Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Understanding Islamic Discrimination: Wearing the Hijab or Islamic Headscarf Is Not Grounds For Firing Someone (or arresting them either)

ABA Headline : Jailed for Wearing Headscarf to Court caught my attention for a few reasons: 1. It offends me that someone could be arrested for wearing religious gear to court; 2. I am interested in seeing how next month's House Of Representative hearings on the growth of Islamic Fundamentalism in America go (as in will we learn something about the reasons approximately fifteen percent of American Muslims between 18-30 believe suicide bombing can be justified.) or is it going to be the witch hunt some groups claim it will be?: and 3. Because I am seeing more and more valid complaints of discrimination coming into our NY and Long Island offices from members of the Islamic community as well as from Sheiks who are often confused for Muslims due to their headdress.

In the Georgia case cited by the ABA Journal it seems a woman who went to court to support a family member wore a Hijab to court. She was told to remove it. This is in my mind akin to asking a Jewish person to remove a Yarmulke. I am sure that the court staff will suggest that there were security reasons for their demand and when it wasn't followed they arrested. What I find curious is that it seems to be agreed that after the woman said she would leave they arrested her anyway. I thought the idea was to NOT have her in the courthouse. Either way, I think they will be hard pressed to show that they could not have found a way to allow her to attend the court date without removing the headdress. (For instance they could have asked her to walk through a scanning device or have "wanded" her to see if she were carrying a weapon. I understand that such a process would not negate her from carrying the parts of a bomb or other items of a deadly nature on her person but I don't see how the headdress alone rises to that issue. Further if she were wearing a full Burkha I doubt that she would be required to remove it any more than a Catholic Nun would be asked to remove her Holy Habit (the tunic part which is part of the uniform if you will). You cannot arrest this person solely because she dresses in a religious.

On the Issue of the proposed hearings, Peter King is the incoming chair or the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security. Congressman King has announced his plan to hold hearings into why American grown Muslims are becoming more "Radicalized." The issue is, will Congressman King use the meeting to call members of the Clergy before Congress to name names of those in their congregation who are Radicals? That seems somewhat McCartyesqe. I hope Congressman King (who was a pretty fair lawyer prior to entering politics) focuses on why there seems to be an affinity for Radical faction of Islam among our younger members (those polled tween 18-30 years old.) I think you can start looking at the reason being that young Muslims are being discriminated against in larger and larger numbers. The Pew poll sited above notes that and I can say that I see it in our practice in both Nassau Suffolk as well as in NYC and it's outer boroughs.

Here is a quick primer on religious discrimination in employment/labor situations.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act codified under 42 USC 2000 e-2(a)states that (1). "Religion" is defined to include "all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee's . . . religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(j).

At first blush it is up to the person who claims to be discriminated against to prove that (1) she had a bona fide religious belief, the practice of which conflicted with an employment duty; (2) she informed her employer of the belief and conflict; and (3) the employer threatened her or subjected her to discriminatory treatment, including discharge, because of her inability to fulfill the job requirements." I suggest that if one is called in about one of these issues, that she take a small digital recorder with her and (at least in NYS) record the conversation. In New York only one party to a conversation need know it is being recorded (check your state rules here.) That should make the whole thing a lot easier to prove.

Thereafter, assuming the plaintiff (or victim of religious discrimination) has made her case the employer must then show
(1) "that it initiated good faith efforts to accommodate reasonably the employee's religious practices"; or (2) "that it could not reasonably accommodate the employee without undue hardship." Id. If negotiations between employee and employer "do not produce a proposal by the employer that would eliminate the religious conflict, the employer must either accept the employee's proposal or demonstrate that it would cause undue hardship were it to do so."

Now public employees in security positions have less rights to dress outside of the uniform than do other sectors of Public or private Sector employees. Nevertheless, short of showing that there was an economic loss or the potential for a morale disaster, the undue hardship will be hard for the private sector employer to prove. As for the first part again you can see how it is in your favor to record the conversation or negotiation. Rarely do I hear an employee say that they were listened to or negotiated with.

In our case, our client wore her hijab to work. She was ordered to give it up or go home. She worked that day without it over her objection. The next week when she went back to work, the same manager had the same complaint and further he basically told her to quit or be fired. She did leave but she was de Facto fired which saved her for unemployment benefits. We have just received a right to sue letter from the EEOC so you will be hearing more about this as the next year progresses.

If you should be incurring problems with employment religious racial or sexual discrimination or retaliation, why not give me a call to discuss it? You can still reach me through 516-741-3400.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Off Topic: Rain: A Beetles Tribute On Broadway

I went to see "Rain" today. It is a tribute concert to the Beetles. Rain performs the Beetles kind of in concert. There is no Broadway musical ala BeetleMania or "Jersey Boys." The musicians in "Rain" (which is evidentially an actual "cover band") are very good, and the guy who plays Sir Paul McCartney is a good look-a-like, but all in all, I'd have rather saved the money and bought the real records (or CDs if you must...)
That is not to say that I didn't have fun, I did. Mostly because I saw it with 22 cousins and other friends of my family. Now that was fun. Of course again, "Jersey Boys" would have been more fun and that show is just phenomenal.

"Rain" begins at the beginning, with the Ed Sullivan Show and then moves along through "Help" and "Sgt. Peppers." It hits the "Revolver" album and the "White" album, and ends up with Abbey Road.
To their credit, "Rain" (the band) never tries to pretend they are acting as the Beetles. I mean yeah they look a little like them and dress like them and sing their songs but unlike Jersey Boys they do not take their names nor do they ever refer to themselves as the Fab Four. They clearly let you know they are a tribute band and this is a tribute to the Beetles.
The audience was fairly old (over 50 plus) and there were a lot of former hippies using walkers, wheelchairs, and the like, but on a whole for a group of "old folks" we were quite energetic.

If one has never seen the "Beetles" live and wants to "kinda sorta" hear the music as if the boys from Liverpool were still playing it, then do go. Squint a little and you will think they are up there singing to you. Otherwise, buy the albums or the re-released DVDs and save your money to go to see Jersey Boys which is across the street. Now that was some play.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Queens District Attorney Brown wants to Silence the Judge so he can make the Defendants talk: Another attack on Miranda

Prosecutors hate quiet defendants. In fact they will go to great lengths to get them to talk, especially to confess. In New York City over the past few years, Assistant District Attorney's will go into the holding pens known as Central Booking and actually interview these arrested folks, telling them that this is their only chance to talk to a prosecutor before arraignment and that it may result (during a blue moon)in a dismissal of their case. Certainly the Prosecutor will check out anything they tell them (like their alibi which really means he will send a detective down to take partial statements from alibi witnesses and screw up a defendants alibi allowing them to convict many more innocent people.)

The way these interviews begin is for the prosecutor to tell their spiel to the defendants BEFORE THE DEFENDENTS ARE GIVEN THEIR "MIRANDA" RIGHTS.(Miranda warnings give a defendant their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney.) After they have promised them to listen to their stories then give Prosecutors read in the rights. It is a "Bull Shit" way to use gentle coercion to get a confession or admission. (Pardon the language but really can you think of a more blunt way to say it??)

What do I mean? Well, the ADAs are promising to listen to them, but in reality, the ADAs want to convict them (I know DA Brown will say that isn't true but if that were the case, why not let them speak to their own attorneys first and then let the lawyer decide if is in the best interest of the client to speak to the prosecutor. After all that is how they show it on Law and Order.)These ADAs are overcoming arrestee's will to assert their rights by promising something may happen for them if they do not assert their rights.

Remember where these people are when this is done. They are completely at the hands of the government. They have no advocate of their own there and are not entitled to one. If they don't speak to the prosecutor they don't have to, but they aren't going to see a judge until they have gone through this little ritual.

Holding pens in NYC hold defendants for 24 hours or more. After a few hours smashed in with 20 other people, with nowhere to sit without access to family or lawyers, these folks will do anything if they think it will get them out faster.

One Queens judge has threatened to look into the ethics of this behavior. The Honorable Joel Blumenfeld has a decision coming that may discuss among other things the legal ethics of a prosecutor saying and doing the things that the prosecutor says in Queens County NY. Now Courts look at ethical issues all the time, but DA Brown doesn't want Joel Blumenfeld, a former criminal DEFENSE Attorney to rule on that issue. So DA Brown has brought an order to show cause against the good judge to stop him from discussing the ethics behind the activity IN HIS JUDICIAL DECISION!!!

Unbelievable. Absurd. Legal ethics and violations thereof are perfectly good reasons to suppress evidence. (For example if a defense attorney "Friends" a victim on Facebook by pretending to be someone other than himself, the evidence he gets from that is not usable in the case. That isn't because it isn't good evidence, it is because such behavior is unethical for lawyers to engage in.)

On the up side, it is unlikely a fellow jurist will tell Blumenfeld he can't write his opinion the way he wants. It is supposed to be an INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY!

Oh did I forget to mention, DA Brown USED to be an Appellate Division Judge. I wonder how he would have taken to being told he couldn't discuss an ethical issue in a decision.

As for you readers out there I cannot point out how important it is to get a lawyer for your friends who are arrested or if you are arrested how important it is not to speak to ANYONE without first speaking to your OWN lawyer. Most of the people who give statements give them because they are waiting for LEgal Aid or an 18b lawyer (free lawyer from the court) to be appointed. DO NOT WAIT!! Get yourself a good lawyer right away and have him notify the prosecutor that you or your friend is represented by counsel and may not be spoken to by them without that lawyer being present.

IF you need a lawyer even in the middle of the night, I will take this opportunity to remind you that you can call my office 24/7/365 and speak to a lawyer if you or a friend or loved one has been arrested and is awaiting arraignment. You can reach us at 516-741-3400. DAY OR NIGHT. Weekday or weekend, holidays too!!

Hat Tip: The NY TImes

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Election Day. Here Are My Endorsements

Anyone who blogs for business reasons will tell you: "DON'T Get Political on your business blog." So much for my listening to common sense. I see a lawyer's job in part to help lead his community. That includes supporting candidates for office; not just anyone who runs on a particular party line, but candidates they know will make a positive difference in the lives of the people they try to help every day. I am more than aware (sometimes I think I am alone in this) that no one party has a lock on good ideas or good people. I endorse "bipartisanly" not because it is "good business politics" but because it is good government and I like to think exhibits leadership.

A proviso: I consider myself libertarian. Small "l". Which means I am not actively a member of the party, but I agree with much of what they stand for.

Libertarians are usually said to be fiscal conservatives and social liberals. To be libertarian, (small "l") I think you have to favor small federal government and very little government intrusion into private decisions.

With that said here are my picks and some analysis.

Warren Redlich. He is the Libertarian. It is a minor party but Warren is anything but a minor brain. He seems to be the only candidate who understands you cannot cut taxes without cutting many MANY unnecessary and duplicative programs.
Look Cuomo is a great guy (really he is, I've known Andy politically since we were both kids. He is a tough/bully kind of politician but he also is very family oriented and has a good heart. He wants to make correct decisions, I just don't think he always knows what those might be.) Paladino is someone I'd like to like. He is a successful businessman, loves his family and is famously loyal to those he is surrounded by, but he is either a bigot or stupid at times. Until he learns to say what he means the first time he says it, there will always be a question in my mind as to which is which. Mutual friends of ours swear to me he is just a "regular guy". Maybe, but maybe you need to be more to be the highest elected state official in NY.
As for those who think that this is a wasted vote, so is voting for Paladino, however if Redlich gets enough votes (50K) the Libertarian Party gets a line in the next four elections. That will give it the power to get like minded people elected both to the statehouse and in local elections. Sure some people will be fringe candidates (so is Paladino if you think about some of the things he has said) but many will have new ideas that may work far better than the same old thing. VOTE REDLICH.
Attorney General:
Tough call. Politically, Eric Schniederman and I probably agree on a lot of social issues including death penalty, drugs and the proper emphasis of a state Atty' General's Office. Dan Donovan however is a good prosecutor and knows how to run an office. He worked under Guy Molinari, and is considered a Republican moderate. Schneiderman on the other hand knows Albany and has been an enemy of the corruption that runs the capital. He will be a watchdog over Wall Street, but I don't think he has the makeup of either of the previous two AGs (Spitzer or Cuomo.)
I will vote for Donovan and hope I was right.

I have known Tom DiNapoli for 30 years. I like him personally. I am sure that Tom's heart is in the right place. He has been a good administrator but he isn't a comptroller. The Republican candidate Wilson is a tool of Wall Street.
I am voting for the Libertarian who understands Wall Street but also has the qualifications to be a Comptroller and who is just populist enough to understand he is a guardian of the Public fisc. I cast my vote for Carl E. Person. Take a look at his website. He has some interesting ideas. As with Redlich for Governor I know that not enough people will vote for Carl to elect him, but if he were to get 50K votes, it would send a strong message that the electorate wants a state government that gives greater power and less "pass down" legislation to local county and town governments.

I am not touching the US Senate or Congressional campaigns. Mostly because the Republicans decided not to show up. There are really no choices here. I don't support Schumer and I have no idea who Gillibrand is going to become. She is better than I thought she would be, but then again I didn't initially expect anything from her anyway. I will vote for Libertarian party candidates mostly as a show of dissatisfaction with the lack of a real choice.

Now locally (On Long Island) we have a bunch of Judicial elections. I am going to focus on Supreme Court and Family court.

I'd like to begin with the Supreme Court.
The most qualified candidates are without a doubt Daniel Palmeri and Andrew Crecca. I have appeared before both. They are outstanding trial judges. Palmeri is brilliant. PERIOD. Crecca has a great feel for the courtroom and for the issues. I think he has great ability to be the kind of judge who gets things done expeditiously both of these candidates are sitting judges and both are Republicans.

As for the other two spots, I urge you to vote for two Democrats (no I am not trying to be equal. I know these folks and they are worthy of the job.) The first is a sitting District Court Judge Robert Spergel
Judge Spergel has a good way of cutting through the garbage that is litigation. He needs to be careful of his urge to "get it right" and rule according to law. (He used to be a policeman, "Street Justice" may work on the street but in a court of law, law works best.) Outside of that however, he has a good "gut" understanding of when a side is taking an unfair advantage of others. He is aware of how to move a calendar and he seems unafraid to make hard and unpopular decisions. He does that expeditiously. It is important to move Supreme Court calendars quickly. Justice delayed is justice denied. Supreme Court calendars move at the speed of a glacier. Having a judge who can decide tough calls and do it quickly is a good thing.

The last vote is for my colleague William "Bill" Devore. Bill has had a storied career both in and outside of the Suffolk District Attorney's office. He is a reasonable person who understands the issues that occur in people's lives. He is a good lawyer and will have the guts to make the tough call in a timely manner. He has compassion yet he is a strong lawyer who will be unafraid to decide to do the right thing as opposed to the popular thing.

Here are four good candidates who all will serve us well. This is not to take away anything from the other candidates who all bring different qualities to the bench. The biggest issue is that the four judges I selected all are gutsy lawyers who do not appear to be beholden to anyone and who can do the job (or are doing the job) well. They each know the importance of moving a calendar and do so while maintaining a high level of legal acumen. Crecca and Spergel work in high-stress busy "specialty courts" (Crecca works Domestic Violence Court in Suffolk which mixes civil family and criminal court in one courtroom and Spergel is the judge in the DWI Trial Court in Nassau County, the busiest Criminal Trial Court by volume on Long Island.)

There is only one great choice for Nassau County Family Court. Merik (Rick) Aaron. Rick is a former HS Teacher. Went to Law School. He is bright and he is compassionate. He has the perfect disposition to work with juvenile delinquents and dysfunctional people (After all he worked for me for his last year of Law School!) Now for those of you who will claim some type of nepotism, I say that is just not true. I know Rick, and I have seen his work. He is THE CHOICE for Nassau Family Court.

Finally for State Assembly, I am supporting Charles Lavine a Democrat in the NY State Assembly's Thirteenth (13) AD. He has done a great job. He sits on the codes committee and he has been very effective in Albany.
I am also supporting Michael Montasano in his race in NY's Fifteenth (15)AD. Mike understands the issues that effect everyday folk. He is one of us. He is a former police officer and lawyer. He is gutsy. He challenged the Nassau County Forfeiture law and won!! Mike is a good assemblyman who will serve his constituency well.

I like Tom McDevitt in the Seventeenth (17)AD. A fine young man who is becoming more and more of a force in Albany for his district. Tom is active in his practice of law and he has been active in the Nassau County Bar Association. HE is up on the issues and provides a spirited loyal opposition to the Democrat controlled Assembly.

In the State Senate, I am supporting the Republican ticket right down the line. Why? Because a Democrat Senate has wreaked havoc on Long Island. Democrats have taken the STAR exemptions away which helped a lot of people stay in their homes in a bad economy. We pay a MTA Tax even if we never ride a rail or cross a bridge. In other words, losing in the Third Senatorial District broke up the Long Island Republican Senate block. The new guy Democrat Brian Foley wasted no time paying back his political benefactors at a great cost to Long Island. Sorry. I really don't like how Albany works. There is too much power in the leadership of each house and Governor, and the system rewards the corrupt and the stupid (can anyone say Brian McLauglin and Anthony Seminerio?)usually at the expense of Long Island and the North Country. A solid Republican Senatorial block, until Albany becomes a place where rank and file members have more power, gives Long Island the only chance it has for a fair shake.

Well let the commenting begin. I am sure I ticked off many of you and even a few friends who I'd like to support but can't in fairness to the principles I have politically and or because the other candidate is just in my humble opinion a better candidate. Agree or disagree you can help have the final say if you vote on Tuesday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Are Some Lives Worth More Than Others?: Only Your Prosecutor Knows

Today, two people will be sentenced for killing innocent others. One person will have made a series of very bad decisions while intoxicated ending in her killing a young girl age 11. The other will have made a conscious decision to kill 11 people. The former will receive a sentence of 12 years in jail. The latter will be released after only doing 8 years while he awaited sentence. The former is a young mother of a pre-teen girl, the latter was a mob hitman. The former, the mom who killed an 11 year old by driving recklessly while intoxicated, spawned a law that makes it a felony to drive intoxicated with a child in the car. The latter Mob hit-man will reinforce the idea that you can kill at will as long as you are willing to give up others, even if you lie to do it.

The young mother is Carmen Huertas. She made a decision to get into a car with 6 children (one was her own) and drive them home from a slumber party after she had embibed enough alcohol to blow a .13 BAC. (Not that I think BAC's are the least bit accurate but given her other behaviors that night I would think there was enough other evidence of intoxication to prove she was guilty. You can read the story here and decide for yourself. She was sentenced to a indeterminate sentence of 4-12 years in jail. She could theoretically be eligible to get out on parole in three years and five months
but given just the fact that this was a DWI and the fact that it was the type of death that brings out everyone against the defendant, she will likely do the whole sentence before she is released less any "good-time" she may accrue (about 1.8 years off the top number or 10.4 years in prison so far.)

The mob hit man is Sal (Good Looking Sal) Vitale, former underboss of the Bonanno crime family. Sal was an early follower of another neighbor Joe (Big Joe) Massino, the boss of the Bonnano crime family. Both men grew up in my old neighborhood in NY. Sal was always noted for how good his hair looked. I should know, he used to go to get his hair cut in the same barbershop as I did. He was a big deal there among the Italian barbers. They all knew who he was. I blissfully did not. I did notice he seemed like any other guy who went there. Slightly pampered and otherwise kind of nice. He always went with friends.

About 10 years ago, Sal and his Brother-in-law childhood hero Joe Massino got indicted. Joe was pretty jealous of Sal's popularity among the other under bosses in "the family". He was afraid that Sal may be so much better liked than he, that he ordered someone kill him. The feds moved in to save Sal's life. Sal was infuriated and so he turned on Joe and everyone in the old life. He had enough information to identify over 500 men as either members of or affiliates to the five families of NY. He also had enough information to put 50 of these men behind bars for a long time, some even for life.

Sal Vitale was a cold blooded killer. He didn't have to be. He had smarts. He was a former corrections officer, and he owned a series of small businesses that would have made money for him with or without patronage from Joe Massino and company. Instead, he helped end the lives of at least 11 men and maybe more. He made it possible for others to kill without being punished. He ran loan-sharking and illegal gambling operations. He provided protection for drug dealers and houses of Prostitution. He also however danced to the Governments tune. He turned and he will be rewarded. Is he sorry he was a creep, a killer, a monster? Only he knows. He knew however he created that man. If he could, would he turn down the life he led? Would he walk away from the jaunts to Vegas and Atlantic City? Would he give up his house in Dix Hills for all those years. Would he not have had the fancy haircuts and manicures he got that earned him the nickname "Good looking Sal"? If he knew he would never get caught would he? Or would he have preserved that life even if it meant killing eleven more people. Eleven more fathers brothers sons?

Carmen Huertas, a 31 year old mother who would like to take back about 2 hours of her life. Whether she was found guilty or not, the taking of that child's life would have stayed with her forever. Her chance of ever getting behind the wheel of a car drunk again, would be less than zero.

Jail is supposed to be for punishment and corrections. I fail to see the sense in this today. Carmen Huertas should have been sentenced to 1-3 years and should have been ordered to a program to address her drinking issues. Sal Vitale should have been sentenced to at least a long long period in jail. He could have gotten Death had he not cooperated. His getting a free pass calls into question every detail to which he testified. His testimony was bought and paid for by the government. He knew if he danced to their tune he would walk away, a free man, new identity, new home, new business.

As she addressed the court she said ""I am not a monster," "I am a loving mother who made a terrible decision that caused the death of a wonderful child."

She is right, her behavior was monstrous, but she herself is not a monster she just in fact made a horrendous decision that will forever effect the world of Leandra's family and her own.

Does anyone wonder if Sal Vitale could make the same statement? Is it fair that the prosecution can make these decisions based on how much they were helped? Is it fair that Vitale's victims should get nothing in the way of satisfaction for the loss they suffered?

Huertas is in jail, mostly because of who her victim was, and what that victims family wanted. Vitale is free despite what his victims want and despite what fairness dictates. She is sorry. Given the chance she would not be likely to repeat her poor judgment. He, well you decide: is he sorry or sorry he got caught? Given the chance, would he have turned down all the things his life gave to him and his family or would he have killed again and again, knowing he would never get caught?

The lives of poor people and the lives of rich have different values in a court of law. The lives of people who die at the hands of those that can give the prosecution what it wants, and the lives of those killed by someone who has nothing but remorse to give, have different values. Neither of these are fair, they just are.

If you ever serve on a jury however, when one of these rich powerful guys testifies, and he says he is not getting anything for his testimony, remember, that is just not true. Never was, never will be. They are just monsters who the government is paying to be tell they government's story, whether it be true, or not. Whether they be monsters... or what?

Here is the NY Post's coverage of the sentencing hot off the presses.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

God Help Me. I Can't Believe I Am Writing This: O'Reilly is Correct. End Public Funding For NPR & PBS

I have to admit, that I am not crazy about public funding of the airwaves in America. I have no problem with Radio Free Europe and its progeny. I mean NPR and PBS. Until now however I was more or less willing to over-look the two because as things go, I think Sesame Street is a better deal than... A bridge to no-where or a Big Tall Fence across the Mexican border. NO MORE!!

The Juan Williams firing has me agreeing with FOX's Bill O'Reilly that it is time to end all public funding of Public Radio and to be consistant the Public Broadcasting System.
The Williams fiasco is proof that the company funded in part by our tax dollars has a political agenda that is fundementally liberal and will enforce the policy whenever it choses to.

Now NPR has conservatives and libertarians and hell even crazy tea party people on as guests, but nope it seems you cannot be one of those people and work there. When NPR accepts money from the Government however, it is not to push it's political agenda but to provide programing in a non-partisan way that will help further the conversation. It is to present educational programing.

Believe it or not, Tea party activist tax dollars go to NPR the same way liberal dollars go there. The Tea Party conservative, or libertarians like me have a right to be hired by a semi-private corporation funded by my tax dollars. Evidentially that is not the case and these NPR snobs think that you may think only their way or it is the highway... Well not on my dollar.

I am ending all support for NPR. I am asking my Senators and Congressmen to exise it from the Federal Budget and will ask the same of my State House Representitives. If they want to run their company like FOX NEWS, let them fund it the way FOX News does. With advertisers and by working for every dollar it gets. It won't be easy. but at least it will be fair.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Firing of Juan Williams: Liberals & Neo-Cons Two Peas in a Pod. They Only Favor Free Speech of Those With Whom They Agree.

Juan Williams is a reporter and commentator for NPR (National Public Radio). He also tries to provided the "balance" on Fox News Network presenting the so called "Liberal" side of the Fox equation.

The other night, Bill O'Reilly was discussing whether or not America had a "Muslim Problem." (If we do it is in great part O'Reilly's fault. He went on "The View" last week and announced that "Muslim's killed us on 9-11." In reality it was 21 Muslim fanatics and their murderous handlers abroad) Williams was his guest. Williams said the following:
"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot," Williams continued. "You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Of course all the usual suspects (NAIR, Andrew Sullivan, and NPR brass) all started hand-ringing and accusing Williams of being prejudiced. Then in the expected second act, the NPR Brass fired him. Why? Because he had the temerity to express in words that he feels fear when he is placed in a situation where people of a certain background have in the past created havoc.

Sorry guys you are wrong.

I sent the following letter to the NPR Obudsman. I reprint it in full below.

To whom this may concern:
You and your organization have seen the last dollar you ever will from me. Are you all a bunch of crazy people? I am a Criminal Defense Attorney and a Civil rights lawyer.I have news for you. I represent thugs, gangsters, and the seriously deranged individuals. I walk the streets of ghetto neighborhoods and I am often in dangerous places around people who do not look like me.

I represent Muslims and Sheiks and all types of religious, ethnic and sexual orientations. I also represent gang members from Bikers, to Russians to Spanish (el Salvadorian and Mexican) to Italian and Albanian. I do not consider myself to be prejudice.

That said, I also see people who dress in a certain way or are in certain places and I feel nervous. It isn't prejudice, ITS SMART. Being aware of your surroundings is important. Being on guard when you are the odd person out is wise. Neither Juan nor I am advocating doing something stupid like not getting on a plane or leaving a restaurant. It was a true and natural reaction to what is going on.
If I walk into a Mosque I am not afraid. I am not unwilling to speak to a Muslim or anyone else. I am aware and a bit anxious when I see people wearing gang colors. I watch what they are up to. I observe more. I see a bunch of kids in the mall and they are dressed like Gangstas I watch them more, I look for behaviors like their creating a scene while another steals something. It happens occasionally. I see a bunch of Muslims speaking in foreign tongues and I watch them. I worry that maybe this is the next shoe bomber. I don't report them to security but I watch. It is the right and smart thing to do. It doesn't uncover deep seated prejudice. This didn't happen before 9-11-01. It isn't a deep seated fear. It is not something that happens in restaurants but it happens on trains buses planes. Around synagogues too.

Firing Juan Williams was a terrible error in judgment. I agree with the commentator that describes liberals as all for freedom of speech as long as they agree with it. You are no better than tea party activists. I am a libertarian. When I have the money I have donated to Public Radio stations in NY and to Public TV. I want more than one opinion. I don't want dishonesty. Williams is NOT the only person of reasonable mind who feels this way. His expression on O'Reilly was how he felt. It gives permission to others to admit their fears and to address them.

Juan Williams is not the problem. He is a solution. Frank discussion and truth are the ways to address the issues and pretending that people who are intelligent do not harbor fear because of the situation is a good way to be sure the underlying issues are never addressed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Fun Stuff for a Sunday Night: Funny Animation of The Carl Paladino Campaign and a Review of Innocent by Scott Turow

Hello all,
I have found a few light fun things to tell you about. If you have some time you might want to look into them.

First Al Nye the Lawyer Guy reviews the new Turow Mystery Innocent which takes up where Presumed Innocent left off, kind of. It is the story of Rusty Sabich a Chicago Judge who had been acquitted years ago (in the first book) of Murder, now being tried again by his old nemesis Tommy Molto for the murder of his wife... who has her own past if you remember book number one. Sabich is represented again by Sandy Stern and the book stings me knowing that Raul Julia will not be here to play that part again in another movie. Anyway, I won't give it away. Go over to see Al's opinion and order the book.

Second: I have been troubled from the start about Carl Paladino's run for Governor of NY. I wanted to like the guy who seemed kind of self made and a little unpolished. However the guy just has a part of him that makes him unbalanced. I talked to guys who know him and they like him, but I just can't help feeling he's like my friend George, a great guy to have a beer and a laugh with but not Gubernatorial material. Now I don't like Andy Cuomo for Governor either. I think he is heads and tails more qualified than Paladino is, but he is just way too liberal for me. I am going to vote Libertarian and vote for Warren Redlich. One thing about Warren, he seems to understand that you cannot cut taxes unless you cut services and waste. He has a plan to do that and so I am looking forward to the debate tomorrow night at Hofstra University

In the meantime I saw this and thought it was hysterically funny. It is the Taiwanese News bureau's cartoon take on Paladino. Shut down the sound and read the subtitles. It is about a two minutes long.
And that is it for now. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stuff Even I Can't Make Up: Blabbing Bimbos, USHLS Keep Cartoons Characters Safe From Child Sex Abuse, Moonlighting Is Okay for Judges As Long As They Remain Unfunny and Surprise! Someone Got Angry in an Anger Management Class..

For a little light reading, I thought I would take you for a short tour of what I found funny (that's to read funny strange not funny HA HA! I will admit there is some overlap however)

1. For the last time People, If you are going to "Kiss and Tell" DON"T DO IT ON THE INTERNET!!!
Exhibit One: A woman fighting for child support admits on Facebook that her child is not her husband's.
To quote our friends at ABA Journal News "...one mom posted photos of her children during a custody battle, eliciting a comment from a friend that they didn't look much like her husband. Her response: That's because they're not his." That was smart...
Exhibit Two: Another Duke University Sex Scandal.
An apparently Jock sniffing College Co-ed from Duke University decided it would be a cute idea to make a "Power Point Presentation" of her sexual hi-jinx while an undergrad at Duke University. She ranked 13 lovers, all jocks (many Lacrosse players btw) and was very "explicit" in her descriptions of the guys and the activities she and they engaged in. She sent it by e-mail to three friends and "Surprise" it got sent all over the net!!!
(Yeah like she didn't mean to leak it so that she would get the obligatory book opportunity and Playboy spread.)

I think the kids at Duke may have too much time on their hands. How in the hell do they keep getting that US News and World Report Ranking given that they can't seem to shut up??? What ever happened to discretion being the better part of Valor?? In the interest of truth in journalism, I admit, I could have been subject number 12... okay maybe not but a guy can dream can't he?? (You can read the whole report and see the pictures with blackened out faces here)

2. Your United States Bureau of Homeland Security: Keeping "Toon Town" Safe for Cartoon Kids. Now if they could only protect America.
Radley Balko of the "Agitator", one of my favorite bloggers, has put the only headline I could think of on a case of Simpson cartoon characters in sexual positions causing a conviction for Possession of Child Pornography (yeah you read that right.) In his blog post
Worst. Prosecution. Ever.
Radley describes a prosecution where the only "Images" were cartoon characters... Better get rid of any "Fritz the Cat" videos you downloaded.
I read the press release from the US Justice Dept. trying to decipher the real reason they brought this prosecution... If it weren't so true of the way some of these folks think, I'd have laughed. Here is the Money Quote: “We aggressively use our investigative authorities to protect our communities from those who seek to sexually exploit children for their own perverse gratification,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations. “HSI continues to dedicate resources to identify those individuals who engage in this type of criminal behavior and ensure they are brought to justice.”
I am so very happy no moreTOON TOWN characters will be sexually exploited for someone's perverse sexual gratification, now could you use some of these funds you WASTED on this prosecution to freaking solve a crime in MY HOMELAND?? You know, a real crime not a cartoon crime... Maybe find some guy like, oh I don't know... OSAMA BIN LADENmaybe??? Where is Bob Hoskins when he is really needed
While on this same topic, If you happen to be a boss (say the Editor of "Innovation" at the Chicago Tribune, maybe it is not a good idea to use company e-mail to distribute a link to a website that has a fake newscast showing women in various stages of inebriation and undress... I'm just sayin'.
In this time of political correctness, all employers need to be more "sensitive", still I can't help feeling like this guy would still have a job if he wasn't always sending these kind of weird things out.
Hattip: NY TIMES

3. Judges in NY have not received a raise (Not even cost of living) in almost two decades. That is not only inconceivable but downright unfair to them and to the citizens (A well funded judiciary is essential to a nation of laws.) So to fix the problem, we gave them a raise right? NOOOOOO!
We will now allow them to "Moonlight". I can see it now:

Attorney: I have another witness your Honor
Judge: I'm sorry, I have to give the Katz kid a piano lesson at 5:15 on the dot. Otherwise I won't be able to tutor the Smith kid in Math at 6:30. Oh by the way, your decision on that stay of the death penalty? I won't have it done till tomorrow afternoon...
Attorney: Uh Your Honor, my client is due to be executed at 12AM tonight...
Judge: Hmmm well maybe if I skip dinner I can finish it by 11:45PM.

Oh yeah it seems that one job a judge can not have is doing "stand up" comedy... Has anyone read some of the decisions they write... KIDDING IT WAS A JOKE... REALLY... :)
Hattip: ABA Journal News Today.

4. From the Bureau of "I Don't Think She Gets It" comes this little ditty "Woman Stabs Another Attendee at Anger Management Class"
That's right, Faribah Maradiaga 19, stabbed a fellow classmate in her anger management class.
Wanna know what they were arguing about??
Here is your money quote: "A dispute over the value of a video on anger management being shown to the class sparked a war of words..." I guess that video wasn't as good as they thought it might be.

Okay and for those of you who stuck around this long, My old blogger friend Ken Lammers who was a defense attorney and is now a prosecutor (KENNY KENNY KENNY) has been touted as one of the "Hot Law Enforcement Types." Go visit his blog and vote for the picture you think is hotter, Summertime Head-shaven Ken, or Winter Sensitive bearded Ken. Tell him I sent you.

Oh yeah, If you liked this post, let me know. Leave a note on here or on Facebook.

And on a more serious note, if You or someone you know has been accused of Assault, Child Pornography Possession, or Sexual Harassment at work or at school, it is no laughing matter. It is also nothing to handle without the help of a good lawyer. I am more than willing to speak to anybody who needs help with this or any myriad of legal problems. You can reach me here

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Battered Woman Syndrome Defense Scores a Big Win in Butterknife Stabbing Case: Some SOBs Just Need Killin."

When the Prosecution opens the trial with:"Kevin Cobb may not have been a husband or father any of us would want to have..." That ought to be the first clue there is going to be a problem with the prosecution.

When the next thing the prosecutor says is: the husband (Kevin Cobb) was out using coke, returning home around 3 a.m.

And when the alleged victim has done upstate time for drug and violent crimes, well then that would be a trifecta for a good reason not to bring a charge of Murder (or even assault First degree.

But when the defendant has suffered from "...bruises and (a) black eye and (a) punctured ear drum" all at the hands of the alleged victim...then you know you probably should have offered a plea bargain.

Note to prosecutors: "Some SOBs just need killin." It is not necessarily a valid defense but jury's do understand it. It is one thing for a defense attorney to stand before a jury and protect an accused who is also a miserable person, it is far different for a prosecutor to use the state to prosecute someone who is basically a good person ( Ms. Cobb is a nurse and the mother of six kids) and take the side of the miserable SOB who has been abusing them for years. Sounds like the jury understood that Kevin Cobb was one of those SOBs who got far less than he deserved.

Man a butter knife... OUCH!

and for some of the quoted material above the NY Daily News

By the way, gotta love the NY Daily News Headline in this case"I killed my coke-fiend husband in self-defense." Kind of says it all n'est-ce pas?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Should Lindsey Lohan Go To Jail? Why This Celebrity Means Something To You.

There is a debate raging over at my favorite blog the ABA News today over what should happen to "poor little Lindsey Lohan". For the uninitiated, She has been in two drug related DWI's she has completely destroyed her probations and she has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and rehab. She then fired her attorney (yes it must be their fault that you are a F.U. and need to be ib jail the way fish need to be in water)and demands that she get a "pro bono" lawyer. Her rep said she had already paid for two lawyers and now the government should pay.

She is pathetic but aside from that, should Lindsey go to jail and for how long. You may be wondering why I care. I suggest to you that we should all care. Not only about Lohan, but Gibson, and Spears and a number of other A-list stars who while the tabloids make them fodder, corrupt our corrections and criminal justice systems.

Hat tip: ABA New Now

Look, in our system, “punishment is not meant to fit the crime” it is meant to fit the criminal. Despite the BS from “victim advocates” Corrections is about correcting. It costs us way too much money to incarcerate people who do bad things but whom we can handle in other ways.

I get really frustrated every time I hear a crime victim cry out for jail time. You want jail time, you pay for it. I only want jail when it is needed to get the person back into life and being a productive tax paying entity. I don't like crime and I feel bad for victims but not at the expense of my family and yours. Restitution and knowing that the perpetrator is being addressed so as to reduce the chance someone else will suffer, is all that a criminal justice system owes to the victim. If they want more, they can avail themselves of the civil Justice system. The Criminal Justice system owes me and you however a corrected and useful member of society. A person who can carry their own weight without again becoming part of the system again. It owes us some semblance of safety as well. Lohan is not a mass murderer, though she has been lucky not to take a life. If we incarcerate her without getting her help, she just comes out an older addict just as likely to re-offend and kill or maim someone. Hence Jail for Jail’s sake is a waste of my tax money and everyone's time. I abhor such waste especially by government.

Lohan is not just a person, she is a product. Just like Mel Gibson and Britney. Because of them, many people have jobs. Many more will have jobs and those people pay taxes and help an economy that we all rely on. Staff, record company employees, ticket takers and pop corn salesmen, people who clean up stadiums and offices, parking attendants, all have jobs because of people like these. So do the folks who feed these other people (like the lawyers who serve those people) (not the stars but the help staffs and others)need them working. Who gets really screwed in a baseball strike? The vendors and the fans. The superstars come out just fine. It is very much a butterfly effect. We need to remember this

I suggest more jail is needed for Lohan, not because I want to see her in jail, but because she is an addict and has an addict’s view of the world that needs to be addressed before she can begin to become productive. Until she is brought to bottom, she will not be receptive to the help available to her. She still see’s it as being all about poor little Lindsey. When it becomes about “look what I am doing to all those that depend on me, all those who believe in me, my fans family (as it is constituted) etc, that is when she will begin to be ready to get the help she needs.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why Are American's So Dumb?

This post is a rant, so if you don't want a rant, go elsewhere.

I am sick of seeing a bunch of lunatics try to run our nation on half lies and rumor. I am also sick of people trying to use half-wit reasoning and because they bellow the loudest they get treated like they actually know something. Let's have a nation where everyone's freedom of speech is appreciated and coveted and not just the people with whom we agree.

About a month ago, Helen Thomas went nuts in an impromptu interview with my old (like 40 years long)friend Rabbi David Nessenoff. Now David is one of my oldest and dearest friends. He is without a doubt one of the finest and bravest people I know. He was absolutely right to air his interview with the octogenarian Thomas and he was entitled to draw the opinion that Thomas was both biased against Israeli interests and that she maybe hit an age where she ought best to retire. The former opinion could be gleaned from her statements that Israeli's ought to get out of Palestine and go back to Germany and Russia. For this she shows a bias, but she is entitled to her opinion and no one, and I mean no one should have been asked to remove her from her job. She was a op-ed writer and to do that job she has to have an opinion. I am often moved to want to fire Rachel Maddow, Ariana Huffington, Anne Coulter, and a number of other people who think that debate is nothing more than a bunch of sarcastic comments strung together with a ridiculous idea to make one sound as ludicrous as possible. Then when she has insulted the other side enough she is crowned a spokeswoman for her side.

Not one of these people could hold a lamp to a William F. Buckley, Joan Didion, George Will, or John Galbrith. What passes as debate in today's hip-hop world is not the stiletto sharp barbed airing of ideas but the in your face name-calling that neither educates nor leads one to think. It is all pop and no corn. What's worse is that when we don't agree with them, we try to hound them off the air making them inconsequential.

The latest "High tech lynching" is over at CNN. I am speaking about the firing of 20ish year veteran Octavia Nasr.
She dare tweeted that she was sorry that Hezbollah leader Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah had died.

Now personally, I am not all that fond of this guy. He rooted for the destruction of Israel, and blessed the guys who later blew themselves and the US Embassy and a Marine Barracks (killing a number of Americans.) I think he is more terrorist and criminal sympathizer than hero, but I can understand Nasr's appreciation of his pro-women's stance in Islam (now that is something different) and that one may argue that as a Hezbollah leader he has a legitimately obtained dislike for Israel. (Legitimately in that he comes by it naturally having grown up Muslim in the mid-east and didn't come to his position by other choosing).

Of course that "serious" misjudgment that she may have an opinion other than those of her viewers caused CNN to shut her down. Now I get it. We here in the USA like Israel for a number of reasons both good and bad. However to act like a wounded dog and hound her out of a job she did pretty well shows the tolerance of a 3 year old. Freedom of speech with a large part of what makes debate possible. Intelligent debate requires that people who differ and have reasons. I am sure I could make a better case for Fedallah's death than can be made for him being a loving Human Rights figure. That is not the point. Nasr had a right to her views and I a right to disagree. I do not have the right to order her off the air to assuage my feelings.

I am just saying I guess that we aren't going to grow any more smarter just listening to those that agree with our position.

I am just saying...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Of Regan, Kennedy, and Rockwell: TIme To Reflect On Being An American Not a Republicat or Demorican

A very interesting exhibit opened at the Smithsonian Art Museum In Washington DC. this Fourth of July weekend. It is a retrospective of the works of Norman Rockwell, as seen through the eyes of two of America's greatest living movie directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Each has lent parts of their extensive Rockwell collections to the exhibit.

Rockwell is remembered as a artist who captured America and Americans at their best in worst times. Central to his work were the pieces that became known as the "Four Freedoms."

Rockwell told our story, the American story of the 1930's through the 1960's. His paintings captured the fear and strength of an emerging superpower. He captured our sense of wonder and our sense of determination. He was oft criticized for only capturing our "good times", but anyone who has ever really looked at his body of work, especially at "Southern Justice", and "The Problem We All Live With" knows that Rockwell understood both the American ability to do absolutely the right thing and the most horrible things. He just chose to most often show us, and remind us, of our best moments. His work reinforces that we proceed the farthest the fastest by working together.

In a like way, John F. Kennedy asked us to do the same thing. No one since Lincoln had been more divisive than the Boston Brahmin-like , Harvard educated yet Roman Catholic JFK. Our first WWII vet President and War Hero he was from an old line political machine yet like Theodore Roosevelt spoke like a populist.

He won a contested election. The nation was 50/50 for and against him, and yet Kennedy is revered by most Americans not only because he was killed by an assassin's bullet, but because he called on us to serve each other, to do not what was best or expedient for oneself but to do what was best for our nation. He ushered us in with a feeling that we could do ANYTHING. Land on the moon. Sure! Make the world safe for democracy. Absolutely! Equalize race relations. Without a doubt! We believed because he did. We believed because, our leaders, split as they were against each other, made it their job to do a job.

Ronald Regan. An Actor. A liberal labor leader turned Goldwater Republican. Was gonna lead us into war with the Soviets. Was going to destroy the poor and trample on the rights of everyone he didn't agree with.

Nope. He too saw the shining light on the hilltop as our nation. He engineered the fall of the Soviet Empire, and the rebirth of our nation as a superpower of import without firing a single shot. He stabilized our economy and made us proud of ourselves. Not by focusing on the things that kept us apart, but rather focusing on what brought us together. He fought with leaders of the left, and they with him, but the name calling we were now? The garbage that passes for political debate today? Non existent under his watch.

Regan Kennedy and Rockwell all understood the limits of America, but they called on us to remember not who we weren't but who we were and more importantly whom we could be.

To my Tea Party and Liberal friends, CUT IT OUT! Please don't send me another piece of E-mail that attacks President Obama or Senator McConnell. I don't care at this point where the hell Obama was born. I don't care that Michael Steele took some conservative yuppies to a burlesque show. Please never say "Rush Limbaugh" or "Rachel Maddow"to me, even in a joke.

I care that I want health care. I want my employees covered and I want to be covered. I know you want that too.

I want to be able to afford a vacation and still be able to retire some day. I know you want that too.

I want to give less money to the government and I want to make more money than I do. Who doesn't want this??

I want then poor to have shelter, and education. I want there to be no poverty in our nation. Republicans and Democrats want this too.

I want to live free. I don't want to have to be screened to get into my local library. Don't we all want this?

I want to save the environment and to know that our earth will feed my great great grandchildren someday. It isn't just my dream is it??

I would like you, as my elected officials to only tell me how you will do this. I do not want to hear your critique of the other guy's idea. (I am smart enough to do that critique myself, thank you.)

If I like your ideas better than the others that I hear, I will vote for you, donate to your campaigns and respect you.

If you shout down your opponent, call him or his ideas names mis-characterize his programs and act like a spoiled child if he wins the election, I will not vote for you, I will not support you and I WILL NOT RESPECT YOU!!

I ask, no I beg, the Sergeants at Arms of the United States House and Senate to post a print of Rockwell's "Freedom of Speech" at the door of each chamber. Maybe that will remind you those guys of what this is really all supposed to be about.

Hattip: NY Times

Friday, July 02, 2010

Happy Fourth of July: Ray Charles Sings America The Beautiful

This is an ode, a love song to a country. My Country, Our Country. I love to hear Ray Charles sing America the Beautiful. Please listen to it with me today and all weekend. The words to the original are printed here below:

America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

I cannot say it better than they did. Please have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Hattip: Scoutsongs.com



Monday, June 28, 2010

Planning to come to NYC this Fourth of July?

A friend posted on Facebook that he was coming to NY City on the weekend of the Fourth of July. He asked for suggestions on things to do in NY City Queens Brooklyn and Long Island.

Here are my suggestions for food and fun in New York City:
July 2nd:
Dine early at Bella Blu on 70th and Lex then cab across town to catch
either "Promises Promises" or "Fences" (with Denzel Washington) before it closes on the 13th.)

July 3rd:
Go to the Museum of Sex, it is not what you think but you will learn a lot and there is usually no lines. Not sure if it is open on the holiday though.

GO to Houston Street and "Send a Salami to a Kid in the ARMY" at Katz's Kosher Deli 205 Houston street. It is correctly pronounced HOW STUN not U STONE like they do it in Texas. "Doze guys don't know nuttin bout how ta talk." By the way have a Pastrami and Corn Beef combo sandwich it is legendary. Do not order a RUBEN or anything with cheese. It's a KOSHER DELI!!
Shop in SOHO and NOHO, Catch the World Cup semi final match at a good Irish Bar in NOHO.
For the more athletic head over to the HUDSON BOATHOUSE and paddle the HUDSON River for a 20 minute Kayak trip exploring the Hudson meet up at 72nd Street and Hudson River (Riverside Park) and boys and girls IT's FREE!!! Get there before 4 it is over at 5 and it starts at 11AM so plan accordingly. (Maybe only half of a Katz's sandwich)

Make reservations and eat at the best Steakhouse in NYC (but it is located in Brooklyn.) Walk over the Williamsburg Bridge and it is right at the bottom of the bridge across from the historic Williamsburg Savings bank. It is called Peter Luger's Steakhouse. It DOES NOT TAKE CREDIT CARDS BRING A LOT OF CASH (Order Steak for 3 (about$200 bucks) with the Homefried Potatoes and DO NOT ORDER the appetizers as you will not have room. Wash it down with Brooklyn Lager. Have any desert "MIT SCHLAG" (whipped cream but trust me, it is different here). Take a cab back to Manhattan, write me a thank you note...

On Friday or Saturday night: Go to Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Coca Cola Club for the second show and stay for the after show and if there is one, the show after that (Cost you about 50 dollars pp for the night.) The Jazz is unreal even if it isn't the kind of music you usually listen too. GO BACK TO HOTEL IT IS AFTER 2AM.

JULY 4th
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and go to Grimaldi's pizza on the other side. They do not sell slices and do not take credit cards. Bring cash.
now walk back across and then go across to Battery park and get ready for the FIREWORKS (yup it is on the Hudson River this year) Find a spot by 7 the show starts at 9:30 and ends at 10ish. Bring a transistor radio and listen to the music on 1010 AM.

Want to do something... DECADENT???
Walk back up Canal street to the east side and then go north on the Bowery and go left on Spring Street (at the end of Little Italy and start of SOHO) then
Go into "Rice to Riches" on Spring and Mott streets, Have the most unbelievable gourmet rice pudding EVER. (Send some to me as a gift for all this insider info). It closes at 1 am. It will be crowded until the close. Taste all the different types then pick two AND get a topping or two. I like the Strawberries and they are in season now.

JULY 5th
Up early? Get to Jones Beach on Long Island and catch up with some sun. Get a spot early leave by NOON too much sun is bad for you.

Get a cab to Astoria, and enjoy some of the best Ethnic food in NY. There is great Afgan and Middle eastern cuisine on Steinway street smoke some hooka.
I love the Italian at Brick Cafe on 34th Ave and 31st St. OR you could get the best Italian anywhere at Trattoria L'incontro (Ditmars and 31st Ave)which features the creations of it's owner Rocco Sacrome. DO NOT EVEN THINK OF ORDERING FROM THE MENU!! Everyone will know you are a tourist! Rocco offers over 40 specials and trust me THEY ARE ALL SPECIAL. They are recited by the staff from memory. The place is unreal. The food is Abruzzese style. If you haven't tried it, try it today, Abruzzi is the finest region of Italy. If his new Cookbook is published, buy it and get it autographed.

okay time to finish the day:

Go to Citi Field get there by 5 and watch batting practice then look at the Jackie Robinson Exhibit in the main hall, Then catch the game Mets (a half game out of 1st as of tonight) v. Cincinnati Reds. Stay after it ends for the FIREWORKS (it is pyrotechniques nite) The stadium is beautiful the food there at all the vendors is top notch and I love fireworks.

Or you could just book down to Governor's Island for the afternoon, sunbathe listen to music, eat your picnic basket lunch (which you got from Dean and Deluca's in Rockefeller Center. Then stay till nightfall and listen to a free outdoor concert by the NY Philharmonic. Do I hear another trip to Rice to Riches? Or maybe a repast of French food at L'Express on Park and 19th it is open 24/7 and is good. If you get there before 12AM you can go to Les Halles a couple blocks north on Park Ave. it is the home of Chef Anthony Bourdin of Food Channel fame.

July 6th
On the way to La Guardia in the Morning catch breakfast at Jackson Hole just north of the airport on the Grand Central.

You could visit me...
Have fun and have a safe trip.

Oh yeah we know have offices at 14 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan.

Monday, April 19, 2010

U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings Shocker: Hofstra Law School Jumps 14 spots.

US News & World Reports Law School Rankings came out last week and my Alma Mater Hofstra University School of Law just jumped Fourteen (14)points!

Just two years ago, Hofstra did not even qualify as a tier 1 school. Last year it squeaked in at number 99 but this year it establishes itself as a school on the rise.

As an Alum I am of course very proud of both the faculty and staff as well as the students who made this happen. I am not sure of the efficacy of a law school ranking system to begin with, but if you are going to have one, then I guess it is better to be in the top tier than not.

My fear is that the areas that the USNWR survey thinks are important may become over pronounced and take from the school the things that make it relevant to its students.

For example, Hofstra used to bring in a lot of returning students and students that had little or no intention of practicing law once they got their degrees. That number has been reduced to a large extent because of the shear cost of getting a degree these days. Those returning students however provided a real lesson in perseverance in their younger classmates. Their real life lessons made our classes more "interesting" and frankly less obtuse. If this were to be diminished in search of higher ranked applicants and at the expense of the small class sizes, then I would think that while the ranking would be better, the educational experience would be far lessened.

I am sure that the clinic program and trial program (which US News does not rank highly but whose students regularly win trial competitions against those schools that are well rated in these areas) remain a vital part of the curricular and will as the school's reputation grows become a source of US News pride as well.

For those of you who are thinking about law school, I highly recommend Hofstra School of law. Its proximity to both the hub of Long Island (Nassau County) legal practice and that of NYC, makes it an attractive place to go to school and increases the chance of finding a job Tenfold.

U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings Shocker: Hofstra Law School Jumps 14 spots.

US News & World Reports Law School Rankings came out last week and my Alma Mater Hofstra University School of Law just jumped Fourteen (14)points!

Just two years ago, Hofstra did not even qualify as a tier 1 school. Last year it squeaked in at number 99 but this year it establishes itself as a school on the rise.

As an Alum I am of course very proud of both the faculty and staff as well as the students who made this happen. I am not sure of the efficacy of a law school ranking system to begin with, but if you are going to have one, then I guess it is better to be in the top tier than not.

My fear is that the areas that the USNWR survey thinks are important may become over pronounced and take from the school the things that make it relevant to its students.

For example, Hofstra used to bring in a lot of returning students and students that had little or no intention of practicing law once they got their degrees. That number has been reduced to a large extent because of the shear cost of getting a degree these days. Those returning students however provided a real lesson in

Monday, April 05, 2010

Understanding Internships: Are You An Intern or a Slave?

The summer internships are on their way. For many High School, College and even Grad Students, the economy is dictating that, in highly sought after opportunities, payment of any kind may be discretionary.

In a NY Times piece last week Reporter Steve Greenhouse described how many young people are not being treated fairly by employers who either paid them below minimum wage, or below scale and called the experience an "Internship."

I spent most of my law school career in unpaid or stipended (which is to say low paying) internships. I worked for government entities and learned a lot. I received hands on opportunities and I had a pretty prestigious resume line for the trouble. Now I was fortunate, my parents by this point in our lives were comfortable enough to allow me to take on these experiences and provided money for me to live on. Many however are not so lucky. Moreover, many students are getting internships that teach them nothing and take the job of other employees all for the aid to the employers profit margin.

Believe it or not, the government actually has a set of guidelines that one may use to determine if their unpaid internship is in fact an internship or a indentured servitude.

Essentially, an internship must have the following six requirements to be able to be unpaid:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has developed the six
factors below to evaluate whether a worker is a trainee or an employee for purposes of
the FLSA:
1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the
employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic
educational instruction;
2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees;
3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the
activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually
be impeded;
5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training
period; and
6. The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to
wages for the time spent in training.
If all of the factors listed above are met, then the worker is a “trainee”, an employment
relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime
provisions do not apply to the worker. Because the FLSA’s definition of “employee” is
broad, the excluded category of “trainee” is necessarily quite narrow. Moreover, the fact
that an employer labels a worker as a trainee and the worker’s activities as training and/or
a state unemployment compensation program develops what it calls a training program
and describes the unemployed workers who participate as trainees does not make the
worker a trainee for purposes of the FLSA unless the six factors are met. Some of the six
factors are discussed in more detail below.

In my office, we try to adhere to these six requirements strictly. It is impossible to work in a law office without there being some profit to our firm or clients, and it is impossible to work if people do not file. Heck even I file. However our intern program (which I have run off and on for 25 years now) has the qualities required.

For example, the interns work a part-time schedule usually 3 eight hour days unless we are in a trial. They get hands on learning under the watchful eye of a licensed attorney they participate in conferences, meet clients and visit them at the jail (when the client is incarcerated.) They go to court and work on briefs and articles as if they were working for a law review.

They go to meals and bar events with us and take their meals during the work day with the attorney to whom they are assigned.

Their work is usually not billed to the client (unless their name is on it such as on a brief) and they journal their experiences so that we may answer any unasked questions they may have. They have no guarantee of employment however we often do hire those that have interned for us.

If a kid is spending more than an hour or two a day filing, getting coffee for rather than with his boss, and answering phones (like a receptionist as opposed to say a para-legal) then the first prong of the test is violated as is the second, third and fourth prongs.

Internships are a great mentoring tool. They provided many young people an opportunity to obtain skills that give them a running start on a job. Unfortunately in the hands of the uninformed or worse unscrupulous they are torturous and a waste of the student's time.

If you are considering having an unpaid or low paid intern or internship program this summer, and want to know if you are in compliance, or if you are an unpaid or low paid intern and think you are being unfairly treated, give me a call and we will try to help you.

Hattip: The New York Times.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter, The Lord Has Risen. Will You Help a Mom Of Two Find A Bone Marrow Donor?

Christ has risen. I am in a hopeful mood. Maybe it is the sudden turn in the weather, or maybe it is the good food mom serves on Easter Sunday. Either way, I am blogging again for better or worse. If you want to know where I've been, I have been trying cases left and right.

I tried a Rape case (statutory) in Queens and a Retaliation Employment Harassment case in the US District Court Eastern District of New York in the Central Islip NY (that is in Suffolk County for the uninitiated).

The results in the former case were mixed but not up to what I had hoped. In the latter case the case went well despite the pleadings which were filed "Pro Se" (by the client without the aid of an attorney.) These were my Third and Fourth Trial since December 17th 2009. I have two more scheduled in April, both of which will go to trial. Both are in Nassau County NY. May will bring Mother's day, Graduation of my eldest and in the latter part of the month a huge Prisoner's Rights, Civil Rights trial in Syracuse NY. June and early July is filled with two very interesting trials in Riverhead (Suffolk.) In between I was just a team leader for the week long,NYSBA Young Lawyer Trial Advocacy program at Cornell Law School. Wow I am tired, lol

I don't usually blog my cases until they are over, lest some juror read it "by accident." I think I will continue that habit, although I will be mentioning some of the issues I am running into if I think they are interesting enough.

In the meantime, I have a received a request to help find a Bone Marrow match for Thespina Pontisakos. She is a wife of an attorney and a mom of two sons. Thespina has Myelodysplastic Syndrome(MDS) and she will die if we don't find a donor match. Be the remedy. Join the registry. (Go to the link above and enter the Promo Code: helpthespina

You see, if the match is found, and Thespina gets the Bone Marrow transplant, Thespina lives, if not she dies. That seems easy enough. Try to help, it is almost painless to find out if you match. If you match, you will have the power to save a life. If you don't match Thespina, maybe you can save someone else. Either way, it appears to be an easy choice.

If you are going to be registering, or have registered already, and want to leave a thought or two here, I will publish them. Meanwhile, please, spread the word.

Monday, January 18, 2010

San Diego Gestapo...uhhh police...Arrest Innocent Jet Fan

People ask sometimes ask me "what can be worse than the murder of an innocent person by a violent criminal?
For me that is an easy answer: Members of the government allegedly acting on my behalf,and at my expense, who abuse their authority and arrest an innocent person. I am not going to get into the whole thing about allowing 100 guilty men to go free so that one innocent man is not imprisoned, but watching this tape enrages me just as much as the acts of these two idiots in Connecticut.

Thank goodness, a thoughtful fan from San Diego used his camera to record what can only be described as a totalitarian behavior from San Diego's men in blue.

These cops shamed their city, their taxpayers and their badges/uniforms. If I were Mayor of NY I'd be calling for an investigation, and if I were Mayor of San Diego there would be one ongoing right now. A bunch of cops would be on desk duty and a few would be looking at demotions and other discipline! Here is the story in the NY POST

Saturday, January 16, 2010

PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker: I'm Playin Poker, Are You?

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! This PokerStars tournament is a No Limit Texas Hold’em event exclusive to Bloggers, you too can take part by registering on WBCOOP

Registration code: 240027

Wish me luck. Look for regular updates about my success(or lack thereof)at the tables here and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ThatLawyerDude.

Oh yeah, this provides a good opportunity to again remind everyone who cares about personal freedom to support the Poker Players Alliance. Go here for more information: http://theppa.org/

Seems even President Obama sees the benefits of playing poker

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Justice Scalia Gives The President ( and the rest of us) Something To Think About

It is a new year here and first thing out of the box is a story about, Justice Scalia suggesting there are too many judges on the Supreme court.

Note I didn't say too many lawyers. (He is not advocating the promotion of non attorney's to the bench.)Scalia is actually saying what a lot of libertarians have been saying over the past 20 years, that is, there are not enough trial lawyers and other non-government lawyers on the bench and it is skewing the court to a position of over favoring the government at the expense of the individual.

Throughout history up until the last 20 years, there have always been non-judicial members of the court. Now most of the makeup of the SCOTUS are former prosecutors and government lawyers who then became judges pretty much right out of the government service without spending any real time in the well on behalf of an individual or company. The mindset of a person who works with the government their whole lives is that the government is always right. That was the antithesis of the fabric of our Constitution writers.

Scalia makes an excellent point that the court needs people on it who have spent a good portion of their lives defending the needs and rights of people.

One doesn't need to be a "Constitutional scholar" to be a good appellate court justice. Mr. President if you are looking for a few names for consideration that may share your sense of right wrong and and the American way, how about Professor Charles Ogletree from Harvard, Hon. Dennis Archer a former mayor of Detroit, Michigan Supreme Court Justice and recent past president of the American Bar Association (also the first president of the ABA of color.) or Judge Nancy Gertler a trial judge in the first circuit who spent much of her early career as a Criminal Defense lawyer?

Whom do you think would make a good Supreme Court Justice??

Hat tip: Law.Com

Edited to add hyperlink to posting and Hat tip.