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Most Read Stories
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Friday, November 30, 2007
Here's the story by The New York Law Journal's Mark Faas:
Ex-NY Prosecutor Indicted for Leaking Info to Inamorato
New York Lawyer
November 28, 2007
By Mark Fass
New York Law Journal
A former Brooklyn prosecutor was indicted yesterday on charges she provided a defense attorney - another former Brooklyn prosecutor who is now her husband - with confidential information regarding prosecution witnesses in cases against two of his clients.
Sandra Fernandez faces 12 separate charges, including official misconduct, falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing.
"It is extremely disheartening when a prosecutor charged with upholding the law is accused of violating the law," Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, who was appointed as a special prosecutor for the case, said in a statement released yesterday.
"The defendant's alleged actions represent a serious breach of the public trust and should not be lightly regarded."
According to the complaint, Ms. Fernandez, 35, an assistant district attorney from September 2001 until she was terminated in February 2007, performed criminal-background and Department of Motor Vehicle checks of three witnesses in her husband's cases using the state's proprietary system. She faces up to four years in prison.
Her husband, Douglas G. Rankin, is not being charged.
Ms. Fernandez, who appeared yesterday before Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Richard N. Allman, was released on her own recognizance.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Sources report that a group of attorneys and claimants in New York and Washington, D.C. are readying a federal lawsuit against a major international law firm and the New York State Departmental Disciplinary Committee.
It is reported that the complaint will charge that the law firm defrauded the courts and conspired with the Departmental Disciplinary Committee to attack the claimants who were locked in a lengthy litigation with a key firm client tied to the Clinton Administration. The complaint is expected to charge that the firm’s actions assisted in the theft of stock interests and other corporate assets. Damages to be sought total over $100 million.
The reported new filing comes in the wake of the action recently brought by Christine C. Anderson. That case also alleges official corruption on the part of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, and seeks federal intervention to oversee the affairs of the New York Ethics Committee.... MORE TO COME..............
Famous NY Lawyer Jumps to the Defense of Quadriplegic NY Judge
New York Lawyer
November 27, 2007
By Joel Stashenko
New York Law Journal
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct often fails to sufficiently take into account the "human condition" when it considers cases, the commission's chairman asserted in an opinion concurring with the commission's decision to censure an upstate justice.
Chairman Raoul Felder noted that Valatie Village and Kinderhook Town Justice Edward J. Williams in Columbia County is a quadriplegic facing "often insurmountable, sometimes humiliating" challenges in daily life. Mr. Felder chided the staff of the commission for seeking to take away an important portion of his life by seeking his removal from the bench after 25 years for the ex parte conversation he had in connection with a criminal case.
"We cannot claim to be a civilized and caring society, and yet, in our actions, not enfold into our judgments, where pertinent, the terrible burdens that others must bear in order to traverse the landscape of life," Mr. Felder wrote.
The rest of the commission, in a footnote to the majority decision released yesterday, found that Mr. Felder's concurring opinion "inappropriately relies on matters not in the record regarding Judge Williams' personal life."
Mr. Williams, who is confined to a wheelchair, appeared in person before the commission.
According to the ruling, the judge's memorandum of law included a reference to his disability, though it apparently was not used in a way to mitigate the penalty.
The dissenter in the determination released yesterday, Richard D. Emery, agreed with the staff's recommendation that Mr. Williams should be removed from office because the justice has been before the commission four times for disciplinary actions since 1993, receiving an admonition in 2001 and censure in 2002.
Mr. Emery also added a footnote in which he joined the majority in criticizing Mr. Felder's concurrence.
"The problem with Mr. Felder's sympathetic exposition on the daily life of Judge Williams is that, apparently, Judge Williams either does not view his life in the same way as Mr. Felder or, more to the point, does not consider his disability an appropriate basis for mitigation in his case," Mr. Emery wrote. "I assume that if he did, his able counsel would have offered evidence to support such a claim."
Mr, Emery noted that "we are required to limit our review of mitigation evidence to those factors that are probative of a judge's proclivity to repeat misconduct. Nothing that I can think of about Judge Williams' disability informs us on that point. If he is to be credited in this case, it should be for not playing that card. Regrettably, Mr. Felder has inappropriately chosen to play that card for him. "
The case before the commission involved a conversation Mr. Williams allegedly had with a state trooper he bumped into at the Columbia County Fair in 2004. At that time, Mr. Williams was deciding a harassment charge in Valatie Village Court against Daniel Wloch, who had gotten into a confrontation with his neighbor over the neighbor's barking dog.
Mr. Wloch testified that he was told by a trooper that the harassment charge would be disposed of like a "traffic ticket" and he would probably face a $100 fine. When Mr. Williams ran into the trooper, possibly the same one who had discussed the case with Mr. Wloch, he asked the trooper about the conversation and warned him not to discuss the outcome of pending cases. The trooper denied having the discussion with Mr. Wloch.
After finding Mr. Wloch guilty of harassment and fining him $100, Mr. Williams acknowledged in court to having had the conversation with the trooper. The judge denied that the discussion had shaded his thinking about Mr. Wloch's guilt or veracity.
The commission determined that by having such an ex parte conversation Mr. Williams "compromised his integrity." It said that Mr. Williams should have known better because his 2002 censure was for having an ex parte conversation with another judge over rescinding an order of protection issued against one of Mr. Williams' friends.
"At the very least, respondent's conversation with the trooper created the appearance that he had obtained, and relied upon, out-of-court unsworn information in making his decision in the case, thereby depriving the defendant of the fundamental right to confront and respond to the evidence against him," the commission decided.
Placed on Notice
However, the commission concluded that Mr. Williams' conduct, "although serious, does not rise to the level of 'truly egregious' misbehavior requiring the sanction of removal."
The majority said that the judge did not seek out the trooper but spoke to him in a "chance encounter." They also credited him with disclosing the conversation.
The commission warned that its decision placed the judge "on notice that any future ethical lapses will be viewed with appropriate severity.
The commission dismissed two other accusations against Mr. Williams. Mr. Felder said that left a single transgression, which "basically involved an off-hand comment at a local fair."
Mr. Felder said he concurred with censure because Mr. Williams sought it as a punishment. The appropriate sanction in the case, Mr. Felder wrote, was "between censure and something less" in his mind.
But Mr. Felder said the case illustrated the need for the commission to more often balance the actions of judges against other circumstances that may have played a role into their behavior.
"It is difficult for me to accept that - in my view - in our rulings and prosecutions we do not fully allow the panoply of the human condition (other than those often rehearsed easy-to-fake emotions of remorse or contrition) to play a more prominent role in our considerations and actions as a Commission," he wrote.
Mr. Felder, a matrimonial lawyer, was appointed to the disciplinary panel in 2003 by then-Governor George E. Pataki. He was elected chairman in 2006.
All other members of the commission issued a statement of no confidence in Mr. Felder in April 2007, after the publication of a book entitled "Schmucks!" he wrote with comedian Jackie Mason. The commission's majority blasted the book as "crude, biased, vulgar and otherwise demeaning."
While both sides said they were exploring their legal options at the time, no move has been made to formally remove Mr. Felder as chairman and he has continued to participate in commission determinations. His term on the commission and as chairman runs out on March 31, 2008.
Mr. Felder said in an interview yesterday that he felt "very strongly" that the staff of the commission and some of the members themselves were "battering" the judge during a hearing without taking into consideration his disabilities.
"I just felt that these people are very secure in the cocoon of their perfection and they don't embrace the human dynamic involved in some of these things," Mr. Felder said.
Mr. Williams' attorney, Thomas J. O'Hern of Gerstanzang, O'Hern, Hickey & Gerstenzang in Albany, declined comment on the commission's decision other than to say, "I think Raoul Felder said everything that we thought was relevant and correct."
Mr. Williams was paralyzed 39 years ago, when he was 22, in a diving accident, Mr. O'Hern said yesterday.
"He's basically lived with it his entire adult life," Mr. O'Hern said.
Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said in an interview yesterday he had sought the removal of Mr. Williams "because I thought it was appropriate given his prior disciplinary history."
"It made no difference to the victims of the judge's misconduct that he is in a wheelchair," Mr. Tembeckjian said. "This case was simply about the judge's ethical, not physical, limitations. Although we disagreed as to sanction, it was sound public policy for the commission majority and my staff to approach this matter on the merits."
Mr. Williams, a non-lawyer, receives $5,400 a year as Kinderhook Town Court justice and $4,200 a year as Valatie Village Court justice. He has been justice in the Valatie court since 1982 and in Kinderhook since 1984.
In addition to the censures and admonishment against him, Mr. Williams was also issued a letter Letter of Dismissal and Caution for being discourteous to an attorney in 1993. His 2001 admonishment was for improper political activity.
Monday, November 26, 2007
The New York Law Journal has a good article by Anthony Lin that shows what may be in store for some big city law firms that believed they were untouchable....
Big Bad Bankruptcy Trustees Aim to Blow Some BigLaw Houses Down
New York Lawyer
November 26, 2007
By Anthony Lin
New York Law Journal
In April 2003, Steven Garfinkel, the chief financial officer of DVI Inc., wrote a memo to chief executive officer Michael O'Hanlon about the crushing liquidity crisis facing the health-care finance company and its implications for a pending stock float. The CFO urged his boss to talk as soon as possible to the company's main outside lawyer, John Healy, a partner in the New York office of Clifford Chance.
"John will tell you that the plans to go ahead with the exchange offer and raise capital without solving the cash problem will represent serious securities fraud," Mr. Garfinkel wrote in the memo. "Our issues now are defrauding an FDIC insured bank, which has federal law implications as well as serious civil liability issues. The board will become enormously exposed to the securities fraud implications. In John's own words - 'We all go to jail' - in my words, 'This is serious shit.'"
Mr. Healy's words to Mr. Garfinkel proved prophetic. A few months later, DVI filed for bankruptcy, where it emerged that the Jamison, Pa.-based company, which reported $2.8 billion in assets at the time of its filing, had for years concealed its true financial condition. In March 2007, Mr. Garfinkel was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in the scandal, making him one of the first executives successfully prosecuted under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
As for Clifford Chance, it is now facing two lawsuits in federal court in Philadelphia charging that it participated in the fraud at the company. One is the familiar shareholder class action, which is also targeting Merrill Lynch and Deloitte & Touche. The other suit, however, is by DVI itself, or, rather, the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the fallen company's estate. Trustee Dennis J. Buckley requested $2 billion in damages from the London-based law firm in a complaint filed in March 2006.
Though they garner fewer headlines, such bankruptcy trustee suits have largely replaced shareholder class actions in the nightmares of law firm managing partners. These suits are often better-funded, better-lawyered and, with the U.S. Supreme Court likely to further limit third-party liability in securities fraud cases, they may soon have a distinct legal edge as well.
"These are the lawsuits firms are most worried about now," said Michael Carlinsky, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges who is representing Marc S. Kirschner, the bankruptcy trustee of failed commodities brokerage Refco Inc. in a $2 billion suit against the company's former lawyers at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, among others.
Indeed, the journey of Enron Corp. law firm Vinson & Elkins illustrates the shifting landscape of law firm liability. The Houston-based firm vigorously fought the high-profile securities fraud suit brought against it by former class action king William S. Lerach, getting off scot-free with a voluntary dismissal in January 2007. But last year Vinson & Elkins quietly paid $30 million to Enron's bankruptcy trustee, who never formally filed suit against the firm.
Law Firms as Targets
While securities class actions are brought on behalf of shareholders, bankruptcy trustee suits are brought for the benefit of creditors, the biggest of which are usually banks and investment funds. These creditors have grown more aggressive about recouping losses, lawyers say, with trustees acting accordingly.
"In the past, there was not a strong inclination on the part of trustees to sue lawyers and accountants," said Stephen F. Caley, a bankruptcy partner at Kelley Drye & Warren. "Over time that broke down and now they go after everyone."
Denis F. Cronin, a bankruptcy litigator who represented Vinson & Elkins before the Enron bankruptcy trustee and recently joined the firm himself as a New York partner, declined to discuss that case, but agreed that bankruptcy litigation has become a bigger concern for law firms. He said distressed-debt hedge funds, which buy bankruptcy claims as an investment, bore a large part of the blame.
"They'll fight for every two or three cents," said Mr. Cronin.
Mr. Caley also said that hedge funds had raised the stakes for lawyers.
"More than a lot of other plaintiffs, they've shown little hesitation about suing law firms," he said.
But Mr. Kirschner said there were no distressed-debt hedge funds behind the Refco case, in which Chicago-based Mayer Brown is accused of handling sham transactions that company executives used to paper over massive losses ahead of an initial public offering. Refco eventually had a highly successful IPO but was forced into bankruptcy a few weeks later, when its suspect transactions came to light. Refco's collapse has also given rise to a shareholder class action, now pending in federal court in New York.
Michael Venditto, a partner at Anderson Kill & Olick who is representing DVI's bankruptcy trustee, also said there were no distressed-debt hedge funds driving that case, just the misconduct that led to the companies' demise.
The scandal that brought down DVI bears some resemblance to the current subprime mortgage crisis. The company, which provided financing for hospitals and clinics to buy medical equipment, had expanded its business among less-qualified borrowers. DVI moved these loans off its balance sheet through biannual securitizations, and the sale of these securities became the main source of the company's operating cash.
But when large numbers of its borrowers began to default, DVI executives allegedly tried to hide its losses in order to maintain its credit rating and its lifeblood in the securitization lifeblood. According to a bankruptcy examiner's report, they engaged in sham "round-trip" transactions designed to stave off defaults by advancing company money to delinquent borrowers. Desperate to raise capital to cover their loan losses, DVI executives turned to lenders themselves, in some cases pledging the same collateral more than once, the report says.
Both the securities class action and bankruptcy trustee suits charge that Mr. Healy, through his close working relationship with Messrs. O'Hanlon and Garfinkel, knew what was going on and participated by preparing false filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
These filings included the registration statement for the stock float Mr. Garfinkel discussed in his April 2003 memo to Mr. O'Hanlon. Addressing further SEC inquiries, Clifford Chance allegedly drafted responses that suggested that DVI maintained adequate reserves against anticipated loan losses. The trustee's suit called one of these responses "a shameful moment of outright prevarication."
In Pari Delicto
The firm's lawyer, William J. Schwartz of Cooley Godward Kronish, declined to comment on either the shareholder or trustee claims. But there are well-recognized defenses to both kinds of suits, and Clifford Chance has already raised them in court filings.
Shareholder claims against lawyers, bankers and other professionals have long run up against the U.S. Supreme Court's 1994 decision in Central Bank of Denver v. First Interstate Bank of Denver, 511 U.S. 164, which barred third-party "aider and abettor liability" in securities fraud cases. The high court is widely expected to deal another blow to shareholder suits by prohibiting third-party "scheme liability" claims when it issues its decision in the recently argued Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta, Inc.
Shareholders do not have the sort of relationship with a company's outside counsel that would give them the right to bring common-law claims based on duty or contract. On the other hand, the bankruptcy trustee, who stands in the shoes of the company, has access to any claims the company could bring against its lawyers, including legal malpractice. But this closer relationship gives rise to a major legal obstacle of its own.
In pari delicto means "in equal fault." It is a defense based on the legal doctrine that a party cannot seek relief for a crime or tort for which he or she is also to blame. In pari delicto would bar a corporation whose top executives committed fraud on the company's behalf from suing others who may have aided that fraud. That bar extends to a trustee standing in the shoes of the corporation.
It has been grounds for dismissal of many trustee actions.
"In pari delicto is real," said Mr. Cronin. "It's a big hurdle to overcome."
In the wake of the Enron scandal, many commentators called for the abolition of the in pari delicto defense in bankruptcy trustee suits, arguing that it unfairly prevented recoveries for bankruptcy trustees and, by extension, creditors by attributing to them the crimes of executives who, in most cases, were long gone from the company. But while federal circuit courts have noted law review articles calling for an end to in pari delicto, none have yet taken up the suggestion.
But several lawyers said the attitudes of courts, at least at the trial level, has become less favorable towards in pari delicto, particularly when defendants cite the defense as grounds for dismissal.
"Courts are realizing it's unfair to knock out these claims on in pari delicto," said Mr. Carlinsky. "It calls for a fact-intensive inquiry."
Most bankruptcy trustee suits against lawyers cite the so-called adverse interest exception, under which in pari delicto does not apply because the company's executives committed fraud not on the company's behalf but wholly for their own personal benefit.
The judge overseeing the DVI case declined last October to dismiss claims against Clifford Chance on in pari delicto grounds, citing the adverse interest exception. Addressing the law firm's argument that the executives' actions, however misguided, were intended to save the company, Judge Legrome Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said DVI might have been better off dead.
"Sustaining a failing corporation does not benefit the corporation if the most prudent strategy would be to immediately confront the company's fiscal realities," the judge wrote.
Incentives to Settle
Getting past a motion to dismiss is often enough for the bankruptcy trustee to extract a settlement. Law firms already have enormous incentive to settle lawsuits against them. Such cases are highly disruptive to ongoing practices, and most firms think they will be unsympathetic defendants should a case ever get to trial.
Bankruptcy trustees may have even more leverage in that regard than shareholders. Most securities class action lawyers working on contingent fees are also eager to settle with law firms, because their time is better spent focusing on defendants with deeper pockets, like investment banks. Bankruptcy trustees in large corporate failures can generally tap multi-million-dollar litigation trusts, allowing them to more vigorously pursue their claims against firms.
To do so, they often turn to firms who could just as easily show up on the defense side. Mr. Cronin noted that the increase in bankruptcy trustee litigation has led to more law firms being sued by erstwhile peer firms, rather than their usual foes among plaintiff's lawyers.
"If there ever was a gentlemen's agreement among firms not to sue each other, it's over now," he said.
Mr. Carlinsky said he disliked suing other lawyers, an act he described as "cannibalism," but he said the facts concerning Mayer Brown's role in Refco's collapse were extremely compelling. Mayer Brown's lawyer, John Villa of Williams & Connolly, who also previously represented Vinson & Elkins in the Enron class action, declined to comment.
The near-certainty of settlement in trustee cases means questions about the applicability of the in pari delicto defense remain unanswered, as does the larger question of how much responsibility lawyers should bear for actions taken by their clients.
Mr. Cronin said lawsuits against lawyers generally assumed that sophisticated lawyers would be able to clearly recognize certain transactions as fraudulent, but he said even the smartest lawyers often lacked the expertise to make such judgments.
Faced with a rising threat from trustee suits, Mr. Cronin said some firms may start to turn away work from fast-growing companies whose business model or finances are extremely complex.
"Everybody's kind of scared," he said. "The threat of this alone can bust up weaker firms."
Saturday, November 24, 2007
History in the making, folks. Tammany Hall Part II is in full swing. See Iviewit's November 23, 2007 Press Release....MORE....
November 23, 2007
For Immediate Release:
NY TIMES REPORTS $80 MILLION SUIT CLAIMING WHITEWASHING IVIEWIT COMPLAINTS v.PROSKAUER & NY SUPREME COURT
NY TIMES & LAW JOURNAL REPORT $80 MILLION SUIT CLAIMING WHITEWASHING OF IVIEWIT COMPLAINTS v. PROSKAUER, STEVEN KRANE PAST NYSBA PRES, FOLEY LARDNER & NY COURT OFFICERS - REVEALED BY ATTY INSIDE WHISTLEBLOWER
United States of America (Press Release
The New York Law Journal @ http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1193648632218 and The New York Times @ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/nyregion/01suit.html?ref=nyregion reported on a federal lawsuit claiming high ranking members on the New York Supreme Court, purposely and with intent to cover-up for other high ranking court officials, caused the whitewashing of complaints against attorneys and senior court officials who committed hosts of state, federal, and international crimes against a multiplicity of governmental agencies, and in fact, threatened and coerced Plaintiff Anderson, including wrongfully terminating her and physical assault, for voicing concern that there was irrefutable evidence of wrongdoings by the attorneys and court officials to cover up the crimes committed against the United States.
In the lawsuit http://www.iviewit.tv/CCA-2-amended.pdf filed on October 27, 2007 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, filed as Christine C. Anderson v. The State of New York, et. al. S.D.N.Y., October 27, 2007 the Plaintiff affirmatively claims support by the Iviewit matters of patent sabotage, FRAUD ON THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE, intellectual property theft, and an attempted murder perpetrated by, among others, the once respected Proskauer Rose LLP and its members Kenneth Rubenstein, Steven C. Krane, (former New York State Bar President, former clerk to Chief Judge Judith Kaye), Chief Judge Judith Kaye and her late Proskauer partner husband Stephen Kaye, Christopher C. Wheeler, Foley & Lardner LLP led by its former Chairman and former Republican National Committee, Chief Counsel, Michael C. Grebe and others.
In that lawsuit, the Plaintiff factually alleges that:
Upon information and belief, defendants also state that the timing of the, Plaintiff's abrupt firing was connected to the newly circulated revelations concerning Cahill's status as an individually named defendant in a lawsuit entitled In the Matter of Complaints Against Attorneys and Counselors-At-Law; Kenneth Rubenstein-Docket 2003.0531; Raymond Joao-Docket 2003.0532; Steven C. Krane- Docket 2004.1883; Thomas J. Cahill- Special Inquiry #2004.1122; and the Law Firm of Proskauer Rose, LLP; filed by Eliot I. Bernstein, Pro Se and P. Stephen Lamont Both Individually and On Behalf of Shareholders of: Iviewit et. al., Petitioners. [Iviewit's].petition was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division: First Department.
The Iviewit Petition @ http://www.iviewit.tv/CompanyDocs/2004%2007%2008%20Cahill%20Motion%20Supreme%20court%20new%20york%20FINAL%20BOOKMAR.pdf for immediate investigation was later granted by the First Department Justices in a unanimous decision to begin immediate investigation for the Appearance of Impropriety and Conflict of Interest in Unpublished Orders:
** M3198 - Steven C. Krane & Proskauer Rose @ http://www.iviewit.tv/CompanyDocs/2004%2008%2011%20new%20york%20first%20department%20orders%20investigation%20Krane%20Rubenstein%20Joao.pdf
** M2820 Kenneth Rubenstein & Proskauer Rose
** M3212 Raymond A. Joao and Meltzer Lippe Goldstein & Schlissel and,
** Thomas J. Cahill - Special Inquiry #2004.1122 - Cahill was transferred for Special Inquiry and Investigation to Martin Gold per First Dept rules.
Original First Dept Complaints:
** Kenneth Rubenstein - Docket 2003.0531 First Department,
** Raymond Joao - Docket 2003.0532 First Department,
** Steven C. Krane - Docket 2004.1883 First Department,
** the Law Firm of Proskauer Rose, LLP and,
** the Law Firm of Meltzer Lippe Goldstein Wolfe and Schlissel
Additionally, and similar to the NYLJ and the NYT, as reported in an article aptly titled "Justice Department Widens 'Patentgate' Probe Buried by Ethics Chief Thomas J. Cahill" @ http://exposecorruptcourts.blogspot.com/2007/08/justice-dept-widens-patentgate-probe.html the Iviewit inquiries have reached the highest levels of New York & Washington political circles and into many judicial chambers as well.
The original inquiries revealed that New York ethics Chief Counsel Thomas J. Cahill of the First Department Disciplinary Committee whitewashed investigations, which recently led to his abrupt departure.
In a letter dated July 16, 2007, H. Marshall Jarret's office, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility, announced from its Washington, D.C. headquarters that it was expanding its investigation into a bizarrely stalled FBI and US Attorney investigation, initiated in 2001, that involves the theft from Iviewit of nearly 30 patents, trademarks and other intellectual properties, with an estimated value of a trillion dollars. The OPR investigation was sparked by a request from the DOJ - OIG, Inspector General Glenn Fine's Office whom is also conducting an ongoing investigation. The patent pending applications and other IP have been suspended by the Commissioner of Patents pending the outcome of ongoing state, federal and international investigations. The probe reaches some of New York's most prominent politicians and judges, and has already proven to be a stunning embarrassment to the State's ethics watchdog committees.
As a backdrop to the technologies in question, Mr. Bernstein's inventions, the Iviewit video scaling and image overlay systems, are the backbone, enabling technologies for the transmission of video and images across almost all transmission networks and viewable on all display devices, an elegant upstream solution (towards the content creator) of reconfiguring video frames to unlock bandwidth, processing, and storage constraints -- the "Holy Grail" inventions of the digital imaging and video worlds that enable low bandwidth video on the Internet and mobile phones.
As previously reported, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House Judiciary Committee(Representative John Dingell, Chair of the Energy & Commerce Committee forwarded the Iviewit matters to John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee for investigation) have known about the Iviewit investigation since about September of 2006. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office is also championing the Iviewit cause. The story is globally known in technical and intellectual property circles, with ongoing investigations at international patent offices such as the European Patent Office as well.
Full information available @ http://www.iviewit.tv/, including full pertinent documentation and images of the car bombing attempt on inventor Bernstein's life.
Eliot I. Bernstein & P. Stephen Lamont
Iviewit Technologies, Inc.
Iviewit Holdings, Inc.
About Iviewit Technologies, Inc. and Iviewit Holdings, Inc., Iviewit's innovative patent pending imaging and video technologies deliver to millions of people around the world digital video and images every day. Founded in 1998 by Eliot I. Bernstein, Jude Rosario and Zakirul Shirajeee, Iviewit's core backbone technologies deliver video and images to top web properties in all major global markets enhancing the overall web experience for users. For more information, visit www.iviewit.tv . Currently the Iviewit patent pending applications have been suspended by the USPTO pending investigations by state, federal and international authorities concerning
the theft of the IP by patent attorneys charged with filing them.
For more information:
39 Little Ave
Red Bluff, CA 96080
Visit our website: http://iviewit.tv
Eliot Bernstein & P. Stephen Lamont
Visit author's site
New York Times
New York Law Journal
Friday, November 23, 2007
Here's a front page New York Law Journal "News in Brief" story by Daniel Wise:
New Judge Named to Oversee Guardianship of Ex-Civil Court Judge
November 20, 2007
New York Law Journal – News in Brief – Page 1 – by Daniel Wise
Acting Supreme Court Justice Michael A. Ambrosio of Brooklyn has been appointed to preside over the contentious guardianship of former Civil Court Judge John L. Phillips in the wake of Justice Michael Pesce’s decision Friday to recuse himself, Office of Court Administration spokesman David Bookstaver said yesterday.
Responding to a motion to recuse from a former guardian for Mr. Phillips who has been accused of improperly handling his assets, Justice Pesce wrote that these is no legal basis to require his disqualification but that he was doing so to ‘avoid any speculation or suspicion of partiality.”
Justice Pesce, who is the presiding justice for the Appellate Term hearing appeals from lower courts in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, has also been the subject of a complaint filed with the Commission on Judicial conduct by Dee Woodburn, a former paralegal and community activist in Brooklyn. The complaint, which has been pending since April 2006, according to Ms. Woodburn, claimed that in the six years the management of Mr. Phillips’ assets had been under court supervision there had never been an accounting.
Some of Mr. Phillips’ relatives and friends have estimated that his assets, which include the Slave Theater that the Reverend Al Sharpton used to showcase many of his causes, were at one time worth $10 million. Justice Pesce had initially fined the former guardian, Emani Taylor, who had brought the recusal motion, $1,000 a day for failing to comply with an order to turn over documents relating to her handling of the guardianship (NYLJ, Jan. 12, 2007).
Mr. Phillips, 83 has Alzheimer’s disease. After the fine had mounted to $47, 000, Justice Pesce reduced it to a fixed figure, $250 (NYLJ, Feb.8). Symphonie Moss, Mr. Phillips’ stepneice and non-asset guardian, also asked for Justice Pesce to recuse himself.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
We'll let our readers point to the various issues about the 9th Judicial District, which covers Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and Orange counties. Meanwhile, read The Journal News article:
Recanting witness to resume testimony today in deli shooting
By JONATHAN BANDLER
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: November 20, 2007)
WHITE PLAINS - After a bizarre end to yesterday's session, testimony is expected to resume this morning from a witness who has recanted his testimony from the 1997 murder trial of off-duty NYPD officer Richard DiGuglielmo.
Lawyers, relatives of DiGuglielmo and victim Charles Campbell and others sat for nearly two hours waiting for Westchester County Judge Rory Bellantoni before court officers announced the session was adjourned for the day.
The judge did not believe it was appropriate for him to take the bench after his blood pressure soared during a lengthy phone conversation with Administrative Judge Francis Nicolai about an unrelated matter. The conversation began at the end of the lunch break after Bellantoni received a letter he considered disrespectful from a member of Nicolai's staff. He said the judge then berated him at length.
The two recently were among six candidates for state Supreme Court. Nicolai won one of three seats. Bellantoni did not.
After the argument, Nicolai refused to discuss the matter, saying only that it was a "frank and open conversation about courthouse matters."
Court staff heard the yelling on the phone but it could not be heard in the courtroom. The judge said afterward he could not settle down enough to resume the hearing.
DiGuglielmo was convicted of second-degree murder for the shooting of Charles Campbell on Oct. 3, 1996, in the parking lot of the Venice Deli on Ashford Avenue in Dobbs Ferry. Campbell had struck DiGuglielmo's father with a baseball bat after a confrontation over Campbell's parking in the lot while getting pizza across the street. The jury rejected DiGuglielmo's claim that he was defending his father.
Yesterday morning , Michael Dillon, a cable technician who happened by the scene that night, said his original account to detectives on the night of the shooting - that Campbell was still swinging his bat when he was shot - was accurate. He said detectives took him to headquarters three more times that week before he changed his statement to indicate Campbell was backing off and the shooting did not appear to be justified.
That was the testimony he gave at trial as well. The defense cross-examined Dillon about the change during the trial - but say now they would have done so more extensively if they had known about the intervening interviews.
Friday, November 16, 2007
While in no way excusing his actions, we have to believe that Judge David Gross believed that the system within which he acted as a judge was a thoroughly corrupt system with no oversight or accountability. So, he could do whatever he wanted, and always get away with it. This man was an active attorney and he saw other lawyers and judges getting away with everything.
Former Nassau judge sentenced for money laundering
BY ALFONSO A. CASTILLO
4:50 PM EST, November 16, 2007
Former Nassau County District Judge David Gross was sentenced Friday on federal charges that he conspired with an accused mobster to launder almost $400,000 in proceeds from stolen jewelry.
Gross, 45, pleaded guilty in July to money laundering conspiracy for his role in the scheme, which was uncovered by the FBI during an investigation into illegal gambling operations involving the Genovese and Gambino crime families.
Gross faced a maximum of 20 years in prison, but was sentenced to 33 months. He will turn himself in to federal authorities in January.
In court, Gross tearfully apologized to his family for letting them down.
Gross also agreed to surrender a 1999 Chrysler 300 automobile that he used to transport the laundered money, a pair of 1.7-carat diamond earrings given to him by an undercover federal agent, and $7,000 -- his cut from the scheme.
With his guilty plea, Gross also faces disbarment, federal prosecutors said.
Federal prosecutors say that in January 2005, while Gross was running for re-election, Genovese crime family member Nicholas Gruttadauria introduced Gross to an undercover FBI agent posing as a jewel thief.
Gross agreed to help the agent launder $130,000 in cash from stolen diamonds and watches through Cafe by the Sea, a Freeport restaurant, prosecutors said. He also agreed to help sell $280,000 worth of stolen jewelry, prosecutors said.
In a recorded conversation, Gross told the agent, "I know which rules not to break and I know how to get around everything else. ... You know, so cash is not a problem."
Gross served as a district court judge in Nassau from 1999 to 2005. During his one term, Gross built a reputation as an eccentric jurist – penning a book about his experiences on the bench entitled "If The Robe Fits," keeping a web site featuring his resume and legal decisions, and making headlines when a neighbor called the police when she caught him showering nude in his Long Beach backyard with his two young children. Gross liked to begin each day on the bench by saying, "Hi. I'm David Gross, and I'm your judge today."
Start learning more about this important judicial ethics committe at: www.scjc.state.ny.us
Here's one of their most recent postings:
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct released its 2007 Annual Report today. The Commission is the state agency responsible for investigating complaints of misconduct against judges of the state unified court system and, where appropriate, disciplining such judges for violations of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. The Report documents the Commission’s work in 2006.
** 1,500 complaints received – 3rd year in a row @ 1,500 or more
** 375 preliminary inquiries conducted
** 267 new investigations authorized – the most ever in a single year
** 221 pending matters carried forward from the previous year
** 275 matters pending at year’s end – the most since 1978
** 14 public decisions rendered:
-3 Removals from office
-5 Public Censures
-1 Public Admonition
-5 public stipulations in which judges formally charged with misconduct agreed to leave the bench and not to seek judicial office in the future
** 9 other judges resigned in 2006 while under investigation
** 50 confidential cautionary letters issued
** Budget Increase. In early 2007, for the first time in more than a generation, the Commission’s budget was significantly increased by the Legislature – from $2.8 million to $4.8 million a year – to cope with the growing workload. Staff and office space are gradually being expanded.
Since 1975, the Commission has received 35,823 complaints and conducted 6,878 investigations. 649 judges have been publicly disciplined for judicial misconduct, including 151 who were removed from office. In addition, 1,297 have been confidentially cautioned, and 392 have resigned while under investigation or formal charges.
Observations and Recommendations
The Report makes several legislative and administrative recommendations, including:
--Public disciplinary hearings by the Commission (pp. 18-19);
--Interim suspension of judges under certain circumstances (pp. 20-21); and
--Suspension from office as a final sanction (pp. 21-22).
The Report also addresses certain issues that arose in 2006 in connection with disciplinary proceedings, including:
--Judges who limit access to court proceedings and records (pp. 23-24);
--Judges who coerce defendants into plea bargains (pp. 25-27); and
--Social relations among judges and lawyers (p. 28).
Website & OFFICE ADDRESSES
The 2007 Annual Report and other information about the Commission is available at its website: www.scjc.state.ny.us
The Commission’s offices are located at the following locations:
New York, New York 10006
38-40 State Street
Albany, New York 12207
(The Albany office is relocating in mid-December to the Corning Tower in the Empire State Plaza.)
400 Andrews Street
Rochester, New York 14604
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
A source reports that an attorney ethics complaint by Judith Regan against attorney Rudolph Giuliani will soon emerge. And, says the source, the complaint is jammed with frightening allegations of gross ethical violations.
To the right, see the recently Amended federal complaint against the people in charge of upholding the ethics of attorneys from Manhattan and The Bronx, "Tammany Hall II - NY Ethics Scandal"
Think: whitewashing, cover up, no accountability, favors-for-cash, no oversight, and no ethics. Think: selling the public trust and positions of power. Think: New York, business as usual. It's time for a clean up of the corruption.
Judith Regan, Who Signed Up OJ for "If I Did It," Sues Ex-Bosses for $100 Million
New York Lawyer
November 14, 2007
By Samuel Maull
The Associated Press
NEW YORK -- One-time publishing powerhouse Judith Regan filed a $100 million lawsuit Tuesday saying her former employers asked her to lie to federal investigators about Bernard Kerik, the recently indicted former police commissioner who was once her lover, and tried to destroy her reputation.
Regan, who worked for HarperCollins Publishers LLC, said the smear campaign stems from her past intimate relationship with Kerik, who was police commissioner under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and from the political agenda of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., the parent company of HarperCollins.
Regan, 54, says in court papers that News Corp.'s political agenda centers on Giuliani's presidential ambitions. It was Giuliani, a Republican, who appointed Kerik police commissioner and recommended him to President Bush as homeland security secretary.
Kerik had to withdraw his nomination after it was revealed he had not reported the wages he paid to a nanny. He pleaded not guilty Friday to a wide-ranging 16-count federal indictment charging him with conspiracy, corruption and tax evasion.
Regan says "it is now widely accepted" that one of Giuliani's vulnerabilities is the 52-year-old Kerik. Because of Regan's affair with Kerik, court papers say, a senior News Corp. executive told her he believed she had information about Kerik that could hurt Giuliani's campaign and she should lie to federal investigators.
Court papers say another executive told Regan, a HarperCollins editor for 12 years, to withhold documents that were clearly relevant to the government's investigation of Kerik.
News Corp. spokesman Howard Rubenstein said, "The claims are preposterous."
Kerik, who married his current wife in 1998 and has two children with her, apparently began his affair with Regan in 2001 while writing "The Lost Son," in which he described being abandoned by his prostitute mother.
Regan's lawsuit says HarperCollins and News Corp. "knew they would be protecting Giuliani if they could preemptively discredit her."
In December 2006, court papers say, Regan was fired with more than two years left on her contract. The defendants said she had made anti-Semitic remarks while talking to an in-house HarperCollins lawyer, Mark Jackson, according to her court papers.
"This charge was completely fabricated," the documents say in bold print.
They say a temporary secretary who set up the Dec. 15, 2006, call and remained on the line confirmed that Regan never made any such comments.
"Defendants knew their allegations of anti-Semitic comments were false and they were manufactured to create a pretext for Regan's termination and further undermine her credibility," Regan's court papers say.
Regan's lawsuit says the statements were defamatory "because they injure Regan's professional name and reputation by charging her with making anti-Semitic comments, by implying that she is deceitful, unethical and without integrity."
Regan was fired less than a month after Murdoch canceled her plans to publish O.J. Simpson's hypothetical murder confession, "If I Did It," a book and Fox television interview that was greeted with widespread public outrage.
Regan's ReganBooks imprint at HarperCollins published a long list of racy best-sellers, including Jose Canseco's "Juiced" and Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star." She has often complained that her more literary side has been overlooked, pointing out that she has published books by Wally Lamb, Douglas Coupland and National Book Award finalist Jess Walter.
First, the Manhattan ethics scandal federal lawsuit, filed in late October, in which an insider exposed the whitewashing and cover up of serious charges against attorneys who were “connected.” Notably, that federal action seeks the appointment of a federal monitor over Manhattan's Ethics Committee.
And just last week, the explosive revelations unsealed in the Kerik indictment. And there's more to come. (Hint: stay tuned to the lawsuit filed by Judith Regan)
One common theme emerges, and which has the feds very interested: No oversight or accountability, but influence, favor and public office for sale.
We have received countless requests for government contact information from people who have evidence concerning public corruption in New York. Accordingly:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation
Public Corruption Squad C14
26 Federal Plaza
New York, New York 10278
Realizing how busy these agents are, please provide a one-page OVERVIEW that includes:
1. The full name of the main person complained of, and their position/title (include known addresses, etc.).
2. The names of other involved people, and their position/title (include known addresses, etc.).
3. Brief Summary of what you believe they did wrong.
4. Brief List of documents/evidence.
5. List of names of witnesses, with their contact information.
6. Your contact information and, if so desired, your request to be considered a CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT.
Please, please… only a one-page OVERVIEW on top of whatever you submit.
Finally, and in fairness to newly appointed New York State Chief Administrative Judge Ann T. Pfau, we advise that sources reveal that OCA is “finalizing a ground-breaking ethics overhaul of the entire NY State court system.”
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
EX-NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER BERNARD KERIK CHARGED
BY U.S. IN CONSPIRACY, TAX, AND FALSE STATEMENTS CASE
NEW YORK – Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City Police Commissioner and Commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections has been indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in White Plains, N.Y., on conspiracy, tax fraud, and false statements charges, U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia for the Southern District of New York; Patricia J. Haynes, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office, Criminal Investigation, Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and Mark Mershon, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced today.
According to the indictment, Kerik conspired with others to deprive the City of New York and its citizens of his honest services by: 1) receiving benefits—namely, approximately $255,000 in renovations to Kerik’s Riverdale, N.Y., apartment—from a company seeking to do business with the City; 2) concealing those benefits by, among other ways, failing to disclose them as required on financial disclosure reports Kerik filed with the City; and 3) taking steps to convince City regulators that the contractors were free of mob ties and should be approved to do business requiring City permits. Kerik’s receipt of the benefits and his actions on behalf of the company occurred while Kerik was the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections, and his acts of concealment occurred while he held that post and while he held the post of New York City Police Commissioner.
The indictment also charges Kerik with impeding the Internal Revenue Service and with multiple counts of false tax returns in connection with: 1) his failure to declare the value of the above renovations as income; 2) his failure to report as income approximately $236,000 in rent payments for a Manhattan apartment, which payments were made by a Manhattan developer with whom Kerik had agreed to conduct business; 3) his failure to report approximately $75,000 in income received from a book publisher; 4) his taking of approximately $80,000 in phony charitable deductions; 5) his failure to report approximately $20,000 in income received from a computer software company; 6) his failure to report wages paid to a domestic employee; and 7) his taking of a false home office expense deduction in connection with a home in New Jersey when he was not yet living in that home.
The indictment also charges Kerik with making false statements on a loan application in connection with purchase of the Riverdale apartment. Specifically, it charges that Kerik borrowed part of the down payment from a Manhattan realtor, but falsely denied that he had done so to the bank that extended him the mortgage loan for his purchase of the apartment.
The indictment also charges the defendant with making multiple false statements to the White House and other federal officials in connection with his application for positions as advisor to the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council and in connection with his nomination to be Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The indictment charges that when Kerik was being vetted for these positions, he made numerous false statements including: 1) failing to disclose as required, and affirmatively misrepresenting, his relationship with the contractors who paid for the renovations on the Riverdale apartment or the fact of the payments; 2) failing to disclose as required that he had submitted false financial disclosure reports to New York City (as described above) and that he had committed a crime by doing so; 3) failing to disclose as required that he had made false statements on a loan application (as described above) and that he had committed a crime by doing so; 4) failing to disclose as required a $250,000 loan that he had taken from a Brooklyn businessman who, in turn, had obtained the funds from an Israeli industrialist who did business with the U.S. Government; and 6) falsely stating that he had no household employees on a regular basis, and that he had not failed to withhold appropriate taxes for any such employee.
Kerik faces, if convicted, a maximum aggregate sentence of 142 years of imprisonment and $4,750,000 in fines. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the conspiracy crime in the amount of $255,000.
The defendant is expected to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge George A.Yanthis this morning, at which time Judge Yanthis will hear arguments on bail and a U.S. District Court Judge will be assigned to the case.
Mr. Garcia praised the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI for their fine work during the investigation. He also thanked the New York City Department of Investigation, the Westchester District Attorney’s Office, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for their assistance. He added that the investigation is ongoing.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Perry A. Carbone and Elliott B. Jacobson are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Monday, November 12, 2007
A member of the Genta, Inc., class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Newark filed a complaint with the Manhattan Departmental Disciplinary Committee against Melvyn I. Weiss of Milberg Weiss on May 2, 2007. But could the complainant, Dirk Raat of Gronlingen, The Netherlands, prove it? “For sure,” he says. And he did, he says, on a “silver plate” to then-chief counsel of the 1st Department’s Ethics Committee, Thomas Cahill.
Good with a brush: Vermeer, Rembrandt and Cahill
The allegations against Melvyn Weiss included violations of Professional Conduct and advancing a fraud on a client and a court of law. But you could just hear the whispers of the ghosts (Dutch settlers, perhaps) from the second floor of 61 Broadway: “whitewash…. whitewash…”
And what did the gentleman from Gronlingen get from the Cahill Cleansing Crew: a good-ole Yankee Bronx Cheer. And form letter, of course.
By May of 2004, Genta had been hit with dozens of lawsuits alleging fraud, and for misleading investors, insider trading, reaping illicit profits totaling over $125 million and for artificially inflating stock prices. The matter would soon evolve into a class action suit. The allegations would soon include connections between Mel Weiss, David Bershad, William “pit bull” Nasser and hedge fund manager Lindsay Rosenwald.
And, Dirk maintains, The Milberg Weiss law firm should have declined to act as class counsel in Gentra due to a conflict of interest. To most, the matter sounds like something simple for the DDC to investigate and take a position on.
More Screwing at “The Committee or “De Wallen”
“Even a superficial review would have found disqualifying connections between Milberg and the class,” says one attorney knowledge with the allegations.
The big question, however, is whether or not ANY investigation or inquiry was even initiated.
(In October of 2006, a settlement agreement provided for a reported $200,000 payment to the plaintiffs’ attorneys by Genta’s insurance company. On May 7, 2007, the proposed settlement received final approval from the U.S. District Court in Newark.)
Something Smells, and It’s Not the Tulips of Keukenhof Gardens
At the request of many readers, this forum will soon post the publicly available contact information for each and every Departmental Disciplinary Committee member so that they may be contacted to ascertain whether any specific complaint was, in fact, ever sent to them or any committee member for review, and as questionably advanced by the DDC.
Meanwhile, review the referenced complaint and other related information, to the right, marked: “Milberg Weiss”
Saturday, November 10, 2007
by William Galison
The cases of corrupt “whitewashing” alleged in Christine Anderson’s lawsuit are by no means isolated. Consider these new revelations, bordering on the bizarre, regarding the DDC’s treatment of a complaint against an attorney at the law firm Beldock, Hoffman and Levine.
In February 2004, a complaint was filed by musician William Galison against attorney Jeffrey A. Greenberg, of the law firm Beldock, Levine and Hoffman. DDC procedure requires a complaint to be vetted by an investigator, then sent to the lawyer who has been complained about (“respondent”) who has twenty days to respond to the allegations. The complainant then replies to the respondent’s response and the case is decided by the DDC. In this case, Galison’s complaint was vetted by investigator Kevin O’sullivan and sent on to Greenberg for a response. Greenberg ignored the twenty-day deadline, and sent his response after forty days.
Greenberg’s response was in the form of a cover letter, stating that the arguments and documents that vindicating Greenberg were contained in a SEALED ENVELOPE that neither NEITHER GALISON OR THE DDC WERE ALLOWED TO VIEW.
In an April 19, 2004, letter to DDC Chief Counsel Cahill, Greenberg’s attorney and employer, Myron Beldock, advised the DDC that he was enclosing an “answer” to the complaint, “which is 22 pages in length and attaches 27 exhibits, is provided in two forms: the first redacts all content after pg. 3; the second is a full text, with all exhibits, contained in a sealed envelope.
In an accompanying letter, the respondent, Jeffrey Greenberg, writes to the DDC investigator Joel Peterson, “I will respond in detail to each and every allegation of misconduct set forth in Mr. Galison’s complaint, and furnish backup documentation to evidence their lack of merit.”
Of course, neither Mr. Peterson, Galison or anyone else, could never read Mr. Greenberg’s detailed response (with “backup documentation”) because the material was either redacted or “sealed”.
Under DDC rules, after the respondent answers the complaint, the next step in the process is for the complainant to reply to that response, but since the response was sealed from all eyes but those of God, complainant Galison was left with nothing to reply to. When he complained to the committee he was told to “do the best you can”.
So Galison responded by writing an exhaustive 100 page document elucidating and documenting every aspect of the complaint, in order to counter any argument that could possibly reside in the “sealed envelope”.
After waiting several months for a reply from the DDC, he received the following dismissal from Mr. Cahill:
“The Committee has determined that the dispute between you and the above referenced attorney concerns a private contractual matter which is best resolved in another forum….The committee arrived at this determination after conducting an investigation consisting of several steps. First we obtained an answer from the attorney and sent it to you for as reply…… The committee member concluded that no further investigation or action was warranted. As a result your file has been closed.”
Since his complaint did not even involve a contractual matter, and there had been no defense to his complaint submitted by Beldock (except for the sealed envelope) Galison wrote the following letter to Cahill:
Dear Mr. Cahill,
In or about February of 2004, your office received my disciplinary complaint against the attorney Jeffrey Greenberg. The original complaint is enclosed. Before filing the complaint I consulted with Mr. Kevin O’Sullivan. Mr. O’Sullivan explained to me what kinds of complaints were appropriate to make to the committee and in what form they should be presented. I drafted the complaint and brought it back to Mr. O’Sullivan for his opinion. He told me that the complaint was well written and that the claims were appropriate for the consideration of the committee.
Thereafter I received a letter signed by you and dated March 5th, 2004, which stated:
“A copy of your complaint will be sent to the above-named attorney. When we receive a written answer, it will be forwarded to you for written comments.”
In or about April of 2004, I received the enclosed response from Mr. Greenberg along with the enclosed explanatory letter from his acting attorney (and employer), Myron Beldock.
This response did not answer or even address any one of my complaints.
As you can see, this “response” comprises a list of accusations and complaints regarding my actions, motivations and character. It contains no evidence or documentation of any kind.
The accompanying letter from Mr. Beldock explains that there are an additional 22 pages and 27 exhibits in this answer but that these pages and exhibits are privileged and must remain inaccessible to either myself or the committee.
The letter I received can in no way be considered an “answer” to my complaints.
I am asking you Mr. Cahill; how could I have written a response to this “answer” when I was forbidden to view its contents? How could the committee make any informed and competent judgment about the merits of Mr. Greenberg’s answer, when they too were barred from reading it?
Finally, how can the committee dismiss or even close this case without any notion of Mr. Greenberg’s argument against a complaint the subject of which has been sanctioned by one of its own members?
As soon as I received this document from Greenberg, I called Ms. Taub to ask her what I should do? I told her that I had not received an answer from Mr. Greenberg, so I could not respond to it. Ms. Taub told me that she appreciated the problem but that I must do the best I could and that the examiner would take the circumstances into consideration.
Because I had no points to argue against, I wrote a lengthy and thoroughly documented explanation of all my complaints. I also specifically argued why several of the disciplinary complaints were entirely unrelated to any facts that could be used to my advantage in a court proceeding. I even stated that if the committee decided to postpone its consideration of some of the complaints until the court proceeding was resolved, I would consent to that.
On August 3rd I received the enclosed letter from you, which states:
“The Committee has determined that the dispute between you and the above referenced attorney concerns a private contractual matter which is best resolved in another forum.”
Precisely what contractual matter are you referring to? I can only hope that your secretary sent me the wrong form letter- otherwise, it is obvious that your examiner did not even read my complaint.
“The committee arrived at this determination after conducting an investigation consisting of several steps. First we obtained an answer from the attorney and sent it to you for as reply…… The committee member concluded that no further investigation or action was warranted. As a result your file has been closed.”
As explained above I did NOT receive an answer from the attorney and neither did you. We only received a litany of insults and accusations against me, and a refusal to address any of my complaints- along with a “sealed envelope” that may well contain used toilet paper.
The complaints against Mr. Greenberg are extremely serious and worthy, I believe, of his disbarment if found to be valid. Your committee member decided without any input of fact or documentation from Mr. Greenberg that my claims were without merit. I ask you again; how could your examiner believe the totally unsubstantiated accusations and insults by a lawyer over the carefully researched and documented complaints of a citizen?
I was astounded by your letter and called the committee to see if a clerical mistake had been made. I also sent a written request for reconsideration, which was received and acknowledged. I was told that the examiner would reexamine the case. Several weeks later, I was informed that the examiner had re-examined the case and that he had re-confirmed his decision.
Six weeks ago, I had a personal meeting with Mr. Ranieri. He assured me that a mistake must have been made and I subsequently received a notice from you that the case will be “re-examined” by another committee member.
Yesterday I went in to see Mr. Ranieri at your offices. He did not seem to recall me or my case and gave me no status report on the case. As always, I was given no paperwork to reference or document this meeting. At this point I have no confidence that this matter will be resolved though the usual beaurocratic channels.
In my opinion, there are only two explanations for this series of events.
1) Your organization is so dismissive and contemptuous of the concerns of the public that you serve merely to insulate your fellow lawyers from appropriate reprimand and punishment for violations of professional ethics.
2) The committee examiner was influenced by someone with an interest in protecting Mr. Greenberg.
If the examiner had not re-examined the case and come to the same conclusion twice, I would include the possibility of gross incompetence.
If you have an alternative explanation, I would be eager to hear it. Meanwhile, I am sending a copy of this letter and its enclosures to the appropriate authorities at the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department. I will pursue this matter wherever it leads and however long it takes until I am satisfied that the complaints against Mr. Greenberg have been considered with rigor and integrity.
In light of the seriousness of this matter and the obvious mismanagement on the part of some of your committee members, I am asking that this matter be given priority and that I be contacted as soon as possible. I would like to speak with you personally.
I look forward to hearing from you in the very near future.
PS. Although I believe that the documents in the committee’s possession are more than adequate to establish the need for a hearing, more evidence in support of my complaints has arisen through discovery in the court case and otherwise.
“Cahill and Cohen”: now appearing at The Mirage…
Full disclosure to the Committee charged with upholding the ethical standards of the legal profession is necessary to protect both attorneys and public. Except, in New York where “who you know” will dictate what, if any, ethical standards will be enforced, or even reviewed. The only positive thing about the “Sealed Envelope Defense” is that it does save time. Why bother reviewing any documents if the determination of any complaint has been predetermined by Cahill and Cohen, especially after "the phone call" has been made ? Just weigh the opposing sealed envelopes and let the weightier envelope prevail. Or better yet, Cahill and Cohn could just place the sealed envelopes of the opposing parties against their foreheads, like the “Amazing Karnac”, and declare the winner by psychic intuition alone. That way, after they are expelled from the DDC, perhaps “Cahill and Cohen” can get an act in Vegas.
QUID PRO QUO
The usual model for corruption is “quid pro quo” arrangement. So what does the DDC get from Beldock, Levine and Hoffman in exchange for throwing the case against them? Consider this: When Cahill’s predecessor Hal Leiberman retired as Chief Counsel to the DDC, he immediately became a partner at the ten-man firm of Beldock Levine and Hoffman. What are the chances?
Will Cahill and Cohen be working for Beldock when they retire (or get out of jail).
There is absolutely no merit to the notion that the DDC can be barred from viewing any evidence in a case, regardless of “client/ attorney privilege” or anything else. Under the theory presented by Mr. Beldock, and accepted by Cahill and Cohen, a client could make a complaint against his former lawyer and prevent that attorney from defending him or herself by citing attorney-client confidentiality. According to a former federal investigator familiar with the DDC, and who requested that his identity be withheld, “Cahill and Cohen know full well that the Disciplinary Committee can subpoena, and are entitled to review, absolutely anything and everything concerning the respondent-attorney and the complaint at issue.” “Of course, any confidential information needed to conduct a comprehensive review- especially attorney-client material- would be withheld from the complainant- but not from the DDC,” he adds, “The DDC is authorized- indeed, obligated- to review and consider all documents in its investigation of a complaint against an attorney.”
Washington, We Have a Problem
Thomas Cahill left the Departmental Disciplinary Committee in October and the name of his replacement will be made soon. It is common knowledge within state and federal circles that since he was told to retire, Mr. Cahill used his last few months cleaning up (read: destroying) files.
The Jeffrey Greenberg Complaint is just another startling example of the non-existent oversight, ethics, and enforcement of the rules at a New York State attorney Departmental Disciplinary Committee-- the very entity charged with overseeing ethical standards.
With no accountability, you get the brazen bedlam that is our New York court system. We echo the view of the countless viewers of this forum who have made the call: “Bring in the Feds.” New York needs the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee the affairs of the New York court system.
See for yourself, see the documents to the right, “Sealing the Truth.”
by William Galison
Friday, November 9, 2007
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2007; A10
The FBI interviewer allegedly gave Abdallah Higazy a choice: Admit to having a special pilot's radio in a hotel room near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, or the security service in his native Egypt would give his family "hell." Higazy responded by confessing to a crime he didn't commit.
"I knew I couldn't prove my innocence, and I knew my family was in danger," Higazy said later. ". . . If I say this device is mine, I'm screwed and my family is going to be safe. If I say this device is not mine, I'm screwed and my family's in danger. And Agent [Michael] Templeton made it quite clear that 'cooperate' had to mean saying something else other than this device is not mine."
The new details about the FBI's allegedly aggressive tactics in the Higazy case were included in a ruling briefly issued last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which reinstated a civil lawsuit brought by Higazy against the FBI and Templeton. In an unusual move, however, the appeals court withdrew the first opinion within minutes on Thursday and issued a second opinion Friday, with the details of Higazy's allegations removed.
"This opinion has been redacted because portions of the record are under seal," the new ruling reads. "For the purposes of the summary judgment motion, Templeton did not contest that Higazy's statements were coerced." Such redactions are imperfect in the Web age, and the original document remains accessible through links on sites and blogs devoted to appellate-court and legal issues.
Higazy was jailed for a month as a suspected accomplice to the World Trade Center attack, until a pilot showed up and asked for his radio back. The fresh details about his interrogation in December 2001 illustrate how an innocent man can be persuaded to confess to a crime that he did not commit, and the lengths to which the FBI was willing to go in its terrorism-related investigations after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Experts and officials have argued for the past six years about the limits of interrogation techniques and the reliability of what detainees say when they are questioned aggressively. To Higazy's attorneys and other lawyers who work on terrorism-detainee matters, his experience provides some answers.
"What would it take for an entirely innocent person to confess to participation in one of the most egregious crimes in U.S. history?" asked lawyer Jonathan Abady. "People don't do that voluntarily. . . . It's clear that there was significant coercion brought to bear here."
The Justice Department declined to comment on the case yesterday. A Justice official who asked not to be identified discussing an ongoing case said the FBI has not conceded that Higazy's allegations are true but agreed to proceed as if they were valid in order to argue the legal issues in the case.
The appellate court did not rule on the veracity of Higazy's allegations but concluded that Templeton lacked qualified immunity shielding him from the civil lawsuit.
Higazy, the son of a former Egyptian diplomat who lived for a time in Virginia with his family, arrived in New York from Cairo in August 2001 to study engineering at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn . He was sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Institute for International Education, which arranged for him to stay at the Millenium Hilton Hotel, across the street from the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan , court records show.
Higazy was evacuated along with other residents on Sept. 11, after the second plane hit the twin towers. He was carrying $100 in cash and his wallet.
When Higazy returned on Dec. 17 to retrieve his belongings, three FBI agents were waiting. They told him that hotel employees had found a transceiver capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground communication in his room safe, along with a Koran and his passport, records show.
"That's impossible," Higazy responded, according to court records.
Over the next 10 days, Higazy insisted the radio was not his, and a federal judge warned the FBI and federal prosecutors that if they did not produce better evidence, he would let Higazy go on Dec. 28. The FBI suspected that he had used the radio as a beacon to help guide the hijackers.
According to both the sealed and public court records, the FBI on Dec. 27 set out to increase the pressure on Higazy. It put him in a room with Templeton, who was a polygraph examiner. Templeton concluded that Higazy was being evasive in his answers about the attacks.
As a series of questions neared an end, Higazy requested a halt because he was feeling intense pain in his arm and could not breathe. The court's decision, quoting Higazy's account, said Templeton "called Higazy a baby and told him that a nine-year-old could tolerate his pain."
Templeton also allegedly told Higazy that if he did not cooperate, the FBI would make his brother "live in scrutiny" and would "make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell," according to the sealed portion of the ruling. Templeton allegedly banged on the table and screamed at Higazy, calling him a liar.
The ruling also said Templeton admitted to knowing how the Egyptian security forces operated: "that their laws are different than ours, that they are probably allowed to do things in that country where they don't advise people of their rights, they don't -- yeah, probably about torture, sure."
Higazy confessed to owning the radio, though he provided three versions of how he had obtained it. He was denied bail the next day and was charged on Jan. 11, 2002, with making false statements connected to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Three days later, an airline pilot from Ohio who had stayed one floor below Higazy on Sept. 11 walked into the Millenium Hilton and asked for his radio. Within two days, Higazy was released, and a hotel security guard eventually pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about the location of the radio.
"What if that pilot had not walked into the Millenium Hotel?" Abady said. "We know that Mr. Higazy could have spent the rest of his life in prison."
Catherine O'Hagan Wolfe, clerk for the appellate court, said the original Higazy ruling was withdrawn to remove information that should have been sealed. She said that the court made the decision and that it was not done at the request of the Justice Department or the FBI.
Wolfe said the redacted information was originally sealed for the safety of Higazy and his family. The passage that was removed is about a page long and centers on Higazy's allegations of Templeton's threats and his fears of Egyptian security services.
"Prior to the world of the Internet, a decision would be issued and then withdrawn without any consequences of any moment," Wolfe said. "Now if that happens it raises the specter of interference or some nefarious intent at work, which is not the case."
Stephen Bergstein, an appellate lawyer from Chester , N.Y., who hosts a blog about 2nd Circuit issues, said the information that was deleted "was more embarrassing than worthy of secrecy."
"Had they left it in, a lot of people probably wouldn't have noticed," Bergstein said. "With the Internet, nothing ever goes away."
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
New York Lawyer
November 8, 2007
By Mark Fass
New York Law Journal
The "vexatious conduct" of the attorneys in the distribution of a woman's estate has led to the disqualification of their client as executrix of the estate.
The complex familial dispute began with the intestate death of 83-year-old Roseanna DeLaune, in 1997. Pursuant to statute, her sister, Paula M. Venezia, was appointed administrator; her heirs included her disabled nephew, William Pennington III.
Ms. Venezia hired her childhood friend from Manhattan's Little Italy, attorney Alfred Sica, to serve as counsel. He in turn hired the firm now known as Vaneria & Spanos.
In 2003, Ms. Venezia, 85, died, leaving the entirety of her own million-dollar estate to the same nephew, Mr. Pennington. She nominated her goddaughter, Joanne Zaccaria, to serve as executrix. Ms. Zaccaria, who had no role in the disbursement of the first estate, hired the same counsel - Mr. Sica and Vaneria & Spanos.
Meanwhile, over the intervening six years, the administration of Ms. DeLaune's estate had devolved into what Mr. Sica later termed "combat" between himself and Mr. Pennington.
Loath to let history repeat itself, Mr. Pennington objected to Ms. Zaccaria's appointment, based in part on her selection of the attorneys he crossed swords with following the death of his first aunt.
Brooklyn Surrogate Margarita Lopez Torres has granted the petition, disqualifying Ms. Zaccaria from overseeing Ms. Venezia's estate. The surrogate cited the "vexatious conduct" of Ms. Zaccaria's chosen attorneys during the administration of the previous estate.
"To permit Zaccaria to serve as executor, along with her chosen counsel of Vaneria & Spanos and Alfred Sica, Esq., would be detrimental to this estate," Surrogate Lopez Torres held in Estate of Venezia, 2100/2003.
"Because of the excessively hostile and bitter relationship between the nominated fiduciary, her counsel and Pennington, the appointment of Zaccaria as fiduciary . . . would have the practical effect of rendering the bequests of decedent to her nephew a nullity, as this estate would surely be taken down the inevitable road to further combative litigation," she said.
Ms. DeLaune died on Jan. 1, 2003, shortly after turning 83. In the present decision regarding Ms. Venezia's estate, Surrogate Lopez Torres summed up the acrimony of those proceedings.
"The testimony shows that Alfred Sica, in his capacity as co-conservator in the DeLaune estate, failed to communicate with Pennington as to the progress of the conservatorship where Pennington testified that Sica 'stopped being responsive to my inquiries,' nor were they responsive to his concerns," she wrote.
In the DeLaune case, Mr. Sica denied the then-indigent Mr. Pennington's request for a disbursement that would allow him to retain counsel, according to the decision. Mr. Pennington, who suffers from several disabilities, sought the appointment of a guardian to defend his interests, which Mr. Sica also opposed.
But in the Venezia matter, Surrogate Lopez Torres wrote, "in the instant proceeding when Pennington had sufficient funds to retain competent counsel, Zaccaria's counsel argued that Pennington's disabilities required that a guardian ad litem be appointed, in a transparent attempt to prevent Pennington from litigating with them."
Seeking to avoid a reprise of the prior conflict and newly able to afford counsel, Mr. Pennington objected to Ms. Zaccaria's appointment.
In March 2004, Surrogate Michael Feinberg granted Mr. Pennington's motion for summary judgment.
Four months later, the Appellate Division, Second Department, reversed, and following the removal of Surrogate Feinberg by the Court of Appeals for awarding $8.6 million in fees to a friend, remitted the case to Surrogate Lopez Torres to determine "whether such friction and hostility would interfere with the proper administration of the estate."
History of Hostility
After an evidentiary hearing, Surrogate Lopez Torres ruled that "this court is required to answer this question resoundingly in the affirmative." The court cited numerous instances of Mr. Sica's "vexatious conduct" toward Mr. Pennington.
"The court notes that Sica described his relations with Pennington as 'combat' . . . The hostility is also demonstrated by counsel for Zaccaria in failing to turn over documents from the DeLaune estate for years after Pennington was appointed fiduciary," the judge wrote.
She noted that "in addition to his continued holding of over $50,000 in DeLaune estate funds in escrow, [Sica] admitted to depositing an IRS refund check for $105,000 . . . without any authority to do so well after Pennington was appointed fiduciary."
Surrogate Lopez Torres also cited Ms. Zaccaria's decision to hire Mr. Sica and Vaneria & Spanos for the administration of the estate, as well as her contention that she would not direct her attorneys "to do anything differently than the way they've conducted themselves thus far."
"While a testator's choice of fiduciary is entitled to deference, it cannot be at great expense to the overriding intention of decedent's testamentary plan," Surrogate Lopez Torres wrote. "It certainly could not have been decedent's intent to see her entire fortune squandered on legal fees in order to vindicate the appointment of her choice of fiduciary."
Mr. Sica said that he was disappointed with the decision.
"I've been practicing law over 50 years," he said. "I don't get involved in 'vexatious conduct.' I don't know how she came to that conclusion. It puzzles me."
Mr. Sica's co-counsel, Dimitrios Spanos, called the decision "extra-judicious, heavy-handed and unjustified." He cited several "omissions and distortions" on which to base a possible appeal, including the surrogate's refusal to allow the firm to resign to avoid Ms. Zaccaria's disqualification, as well as the lack of the "longstanding hostile relationship" between her and Mr. Pennington cited by the decision.
Mr. Pennington is no longer represented by counsel. His most recent attorney of record was David G. Keyko of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
New York Lawyer
November 8, 2007
By Michael Booth
New Jersey Law Journal
A lawyer arrested and held in contempt by a Bloomfield Municipal Court judge has filed a complaint against him with the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, claiming he penalized her for raising a racial-profiling defense in her client's traffic-violation case.
Rashidah Hasan, an East Orange solo who is also the director of legal affairs for Essex County College, appeared before Judge Joseph Connolly on Oct. 4 on behalf of her client, DeWayne Smith. Bloomfield police had stopped Smith and charged him with careless driving, driving with no insurance, having a loud muffler and failing to obey police orders.
Smith, who is black, believed he was the victim of racial profiling, Hasan says, and she demanded that the police department turn over records of its traffic stops, which might support his claim.
After Municipal Prosecutor Paul Sant’Ambrogio concluded his case, Hasan made a verbal motion to dismiss the charges.
Connolly, she says, “went into a rage, pounding on the desk,” held her in contempt and ordered her to pay a fine of $100. He told her to pay up at the next scheduled hearing in the case, on Oct. 25.
At the second hearing, Hasan asked Connolly to withdraw the contempt finding, arguing that she could not adequately represent Smith under the threat of jail for noncompliance.
Connolly refused to vacate the original contempt and then held her in contempt again, fining her $500 and ordering her to spend 10 days in jail.
“I was hauled off to the basement of the building in handcuffs and placed on a bench in the basement in handcuffs,” she says. “I was fingerprinted and photographed. I was humiliated, disrespected and very emotionally upset by this whole incident. Imagine the fear and horror this incident must have on litigants before the court if their counsel is treated this way.”
Connolly declines to comment on Hasan’s allegations because the contempt proceedings are still pending.
Sant’Ambrogio, who was present when Connolly found Hasan in contempt, also declines to comment, other than to say, “It was very unfortunate.”
Bloomfield police said they could not release information about the incident.
Hasan's attorneys — Ronald Hunt and Raymond Hamlin of Newark’s Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley — did not return calls seeking comment.
— With reporting by Charles Toutant
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