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.