Monday, February 26, 2007

A Weekend Filled With Bloggable Fun: What I Found Interesting

I. Criminalizing Domain Name Sales to Terrorists
CyberCrime Law has this post about a well-meaning but ultimately meaningless proposal in the NY State Legislature. The bill seeks to ban the selling of domain names to terrorist organizations. Seems to me that this is something that the NY State Legislature has no control over. In addition as the post points out all the legislation will do is make it more expensive for honest people to get domain names, the terrorists are not going to provide the information to give the law any teeth. Nice try Albany.

II.State Liquor Authority Strips SCORES Of Liquor License.

SCORES is a strip club. It is very large as these things go and has many employees. A couple of the women working there were arrested a couple of weeks ago for prostitution. I have represented women and clubs in these "stings" by vice. For the most part I think the cops entrap and lie about their "success" rate. To begin, the amounts they allegedly offer these woman is far less than they could get in an escort service, and if they offered that amount, then there should be serious concerns that the cops are in fact entrapping these women. That assumes that the girls involved do not know the cops are cops (highly unlikely they can pick out a cop, a lawyer, an out of town businessman or a
high roller as soon as they walk in the door)and that they are saying yes (also highly unlikely as a SCORES girl can make an easy thousand plus a night, and will blow the gig if found "doing extras." Then after the girls are arrested, even if the woman do not plead or are found guilty, the State Liquor Authority pulls the liquor license. The whole deal smells bad.
The whole sting, revoke liquor license is a waste of taxpayer’s money. It would be better to see the NY State Department of Taxation and Finance in the club making sure that everyone is paying the correct tax bill.

III.New York's New Comptroller Moves to Train Fire Commissioners

Tom DiNapoli has just been tapped to be the state's new Comptroller. His selection was criticized by our new Governor Elliot Spitzer as being politically motivated (Unlike Spitzer's recent elevation of popular Republican State Senator Mike Balboni to head up the state's Homeland Security Department...)
In his first move on the job, DiNapoli has outlined his plans to better train Fire Commissioners on how to watch over the public fisc. This is no small endeavor. To begin Fire Districts have very large budgets. There is little oversight of these organizations and the media ignores them until there is a scandal then everyone is jumping on these volunteers. DiNapoli is offering a structured training program to educate these people on how to oversee a budget, spending and accounting. It could be a great program which reduces waste if it is done right... IF.

IV.Delta Zeta Sorority Discriminates Against The Socially Awkward.
I hope you can link this story without subscribing. It is about a national sorority coming onto the campus of DePauw University and throwing out all the non pretty non skinny geeky girls in the house (not to mention the racial minorities and the disabled) so that they could get more popular girls into the sorority.
OK we have all heard of this stereotype through the movies (Animal House for instance)and have thought it a throw back to the 50's or a gross overstatement. Clearly it isn't. What makes this worse however, is that the women doing the throwing out are adults. Not members of the house, Alumnae and leaders.
Now some of you are saying, "what did you expect from an elitist organization like a sorority" however I have to say that this is not what I have witnessed on the campus' I have visited from any national fraternity or sorority.
I think this sorority ought to be blacklisted. I know I would not let a child of mine join it anywhere it has a chapter.

V.Two Long Island Attorney's Arrested For Mortgage Fraud.
This post at the Mortgage Fraud Blog reports on two NY lawyers, one from Long Island one from Brooklyn who allegedly helped swindle a woman out of her home.
I do not know if the government has the proof necessary to convict these people of what they accuse them of, however it seems to me that a lot of this could have been avoided if Credit scores were free and easy to get. I do not want to get into the whole scam here, suffice it to say, that if you are in danger of losing your home, you can do things to protect it by seeing a bankruptcy attorney. Straw buyers are not the way to go. If you are going to work with a so called investor, be sure that you have a retainer with your attorney, you have a rental agreement with the right to repurchase and of first refusal or better for a specified amount, and that the entire agreement is spelled out and made a part of the filed documents.

VI.Lawyer Set Up in Sting Refuses the Bait, Bar Outraged at Police and Court for Authorizing the Caper.
The Legal Reader Blog is reporting that a leading Brattleboro VT. criminal defense attorney was stung by local police who tried to get her to help obstruct governmental administration and tamper with evidence. A cop pretending to be a witness in a domestic violence case tried to get attorney Eileen Hongisto to tell him to deny service of process and to not come to trial if subpoenaed. A judge signed off on the caper. Lawyers including the prosecutor are shocked. What was the judge thinking? What did the cops go to her with? I think Hongisto ought to sue for libel and see just what they were up to.
As for the rest of us, it is time to remember it is open season on lawyers. Practice smart.

That's it for now

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Land of the Sheep and the Home of the Frightened

I spent yesterday afternoon on Capitol Hill. I used to love that place. The Hill was to me, the epitome of Freedom, and Liberty. With street names like “Independence” and “Constitution” I could breathe the air there, and be infused with the breath of vigor that drove Clay and Webster, Lincoln and Truman, JFK and Goldwater. NO MORE. It has become a sad and scared place where armed men and women walk and direct and herd us. In the name of protecting our freedoms, they steal them. It was unnerving; it was frustrating; it was, in a word... sad.

I am visiting the Capitol with an intern from my office. She is a high school senior. She is nervous, going to meet a congressional aide. She hopes to inspire the aide to work on a legislative solution to a concern of her's that she is working on in my office. She is unsure of herself, unaware that the seat of power our Capitol is actually "her" home. I am explaining to her, how I first came to Washington as a 16 year old high school kid. I was in a Presidential Classroom for Young Americans Program. I had my run of the Capitol. Riding the Senate underground trolley; walking the basement catacombs to legislative offices for meetings with my congressman and senators. Pretty heady stuff, for a kid who grew up in a neighborhood that still had farms on it.

In college, I frequently went up to the hill to see pols that I was working for, or with, on campaigns or legislation. I had already been an aide in the state house. I was wise now to the ways of power. After law school I spent significant time on the Hill advocating for better, fairer, laws for America. I spent hours underground at the Capitol, buttonholing Congressmen and walking with them to votes. Talking to them about Scleroderma funding or pending criminal law legislation.

I told Lara there was nothing to worry about. The Capitol was a stately and grand building so as to scare off foreign powers who may want to invade us. It was a home to us. We could walk its corridors and breathe in the liberty giving air.

We entered through the Cannon Building entrance. There we were met by three guards and a very sensitive magnetometer, that required I disrobe (or at least de-shoe) to get through it. Then we stopped at a congressional office and after what I consider to be a good meeting with the aide to Congressman Steve Israel, I thought we would go to the Capitol Rotunda to see the place where the Supreme Court once met, and where Presidents lay in state. We would take pictures next to the statue of one of the guys who represents NY in Statuary Hall.

As we came to the basement of the Cannon Building, we proceeded down the hall to the rotunda to get to the underground hallway that leads to the Capitol building; you know the building whose top is capped with "The Statute of Freedom". There was, at the entrance another Magnetometer and 4 more guards. Ok, I am not sure why, but I was more than willing to be stripped searched to get to the home of liberty. All of a sudden I was approached by a genial elderly lady in a red jacket.

"Sir, are you on a tour or with a staff member?" "No we are going to see the Capitol. I have been there often enough that I can give the tour. But thank you anyway" I replied, genially.

"Sir, You may not travel through the tunnel to the Capitol unless you are on an authorized tour or in the company of a staffer." She said with sharpness to her tone.

"Why not? I've been doing it for 30 plus years now." I said incredulously.

“Not since 9-11.” She said impatiently.
“Ok,” I said annoyed, “We will go outside and enter through the public entrance.”
“Sorry” a Capitol Police officer piped up, “You may only enter the Capitol in a tour or when accompanied by a staffer!! Regulations"
"That's ridiculous. I have already passed through a Magnetometer, and I am about to go through another, all for the privilege of seeing where the heart of my government works!”

Then she killed me. The little old lady in the red jacket stabbed me right in the heart. She said the exactly wrong thing to say to any real American (of which I am beginning to think there are few in Washington and fewer yet on Capitol Hill)

She said, “It’s for our safety, yours and ours…It’s better than being bombed.”

I looked at her hard for a moment. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind, such as:
1. I would rather be dead in the name of liberty than be herded like a sheep and led quietly to my slaughter.

2. How safe are we if can’t travel through 3 floors of a building and walk in its basement without being x-rayed at every turn.

3, My death would be a small price to pay for the opportunity to keep Americans free to walk through the halls of their government and have the same access to their lawmakers as the lobbyists and the corporate donors have to them.

4. I’m From Freaking NYC the number one city on the terrorist Hit parade, and even we’re not this freaking paranoid.

I looked at her as a crowd of people, staffers and Capitol Police began to gather. I did not feel that getting arrested was a good way to stand up for liberty while I was in charge of safeguarding a 17 year old. So I said in a quiet but strong voice,

“No, it is not better than being bombed, but for today, that lousy explanation will have to do. How sad it is that none of you know the words of Benjamin Franklin.”

And I took Lara’s arm and headed back to the elevator from whence we came. Sadder in the knowledge that a bearded "religious" fanatic, bent on destroying the fabric of our democracy had succeeded today.

When Clinton closed off Pennsylvania Avenue to motor vehicle traffic for the 2 blocks in fromy of the White House, I though it unfortunate, but as his family lived there, I felt like it was probably for the best. The man had their safety to worry about. My freedom to go to the president was not injured by the move, only my ability to drive by the house.

This is completely different. This is a travesty. It is an assault on democracy, perpetrated by our own government and its leaders who are too scared of some raging maniac hiding in a mountain, to remember why we elected them to office in the first place.

So back we walked out of the door of the Cannon building. We called our driver, and I asked him to drive us to the World War II Memorial. I needed to be around men and women who understood what the expenses of freedom are. We had to settle for their ghosts. It will have to do, for now…

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why Can't Prisons Be Made Safe For Prisoners: The Prison Litigation Reform Act and Qualified Immunity, Two Concepts That Are Bad Public Policy

The Volokh conspirators are having a lively debate about governments inability to stop or decrease prison rape. The following is a reprint of my input into that debate:

Enforce 1983 as written. NO Qualified Immunity, No Prison Litigation Reform Act. Trial lawyers can and will force government to do what it is supposed to do.

In response to troublesome nusiance suits brought by inmates, Congress passed a reform act that said they had a three stike rule. Bring a suit without merit 3 times and you can't bring one anymore without court permission. The concept was supposed to be to stop these ridiculous nusiance suits.

Except until you get to the part that says even if the prisoner is the prevailing party, the lawyers cannot get a legal fee beyond 1.5 times the amount granted to the prisoner. The point of that? Get those pain in the ass lawyers out of investigating prison misconduct by the government. The result has been a wholesale reduction in the number of suits bought by LAWYERS (who presumably know a good cause of action from a frivolous one.)It is a ridiculous rule and needs to be over turned. It can result in a lawyer working on behalf of all prisoners, getting them a real change in circumstances and because the monetary damages in the case are small or hard to quantify, the jury changes the rule or condition but only give the plaintiff Ten($10.00)Dollars. The attorney may put literally 300 hours into the trial and appeal of the case. His fee for all that work? Fifteen (15.00)Dollars.

The attorney's who bring these suits are ususally small and solo lawyers. They cannot afford to take a bad one. The law discourages outside legal experts from looking into the conditions of prisons. That renders these institutions unsafe. The law passed by Congress is bad public policy and flies in the face of the fee switching statute that accompanies civil rights cases under 42USC 1983, 1988.
Get rid of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (as to attorney's fees) and the Qualified Immunity defense and watch the prisons really become what they should be...Correctional institutions.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dean Arron Twerski Resigns as Dean of Hofstra University School of Law: Dean Cites Health Concerns

Aaron Twerski has been Dean of Hofstra University School of Law for two years. He has been part of Hofstra Law's family for far longer. He served as an Intrim Dean, and as a full fledge Dean. He was there at or near the beginning and after a move to Brooklyn Law School (for family reasons more than anything)he returned to Hofstra to begin to rebuild the school after a couple of disasterous years that saw the school move into the lower tier of the US News & World Report rankings.

Since his return, Hofstra has been back on track: Expanding the faculty, strengthening the curriculum and getting its name out in front of law firms and prospective students. Hopefully the new leadership will move things in the same directions.

I had the pleasure of taking "Products Liability" with Dean Twerski. (Trust me the pleasure truly was all mine.) Twerski brought scholarship, knowledge and a unique style to teaching the subject. Generous with his time, he could explain the most arcane concepts ( Res ipsa loquitur anyone?) and make it come alive. Noted for his ability to strategize trials and more importantly pre trial techniques, He was sought out by the best Civil defense firms in the country. Many of my collegues benefited from the law firms he was able to attract to the school.

When he left to go to Brooklyn, a large part of the Hofstra Law heart went with him. Moreover, when he returned two years ago, there was an immediate electrical charge that went through the alumni students and staff.

In his letter to the Alumni, Dean Twerski cites his recent quadruple bypass and the commute from his Hassidic community home in Brooklyn for his decision to leave. It is amazingly sad that a man with so much "heart" could be felled by his own.
In his letter, he says that "I will always take pride that I was able to b part of (Hofstra Law's) glorious history..." In fact, it is we, the alumni and students as well as the faculty, staff, and Administration, that will always take pride and be thankful for the fact that you are part of our History, and our lives.

"Zol zayn mit mazel" Professor, and may G-d bless you and your family.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Relaunch of Long Island (Criminal) Trial Law Set For Monday: Let me Introduce You To My New Blogging Partners

I am very excited to announce that my formerly solo blog Long Island (Criminal)Trial Law is back and going to be better than ever. If you are reading carefully, you saw the word "formerly" in the last sentence. That is because LICTL is becoming a group blog. Two of my Associates, Amy Hsu and Diane Petillo are joining me. I would like to introduce these talented women to you.

Diane Petillo is our Sr. Associate and leads our Civil Litigation Department. Practicing in the personal injury field for most of her 13 year career, Diane has been a plaintiff and defendant's lawyer. For the last year, she has concentrated her work on civil matters as diverse as mistreatment of prisoners to the devastating injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents where drivers were not taking sufficient care of themselves or of their vehicles. Diane's case load is extremely diverse. She can be working on behalf of a victim of government misconduct one day, and working on behalf of a wrongfully accused corporation on a civil Rico case the next. The Defamed, victims of Assualt, False Imprisonment, Sexual Abuse; Whistleblowers and those discriminated against because of their religious beliefs, race, age or sex, all wind up in Diane's office. As a co-blogger, I expect to see Diane writing on a lot of the cases and issues that appear in her case load. A hard nosed trial lawyer (as opposed to a litigator, trial lawyers actually try cases)Diane is a good teacher of trial techniques as well. I look forward to her teaching posts.

Amy Hsu is another associate in our Office. Amy is in charge of Appeals. In our offices we all try cases and we all write motions and appeals. It's just that Amy writes better than most. Formerly a law fellow for the Honorable William Donnino, This year's NYS Bar Association's Vincent Doyle award Reciepient As Outstanding Jurist, Amy has studied and learned at the elbow of one of NY's finest trial judges. Since joining our firm in September of 2005, Amy has tried two cases to verdict and sucessfully achieved dismisals in many others, thanks to her well crafted and ingenious motion practice. In addition to her work here at The Law Offices of Anthony J. Colleluori & Associates PLLC Amy works on legal articles and CLE Programs for the Nassau County Bar Association's Academy of Law. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and understands Taiwanese as well. I look forward to her insightful commentary on criminal cases.

As both young women are new to blogging, I expect we will be starting out slowly but I hope you will find nearly daily blogging by members of our team soon.
Please encourage these young writers and comment on their work as often as you can.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Work Life Balance in Law Firms. Two Sides of the Debate.

Juxtapose these two blog posts by two of my favorite bloggers and lawyers, Dan Hull over at What About Clients, and Nicole Black over at Sui Generis.

How do you serve clients and still not burn out faster than a Grucci fireworks display? I'm a certified baby boomer. I am driven, I love the law, and I sacrificed a lot of family time for success. I am here to say that while I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it, I gave up too much. Fortunately I learned my lesson early, not so much for me but for staff. The issues are bigger than one post but I will deal with two of the issues here. One is how do I become a good lawyer. Two is much do I need to earn to be happy.

Now of course the second issue is troubled by what I consider to be ridiculous debt caused by tuition and education loans. A kid out of law school who had to finance the whole thing has to earn at least Sixty thousand a year plus to be able to afford the tuition repayment, rent, a car, and basic insurance. He can forget about saving for his future. Fortunately he can put that off for a few years.

On the other hand, how much can one expect to earn if they work a regular work week. What is a regular work week for a lawyer? How much of an outside life can a lawyer expect when just for development of skills he needs to put in a lot of time.

Learning the law, does not happen between 9-5 or even 8-6. It is the reading and working done when the phones stop ringing and the partners stop screaming that permits the opportunity for learning to take place.

How does a young lawyer learn. Well CLE is part of the equation, but frankly the advance sheets and the daily bar journal is the first thing to turn to. Now I never trained transactional lawyers so I can only speak for trial lawyers, but reading transcripts of trials and issue spotting the appellate issues is a good tool in learning how to put a question, and on how to object and preserve a record.

Reading non legal magazines of the right type help too. Jurors do not usually read the Review of Books. They are not likely to read the Times Sunday cover to cover either. They read the Daily News or Post, a tabloid, People magazine, Ebony, Jet, Woman's Day, Cosmo, Maxim and Playboy, GQ, Time or Newsweek and Sports Illustrated. These are a few of what trial lawyers should be reading each month. Hanging around the office doing work that most lawyers hate doing, like trial briefs and reviewing the Casemap is a good way of prepping too. Of course looking on-line and reading at least a few of the blogs is also important.

The young lawyer should expect that Monday through Thursday will be 10-12 hour days. I like to see them alternate 10 one day 12 the next etc. Thursdays will also be a chance to go to bar and other oganizational meetings. Friday is a day of relaxation...after 4pm. Saturday or Sunday is meant for renewal but a few hours either in the office or at home working on self improvement or on office work should be required. The key to this is that the lawyer should want to do this. Part of the problem of course is that as someone points out (I think it was in Nicole's post) a lot of lawyers only see that the work they do at 25 years old brings a reward of more work after you become a partner. That is where the law firm culture comes in.

In my firm, there is a very low (compared to most firms) requested billable hour standard. I seek One Thousand Two Hundred Fifty Hours (1250) of billed time. I also expect the associate to be active in one or two Bar association activities and be working up the ladder there. After 3 years, belonging to a local business or other networking group (at church, in the community, a PTA) should also be part of the firm supported marketing approach. Writing and lectures are becoming a part of the regime also.

A key to this however is that, as a partner, I do not try to over leverage the work of the associates. In other words, I do not try to retire on the backs of my staff. I expect them to work. I may actually get out less work than they do, because of my rainmaking responsibilities. I cannot and do not want to so out-earn them that they feel every minute they spend working extra is so that I can go home with a fatter wallet.

How do I do this? By keeping a fair ratio between what I earn as a partner and what the lowest paid associate makes. Hence I think a Six to one (6:1) ratio is not only fair but gives the associate something to aspire to. It is also a way to not become a "You make what you eat" law firm. Rain is not over-appreciated and toiling uselessly and becoming a "stacks troll" isn't either. Family time is up held and no one has to worry that because they went to a football game to see their brother play that they are losing a spot on next years bonus roll.

When it comes to women, there is another thing that needs to be addressed and that is their traditional mother role. I would not steal a child from his mother, nor would I want one of my staff to lose the opportunity to become a partner, a lead trial lawyer, or any other opportunity because she chose to have and care for her child. Hence in my office, you do not lose your turn in line for partnership if you take time to have a baby, you are considered at six years out and at least two years with us, even if you had to stop a time or two to have a child. I am experimenting with an in-house nursery idea right now, and of course home-telecommuting.

Men too need time however, and their fuses should not be forgotten. Hence I also look to help my male attorney's take time off with their young ones and if employees do not have children, then childless employees plan for a sabbatical of at least four months after 7 years with the firm. There is no point in not taking it and it can only be put off for good reason and only for a period of 18 months.

Taking care of one's spirit is important. I am looking forward to memberships in gyms and personal training as a perk some day. I am also going to pepper the bonus's this year with Massage and Spa gift certificates.

I think that while dedication to clients is a very important obligation of a lawyer, one cannnot give much to that client, if he has nothing in the tank. I do not agree with Dan, work-life balance is an issue for partners. It didn't used to be. It has led to the sloppy lawyering and the dissatisfaction of so many promising attorneys. It is time we not only ask "What about Clients" but we ask simultaneously "What about Souls."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sex, Lies & Video Tape Equals Blackmail: The Making of the Next Long Island Sex Scandal

I am sure many of my NY and Long Island Readers (all 5 of you) have seen the headlines (here,here, here,here and on the TV as well)
The deal was easy. Meet lonely hearts on the Internet through groups like Adult Friendfinder or Craigslist, engage in sex acts taped on the sly, build a relationship with the victims so that you know lots of stuff about them, then tell them to pay up or you're gonna give the stuff to their kids or bosses or spouses.
Not a pretty sight.

I have been involved in the representation of people in the adult entertainment community for my whole career. It is not glamorous work nor is it very lucrative. It is however a part of the world that desperately needs legal representation. Because of the mores of the world we live in, these people are very susceptible to being abused, attacked and sometimes blackmailed. I have come to know the actors, the dancers, and the strip and swing club owners. I have been present in the middle of the nights at the raids on their clubs, and I have watched this group of people abused by police, prosecutors and the press, in the past. I have been at the side of their hospital beds as they suffered otherwise alone because they had been abandoned by family and friends.

Earlier this week, Blackmail came to haunt the sex community on Long Island. Without accusing or condemning (yet) the accused blackmailers, I can say that as word of the tapes got out, a general panic arose in the swinger community. It seems one of the defendants had over 100 hours of tape of people having sex with his "partner." It further seems that these defendants have been attacking the "opportunity" in many different forms. My office recieved phonecalls from people who knew these people and from friends and family members who called on behalf of others who were too scared to call themselves.

On Thursday February 1st I got a call from a reporter, who is aware of my long term representation of this community. He asked me what I knew which, at that time, frankly wasn't much. I knew people were frightened and that they wanted to know if the Police would come to their door or their businesses. They were afraid of being victimized twice. Once by the blackmailers and then by the police.

The people I spoke to were sick to their stomachs. They were worried about disease and they were worried about breaking the hearts of people they had no intention of hurting. Some had become attached to the accused blackmailers. They thought they were dealing with a friend and lover, the pretend people that the two accused said they were. These folks felt more than just fear, they felt a sense of loss and disbelief that they could be taken in.

I agreed to speak to the press at that point, so that others would know that they were not alone. I also spoke to the media so that these same victims would know that there was a law office they could come to that would not judge them and would be there for them should they chose to cooperate with the police, or decline to do so.

I have not accepted one cent from anyone who has called. I do not intend to accept one cent. I will, if I am asked to do more than advise these folks on their legal rights. Many may have a right to sue the individuals involved in deceiving them. I will take that case if I find that there is a chance to make these victims whole. It is what I do.

Under the guise of "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" I have read that I am "just another ambulance chaser". I want to point out a few things to the people saying that about me:

1. I did not hold a press conference, or send a press release or even call one single reporter to speak to this case. They each called me, ask them. Most of them either had covered other cases I had worked on and knew I worked on this type of stuff, or they had spoken to reporters (or read their articles) and were following up on their leads. There are just not a lot of lawyers who will admit to handling these cases.

2. I have not asked for a penny from anyone.

3. That I have no purient interest in this case. In a lifetime of working with this community, I have seen all that I ever wanted to and far more, I am concerned that the people who are involved, are not preyed upon by ANYONE. Bad guys or good guys.

4. My family suffers as much as anyone does when I decide to take on cases like this. The get teased and sit through the funny looks and the "dirty jokes" we hear when we go to the diner or pizzaria. My family however knows that, especially in a case like this one, my active participation could mean the difference between someone hopeless, killing themselves and that same person going home to their family that night. They didn't sign up for the duty, but they carry it out really well and with a lot of understanding and I love them for that.

I do not have any idea how this will shake out in the end. I know that if we continue to worry about who is on the tape rather than bringing the case to justice, that we are just a bunch of nosy body gossips.

If the press wants to cover a story, they and you should be asking me about the medical dosing abuse at the Nassau County Correctional Center or about the abject torture of female prisoners in the Federal Medical facility in Texas. They can ask about people who have paid their debts to society only to be forced into a life of crime by otherwise law abiding people who feel no guilt over breaking the law to discriminate against them.

We can talk about a lot of things. Who has sex with whom should not be one of them.

Friday, February 02, 2007

No Honor In The Bush White House: Charles "Cully" Stimson Resigns Over Remarks About Guantanamo Defense Lawyers

Cully Stimson Resigns. Good riddance.
A couple of weeks ago, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Charles "Cully" Stimson intimated to America that some of the volunteer lawyers defending the terror suspect on Guantanamo Bay were taking money from terrorists and their sympathizers and that Corporate America should force law firms involved in the volunteer efforts
"to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms...."

When I first heard the remarks, I thought "oh another General with foot in mouth disease." I was wrong. Stimson is a 1986 graduate of Kenyon College and a 1992 graduate of George Mason Law School. He is a former prosecutor, and even did some defense work. No "Cully" was not just a military guy who didn't get it. It was far worse. He is a lawyer who doesn't get it. In fairness to Stimson, he apologized about five days after his intemperate remarks (sorta. He said he didn't mean it.)

If you read Stimson's letter to the Washington Post, and some of his other statements you begin to see that he is not so much as lying as he is splitting hairs the way that the rest of the Bush White House and Justice (Just Us) department does it.

You see, we learned in our Social Studies and History classes that the bill of rights included rights which were basically owed all people. The Bushies must have had a different textbook. We were told that we were going to bring "American style" democracy to the middle east. We all thought that we were going to keep it here too. But the Bushies had other ideas. They split hairs. We have a war on Terror, but if you are captured in that war you are not a prisoner of war, you are an "enemy combatant." That means that the rights we want you to have in your country. and the rights we say we have here, you can't have. Confused? Join the club.

But then those pesky lawyers started waiving that pesky Constitution and those really pesky amendments at the Bushies, and well you know, if you aren't one of them, well your just a traitor. Never mind you are a military hero or even a regular GI Joe. Just because you actually served in a war you can't know more than the all but draft dodging President and Vice President. If you are a lawyer, you are a problem in the Bush White House. "Rights? We don't need no stinking rights"

If you are in favor of everything every soldier who has died in battle believed he was fighting for, YOU ARE THE ENEMY. So when Cully made his statement about lawyers he had the Bush White House game plan right there. Lawyers are bad, people who fight the administration are anti-American and then he said it. The lawyers who fight for free in the highest service to the bar and the law are so un-American that any American CEO who hires them will fire them. Unreal. Sad even.

The White House immediately smelled a fiasco and so they did exactly what they always do. They threw Cully under the bus and ran from his statement. He had so many tire tracks on him evenMike Brown thought he was road kill. So Cully has now been hounded out. He quit. Underfire.

But there might be hope for Cully Stimson. He once had a sense of his job. He may even be prescient. In an Article in the Kenyon Alumni Newsletter aptly entitled "In the Eye of the Storm" Cully Stimson is quoted as saying:

"As the primary policy advisor, I am the focal point in the department of defense for all things related to detainees," says Stimson. "I want to make sure we are treating detainees everywhere in Department of Defense custody humanely, consistent with our values, and our domestic and international legal obligations as a country. I have an enormous weight on my shoulders. I have to choose my words carefully because I am a public figure on a very, very controversial topic."

Too bad he didn't frame the article and read it every morning. Maybe the weight got to heavy for him. Either way, he is just a microcosm of a far bigger problem. We have a President so out of touch with his electorate, and the laws of his nation, that, short of impeachment, there is no chance we will not be embarrassed by him or one of his minions again.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Our February Newsletter Is Now Available

Our Newsletter (written by the good folks at Findlaw) is available by clicking this link.This months edition features the rights defendants have in criminal cases.
Here is my introduction:
The Law Offices of Anthony J. Colleluori & Associates wishes you a Happy New Year!!
We are proud to distribute the Criminal Defense E- Newsletter each month to our friends and clients. This month's issue focuses on the Rights of A Person Accused of a Crime. The Criminal Trial is compelling and interesting but fraught with twists and turns. Criminal trials are very complex and should only be handled by the most experienced of attorneys. A conviction for a crime carries with it potential jail, loss of income, business and not the least, loss of reputation.

Civil penalties can cost a party loss of their home and valuables. Other collateral consequences of a conviction could result in the client's deporation or force the client to permanently have to register with the state. It can even keep a client from living in certain towns or villages. It can result in a judicial order keeping convicted people from their children. It could result in the loss of their professional license as well as a loss of one's driving privileges depending what the case is about.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Courts are sending more and more business people to prison for longer periods of time than ever before. Moreover, the person convicted of a crime is often denied employment and other opportunities including the right to pursue a career in Law, medicine or public accounting. State laws have toughened recently as well, with more mandatory minimum jail sentences and an increase in jail as a whole.

Our office has successfully defended many cases involving allegations of crime. We have also been in the forefront of law firms that seek remedies for those unfairly or falsely convicted. We are very adept at working on the investigation of criminal cases. Click the link for information on Where to call if your loved one is under arrest in NY or on Long Island. Please visit our web site for more information on Fraud, and Criminal Defense or to contact us by clicking on this link

Hope you will enjoy this edition of the Newsletter of the Law Offices of Anthony J. Colleluori and Associates PLLC