Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tony(c) Award Best New Voice: Sharon And Her Blog Red Shoe Ramblings

The Tony(c) Award Winner for Best New Voice in the legal Blogoshpere goes to Red Shoe Rambling and its vivacious and energetic author Sharon.

I met Sharon through her Twitter persona No Reins Girl. Her tweets were sassy and filled with positive statement. Her Avatar was a sexy picture of a woman holding a pair of red shoes. I was hooked from her first tweet.

I got to know Sharon through her thoughtful tweeting and then learned she had just been accepted to law school and would be starting law school very soon (January). We then had the chance to speak. I learned that she was blogging and I began to follow her blog. I have not heard a voice as interesting in the law school blogosphere since Energy Spatula stopped blogging.

I am excited for No Reins Girl. She still has that unjaded view of the good lawyers can do for others. She is excited about learning about the law as an academic pursuit as well as a "trade". Her most recent post is just like her. She is already sharing what she knows.

Now don't go off thinking No Reins Girl is some kind of Cock-eyed optimist or another lil' star struck law school wannabe. Nope Sharon does not suffer fools and she has a quick wit. That means she has an ability to cut one to the quick and do it fast. I expect as she starts to deal with some of the "Law school regulars" I think we will see a lot of her more biting side come through. Always the lady though I suspect we may have to read the post a couple of times to really catch the "meaning" of the stilletto sharp sarcasm.

I also predict her law school colleagues both at her law school and on line are going to learn a lot from her. More importantly we older colleagues are going to re-learn a lot too.

The Tony(c) Award for Best New Voice on a Legal Blog for 2008 is Sharon and Red Shoe Ramblings. Congratulations and please all have a happy and safe New Year's eve.

Tune in tomorrow for the last of the Tony(C) awards the Best Criminal Law Blog.

See you in 2009.

Free Ride Home For HS Students IN SYOSSET-WOODBURY, PLAINVIEW/OLD BETHPAGE , or JERICHO SCHOOLS Stranded on New Year's Eve: NO DWI'S TONIGHT!!

This New Year's Eve I am offering any High School Student at any High School located in the Plainview/Old Bethpage, Syosset-Woodbury or Jericho-Brookville School Districts, a free ride home from a party, bar or Train Station (Hicksville or Syosset stations) in those school district boundries, if:

1. You are too drunk to drive home

of

2. You do not have a safe ride home because the person driving You is intoxicated.

For a driver under 21 on Long Island that means if you had more than 1 drink and you are 100lbs or 2 drinks and are 150lbs or 3 drinks and 200lbs YOU ARE NOT SAFE TO DRIVE!!!

All you have to do is call 516-741-3400 and request a ride. The service will be provided between 11PM tonight December 31 2008 and 7AM January 1st 2009.

Doesn't matter if the intoxication is by drugs or alcohol. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. I will even arrange to have your car brought to your home the next day!!

That is right, if you have no way to safely and legally get home I will either pick you up, or have a car service pick you up, on my tab, and Drive You HOME.

No one needs to be arrested tonight. No High School parent needs to call me in the middle of the night to tell me that his or her son or daughter is lying in a hospital, or sitting in a cell because of a driving while intoxicated issue in the Syosset-Woodbury, Plainview or Jericho-Brookville school districts on Long Island. All rides are courtesy of:

The Law Offices of Anthony J. Colleluori & Associates, PLLC
180 Froehlich Farm Blvd.
Woodbury, NY 11797

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tony(c) Award for Best PD Blog :Gideon at A Public Defender


Being a Public Defender (and in that I am also including members of the Legal Aid Society) is difficult work. Usually thankless work they get the hardest of the cases & clients. Public Defenders have the worst working conditions, carrying big case loads and the pay is... well modest would probably be a pay raise for most. Given those realities, that someone takes the time to blog is in and of itself a wonder. That a PD takes the time to put together a blog as well done as the one I honor is amazing.

Although I don't always agree with Gideon, He is without a doubt the best PD Blogger I have read this year. Gideon can be biting, is usually witty, and often controversial. In addition, he is unabashedly pro public defense and more importantly pro public defender. In fact he chooses to honor his colleagues in two ways. One he has named his blog "A Public Defender" two is that he remains anonymous. His name is not attached to the blog. Any PD could be authoring this blog, at least any Connecticut Attorney

Now earlier this year we had a disagreement over how I value PD work. I do not wish to rehash the argument. I do think however that if all lawyers much less PD's brought Gideon's attitude to the office, there would be far less unhappy clients in the world.

It is my pleasure to award a Tony(c) Award to "A Public Defender" and its author, the anonymous Gideon.

Tony(c) Award For Best NY Blawgger: JaneAnne Murray for NY Federal Criminal Practice Blog


The Tony(c) Award for the "Best NY Blawgger" (that is a writer who blogs about legal topics in NY) goes to JaneAnne Murray for her blog "NY Federal Criminal Practice Blog." JaneAnne's writing is crisp and understandable. The Blog reads like a law schoolstudent's recitation brief on a casebook case. Her analysis of the cases is clear and understandable. It is also a great niche blog.

I loved the way JaneAnne Murray covered Judge Weinstein's decision in US v. Polizzi which I covered in a post yesterday. She took a complex, 288 page, tome on sentencing and other issues, and whittled it down to a few paragraphs laid out brief style. The facts, holdings, and synthesis is clear to any attorney having to work with this case.

The fact that the blog is a little light on links and analysis on some of the bigger cases leaves room to improve. Covering the large amount of decisions she covers in the circuit (a circuit that has 2 of the most cited US District Courts and one of the top 3 cited US Circuit Courts of Appeal) Ms. Murray has a lot of cases to comb through and brief. Additionally, unlike most state court decisions(which generally run a few pages) these decisions are long and often tedious. I think her blog is a useful tool for research, and a definite worth-while read if one is just trying to keep up with criminal practice in one of the busiest US Circuits in the country.

Thus The Tony(c) Award for the Best NY Centric Legal Blog goes to NY Federal Criminal Practice Blog. Congratulations.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Let's Stop Lying to the Jury: The Case for Warning Jurors About Acquitted Conduct




Earlier this year US District Court Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of NY, one of the most reviled and respected judges on the US District Court Bench, issued a Magnum Opus of a decision. The 288 page tome has been roundly criticized by academics, politicians and prosecutors (as if there was really a difference) as a waste of judicial assets and paper. The case, United States v. Polizzi, 06 CR 22 (JBW), 2008 WL 1886006 (E.D.N.Y. April 1, 2008) held that Judge Weinstein erred when he failed to tell the jury of the potential effects of a guilty verdict in a case of possession of child pornography under the US Sentencing Guidelines. Weinstein reasoned that a jury in colonial times would have known what the potential sentences would have been, and an originalist view of the US Constitution would permit that jury to ignore the law and manipulated the verdict if it felt the law did not reflect the view of society as reflected by the jury. (Today we call that Jury Nullification See the John Peter Zanger verdict)

Many so called conservative (but I note not libertarian) bloggers were unhappy with the decision. Many think that the case will be overturned in the Second Circuit. Weinstein however makes a point however; juries do play with verdicts.

This "playfulness" comes in two forms, the aforementioned Jury Nullification (which is uncommon but works in favor of an accused) and the more common "Jury Compromise" (where the jury is otherwise deadlocked between guilt and not guilty so to appease one side or the other the jury "compromises" and convicts of something less than charged. This usually although doesn't always work against the accused), but it is still however a conviction on less than a reasonable doubt standard. An accused is owed the benefit of a doubt, not a compromise.


Now prosecutors and other "law and order" types hate Jury nullification. Yet somehow these clarions of justice find it just fine for the jury to act on less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt in convicting an accused.

On the other hand, it is wrong to mislead the jury as to facts. In other words, if a lawyer knows a fact to be untrue, he is forbidden to argue it to a jury. Hence recently a lawyer was sanctioned very severely for telling a jury that her client was "mild mannered" when in fact she had kept his actual violent behavior out of the case through a Motion in Limine.

Notwithstanding that, Judges in Federal cases mislead jurors all the time (see the Bazelton dissent) by not telling them about their power to nullify. Not telling a jury that their failure to acquit a defendant of all related conduct exposes the defendant to having the conduct for which he was acquitted used against him to enhance his sentence. In fact, the judge can use the acquitted conduct to enhance the sentence so much, that the resulting sentence can be high enough to render the acquittal a nullity. In other words, we are not telling jurors that their decision to acquit doesn't count for sh.... well you can rhyme it yourself.

We tell jurors that serving on a jury is an important and that their voice counts, but we yet through the use of acquitted conduct, we lie to them. Dress it up any way you want to, when jurors find out that defendants are sentenced to far more time in jail than they thought was appropriate for the crime the accused was actually convicted, they feel like their work didn't matter. To them it doesn't matter how we lawyer types word it, they were ignored.(My colleague and "blog as marketing" sparring partner Scott Greenfield has a great step by step explanation of how we lawyer types "explain" such nonsense)

Continued use of acquitted conduct hurts jurors even more when a jury works hard to come to a decision. If it is deadlocked, we demand it return to come to a decision. If it then decides to compromise, an activity we know they partake in, only to find that their compromise meant nothing and they were better off to just hang their verdict they feel cheated (almost as much as the accused does).

We have been at this charade for better than 20 years. Acquitted conduct is part of the USSG but the advent of the Internet makes this kind of behavior really well known. How long before jurors refuse to sit, or catch on and lose all respect for the criminal justice system altogether?

One way to handle this, is to explain to the jury, that compromise verdicts are not legal.Compromises that are based on less than every juror believing that every element of every charge was proven beyond a reasonable doubt is cheating the parties of a fair trial. Tell them that a conviction on any related count will result in the court being allowed to use the acquitted related behavior to enhance the sentence of an accused to what it would have been if the accused had been convicted of the higher charges in the first place. And let's add to the Allen charge the following: a compromise verdict is not what we seek. We would rather you return as a hung jury, than reach a compromise that left anyone unconvinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a charge was proven.

To do anything less than tell that to a jury, cheapens the work that they do, and frankly cheapens the verdict they render.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Tony(c) Award for Best Law Practice Management Blog Goes To: My Shingle



Law Practice Management for the Solo and Small Practitioner is the difference between demise and survival. Network marketing, hiring staff, CLE, SEO, M.O.U.S.E. (that one is a joke understood best by those who are baby boomers) and others skills are not taught but are expected of a solo or small firm lawyer. Not only do we know how to advise others on how to run their businesses, but we are expected to know how to run ours.

Law Practice Management blogs are a good way to save the money on the book and stay up to date on changes in managing one's office and staff. If a young lawyer asked me what is the one thing I wish I had when starting my office, it would be the Internet. The one thing I would want in addition would be access to Law Practice Management bloggers. I especially favor those that blog for the solo/small firm member.

There are many blogs that focus on this area of practice. Some are from people who make a living coaching others to be better lawyers. Allison Shield's Legal Ease Blog is a good example of the best of that genre. Others are Bar Association blogs where the primary job of the writer is to help others succeed in opening and maintaining a practice.

Then there are bloggers who are practicing lawyers who are willing to focus there blogs on issues involving law practice management. Today I honor one of those bloggers: Carolyn Elefant and her blog My Shingle

My Shingle is a very well written blog. It encourages people to take the plunge into solo and small firm law. It extols the virtue of being in charge of one's shop while not sugar coating the experience. Moreover it is a cornucopia of links to ideas and items that can help the lawyer better run his office.

Carolyn is an active Tweeter on Twitter and also gives a lot of time to solo and small practitoner groups. Again, I have spoken with Carolyn and much like Dennis Kennedy she always tries to make herself available to bloggers and others starting out in the practice of law.

While awarding Carolyn this years Tony(c) award probably make me ineligble to win anything over at her site(she runs great contests), (and for a Presidential Pardon as well) it is the right thing to do.

Thus this year's winner of the Tony(c) award for Law Practice Management Blog is My Shingle.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas: A Dad Fable

Every writer, blogger, priest and politician hopes to come up with something profound to write tonight. Something that will help people take the spirit of the birth of the Christ child into the new year, and make this spirit part of their daily lives.

The truth is, Christmas is special because it is hard to live this way everyday. Imagine however if we did.

Imagine if you can, a world where we see the other guys point of view, and he saw ours. Imagine a world, where we made it our business not to close our eyes at night until we made a positive difference in someones life that day. Imagine a life, were those that did the most for others, were the ones who attained the riches, where those that gave the most, not those that took the most,received the most.

My dad used to tell us a story about a poor man who walked onto a big estate. The Master's house had been empty for many years as the Master had been away fighting wars for the emperor, others rented from him their homes, but since the Master had been away, no one had collected the rents.

As the old man approached the first home on the estate, a terrible snowstorm whipped about him. The man was dressed as a rag man, he looked tired, old, and poor. He came to a house of a woman and he asked her for a loaf of bread. She looked at the bread in her home and said to herself, "I have a loaf, but if I give him my whole loaf I will go hungry." She returned with a two slices and said, "I have one loaf but if I give it all to you, I will have nothing." The traveler thanked her but refused her "hospitality".

At the next house he again came to the door. There was a party going on inside. He asked for a loaf of bread and again explained he had come far and had not eaten, but the hostess who had more than five loaves of bread brought only a few slices back and said, "I have five loaves of Bread, but I am having a party and I can't take a chance I will run out."

He again thanked her, and went on his way. He walked from home to home on the estate, and all he was ever offered was but a slice or two from the loaves that were available.

At the last house he came to, he notice that it was a clean home, but it was clear that the residents were of modest means. When he knocked on the door, the woman of the house opened the door and inside the home there was a house full of children and a Christmas tree inside. There were stockings by the fireplace. A tired man sat at the head of the table. The old man made his request of the woman. She asked him into the home. Then she took the only loaf of bread that she had, and gave it to the old man. She gave him the rest of the food in her cupboard, and at the end of the meal, the old man and the head of the household shared the last of the wine.

The old man stood, and as he was about to take his leave he asked of the woman and man, why they had been so generous. They had given him the last of all they had. The man said,
"You are wrong. We have plenty. We have 5 strong sons and 3 beautiful daughters. All of them, my wife and I are healthy. We have a generous landlord who while he has been away at war, has allowed us to remain on his estate rent free. Finally we have faith that tomorrow, when we are hungry, God will provide us with an opportunity to fill our stomachs. We do not have a lot of material things. But what we have, all of the money in the world cannot buy. We are the richest family on this estate."


The old man looked around and smiled. He thanked the man and woman for their hospitality, and patted each child, and took his leave.


The next day, the ells at the Master's house rang out. He had returned from the war and all who lived on the estate were to come to him. They all came wearing their best clothes and bringing food and gifts.

The Master looked out upon them. He was tall and regal. He was clean shaven and well dressed. He thanked them for their gifts and then said to the couple who had all the children "Where are your gifts?" The father spoke up, "Our gifts sire, are our children. We are here to till your fields and work in your home. we cannot afford presents."

The Master asked why they had not brought any food to the feast and the father told the Master about the visitor the night before. "I have not had the chance to get more food nor has my wife had a chance to bake more bread."

The Master then smiled. He looked at the residents of his estate and said
"This man and woman, fed me last night when I was hungry. They sheltered me from the storm. They gave me their last drop of wine. You all had more than they, you all have partaken of my hospitality, yet when I was hungry, you gave me crumbs from your table. These people, though they only had crumbs, shared them with me. They did not know when I would be coming, yet they treat everyone as if they were I."


The other residents gasped in the realization that the beggar man from the night before had been the Master of the Estate. "Master" they all said if we knew that it were you, we would have given you all we had too."

He roared out at them "You know not when the Master will come! You should treat all as if they were your Master.Then you will not have to worry that you did not recognize me!!"

The master continued:

"I am leaving to return to the lands that I have conquered for our emperor. I have been made Governor, and I will have an estate there twice as big as this one. I have decided to give this estate to one of you to collect the rents and to do what he will with the land and its bounty. I have chosen to give the land of my Estate, to the people who took in a stranger last night, and with the last bit of food and drink that they had, provided for him."

And with that the poor man and his wife became the owners of the estate, and never wanted for anything again.


Imagine if we constantly remembered that God is always around us, and that when we act charitably towards another in his flock , He sets a place at his table, and provides an estate for us in Heaven. Imagine what the world would be like if we all remembered my Dad's fable.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and a Happy and Healthy New Year too.

Tony"That Lawyer Dude" Colleluori and Family.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Around the Blogosphere the Week of 12/14/08-12/20/08: Part III- In and Around NY and Long Island

IN part III of this trip around the Blogosphere I found myself looking at some of the things happening in legal life around "here." ("Here" is Long Island and the five boroughs of NYC)

1. In the News on Long Island; Freaky Driving stories:

A. From Newsday (off twitter feed): A Long Island woman jumps from a moving SUV because the driver didn't want to take her to a bar. He wanted to eat dinner. She died. I heard of dying for a drink, but this one is ridiculous.

B. Also from Newsday Suffolk County Cops taze a 62 year old driver who is experiencing bleeding on the brain. He refused to follow orders of cops, they pull him over, he won't get out of car, they taze him, have to then take him to the hospital and wind up saving his life... Now that is making Lemonade from lemons.

2. The Agitator has this post on the indictment of a NYC Police Officer who attacked a guy on a bike, then arrested the guy for running into him!! The officer probably would have succeeded in getting the bicyclist busted on Felony charges had there not been somebody there with a camera phone taking a movie of the incident. The camera man gave his recording to reporters and the cop is now the first cop to be indicted for "Testilying" in as long as I can remember. Radley of course uses the indictment as a teaching opportunity. He scolds Pennsylvania prosecutors for using an old privacy law to allow cops to prosecute people who take photos of them while they "fail" to do their jobs.

3.NYS Governor David Patterson will be appointing a new Jr. Senator from NY to replace Hillary Clinton if she becomes the new Secy of State. So far we have Caroline Kennedy and Fran "The Nanny" Dresher. I would love to throw my hat in the ring too, as it seems the only qualification you need is that you have no qualification...
Ok you have to be at least Thirty years old.

Anyway, Kennedy is campaigning for the job (Dresher was on Larry King but she has a snowball chance in hell of getting the job unless she runs for it and gets a voice coach) Now here is the thing
In this story Caroline says she is a "Clinton Democrat". Now that does nothing for me but assuming it does something for a democrat, How can she call herself a Clinton Democrat when she supported Barack Obama against Clinton for President??? (Maybe Caroline is more qualified for the US Senate than we think, she clearly already knows doublespeak.)

Then I notice her voting record in general elections is "spotty". That means sometimes she doesn't chose to vote. Now while it is popular to say that it is everyone's duty to vote, I for one do not agree. I refuse to vote when I think that I am voting for the lesser of two evils. That is usually how I feel when I vote for President and sometimes Governor but at least there are lesser offices I might care about. I also do not vote when I don't know anything about the candidates or their opinions. I see nothing wrong with that. (About not voting, not knowing positions is a different post entirely, sometimes that is not my fault.)

Ms. Kennedy-Schlossberg is not unqualified to be a Senator from NY because she has missed votes, nor because she has never held nor run for public office. She is unqualified because she knows nothing of the needs of New Yorkers and we do not need another celebrity senator coming from this state when there are a number of people who do know what they are talking about and what to do about the issues. Unfortunately none of them are even in Congress right now.

Finally there is this interesting choice for US Senator, one that the Governor should really think about, one who has served our state very well over the last 20+ years and who is well aware of the needs of the people of our state. I think Eric Turkewitz of New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog is on to something when he recommends Chief Judge Judith Kaye who retire in 2 weeks to be our new Junior Senator. The only qualm I have with Eric's post is that he compares Ms. Kennedy with Pres. G.W. Bush. I am sorry Eric, there is no comparison. Caroline was an excellent student and a very good child. She has always been thoughtful and concerned about others while she guarded her privacy. Comparing her to Bush is like comparing the Pope to Saddam Hussein. Still I think Judge Kaye would make a great democrat possibility for US Senate.

4. Finally, The New York State Bar Association has a general Practice committee. It has a blog. The blog written by Leonard Sienko has a lot of important stuff on it. You don't have to be a member of the State Bar to read the Blog. So READ THE BLOG!!

Two important posts:

A. NY has finally adopted the Model Rules for Professional Conduct. It goes into effect in March 2009. I will be blogging on that I imagine a lot in the next few months.

and

B. The IRS is willing to help struggling homeowners refi and sell their homes by allowing Federal Tax liens to take a secondary position to some mortgages. It's a start anyway.


5. Over at the Divorce hotline, Janine Barbera (aka MatMaven) has a post about the way some judges just lord over a court, forgetting the people that use the court are not there to serve them so much as to be served by them. The post is short on facts but that is fair, Janine wants to be able to continue to practice law. Besides if any judge she appeared before in the last couple of days sees himself, then he should CHANGE HIS WAYS!!!

Q: In the meantime here is a quiz... What is the shortest time span known to man??

A: The period of time it takes for a newly minted judge to forget he was ever a practicing lawyer...

Ok that is a generalization, but sadly it is true way too often. Maybe it is something they should address in judge's school.

OK so much for Part III.

Around the Blogosphere the Week of 12/14/08-12/20/08:Part II- Law Office Management

Continuing my trip around the blogosphere with you, we move on to the Second Part of our Journey Law Office Management and Tech posts.

1. Cornell Univ. Legal Information Institute is a really great service providing case law and statutory law for no cost (but you should donate)to users. LII has a new beta program for attorneys to get referrals from other LII users. Go to the NYS General Practice Section Blog for more information. Oh by the way, did I mention that it is free?

2. Susan Cartier-Liebel's Build a Solo Practice Blogis one of the most popular blogs in the legal world. Susan is the founder of the Solo Practice University a great resource for CLE, "bridge the gap" and "develop a new practice area" learning.

In this blog post she shares a new service that can help a solo (or anyone else) organize the business cards they get, loose receipts, as well as other information. Really it is a scanning operation for your stuff, but if you don't have the time to do it yourself, or you just are not going to do it (or you don't own a scanner) then this service is cost effective. It is called Shoeboxed and it looks pretty interesting. I will be checking out myself before the year is out. You may want to do the same.

3. Susan also has a second post that is very important as money for legal services begins to dry up. In her post "When Pricing Your Legal Services, Remember Your Client" Susan suggests that we might want to start understanding what our potential clients are going through financially, and start to think about how we can help them through this difficult stage in their lives. I think if we are just looking at this problem now, we may be too late, but while not answering any questions, Susan raises the issues that are on our clients pricing minds and makes us think about these issues too. Which leads me too our next post:

4. The Dirty Thirteen, or as the post writer (the modestly named Greatest American Lawyer) calls it, the Thirteen Worst Things About Hourly Billing.

As a long time fan of "Value" billing I see the last two posts going hand in hand. I will have my own Value billing post up in a couple of days (weeks?) and will discuss it further, but I want to say one thing now: In a time of economic uncertainty, the two things a client wants most is a fee certain, and a fair shake. Value billing provides both.

5.Allison Shields is the President of Legal Ease Consulting and is a business consultant for law firms. She also writes another really great legal business blog by the name Legal Ease Blog.(What else would you call it if you were she?)

In her recent post she talks about "When E-mail Isn't Appropriate."

I have to say that I disagree to an extent with Allison. In a day and age where time is money, and money is scarce; where clients complain that lawyers do not communicate enough, I think E-mail, text messaging, and now Twitter Direct messaging, can really reduce client anxiety. I will agree with her on one point however, if you will be bringing important information to a client by electronic medium, it is only fair to the client to make yourself or another in your office available to answer any questions your client may have thereafter.

I find the best way to do this is to send the e-mail late in the day so that the client will get it in the morning (if it is more urgent than that, I pick up the phone.) I then ask that they respond with questions which I can peruse while waiting in court; answer from my blackberry; or call my secretary or associate to help me respond. Then I return calls at the end of the day, or at least I try to. I am not perfect but I am improving.

6.Your best source of new business is your present client. If you are in a practice area that doesn't lend itself to clients who have other legal matters you could work on (like Criminal law for example)then you need to constantly look for new work or referral sources. This post on the Rainmaker Blog gives some excellent suggestions and ideas. It is worth the read.

Well that is two posts down but I have a few more to go. I will have more for you in a little while.

Around the Blogosphere the Week of 12/14/08-12/20/08: Part I- Twitter Posts

Here is the deal: This was a pretty good week for blawggers. We had the Madoff thing, the Blago thing, and well, lots of things. We have bloggers finishing their year off with ideas for next year, and we have best of lists for this year (including my Tony(c) Awards). I had some extra time for reading this week and thought I would give you the best of my week.

That meant culling well over 1400 blog posts and Twitter links galore. So I have decided to give you "the best of this weeks blogosphere" in a bunch of posts with various central themes. The goal is to get at least three out on Sunday, and as many as necessary to finish the project up on Monday. Lets see how we do.

We will begin with Twitter links.

These are links to articles I have seen because a fellow tweeter (a person who uses twitter) directed me to the post and I found it interesting. Many of them, as you might imagine deal with this new found information and social networking site itself.

1. The Year in Tweets- Mashable's Ten Biggest Twitter "Moments". My favorites were all the election tweets and the coverage from on the scene at Mumbia India.

2. This video about taking your office paperless was pretty informative but of course the devil is in the details. I am not ready for the paperless office. I need to hold something in my hand. I am becoming more comfortable with electronic storage however. I just get nervous about all the crashing and hacking. I may not be completely ready for the E-Generation, but I am trying
Hattip: Small Firm Resource Center

3. Andrea Cannavina is a friend and my virtual secretary. She has a website called Legal Typist and she is DAFT... No I mean she is teaching me DAFT, eh, well, maybe you should read her work yourself and see if it doesn't get you out of your e-mail disorganization. Follow Andrea on Twitter

That about does it for my favorite Twitter links. Oh yeah, you can follow me on Twitter too

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stupid Cops Are As Big a Threat To Kids as Stranger Pedophiles: Two Cases of Keystone Kops Actions That Will Scar Innocent Children For Life

My first civil rights case, was on behalf of a Haitian kid who had the temerity to cut his grandfather's lawn while being black and wearing dreads... no joke.

Three dolt cops were looking for a car with the license plate WTZ 469 my client had a plate, WZT 469. The car they were looking for, a stolen vehicle, was a white SUV. My client's car was a green coupe.

They watched him as he took a lawn mower out of the back of his car, and started to mow the grass at his Grandfather's house. Then these dyslexic cops jumped out of their car, without identifying themsleves, jumped him onto the cement sidewalk causing contusions to his face, and set off a mini-riot as people were yelling at them for arresting an innocent kid. His mom (the rightful owner of the kid's car) pulled up and tried to tell these idiots that the car belonged to her. No matter. They slammed the kid into the vehicle so hard that his face broke the window!!

Backups had to be called in to quell the disturbance, and while that was going on one of the jerks calls into the precinct only to learn they had the wrong car. Now one would figure that such a finding would result in releasing the kid, apologizing and of course telling the kid to contact the department to pay for the damages to his face...Right.

No the cop on the radio informs the patrolman to switch to another "unmonitored" channel and then they have a conversation about how they better arrest the kid and the mother and charge something or they are going to pay a lot of money out to some "%^&ing Lawyer and the kid". So they arrested the kid and the next day his mom.

Case got dismissed and then I sued. Why? Turns out an amateur radio operator was "monitoring" the band the cops used to come up with the story that they were going to tell. There was an internal investigation... No charges brought. My case settled for just under $25k + free medical and attorney's fees. Kid was happy, and at the time, I was happy. Looking back, I wish we had gone whole hog on it, you know trial and all. On the other hand, it was the early 90's and pre-Louima so who knows maybe it would have gone no where and $25K was all we would have gotten. Maybe the press could have cared less. One thing I know, though is that this wasn't isolated in Nassau County NY and it sure as hell isn't isolated in America.


So you can imagine my frustration and anger at reading these 3 posts by Tony(c) award Winner in News blogging The Agitator's Radley Balko

The Dymond Milburn case (posts one and two) especially has my attention. Here is a 12 year old girl, black doing a chore on her own property in Texas. 4 plainclothes cops who are supposed to be looking for 3 white sex workers attack a little girl thinking she is one of the white sex workers??? I am sorry but WTF!!!!.

They are trying to take her away and she is holding onto a try screaming for help. They are beating her up with flashlights and she is afraid she is about to be abducted! Her father comes out and he is tries to explain to these "officers of the law" that the child is 12, a middle school honor student and not a prostitute.
His protests are met with: "I don't care if she is twenty-two, thirty-two or forty-six, tell her to calm down."

Ok, tell me why that asshole shouldn't be shot on the spot by the father? Maybe he had identified himself to the family at that point. Ok don't shoot, but still "I don't care if she is twenty two thirty two or forty six..."??? Screw him, all he wanted was to be in control of a situation that he caused to be out of control in the first place. Oh and did I mention they told her they were gonna shoot her puppy which had come to her aid with barking and biting.

Now for those of you who say that this is only one side, I agree and I still do not care...SHE IS 12. Can anyone imagine what would have happened if one of these Keystone Cops had a taser??

Finally it comes to an end, the kid goes to the hospital for her physical injuries which are fairly serious (two black eyes and wounds to the head consistant with being struck with a flashlight), and the Chief of Galveston Police sends her a dozen roses and an apology right? WRONG!!! No, they go to her SCHOOL three weeks later and arrest her in front of everyone else for resisting arrest and injuring AN OFFICER!! Geeez can they be more arrogant?

If you have the stomach for it, take a look at the complaint. Trust me, if you care an iota about what is left of Civil Rights in this country you better have a barf bag available.

Now even if the first part were entirely made up ala Tawanna Brawley, why did they have to arrest her at school??? SHE IS 12. What part of "12" do these dumb bastards not understand. Call her in, go politely to her home. Why embarass the child? Why is the Governor or Texas not sending his best Assistant Deputy Attorney General and his top State investigator down to Galveston with an order to bring him back some badges?? Maybe it is because Dymond is black, and her parents are poor, and so, well, maybe they think it will go away.

Has anybody seen this on the MSM??? Is Katie Couric focusing on this mess? No, but trust me, I have seen the power of Radley Balko's blog following, and there is about to be some hell to pay. I don't have his readership, but I too am pissed and I want some answers. I will be forwarding this post and a letter to my Congressman and asking that we fix 42 USC 1983 to give it the teeth it had before the SCOTUS and friends dismantled it.

As for the child, Dymond Milburn, she has nightmares about being carried off in the night and being raped by cops. Surprise!


BTW Balko got his story from the Houston Press

Then there is the attack on three kids when SWAT came into their bedroom... well maybe I will have more time for that one later. Oh yeah, the police are still shooting innocent animals too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tony(c) Award for Best Legal Technology Blog: Dennis Kennedy & His Blog Get an Award and an Honor


From this day forward, the Tony(c)Award for Legal Technology Blogging is going to be named for its First recipient: Dennis Kennedy. Dennis is the author of the Dennis Kennedy.Blog

Dennis is responsible for starting me on blogging. It was an article he wrote for the Law Practice Management magazine, which talked about things that would be hot in 2004 that got me thinking about starting a blog of my own. Dennis was right about all of the things he said would be hot. Blogging was a great way for me to get my name out there and for others to think of me as an expert on the things I blogged about.

Over the years, Dennis became a friend. He encouraged my blog and my work. He continues to inform our profession about ideas, gadgets and processes to make our forays into the tech side of things easier. He makes technology fun for us non-techno geeks. He remains on the cutting edge of technology (see his twitter feed and his microblog) and he is a prolific author. He was actually holding tweet-ups before there was a Twitter by hosting blogger cocktail parties at the big tech shows.

Now I will be the first to admit, I don't always understand what Dennis is talking about. If you send him an e-mail however, he is always willing to help, which is actually a really good addition to a blog.

Finally, Dennis is a champion of bloggers. He started me on the idea of handing out an award for bloggers I file. His awards are called The Blawggies. That is what I mean, he has always championed the work of other bloggers. That is very cool, and generous.

I owe a lot to Dennis, and one of the ways I want to thank him for the difference he has made to my life, is to name an award after him, to honor his mentoring of me. So, from here on in, the Tony(c) award for Legal Technology Blogging is named the Dennis Kennedy Memorial Tony(c) Award for Legal Technology Blogging.

That Lawyer Dude to my Anonymous Grammarian: Good Grammer Ain't My Goal

In a comment on the last post a poster posted:

Anonymous said...

Uh, why do you capitalize words that needn't be so? Why do you you write run-on sentences?

As an attorney you really should know proper grammar. This is kind of disturbing to read--for the crimes against written English, not for the content.


In response, did you look at the time it was posted? After a long day in Depositions I got to sit down at the computer and put together a rather long post, which I thought was one of my better ones. I was trying to explain how I came to be part of the Sex Worker's Rights movement, on the day (The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers)it was being recognized. I was, in fact, rushing, and I was not careful. That however is a cop out. What is "more real" is that I am a horrible writer and a worse typist. I am however a pretty good editor when I have the time. Sometimes I do, and other times I don't. If grammar is your thing, don't read this blog on any regular basis. It just isn't my thing. If understanding my take on the world and specifically on crime is why you're here, then please go easy on the grammar stuff. My feelings are easily wounded...NOT!!

BTW Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. It is nice to know someone reads this stuff.

If you would like to read comments that have less grammar than my posts follow me at www.twitter.com/thatlawyerdude

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why I Support Sex Worker's Rights: Part I My Introduction to "Patty"

I couldn't wait for my first case. I was a brand new "Lawyer" in Hofstra University's brand new Criminal Defense Clinic (we hadn't taken the bar yet but we worked under a student practice order while supervised by an admitted attorney). I was getting a case load, and a client or two that I could "help". I was so excited.

When the assignments were announced Doug Colbert (now a Prof at Univ. of Maryland Law but then first director of our clinic at Hofstra Law)had assigned me to a trans-gendered Prostitute!

I was stunned. I thought to myself "how am I gonna do this?" Not only was the guy gay, HE DRESSED LIKE A GIRL!! This was not what I expected. It was also going to be a great personal problem... How was I going to go home and tell my Father and Mother that the son they had spent a life savings on educating, was going to be representing "he-shes?" My Family was going to disown me. Forget my friends. They will all think I flipped! I mean I was Mr. Prosecution at school. I was so conservative, I had actually met and liked President Reagan (still do). "Oh and then what would happen to my political career if I took this case?" NO NO NO I could not represent this...GUY?!

I went to Prof. Colbert, Doug was cool, he would get it. He wouldn't put me with a client I was morally against representing! And I was right!! He wouldn't. He however pointed out a few realities to me:

1. I wanted to help people and my client needed help and a lot of it.

2. My Client needed fearless advocacy and I was fearless (I have no idea why, but this is still basically true. I rarely have ever cared what others thought of me, kind of funny now looking back and thinking I wanted to be in politics. I also always hated bullies.)

3. Morally, I needed to figure out if I could defend anyone, if my morality was more important than the "God given" rights in the US Bill of Rights.

Doug was thought provoking. I went home and spent the whole weekend thinking about what he had to say. I didn't tell the family about my new client. I did a lot of soul searching. I was the first in my Dad's family (along with my cousin Donald who is now a biglaw Corp. litigator) to go to law school. I wanted the others to think what I was doing was important. I figured if nothing else, if this got out I would get a lot of teasing. Well I could live with that. Dad on the other hand was a different story. He was CONSERVATIVE. I didn't think he would like this at all.

As luck would have it, my aunt Rosie, (who was in High School when I was born and is closer in age to me than to my mom, her sister) came over for dinner with my grandparents. She was very excited about her work. Rosie was a Medical Doctor (MD) and an Infectious Disease specialist. She was going to be a co-director of a clinic to help people who were very sick and dying from a "new plague" it was called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). She was describing some of her clients and the work. She was way ahead of the reporting on the matter. She was telling us about how it was a scourge of the Gay community. She described the suffering of these people. The fear, the ugly death. Her frustration with the lack of funding because it seemed to be a disease that homosexuals got. No one wanted to come out and help them. I asked Roe, who is very religious, about whether she had qualms about helping "that group of people." She mentioned that our religion left judgment up to God. That all of her clients were God's children. I thought about that a lot too.

When dinner was finished, I took Rosie aside, and told her about my client. She was so excited for me. She was happy that I would use my talent to help people others had abandoned. With her encouragement, I told my dad I had a client. I told him about the crime, and about the client. Then I waited. He looked at me and then he said, "Everyone deserves a defense."

Now for most people that line wouldn't have sounded too good, but dad was a man of few words, and that was a full out message of support. I promised him that he would get the best defense anyone would give him. Dad's response was perfect... "Good,sounds like he needs it. Do the best you can". I was very happy, that was a huge hurdle. He probably wasn't happy with the situation, but at least he would support me in the endeavor.

I thought a lot about this client. A lot about how I would act when I met him, a lot about what I would say in his defense. The following Monday, I told Colbert that while I was still somewhat uncomfortable, I wanted to try to represent him.

When I met Patty, I immediately became angry. She described her treatment at the hands of the Johns and the Cops. She told me about how they would abuse her. How she was often the victim of crimes from johns, gangbangers (who wanted to prove their "manhood") and how if she went to police, they would beat her up, berate her, feel up her breasts (she was pre op) and toss her out of the precinct. Her family was completely repulsed by her. Worst of all, she had a bad drug problem, yet she was not allowed into the local clinic. They were afraid she might be carrying "the virus".

This was the most marginalized person I had ever met. Black, gay, transgendered, abandoned by society, family, government. She had no one. Well she had me, and my friend Sab who was co-counsel. Neither one of us had passed the bar, neither one of us had ever been in charge of a case before, and neither one of us were ok with Patty's sexuality, but we were sure that we weren't going to let her get run over by the government again.

We went to court that week and told the judge we weren't going to accept the plea offer to the charge and his "generous offer" of 30 days in jail. We were going to call the john as a witness and we wanted motions and hearings. He thought we were nuts. We brought him a subpoena for police records and we even filed a motion to declare the law she was arrested under unconstitutional.

In the end, the District attorney's office offered to allow Patty to plead guilty to "Disorderly Conduct" and the judge agreed to a fine of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars. Sab pointed out to the court that Patty would have to give 12 blow jobs (they went for Twenty dollars each on the streets of Hempstead back then) to afford the fine. I pointed out that it might cause a lot of people to become ill. The judge thought about it, asked how much she had in her purse and accepted the forty dollars she had. She then said she wouldn't have bus fare back to Hempstead. Sab joked loud enough for the judge to hear, that she could probably make a fast buck at the bus station around the corner from the court. The judge lowered the fine to Twenty five dollars and Patty walked out thanking us and promising to tell all the "girls" on Main street about what we accomplished for her.

I went home that afternoon and waited for dad to get home from work (he owned a construction company.) I couldn't wait to tell him how I did. I told him everything. He beamed in that quiet way of his. Then he smiled, "Sounds like you guys did a great job" He got up, and walked to the dinner table, and we had dinner, and Dad encouraged me to tell mom about my day. She wasn't comfortable with my decision to go into criminal defense, and she was not into my representing poor, transgendered/transvestite, male prostitutes, but she followed dad's lead and congratulated me. She added that she hoped my next client was more "normal", and we went on to dinner conversation that was more appropriate for supper at my family's house.

As a kid growing up, I guess I would say I was mildly homophobic. I wasn't against them per se, I just wasn't comfortable around them. I had no interest in hurting them, I just wasn't interested in their problems or issues. Patty was the first step in a career where I have represented many people who work in the sex industry. My comfort level and acceptance level rose as I began to realize that I liked some of them and didn't like others. Some were good people and others were not. I learned they had dreams and hopes, same as me. I found myself mourning a lot of these men and women as AIDS decimated the community. I find that I miss many of them.

Now that my career has taken a turn toward more "normal" clients I still cannot forget the men and women who work, either by choice or happenstance, in the sex industry and who as a society we continue to marginalize. I know from dozens of first hand observations how that marginalization, makes them exceptionally vulnerable to crime, medical issues, suicide and homelessness. I also refuse to turn my back on them. I still accept their cases in court assignments and for those that are more "successful" I take them on as private clients. I have instituted office policies and trained staff not to judge their lives or choices. I want to make the experience as comfortable for every client as I can. I have learned to work in a team approach with doctors, therapists and others to handle these clients as best as I can.

To this day, I hear my dad's voice, accepting my choice to use my education on behalf of anyone who the government has targeted. I do the very best I can.

Today was the The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. There were walks and vigils attended by anywhere from a handful of people to thousands.

Next Monday would have been my dad's 76th Birthday.

Today, I honor both of these events. And Dad, I still miss you, everyday.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy 50th Birthday Dr. David Leach of the Tampa Eye Clinic.

On my drive up to Albany NY yesterday, I received a strange text message on my cell phone. It said
"Hello. We have not heard from Fred. Any word on whether his cell is operational?


I noted the area code number and wondered who I knew named Fred. I only know one person, my son's roommate at College. I had no idea if the person was talking about him or why he might be texting me. As it turned out, the texter was Fred's dad whom I have heard quite a bit about but haven't met. Fred and Sal have roomed together since Freshman year. They are juniors. As dads we both were happy that they had found each other, as the two boys seemed to be good for each other.

After the call, I thought about 1977 in cold snowy Boston. My College roommate at Tufts David Hayes Leach. He was a lanky basketball playing kid from Michigan's U.P. He is now a Eye surgeon in Tampa, Florida. We don't see each other much, but it doesn't matter, he will forever be a brother to me. I grew up with a sister I am very fond of, but it wasn't the same thing. In Dave (we used to call him Doc b/c that was his undying goal) I had a confidant, a sounding board and a partner in crime.

We had different majors and goals so there was no competition. We had each other's back. We were very different. People couldn't figure out how the hell we didn't kill each other. Dave was a tall slim blond haired boy and a HS basketball star. I was shorter dark and rounder and I led the pep band in HS and was in the choir. He was quiet, I was outspoken, He was neat, I was sloppy, He studied all the time, I studied when I had the time.

Nevertheless, We got along because when it came down to it, we lived by the same code. We treated each other the way we wanted to be treated. We kept our word to each other, and there was no question about what we had promised, because we both went beyond what we would promise. We treated each other with respect. Yeah we had fights and arguments, but we always tried to see the other guys point, at least after we calmed down. We tried to work it out before we went our separate ways. We both realized how lucky we were to find a roommate who was as good as the one we had found in each other.

We were generally interested in each other's family. I really enjoyed talking to his sisters, brother and folks. My folks and whole big Italian extended family adopted him. I never came back without a care package of NY Bagels and fresh Mozzarella wrapped around Prosciutto for him to melt on the bagel for breakfast. If I bought supplies, Dave bought dinner. If either of us had a party, we always invited the other. We might argue between ourselves, but to the world, we were a united front.

After graduation, we stayed in touch. I married first, and Doc was my best man. He is also my son Salvatore's Godfather, a very honored position in an Italian family. As MaryRose and I went through our marriage, I always had Dave to run ideas past.

Dave married a few years later and has two beautiful children. I am sure neither of us had anything to do with how beautiful the kids are. Thank Goodness we both married beautiful women. Dave's wife Nancy had to get used to the uh "interesting" ways we would greet each other on phone calls or messages (we had to stop after we both had kids...)I was in his wedding party, and MaryRose and I were treated at the wedding as if we were part of his family.

I was in Tampa recently. Our schedules were impossible, but Doc got up really early to take me to breakfast and show me around Tampa. I saw ads on signs that told others about Dave's skill in eye surgery. I saw the awards and heard the accolades. No surprises there. Even a blind gypsy would have predicted Dave's success.

Today, Dr. David Leach, turned 50. Our relationship has lasted more than 32 years. I am in cold wintry Albany tonight. I wish I was there, but my thoughts are with Dave in warm Tampa Florida, and his beautiful family. I miss my brother, but I know, that the next time I pick up the phone and he is on the other end of it, I will be talking to my brother.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOC. Nancy, take care of the old guy, we can't have him falling out of his chair, he might break something he needs...

This Week Around the Blogosphere: Good Trial Technique Suggestions and the Case of Julie Amero.

I know I am supposed to get this out on Sundays but with the Tony(c) awards and the Giants and Jets both in first place in their divisions and my weekly haul up to Albany to handle Depositions in a Civil Rights cases there, I am a little behind. So lets get to them.


Blonde Justice has started a series on trial prep. Blondie usually keeps her posts light and talky but she is clearly a good attorney and has a lot to share and I am always happy to see her share her valuable knowledge with us.

In Reason Magazine online, TONY(c) AWARD WINNER IN NEWS Radley Balko hits a home run with this post on the strange case of Julie Amero, the middle school substitute teacher accused of endangering the welfare of minors when X-Rated Popup ads for X-rated websites kept attacking her computer at school and she couldn't or didn't shut it down fast enough for the kiddies not to see (wonder how many of these suburban yuppie kids have the Playboy Channel plugged into their homes on cable?) Anyway, when the techies found out that the poor lady might go to jail because she had malware on her computer they helped her fight back against the puritanical Conn. State's Attorney's office. They won. Balko was a part of that fight. After looking at my stat counter from last week, it seems he is a good guy to have on your side.

As a lawyer who is constantly fighting the fight to keep good people from being labeled sex fiends by Megan Law Crazy prosecutors, in the latest Internet sex persecution, I mean Prosecution, scam, I appreciate the work done in the Amero case by the experts who came to her aid. Read the article. It is a good one.

Prolific blogger and lawyer Robert Ambrogi has put up his list of the Top 10 Expert Witness cases of the Year 2008 here. I would like to add the case of Shorty Rodrieguez where yours truly kept the governments ballistics expert from testifying on "muzzle to wound" Distance in a gun-shot case.

Winning Trial Advocacy Blog has this very good advice about taking time each month to look at your active files and make sure T's are crossed and i's are dotted. It may seem like simple advice but it is a good idea to do a regular file review and see what you have missed or what else you can do on a case. It will certainly impress the clients that you are so up to date on their files.

Last but not least was this macabre and odd little story in Time Magaizine online, about an actor who almost killed himself onstage when someone put a real knife out where the prop should have been a fake knife. In the play the actor slits his throat but this was for real.
People just didn't know it. Scary.
In the actor's next role, his character dies by gunshot wound to the head... as Time suggests, Someone ought to check out that gun first...

Ok most of the leads for these stories come from Twitter. If you are not on Twitter.com, What are you waiting for???" and if you are on Twitter, YOU BEST BE FOLLOWING ME!!! LOL

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tony(c) Award for Best Relationship and Sex Blog: Sex, Lies and Dating in the City



I had such a huge boost in readers after announcing that The Agitator was my favorite News Blog. If you are still reading me after visiting from Radley's blog welcome. Stay around and let me know what you think.

Today I am announcing my Favorite Relationship and Sex blog.
Now this is a very difficult category to choose because each blogger is really telling their own story. There is the heartbreaking story that is Rebecca Deos outing as a sex worker and how she and her family are being attacked in her small home town.

Then there is the very compelling story of the Debauched Domestic Diva telling the story of her going from seemingly happy housewife to an affair with another blogger that almost tore her marriage apart. Diva's journey to understand her marriage, her needs and her world are riveting. It read like a novel. Read it from its first post.

There are actually dozens of these personal glimpses that are well written and cover the gamut from sex worker to people learning about their own sexuality or relationships.

Some of the writers I read are friends from work. I know them from the clubs I represent or from e-mails they have sent to me seeking legal advice about their work. Others I haven't met but have befriended on Twitter or through their blogs or from my support for Sex Workers rights. In fact the blog supporting the NYC SexBloggers 2008 Calendar is one of my favorites. These additional ties make this a very tough decision.

In the end though, I chose to honor with a Tony(c)Award Sex Lies and Dating in the City.

If there is anything a man wants to know, it is what is in the mind of a woman. How do they see us? What are they feeling?? Why do they freak out when we check our e-mail on the dating site we met them on???

Well while the answers are not spoon fed to us, SINgleGIRL (the anonymous blogger who writes the blog) speaks her feelings and her truths about dating and life as a cosmopolitan single girl. It should be required reading for all young men. Old men (like me) can learn a thing or two about women too.

SLD is a well written blog that exposes the writers disappointments excitement and realizations about the dating scene. As her name says, she is not too shy about sharing the SIN in SINGLE either. Now she has added the HNT (Half Naked Thursday) posts we see that in addition to being smart and witty, she is also quite pretty. (Don't worry, while provocative, they are SFW.)

SINgleGIRL is beginning a new relationship. Mr. Potential seems to be making some good moves although the bozo better stop checking out his dating site e-mails. Now is probably as good a time as any to check out this blog.

SINgleGIRL. you are the Winner of the Tony(c) Award for Relationship and Sex blog for your blog Sex Lies and Dating in the City.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Just Some Interesting Links

A court found a 91 year old man who hallucinates due to dementia legally able to stand trial on a murder. He killed a nursing home attendant who happened to come into his room. He thought the guy was an intruder. God Bless the Criminal Defense Lawyer in that one.

Hattip: ABA Journal News Now.

Haven't blogged about the sale of the Obama Senate seat. Why? Cause everyone else has. I did wonder why I hadn't seen a high profile NY Washington or Chicago White Collar lawyer on the matter. This post From the Online Wall Street Journal tells us. The Governor of Illinois can't pay his legal bills.

Finally I found this interesting piece on adult entertainment and law. It deals with how feminists can impove the Porn biz. What I find interesting in it is that here is another pro-sex Feminist. Like Camille Paglia, Tatiana Von Tauber is saying that feminists that rage against women in porn are not any more interested in women making decisions about their body than Phyllis Schlafly. They just want to control them in their own way. If Feminism is to mean anything, it means that women have the same rights to use their bodies any way they want the same way as men can. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Hattip: The Legal Satyricon.

NYS Democrats Should NOT Be Given Gun Permits. They Have a Habit of Shooting Themselves in the Foot: NYS Senate May Not Have a Democrat Majority.

What an interesting time to be in Albany.
According to yesterday's NY Times, last night the "agreement" that would have kept the 3 renegade NYS Senate members in the Democrat caucus has broken up with allegations of lying, cheating and misrepresentation going back and forth between the Renegade 3 and Senator Malcolm Smith, who was the Senate Minority leader in the last session but was due to be the President Pro Tem in the new Session and thus the "Majority Leader" (one of the three renegades known as the Gang of Three would have held the title but we have to assume Smith would have been the real leader.)

I didn't like the deal between these three guys and Smith. Then again I am not crazy about Smith as leader either. Smith is no David Patterson (who was the minority leader until he went to the Lt. Governor's job and was promoted to Governor when Then Governor Elliot Spitzer resigned after being caught in a Federal investigation into prostitution...and you think Illinois is a screwed up state. I just think it is less interesting than NY politics).

Unlike Patterson, Smith carries a band with him everywhere he goes. There are little secrets when Smith is around. He is not a classic dealmaker(here is proof)because he has not proven to be trustworthy nor can he keep his foot out of his mouth.

On the other hand, Sen-elect Pedro Espada (who said Smith wasn't ready for prime time) has some nerve criticizing anyone. He barely missed getting indicted last time he was in the Senate, he owes 50K in fines for his last campaign.

I have been active in politics however for nearly 40 years and through that whole time, the NYS Senate has never, NEVER had a Democrat majority. If you are a Democrat Governor, this is not a good time to blow that. You may not get that Obama bump in your election and you could get saddled with the NY Economic situation. Moreover, if the Governor is going to go along with East River tolls, and screwing Long Island on School aid, Dems are not going to hold the Senate long unless they can capitalize on having the majority now.

Now from my end. I am hoping that the Democrats lose the Senate leadership, and that my former "colleague" Dean Skelos takes over as Majority leader. Dean has been groomed for the spot, is easier to get along with than his predecessor (Sen. Joseph Bruno) and is from Long Island. But this isn't about my interests. (I am just stating them so no one can say I had an altierior motive in writing this post)It is about the future of the Democrats in the State Senate. The Senate change will move power in the Senate to the cities and away from upstate and Long Island. It will focus all three players in Albany politics in the hands of the Dems, and in a month or so, Patterson is to name the chief judge of the State Courts too. Further, with another census about to come (2010 is a census year) Dems can control the district lines giving them the opportunity to control NYS Politics in the Legislature for more than the next 50 years.

So far, the Senate Democrats look like a bad circus led by a clown. I don't doubt however, that David Patterson, a strong politician and the Governor, will put this together. How he does it, I have no idea yet (He may need to move Smith into his administration and give the Pres. Pro Tem to Senator Klein, a far more savvy pol than Smith in my humble opinion, but the end of this is far from in sight.

I will be back in Albany next week working right next door to the zoo. I will let you know what I hear.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Announcing The Tony(c) Awards : That Lawyer Dude Honors His Favorite Blogs and Podcasts. Today We Honor The Agitator Blog


Over the course of the next 21 days I will be slowly, tantalizingly rolling out the Tony(c) Awards. Instead of one big post on all my favorites, I do it the way the Nobel Committee does it, over the course of a few days. Why?
1. It gives me a lot of posts and one never knows when I will announce another so maybe I will coerce a few potential winners into reading and commenting on the blog over the last few weeks of the year, and
2. It is my award and I can

Now, less anybody here believe that the (c) is a copyright or that I am laying claim to the Awards that honor Broadway's greatest shows (which btw is a far better show than the Oscars and Grammy's and all the other garbage award shows put together) I am not. It is just that as many of our readership knows I sign off on most of my e-mails with the end TonyC. and since that is my name and my sign off, I thought it would be apt to name these awards that way.

In case anyone is wondering why I of all people should have an award named after me, or better why anyone should care who I think blogged best this year, I will point you to this post by one of my Blogging mentors Dennis Kennedy who each year gives out his Blawggies. (Find it in the 12-26-04 post at the end.)

Now if you don't want to read the blogs I read, or if you think this is a bad idea, or a good idea, give out your own awards and give a link to a deserving blog or blogger.

For my First Tony(c) Award 2008, I am going to give a big Shout out to:(Cue the drum roll please)
The Agitator which is my favorite blog about Politics. If you aren't reading Radley Balko you ought to be. He is intelligent, conservative, and he is controversial without being shrill (Malkin you listening??). Most importantly he is funny. Funny is a good thing. I like a blog that can make me laugh and think at the same time.

So the very First Tony(c) award goes to Cato Institute and Reason Magazine's favorite bad boy The Agitator,and its real life voice Radley Balko.

PS. Help Radley to keep blogging buy the button/magnet shown on the top of this post by clicking here and following the instructions. It only costs a couple of dollars. Come on the kid needs to eat.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Inspector General Finds Health Dept. Investigator Stomps on Rights of the Accused: Forget the Miranda Violations HE IS A PARKING VIOLATOR TOO!!!


This story is sad. We have an investigator in the NYS Health Dept. (which oversees the Dispensing of drugs) who has a thing for pain killer lollipops. He also has a thing for violating the civil rights of people he arrests. (He goes after Docs who write bad scripts and patients who try to use forged prescriptions). He actually told one poor guy who demanded a lawyer "We NEVER had this conversation". Thanks to the poor management and convoluted reporting of the Dept. this out of control maniacal investigator ran the local Manhattan office using fear as his main weapon. Everyone there was afraid of him.

So how did it come to an end? How did it come that the Inspector General finally stepped in and ended this Reign of Terror??

Turns out the guy abused his parking pass privileges one too many times, came to the attention of a reporter at the NY Times and viole` he was brought down faster than Marie Antoinette's head hit the basket.

Moral of the story?: NEVER screw with the Parking Meter Lady.

BTW Prosecutors are now looking at the cases this guy brought to see if anyone was wrongfully convicted... I bet I know how that will turn out.

Photo Credit: www.phawker.com

That Lawyer Dude Is Coming To You Cryogenically From Albany: It's Not the Temperature It's the WindChill


GOSH IT IS COLD HERE.

I am in happy Albany,NY home of the State University, the Govenor's Mansion, The NY Bar Association, and the NY State ZOO (um I mean Legislature.)So I thought I would rumble through a few thoughts about the happenings in our State Capital just to keep warm.

First we have the NY State Senate. It has changed hands from the Republicans to the Democrats. That gives us a Democratic Govenor, Senate, Assembly, 2 Democrat US Senators, and a Democrat President. OK, I hated Bush and Pataki too, but I have a feeling that all this power in the hands of one party is going to spell DISASTER.

So too do the people of Upstate NY who with Long Island are about to lose a lot of "say" over things in this state over the next two years. To allay those upstate fears our new State Senate President Pro Tem Malcolm (I can put my foot in my mouth almost as often as Joe Biden)Smith, is going to appoint a political ally from Buffalo to the powerful? position of Deputy Majority Leader. Smith has to do this because Senator William T. Stachowski (Stach to his friend) is losing his seat as Chair of the powerful? Finance committee to incoming Senator-elect Pedro Espada Jr.

Now you may ask, how does a rookie Senator get to be the head of the most important committee in the NYS Senate? Well you threaten to leave the party that just elected you and join with two other guys to keep the Republicans in charge. Now of course, the appointment of Espada and one of the other turncoat democrat Senators causes complete turmoil because it effects people who have worked for the right to head committees and hold party political postitions. If you read this article in the NY Times you will catch right up.

Now one more thing about Mr. Senator Elect Espada... He hasn't filed his last 5 FIVE Election Finance Reports... Tell me this is not going to end badly.

Oh yeah and one more thing... Senator Smith, it is time to empty the litter box in the Donkey's cage. It's already starting to smell.





Picture Credit to Mountain Visions' photostream @Flicker.com

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Revisionist History Lesson: Mauro on the Nixon Library Releases Tape of Nixon-Burger Phone Call

When I was in College, I had a Professor named Parkman. He was a phenomenal teacher. Right out of central casting. He could just as well have been at the Louisiana Purchase as written about it. He had to be 115 years old (or so it seemed to me as an 18 year old Freshman).

Anyway Professor Parkman wasn't one to get excited about much. The one thing he was excited about however were the "Revisionists". A "Revisionist" was someone who looked at history but through the light of how he wanted it to be and not report it in the light it was created. (check out Wikipedia's links for a more complete look at "revisionism" both positive and negative)

I can hear Parkman "railing" as I read this post on the release of a taped conversation between President Richard Nixon and then SCOTUS Chief Justice Warren Burger (who Nixon appointed to the high court as CJ.) It seems that Tony Mauro could not help but to express that Nixon and Burger were engaged in a conversation that would be "frowned upon". They were discussing the Miller v. California 413 U.S. 15 (1973) case which set up the "community standards test" for obscenity.

In fact, not until after Watergate would it be frowned upon. At the time of the phone call, both men led separate branches of our government. It was not even "frowned" upon for POTUS prior to President Ford to speak to SCOTUS Justices, especially the Chief Judge, for opinions about how certain initiatives would fair if brought before the court.

Listen to the conversation, it doesn't seek to nail Burger down on the issue although Burger himself opines that he is "coming down hard on it". It is a general conversation about the work that the judicial branch is involved in. Nixon being a lawyer, and a bit of a gossip, wanted to talk shop with a colleague. He had worked with Burger during the campaign in 1952 and was there when he was appointed by President Eisenhower to the bench. Nixon elevated him to the Chief Judge's spot. Is it hard to believe that they had a professional friendship? Nixon had argued a first Amendment case in 1966 before the SCOTUS. It was an area of law both men felt was important from an academic as well as a political point.

After Watergate, the court took on a more important role in everyday politics, hitting what I hope was its zenith in Bush v. Gore. Until then the Court generally stayed above the political fray though individual justices were always political beings. I agree that for better or worse, this type of conversation would be frowned upon. I am of the opinion it is for the worse. Nevertheless, to place 21st century mores on a 20th century conversation and suggest something nefarious where such conversation was de rigeur strikes me as not only unfair, but dare I say..."Revisionist".

By the way I think it is interesting that Ron Howard's Frost Nixon(link is for the trailer) is coming out this month. I have no idea what to expect, but I cannot wait to see it.

Hattip: Law.Com

PS Thanks to the Nixon Library for a link to the tape and to Findlaw for the Miller case, and LII for the link to Bush v. Gore.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My Final Words on Blogs, "Blads" and Other Forms of Legal Marketing

Certain legal bloggers led by a couple of people I hold in moderately high regard, are ticked off about what they see as a proliferation of Blogs that are not conversations but are in their not so humble opinions "advertisements". These "BLADS" are annoying to them because:

1. they aren't about substantive issues they are more along the lines of "Hey, hire me I'll set you free."

2. They do not add to the quantum of knowledge or foster discussion about the law and,

3. They ( these "Bladders") make it look like lawyers who blog are hucksters.

I concur with both points 1 & 2 and I understand that those types of blogs are not really helpful. I will also not allow spammers to leave messages and I will not allow "nonsense" on this site.

I vehemently disagree however with the third reason that is put forth against "Blads." I do not see how these Blads effect how anybody else looks at me or my blog, any more than allowing Homosexuals to get married makes my marriage look cheap.

I do not consider my blog a "blatant marketing blog" and I too don't like the "Call me and get out for free" bloggers. On the other hand, I have no problem with someone who occasionally says on his blog, "Hey I do this type of work and I would like your case if you have one." I have said that in the past on here but not recently. In fact I think it is a duty of the bar to let people know there are honest good and hard working lawyers willing to take cases on.

Now I also don't have a problem with the guy who writes for the love of teaching. In fact that is what led me to blogging. I just think that guys who do that, who aren't teachers and who then take cases from the blog, need to realize that the blog is a marketing tool. A well written blog tells people a lot about the author, a lot more than the client learns about a lawyer from solely reading a website or a yellow page ad.

Look, I like Jazz. I like that Coca Cola sponsors Jazz at Lincoln Center. I like that they don't come on before every song and say "Have a Coke while you listen to Wynton blow that horn and smile." I am also aware that if I buy a drink at JALC, I am going to get a Coke product. Now I may buy a Coke product if I am outside of JALC, just because they give money to a cause I care about. Their subtle marketing in that situation works. That type of marketing is not the same as the Coke Commercial during American Idol. One is sublime, the other is in your face.

Now, I don't know of any real blogs, indexed and respected blogs, blogs that have been cited by other lawyer's blogs, that are no more than advertisements for their authors services. I get newsletters all the time from colleagues that talk about their wins and analyze the legal news and mention themselves in the article. I don't consider that sublime, but I don't think it is advertising either, it is in a in between state.

Finally take a look at one of my favorite blogs, DUI Blog by Larry Taylor. DUI Blog is one of the most informative blogs about a single subject that I have ever read. To that end, in the upper right hand corner of Larry's blog is a picture of him as a talking head on Court TV. If you click it, it brings you to a page that says Larry Taylor is the "Dean of the DWI Bar". Isn't that marketing and maybe advertising?

And what of the blog of that great anti-marketer from the Big Apple Mr. Scott Greenfield himself? I notice he still has not explained why I am a marketer but he is a writer, when his blog links directly to his webpage and he even tells readers that reading the blog doesn't equal him giving legal advice, but if you pay him then you may have the advice. Come on, is that not a fairly blatant attempt to say "Look, if you like what I write, this is how you hire me?"

And what of Mr.Bennett's banning any blog(ger) that has a so called "Call to action" on it (The outright "If you want to hire me, click here and it will take you to my website)? I am not offended by this type of blog and I will link to a commentor who has such a blog, as long as his blog posts have some value in explaining the law to lay readers or lawyers. If you have something to say, then I am willing to let you let others know you have something to say by allowing NAY encouraging you to comment here.

Frankly I am tired of this fight. It isn't my fight. I don't care what others are doing on their blogs. I am doing what I want on mine. My blog is a conversation. Anybody who wants to add to that conversation is welcome to do so here. I am aware that what I write is being read by my adversaries, my enemies, as well as my friends family and clients. It is also being read by writers and newspeople. I guess it is being read by potential (and I hope future) clients.

They can follow me on Twitter but they cannot log onto my website from my blog.Does that make this less of a marketing tool than Greenfield's or Taylors blogs? No. It is just a different degree.

Nevertheless, I am going to brag about my victories and whine about my losses. I am going to grab my soapbox and hope it holds me up as I say whatever the "You KNOW WHAT", I want to say. I will let others do that too as long as it is not a flame post, or a spam post, or some type of rubbish that only spammers know why they put it there.

If that means that Greenfield, Gideon, and Bennett don't want to blogroll me, then fine. If they do, that is fine too. Oh and if you leave a comment on my blog, I won't edit away and I won't attack you. That goes for BLADDERS as well as for all the rest of the "non-admitting marketing attorneys who write blogs but delude themsleves into think they are writing for a law review."

The only non-marketing lawyer-blogger I know of, is the person who writes Blonde Justice. She is anonymous. after all the garbage about this topic, I now know why...

You can follow me on Twitter, by going to Twitter.com/thatlawyerdude. Try it, you may find you like it. Oh yeah, please go to the ABA Top 100 Blogs and vote for Blonde's blog, she wants to win, and I like it when Blonde is happy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More Lists From That Lawyer Dude: Ten Poignant Final Photos and Two Lists of Important Blawgs. On One You Can Vote For Your Favorites!

This is a quick hit. I was sent the link to this site after my blog roundup on Sunday. I love lists. I don't know why. While I was looking around, I saw this list of the last photo's taken of famous people. Though they did not know they would die soon after taking these pictures, there is a haunting aura about them as we know what is about to happen. I don't like to be maudlin, but I liked these portraits very much. What do you think? Have you thought about what you would like to do in your Final Photo?? I

Let me know what you think your's will look like in the Comments Section below.

While we are on the topic of Lists, Two Lists came out yesterday featuring the best of the law Blogs or BLAWGS.
One by E-Justice is called "The Top 50 Internet & Digital Law Blogs"

You will see some duplication with the "Top 100 Blogs of 2008" by the ABA Journal Law News Now. If you go on the site, you can vote for your favorites. I am following about 35 of those blogs in my RSS feed (I use Google Reader for law and news, and Opera Feeds for everything else.)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Do Not Support Mother's Against Drunk Drivers: That Lawyer Dude Responds to a Request for Financial Support

My friend Bob Kraft is a great lawyer and great and giving guy. Why just a few months ago I paid good money to get his rear-end out of jail on bail, as a fund-raising gimmick for MDA.

Bob is a man who not only gives his time and money, but his name to charities. That is why I hesitated to respond when he posted a plea for money on his blog P.I.S.S.D. (Personal Injury Social Security Disability Blog). (Further proof that not only is he a good guy but has a warped sense of humor.)

After thinking about it for a while I decided I could not let it go, so I posted a reply. I repeat it here in case any of my other readers are thinking about wasting valuable charity dollars on a group known as Mother's (they aren't) Against Drunk Driving, a now multi-million dollar fraud on the American public.

Robert I love you but you have got to stop drinking the kool-aid with this one. MADD has gone so far off course that even its own founder won't have anything to do with it.

Money to MADD goes to paying the over-inflated salaries of its humongous staff. A staff by the way which perpetuates itself by making false claims about how many real innocent lives are taken each year by Drunk Driving.

MADD makes more than Fifty One Million Dollars ($51,000,000) a year and pays its executive director over a quarter million dollars a year. Most Executive directors of charities earn far far less. Staff for MADD is nearly 45% of its budget.

Additionally it has one of the lowest efficiency rankings in the Charity Navigator's rankings. (www.charitynavigator.org) Over-all it only has a rank of 2 out of 4 stars. The American Institute of Philanthropy gives it a "D" (A+ is the highest).

The continue to perpetuate that drinking and driving is a crime (Drinking and driving intoxicated is a crime) and they continue to try to lower the BAC for legal driving where in fact there has been little proof that .08 is an accurate figure for such a criminal charge. They also support laws that are designed to keep people charged with DWI and DUI from having lawyers and laws that are designed to further shore up their view that alcohol should be a banned substance.

MADD as presently constituted is nothing more than a lobbyist group they are corrupt and they publish false and misleading studies. They are at the front of a movement to keep real science out of the courtroom so as to support their positions and salaries.

NO BOB do not be fooled. MADD IS NOT A CHARITY WORTHY OF YOURS OR ANYONE ELSES "SUPPORT".


If you wish to follow me on Twitter, log into www.twitter.com/thatlawyerdude. Please be careful, Twitter can become an addiction.