.

Anyway those are just the first two principals. There are nineteen others that range from jurors taking notes to jurors asking questions!! I may be writing more on this wonderful document in the coming weeks but for now we should be ready and willing to let our State assemblages and Senators and judges know we support these suggestions and want to see them put into effect. It may costs a little more but our justice system just needs to know that without jurors their is no justice.

That's what I think. If you think you want to discuss it on line leave a message or comment here or write to me through my law firm contact us pad found at . I'd loved to know what you thought of your service on a jury and/ or why you didn't want to serve or what motivated you to serve. I am also interested in hearing your suggestions to improve the jury system in NY and on Long Island.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

On Judicial Independence

The three branches of American government are the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. Each acts independently of the other. At least they are supposed to. They are interconnected and work together in a system of checks and balances.

In other words, each branch works as a balance and a check on the other 2 branches. For example, Congress makes laws, the President can veto the law a check or sign the legislation into law. The Courts can rule the new law constitutional or unconstitutional. If the law is found to be unconstitutional, well that is pretty much the only reason why a court can invalidate a law.

Congressmen serve two year terms and all can be voted out of office at the same time. Most all of them are actually retained but the ability to get rid of the bunch is the public check on the lower house. The Senators serve staggered six year terms, That checks the public power to overturn the entire government in one election. It is a check on public hysteria. Senators also are rarely defeated in re-election bids. Hence they can stay forever unless the voters tire of them. Presidents because in fact they have so much power invested in one person can only run for 2 terms of 4 years each. That is a check on their having an "imperial" presidency.

Courts have no inherent law making powers. A court can not pass legislation it can only pass on the clarity and constitutionality of that law. Occasionally however Courts have "clarified" things in such a way that the judiciary has been accused of advocating and legislating. (Usually by the side that loses. The winning side always seems to see the fact that the court's decision was obvious and the way the law was and should have been interpreted all along.) Courts can't even enforce their own decisions, they must depend on the executive branch for that service.

Judges serve for life. The only check on their tenure is if they really do something wrong (equal to a high crime or misdemeanors.) They stay for life or until they voluntarily leave office. This is fair because we expect, hope, and pray the court will act as a check on the majority opinion and defend minority opinions or at least give them due deference.

Violating against the will of the majority is no way to earn political job security. In fact it is a sure way to get tossed out of office. The constitutional framers realizing that the court was the only place a minority opinion could be successful sustained, insulated the court from danger by giving appointments for life. Interestingly certain congressmen, unhappy because they do not like the way the court has been ruling lately, have taken to bashing the court and threatening judges who rule against them with impeachment. In one case a US Senator even suggested violence!

That kind of attack, even if ridiculous, really jeopardizes the integrity and independence of the court. It gives the losing side the opinion that it lost its' case because the court was "afraid" to do what was right for fear of one of the other branches of our government.

Whether you believe the court is appropriately activist or reactionary it is important that the courts of the United States of America stay free from outside influences. The same administration, whose political party has been the number one attacker of the Supreme Court, recently used the court's very independence and it's willingness to stand up for even the most hated in our society to show off how fair America is in dealing with a recent Cuban attempt to open up our terrorist detention bases on Gideon.

You know it is hypocritical to try to have it both ways. You cannot have a judiciary that is gutsy and independent and seen world-wide as a beckon of independence and yet threaten it with all kinds of abomination if it rules against you. I figured that you would have learned that in elementary school.

An independent judiciary is one of the things that protects us from mass hysteria and the tyranny of the majority. It stops a single person from possessing so much power that he could destroy our culture as we know it. We may not always agree with the "People in Black robes", but we are lucky to have them doing their jobs and doing them apparently very well.

That's what I think. Why not drop me a line here or at Until, next time.

May God Bless You Ben XVI.

That Lawyer Dude is a blog that is a blawg. That is to say that while it is not written for lawyers it is written about law... For the most part. Today I am departing from the format for just a second to pray for and wish good fortune on a Man who today walks in the Shoes of the Fisherman. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Berlin Germany is today Pope Benedict XVI.

The name a Pope chooses is important in that it is often an indication of what the agenda is of the new man who heads the largest church in the world. Benedict means "blessed" which is one way to see this man as humble. That he should feel blessed to be named to this position. It may mean he seeks the blessing of the Lord in his work. I think however it is an indication that he is going to follow an agenda of reconciliation to the World's other religions like the previous Pope Benedict XV did during and just after World War I.

I found it interesting that the conclave has reported out another European Pope who has suffered through the detestable behavior of the Nazi Regime. It was his belief in God and his decision to follow the Lord into the priesthood that kept Benedict XVI from active service in the Nazi army. I think that his dislike of the behavior of that regime will be an important part of his ability to continue to bring understanding and patience into the Churches relationship with Israel and the Jewish people.

I grew up in a predominately Jewish neighborhood on Long Island in NY. Many of my friends had parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and occasionally siblings who were tattooed with a number and had been in a concentration camp. So many were robbed of their spirit, and of their loved ones. I think that the stories they told of being turned upon by their government and their neighbors is one of the main reasons I abhor too much power in the hand of the government and a reason I am distrustful of a government that promises to " solve " all our problems. I often as a boy wondered, about the role of the church during WWII and why it was not taking a stronger stand against regimes that clearly seemed to me to be evil. As I became older and studied International Relations, I began to realize that Vatican City was not the best place to criticize Mussolini and Hitler. I also was proud of those individual Catholics that protected their Jewish brethren at great risk to themselves. I was always very proud of my Uncles John, Mario, and Joseph who risked life and limb to rescue not only Jews but all of Europe from Hitler and the Nazi's. Later as a college student I became acquainted with the efforts of my Grandparents home town and the work that those farmers did to not only protect the few Jews they knew but in buzzing the Nazi/fascist war effort. Nevertheless it always left me feeling guilty that the Pope did not say more.

John Paul II brought an end to that guilt. His simple apology at the Wailing wall spoke volumes for those like my family that took the ultimate chance to save others they didn't even know. Even his efforts during the war was a source of pride for all Catholics. Our pope was brave and defiant in the face of tyranny. He loved freedom and understood better than anyone what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote :
"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It was this understanding that these rights come from a Creator and are God given that lead John Paul II to be such the leader he was. John Paul was the Pope of my age. He and I were so much in the same place. We both hated state tyranny and communism. We both love God and Jesus and The Holy Mother. He really returned the Virgin Mary to her rightful place in our religion.

Moreover Pope John Paul II felt like family. His predecessor Pope Paul felt like a symbol for me. Not one I liked very much in my rebellious youth. John Paul II however was reachable because he was so good at explaining doctrine and being responsible for his positions on church matters. It also helped that John Paul II seemed to love the American spirit. Its vibrancy and its youthful vitality. It always seemed that prior popes looked askance at us her in the US. For John Paul II he seemed to understand how young we were as a nation. He helped our nation and our local church to grow. Giving us Props when we deserved it and scolding us when he felt we failed. He understood the importance of giving us bishops and cardinals who could communicate with their flocks. He was unafraid to place them in positions of prominence. Witness Cardinal McCarrik of Washington and the late John Cardinal O'Connor of NY. Finally Pope John Paul looked so happy, He seemed to take such joy in little things like a new baby or a child's smile, or a chant "JOHN PAUL TWO, WE LOVE YOU." Yeah it was goofy but he understood that we weren't being disrespectful we just loved him so much that we wanted to hold him close to us. He understood better than any religious leader I ever saw how important it is to be one of your flock.

Like any conservative I have a healthy fear of change. It is not one that imobilizes, it just makes me a little standoffish and gives me a wait and see attitude. Pope Benidict XVI has always been described as a hatchet man. His brief forced membership in the Hitler youth and in the Nazi war machine reinforces a kind of distance he will have to learn to overcome if he is to win over the hearts and minds of his diverse and splintered congregation. It is said he is as good a communicator as was John Paul II. I pray he is.

I am praying for him that he is able to bring together our church. I pray he can find a new way to rejuvenate the Orders. I hope he understands and is willing to face the challenges that new and maybe more dangerous "leaders" bring to the table. I pray that he has an agenda that moves the church forward and continues its success in the third world. But mostly I pray for him, That he stay healthy, and prayerful. That he not let the enormity of his calling overwhelm him so that he cannot enjoy the beauty of our people in all of their forms. That he not be so tired of debate that he loses the patience it takes to listen and explain. That he not try too hard to replace John Paul II, but rather that he instead leave us wanting more when goes to his heavenly reward. Mostly I pray that he understands that while we Know he is Pope Benedict XVI and that he not think it insulting if we chant "BEN 16 WE THINK YOUR KEEN". May God bless his noble servant Benedict XVI and his church, and those that believe in a higher power, no matter what they call Him.

If you want to leave a comment here please feel free. If you wish to contact me directly you can find me at