Monday, September 29, 2008 Legal Guides: A Few Quick Articles to Help You Navigate the Legal System

I have been publishing legal guides at I thought I would give you a way to link to my Publications there and also link you to some good articles by others on offers two types of Legal Guides. The easiest to publish is the How to Guide. I have published a couple of those.
You can find out How to Determine Your USSG Criminal Sentencing Guideline in what was my first Practice Guide.

You can learn How to Help a Friend Who is Arrested in the Middle of the Night. (Actually any time.)

Then I wrote an article entitled How To Conduct Yourself When Involved in a Car Accident

My Latest Legal Guide for is entitled Understanding New York Statutory Rape Laws: The Age of Consent

Periodically I will update you on other guides I am publishing, and will feature a few guides that others have written. Take a look at these, I think you will learn a lot.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Heather Locklear Arrested for DUI: Understanding Addiction

I was sorry to get the Twitter post earlier this afternoon that the beautiful Heather Locklear, was arrested in Hollywood for Driving Under the Influence of a Narcotic. Earlier this year (June 2008) Heather checked herself into the Sierra Tucson Rehab facility. I was sad because we are watching the unraveling of a person who is well liked, beautiful, as well as a mother of a youngster. I am also worried because I am afraid that people in the courthouses where I work may believe that the rehab, Sierra Tucson was less than a good place for patients to find recovery. I should say here, that I have over the last 15 years sent many of my clients to Sierra Tucson to find recovery from all kinds of addictions. I and the courts have been very pleased with the results.

Addicted people, especially those that understand they are addicted, do not lack control. Neither is falling off "the wagon" an indication that the rehabilitation they underwent failed. First, the problem with most addicts is that they have too much control. They need to control everything. As the world spins out of control, they become more and more unable to to control the pain and the anxiety that is in their world, and they use the anchor of the pill or the drink to help them deal with the fact that they are not in control of others and of events.
Put another way, a "dry" control freak is an alcoholic waiting to happen.

If you think about anxiety and stress as a kink in a hose lying on the ground, what happens is when the "water" (the issues in everyday life) get stuck in the kink the hose builds up pressure and when it finally blows the kink out, it is out of control. The way that "out of control" usually exhibits itself is by anger. The drug then is used to calm the alcoholic down and bring his behavior back into the fold so that he or she will be able to "control" everything again shortly.

When the alcoholic begins to understand that she has only control over herself and her behavior and reaction to things, she begins recovery. It sounds easier than it is. This is especially true for people who find themselves in Locklear's position. She is still required to be beautiful, she is pushing 50 her "best years" work wise behind her and she is going through not one but 2 major betrayals. One her divorce from Richie Sambora, and the other that her "best friend" Denise Richards took up with him. While Locklear has a new relationship, her dealing with the effects of the betrayals and other slights and resentments in her life determine her ability to recover. What I find heroic about her is that she signed herself in before she had a incident (such as the one she faces now)that forced the move. She went to Rehab, because she acknowledged she needed it.

In signing herself into Sierra, Locklear did not finish her journey into recovery, rather, she was beginning it. Sierra is a wonderful place. I have sent many clients there to find recovery and I have visited there to see how it all works. I will say that there are few more beautiful places than this ranch at the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in southern Arizona. If one has to be in a rehabilitation facility, this is THE ONE. In addition to beautiful double rooms,called Casitas (they are not big, nor plush, but they are quiet and comfortable), The rehab has a hospital with about 8 beds to help those with Psych issues that have to be medicated,or detoxed, but it is not really a psychiatric hospital.

Sierra has a beautiful trail that winds it's way about a half mile into the desert where you can see snakes and coyotes as well as find one's soul. I have watched people take a walk into the desert and come back a changed person. They call this trail the Serenity trail.

Sierra is an "experiential" psych center, It is not just one big group therapy session. Everything is part of the work there; be it old fashion cognitive behavioral therapy, or some type of "fun" activity, it is all meant to open the patient up and make them vulnerable so that they may begin to find the tools to recover. Be it time in the gym, or the pool, or riding and caring for a horse in the equine therapy program, everything in this place is meant to help patients find a balance in all aspects of their lives. In addition, it is meant to help you confront the fears and the issues that is in your life. There is a program to not only help the patient, but to address the other people in the patients life. Family week is a very interesting time where family and friends of the patient can confront the patient and bring all the issues that are not talked about out into the open, in front of others in the group, in a safe way and in a safe place.

Sierra, is a magical place, but it is the continued work that goes on after one leaves the facility that is important. Unfortunately, Publicists, Managers, Agents, and others, may not be supportive of the program. Taking time for meetings and support groups and calling a fellow friend of Bill, or attending alumni meetings all take away time from making money. Further, humility is a key ingredient in recovery. One has to constantly remember that they are not able to finesse this disease. You cannot bat your eyes at it, you can't charm it away. This concept of humility is not in the repritoire of most actresses. Without support from the people, she surrounds herself with, and without a commitment to keeping humble herself, the rehabilitation was sure to relapse.

Often those of us that work with addicts say that relapse is part of recovery. Imagine being told that you can never have something that has always been used by you to reduce your pain and that is readily available to you. Imagine having a headache everyday and not being allowed to use aspirin or acetaminophen. The Addict is going to experiment the moment the pain becomes too great. She is going to see if she can CONTROL (there is that word again) the usage. Assuming that the issues that caused resentments were addressed in the rehab, it doesn't mean that they do not return. If they went unaddressed then they are sure to rear their ugly heads.

Working with someone who is trying to overcome an addiction is not an easy thing. It is frustrating and it can be heartbreaking work. I strongly suggest, that before one condemns a person who has tried to recover and failed, they walk a day in that person's shoes. As a society, we need to see addiction for what it truly is, an illness that often can be put into remission but not one that can be cured. This is not meant to excuse the behaviors of one who is addicted and fails to live within the law, rather it is to explain the work that one must do to beat back an addiction, and the support that individual needs to continue in recovery. It is also an attempt to help the public understand that if steps are taken to regain recovery, we should work with those steps, as the relapse is not an abnormal event in the course of this disease. I do not know if Heather Locklear is guilty of DUI, but I know that given her attempt to find a cure, she should receive our support and not our condemnation.

I wish her well.


This just in from our friends at Yahoo News,
President George W. Bush and Congressional leaders including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed early this morning to a bailout of the nation's banks hit hard buy the downturn in the real estate market and the misuse of Subprime mortgage loans.

The key provisions which still have to be transcribed to paper are as follows:
The plan calls for the Treasury Department to buy deeply distressed mortgage-backed securities and other bad debts held by banks and other investors. The money should help troubled lenders make new loans and keep credit lines open. The government would later try to sell the discounted loan packages at the best possible price.

At the insistence of House Republicans, some money would be devoted to a program that would encourage holders of distressed mortgage-backed securities to keep them and buy government insurance to cover defaults.

The legislation would place "reasonable" limits on severance packages for executives of companies that benefit from the rescue plan, said a senior administration official who was authorized to speak only on background. It would affect fired executives of financial firms, and executives of firms that go bankrupt. Some of the provisions would be retroactive and some prospective, the official said.

Also, the government would receive stock warrants in return for the bailout relief, giving taxpayers a chance to share in financial companies' future profits.

To help struggling homeowners, the plan would require the government to try renegotiating the bad mortgages it acquires with the aim of lowering borrowers' monthly payments so they can keep their homes.

Yahoo is reporting that house Repubicans who earlier this week sent the market into a panic when they refused to support the bush plan, indicated they would not block the new proposal. Democrats hold the majority of both houses but they would not accept a package that did not limit the amount of money executives of these failed companies could earn in "Golden Parachutes" and provide taxpayers relief from their own indebtness.

I may come back to this later but for now, you know at least what I know. I am sure there are many around who "know far more."

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Couple of Cartoons Explain the Tough Stuff: Understanding the SubPrime Mess and the Immigration issue.

Try explaining why asking an alien to wait in line back home is bad for business and bad for America is well illustrated in this cartoon using a flow chart to show that a path to citizenship is nearly impossible for most people even if they have relatives here.

Then stick figures illustrate how America got into the Fiscal Crisis we are in now. This PowerPoint style cartoon will explain how greed and lack of oversight caused what we now know to be the "Sub prime Mortgage financial crisis" and why we unfortunately may have to bail it out if we want to avoid a world wide financial collapse.

Sometimes you have to worry about easy answers, but explanations should be understandable to the people you are asking to pay for the solutions to today's problems.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"I Am Shocked, Shocked! There are Teens Texting While Driving in Casablanca!!

I love that movie... and that line.
Anyway, no big surprise here, but I am following up with the post I had a few days ago on Suffolk County NY's decision to ban Texting while Driving or as we Criminal Defense Lawyers like to call it TWI. Nassau County is about to go along and I think that we will see a NYS VTL Law to this effect shortly.

I am in agreement with the law. It no surprise (as I said earlier) that teens are the biggest offenders (almost half admit to texting while driving and over 25% of drivers between 24-35 also admit to doing that) or that as you get older, you have less texting as we "old folk" are less tech savvy.

I am a bit worried about cell phones which are so ubiquitous will become a pretext for stopping cars, but the fact that the phone and the cell provider can prove phone usage may help keep pretext stops in check (defense lawyers and civil libertarians are going to have to fight these cases and win to ensure that such abuse is kept in check.)

I think this TWI law is only half of the answer to the problem of distraction behind the wheel. I am afraid that to get the other half, Personal Injury Lawyers are going to have to get involved and sue the big Cell companies to force them to order that cell phones offer hands free texting. Believe me the technology is there (witness one of the best ideas ever. If I can record my voice for Jott to turn into an e-mail, I can record my voice to send a text message or a tweet or the next big thing.) It is just a matter of time before the cell companies demand that it be available on an I-phone or Blackberry.

In the meantime, I suggest that teens either but the cell phone on a blue tooth or in hands free mode, and ignore the text messages. Pulling over to text could be dangerous and I doubt too many young people will pull off a road to text safely.

Remember, You do need two eyes for the road, and both hands on the wheel. Teens don't have much experience to begin with behind the wheel, add distraction and you have a recipe for disaster. It is only slightly less dangerous for more experienced drivers. I have seen drivers put on makeup, read maps and even read books while driving. Distractions can kill. We all do it, but we need to make a concerted effort to do it less and ultimately to not do it at all.

I have been trying all week. I have reduced my bad cell phone habits quite a bit in one week. I am thinking that next week I will tell the important people in my life I am driving, that I will call in every hour while on the road (and I will pull off for that) and everyone else will have to wait until I call in. Then I am going to forward my phones and turn off the Twitter tweets. I'd ask you to wish me luck, but I'd rather you just join me...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lex Ridculum: Spilling Soda , Passing Gas can get you arrested, and G-d Forbid You Have Your Way With a Goat...

There is so much important stuff going on in the world.

We have the collapse of the world's stock markets
We have the Bush buyout plan to "save the markets" Which Jay Leno put just about right, "You screw up your investments... You Pay!, They screw up their investments YOU PAY!!!" right on Jay.

We have the annual Collapse of the NY Mets.

Then there is the fact that "retiring from the Long Island Rail Road, can get you investigated..."

I am glad to know that with all the sadness fear, terror that is growing across our nation, our law enforcement agencies still have time to fight the good fight and keep our nation safe from spilling soda, unflattering flatulence and Drunken Horny Cow Tipping Farm Hands...

As Cindy Adams says... You cant make this stuff up...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

That Lawyer Dude is Tweeting Over At

Ok so for the longest time I have been trying to figure out how in the heck I should use this MicroBlog spot named Twitter. I couldn't figure out how I could use this little son of a gun to help my practice. I have found a way.

Here is the deal. Twitter allows you to send out a "tweet" which is a short message, (like a text message) to everyone who "follows" you. I only have 18 followers right now. But say for example that I am going to be on TV tonight. I can send out a message on twitter saying "I will be on TV on the 6 O'clock News on Channels 2,4,5, & 7."

Presumably all my followers will now know this. Same when I publish a blog post. Same as if I hear or see something that is newsworthy I can send something in fast. My people will get it and hopefully tell their people and voile` People will go to what I am talking about. I guess I want to avoid Twittering and Tweeting too much. But I can see where this type of thing can be helpful. Especially when answering questions on or or if I need to announce something.

You too can follow my "exploits" at, sign up and follow me...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The House That Ruth Built Closes With a Great Big NY Goodbye

It was really a fine farewell. I am an old foggie and I don't handle change well, but I must admit, if they had to close Yankee Stadium this was the way to go. The night started off with a tribute to the first Yankee team to take the field in 1923. The First team was announced and introduced each player represented by an actor. Then each position was introduced with the greats at each position announced and if they were in attendance they came out. If they were gone, a family member came in their stead.

The most poignant moments? They all were, but I guess I was most moved when Yogi walked to the plate (If you do not know Yogi, stop reading here); Thurman Munson's son coming out to represent his dad. The dad who died flying home so he could be with that boy when he was a child; The Mercer family who lost their Yankee, Bobby Mercer just this July. How Bobby would have enjoyed tonight; Whitey "Chairman of the Board" Ford and Don "Perfect Game" Larsen was there too on the mound with Goose and Louisiana Lighting Ron Guidry the family of Catfish Hunter.

Finally, for the first time since he was released by the Yankees, Bernie Williams came back, and was announced to huge applause.

Finally, out of the Yankee dugout, Babe Ruth's daughter Julia Ruth Stevens led by her son, the Babe's grandson, threw out the first pitch, caught by Jose Posada.

There are 700 "alumni" of the Yankees and they were all honored tonight with the way the Yankees did this.

Then "The Captain" Derek Jeter came out with his mom, beautiful sister and his dad and was given a beautiful Waterford bat and ball for having the most hits in the Stadium. He surpassed the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig just this week hitting 9 hits in a week to pull it off.

The Game ended in a win. Yankees 7, Orioles 3. Johnny Damon, known more for his exploits in the stadium as a hated Red Sox hit the next to last home run, and Jose Molina, the substitute catcher got the last one. How appropriate that Andy Petite got the win, He is one of the only guys left from the teams of the late 90's that won the four World Series, Jabba Chamberlin, one of the newest Yankees a Yankee of the future, pitched and Marianno Rivera probably the greatest closer the game has ever seen, came in in the last inning and put it away.

Afterward, Derek and the others came on the field and it looked like the boys had just won the World Series. Except they didn't. It was the only thing that they couldn't pull off this year to say goodbye to a great old lady... Yankee Stadium was home to so many great teams, moments and memories. In a few minutes, the cheers will die down, the fans will go home, and the debates will begin again. But for tonight, it is about the Fans, and the history.

As Sinatra singing "New York New York" blared in the background Derek Jeter walked to the picher's mound with Mariano, and speaking on his feet without a script thanked the fans for the cheers and the loyalty. Jeter is a special guy, he is "the Captain." his speech was perfect. It was off the top of his head, but it sounded like he wrote it and practiced it for weeks... You just get the idea, that when his time to retire comes, Derek Jeter will be able to do anything he wants. His best line about being his feelings:
"That's pride, it's tradition and most of all, we have the greatest fans in the world." Then the whole team, which had found its way to the mound, took their hats off to the crowd.

It is an organization and a stadium for the ages. I hate to see it leave. But it is, so I guess we will have to hold onto the memories, and begin to think about next year. Part of me just feels that, the Bronx will just never be the same... Next week we say good bye to Shea... The Jets are leaving Hofstra this year too... I feel really old and kind of lonely. I will miss these places, and those men, the heroes, even if imperfect, of my youth.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From the Headlines on Long Island

Busy day in the courts on Long Island.

Newsday reports that former NY Giant receiver and Superbowl hero Mark Ingram was sentenced to 7 years 8 months for trying to launder money for people he thought were drug dealers. They were in fact FBI undercover agents. The crimes took place in Florida and New York. EDNY Judge Hurley was not moved by Ingram's off or on field heroics (Ingram played a big part in the Giants Superbowl win in 1991 over the Buffalo Bills.

Ingram's life since retirement has been bizarre. He has been jailed for a number of crimes including breaking into a car to steal a pocketbook. I understand he went through three assigned attorneys and wrote a very bizarre motion. I wonder if he is not somehow mentally ill. Finally, he went through an awful lot of money. He has to be indigent to get a free lawyer. This is a sad and bizarre story.

Speaking of bizarre cases, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice continues to misuse the law to forward her crazy views of DWI cases. Getting a conviction for Murder in the Second Degree, the court (Peck J.) sentenced the defendant Franklin McPherson, to Twenty Five years to life. Interesting given the fact that while the behavior was considered very reckless by the jury (a decision that will be over turned in my humble opinion because it was given an incorrect jury charge and a charge that was changed after summations were completed a No NO) that is the maximum. If we sentence to the maximum for reckless conduct, what does that leave us for intentional conduct??
Anyway, you can catch more on this story here

By the way Judge, I think 25 years is too long for a 20 year old kid who did not act intentionally. We are giving up on a 20 year old is really not a conservative concept. Do we really think this person has no value to us as a community?? Hopefully this case gets overturned soon.

Finally a case that does make some sense. Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson, properly sentenced a man to probation in a devastating accident caused by his intoxication. His wife who was severely injured begged Judge Hudson and the Suffolk county District Attorney Thomas Spota for leniency for her husband and father of her two children. She told them she needs him home to care for her. The court and District Attorney agreed.

What I find interesting here is that DA Spota only charged the appropriate charge of vehicular assault and not the higher but legally unwarranted and vindictive Assault 2d degree. I am in a case right now with DA Kathleen Rice and just as she did in the McPearson case above, she has illegally over-charged the case. I am hoping the court agrees that we should have a vehicular assault charge only for accidents that happen while one is intoxicated. If Assault 2d degree were the appropriate charge why would we have a second separate charge? Well I guess while we pay more in taxes, Ms. Rice will continue to waste our taxpayers money to fight her insane,politically motivated and legally irrational march against the citizenry.

Edited to make a few sentences make more sense.

Texting While Driving: A Law That Makes Sense, A Statement I May Come to Regret.

If you text and drive in Suffolk County NY (and soon in Nassau County too) you will get stopped by police and given a very expensive ticket. One Hundred Fifty Dollars to be exact.

Unlike the cell phone ban while driving which I am basically against, this bill makes sense. I am guilty of it, and I probably will be again although I am trying to break the habit. It makes sense because it requires way too much of the driver's attention to successfully send text messages. OTOH, maybe it is time for Cell phone makers to invent a cell phone that converts voice into text messages... It would be safer and infact the technology exists. The big problem with text messaging is that it requires that the text sender look at the screen to perform the various tasks necessary to send the text. Unlike the phone call which can be programmed, the text message needs you to choose the option to test add the person you want to text and after typing out the message send the message. It also requires the sender to read responses.

As a police official points out, the proof of texting leaves a trail and that makes it easy to prove. More importantly, given the speed people drive at and the damage that can happen in such a short time, this law makes eminent sense. I will be working hard to break this habit before I hurt someone or me.

Texting while driving... DON'T DO IT!!

Hattip: The Gothamist

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Helen Mirren Catches Flack on Her Opinion on Prosecuting Date Rape.

Fellow crime blogger Corey Rayburn Yung of the blog Sex Crimes is blogging about the comments British actress Helen Mirren made concerning her victimization as a young actress on what used to be called "the Casting Couch". In fact she was the victim of a number of Date Rapes.

It seems Ms Mirren makes the following comment:

Dame Helen, who picked up an Academy Award last year for her portrayal of The Queen, said she was date-raped "a couple of times" when she was young but did not report the attacks because "you couldn't do that in those days."

Despite her experiences, the British-born actress said date-rape was a "tricky area" and something men and women had to work out between themselves.

She said it was rape if a couple engaged in sexual activity but the woman said "no" at the last second.

However, in comments likely to anger anti-rape campaigners, she added: "I don't think she can have that man into court under those circumstances. I guess it is one of the subtle parts of the men/women relationship that has to be negotiated and worked out between them."

Cory strongly disagrees and cites this well written thoughtful post

Abyss 2 Hope is a blog written not by a lawyer but by a novelist who was date raped at 15. She is speaking of the fact that a women (girl) could be naked in a bedroom alone with a boy and still be unwilling to have sex with him and that she would if otherwise forced to have sex be raped.

I have no quarrel with her on that point. I do in her comment section wonder however if it is right to expect a fair jury, one that would credit both sides otherwise unbroken testimony, to return a verdict in a case like the one abyss and Mirren describe of Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

In other words, is there a time when it is too late (speaking in terms of trial) for a woman to say no?

I think that as a trial lawyer, that there is, all things being equal. I also question whether it is a good policy to teach young women that they can go so far as to be in a boyfriends room, be naked and expect a jury to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a rape took place (assuming no other indicia of a rape exists).

I am not doubting the fact that a rape took place nor am I willing to assume based on nothing more than a woman's word, that under these circumstances it did (without at least a confession from the accused or some other physical indicia of a rape). I am saying that as a prosecutor I would not be surprised to find a jury unable to convict.

I even wonder if the jury could do so in a civil trial with a lower burden of proof without engaging in speculation?

This then begs the question, is there a point where the situation has gone too far to expect that a jury will convict someone for Rape? Was Mirren wrong to say that given these facts one should not be able to arrest a man for Rape without a greater case?

I would love to hear your opinions.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My 9-11-01 Remembrance.

I did not post this, for a couple of days because I always have a hard time expressing what I feel about 9-11-01. I wasn't sure how much of this I wanted to share. I have decided to share it all.

A month before 9-11-01, I had decided to stop practicing law. I was fed up with partners who had lost their mission and become miserable people, clients who were only potential grievances and Judges and opposing counsel who lacked any sense of the professionalism I had been taught. On the day I decided to quit, I was sure, no one cared about justice anymore, just about standards and goals and money.

That day I was lying in a hospital bed. I had tortured myself for weeks with an undiagnosed deep vein thrombosis, and had blood clots that almost took my life. I had this condition for nearly 3 months. I laid in that hospital bed and thought about all those bastards who couldn't listen to me as I told them I was sick, and how they wouldn't miss me but my family would... I was through sacrificing for this "profession" that was a business when it should have been a profession, and a profession when it should have been a business.

I got lucky and managed to live through the 12 Pulmonary embolisms that were lodged in my lung. After a few weeks I got home from the hospital. I had not changed my mind. I told my friend and our managing partner I was through.

Later that day, I received a call from a friend. Mychal F. Judge,I was still in a sour mood and I told him of my decision. He offered to come to see me but I told him that we could have dinner later in September, as my wife was now going to need surgery and I wasn't sure there was any justice in the world order. He assured me that God was alive and would never countenance injustice. I would never see Mychal again, or hear his voice with it's soft Irish lilt.

Mychal reminded me how many of my clients loved me, and how many though they didn't say thank you, or even act politely, needed me. We agreed to meet in a couple of meetings. He said he would pray for MaryRose.

Mychal Judge is officially victim 001 of the World Trade Center Disaster. He was a Roman Catholic Priest. He was a friend to the brand new fire recruit, and to Presidents of the United States. He died administering rites to a man on the sidewalk, A body fell upon him, and took his life. A local writer said, Mychal had to die first, He would have wanted to be at heaven's gate to open the doors for the firemen who were meeting there. Mychal was their Spiritual leader, the chaplain to the NYFD Holy Name Society.

I lost many friends and clients on 9-11-01. My offices on Long Island were in the middle of an area that was home to so many municipal employees. I saw America's Mayor at funerals for the men. (I am not a big Rudy fan, but I appreciate what he and his staff tried to do in the weeks after the bombing to help us grieve).

After weeks of ceremony attendance and volunteering to help widows and orphans with paper work, I realized. I still loved law, I just needed to do it differently. I decided then and there in December of 2001, to go back, but to do it differently this time. I have, and I still do, and God willing will be doing so for a very very long time...

I had 2 cousins who were NYFD on 09-11-01. A father and a son. Brian the son, was a new recruit waiting to go to the academy, He was working EMS at Ground Zero and lived to tell about it. He was delivering victims to St. Vincent's hospital when the first tower fell. His dad, Joe, wanted to be down there too, but he was directed to Shea Stadium. Joe, a fire Lieutenant, was one of the first guys there. His job was to set up the command station which would serve as headquarters to get guys to units that needed them.

After 2 days of no sleeping, Joe was allowed to leave Shea. He went directly to Ground Zero. He was looking for his friend Capt. Brian Hickey. Brian was one of NYFD's most decorated heroes. He was the man responsible for Joseph's going into the NYFD. He was my friend and client. He was lost in the rubble. It was his first tour back after having been injured in the Father's Day Astoria Lumber fire in June of '01. Joe was there, day and night, until they found some of what was left of Capt. Brian Hickey NYFD.

Last year, we buried Lieutenant Joseph Colleluori NYFD. He died of brain cancer. The kind Ted Kennedy has now. Joe was the picture of health, till the brain tumor showed up. He had never been sick, was checked regularly. He is part of the lawsuit now being brought by responders to the site. I firmly believe his volunteerism killed him at age 52.

My cousin Brian, is still a fireman. Brian's first son, is named Joseph he was born just after his grandfather died. He will carry on the name of one of NY's Bravest.

I do not know anyone here in NY that was not directly touched by the events of 9-11-01. I will die with its memory ingrained in my mind, in my psyche.

It took a year to go to Ground Zero. My father and uncles helped to build those buildings. My friends and family worked in them. I went there often to dine or to work or to just have drinks. I was working on a Scleroderma Fundraiser when they came down. I think a part of every New Yorker came down with those buildings, and the people within them.

I wanted to see them rebuilt, exactly as they were. I also understand, that we all need a place to grieve and remember. The new plan is not perfect, but I have a feeling, like the much maligned Viet Nam Vet Memorial, it will, when finished, be far more beloved than it is in the talking stage.

I do not rank the seminal moments of my lifetime. I have a list: The Assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, and the attempts on Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Regan. John Glenn circling the earth, and The Landing on the Moon. Nixon's resignation, the taking of our embassy and its employees hostage in Iran; The inauguration of Ronald W. Regan. The fall of the (iron) Curtain and the (Berlin) Wall. 9-11-01 is not the greatest or first among these times, but it is the one I will never ever forget, the one that remains the closest, the one that makes me angriest, and the one that leaves me with tears in my eyes, now 7 years later.

So many of the most important things that have affected me, are in fact political. Our reactions to these events ought to be informed, and political. Our remembrance of those taken however is not political. 9-11 took Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, Religious and Atheists, Rich and Poor. Those attacks knew no boundaries. Those that worked to save those that were attacked, asked no political questions. On 9-11-01, at 8:47, we were all just Americans. When I think of 9-11-01 now, I just remember that those that died, were doing the most American thing that one could do. They were working, chasing a dream, and trying to do their best to make things a little better for someone that day.

May God Bless the fallen, and May God bless those that remember, and most of all, May God Bless America.