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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Judge Drops Most of Criminal Charges Against Judge-Elect

Case Against Surrogate-Elect Survives Dismissal of 8 Charges
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise - November 2, 2009

A judge has thrown out eight criminal charges against Manhattan Surrogate-elect Nora Anderson but has retained two felony charges that could send her to prison for up to four years if convicted. Acting Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Obus in Manhattan on Friday dismissed four felony and four misdemeanor counts charging Ms. Anderson and her mentor/former boss, attorney Seth Rubenstein, with masking the source of $250,000 pumped into Ms. Anderson's campaign in the closing days of the 2008 Democratic primary. Ms. Anderson won that primary but was suspended without pay before she could take the bench. Justice Obus cited jurisdictional grounds for his ruling, holding that the charges should have been brought in Brooklyn, where Ms. Anderson's campaign headquarters was located in Mr. Rubinstein's office. He allowed the other two charges to stand because they involved acts in Manhattan: allegedly false filings with the New York City Board of Elections, whose headquarters is located in the borough. At the same time, Justice Obus in People v. Anderson, 5768/08, rejected the defendants' substantive claims that funneling campaign contributions through an intermediary is not a crime. Those arguments, if accepted, would have scuttled the indictment entirely.

The Manhattan Supreme Court decision appears on page 17 of the print edition of today's Law Journal. In court on Friday, Assistant District Attorney Daniel G. Cort told Justice Obus that his office would have to decide which of three options to pursue: appealing; asking Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes to pursue the eight dismissed counts; or proceeding on the two remaining counts. In the event Manhattan Disrtict Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau asks for assistance from Brooklyn, there is a possibility the case would be divided with the two counts being tried in Manhattan and the remainder in Brooklyn. Mr. Rubenstein and Ms. Anderson were charged jointly under the 10-count indictment. According to the government, Mr. Rubenstein gave Ms. Anderson $100,000 and loaned her another $150,000. Ms. Anderson was accused of then directing the contribution and loan to her campaign under her name. One count upheld by Justice Obus relates to Mr. Rubenstein's gift of $100,000 to Ms. Anderson on Aug. 12, 2008, and the other to his loan to her of $150,000 two weeks later. Ms. Anderson reported to the Board of Elections that she gave her campaign $100,000 eight days after receiving that amount from Mr. Rubenstein and loaning her campaign $170,000 on Aug. 26, the same day Mr. Rubenstein made the $150,000 loan. New York's Election Law does not limit the amounts candidates may give their own campaigns, but other donors to countywide races in Manhattan were limited to $33,122 in 2008. Loans are required to be repaid by the election date or they are considered contributions. Ms. Anderson, 57, a former chief clerk of the Manhattan Surrogate's Court, had worked with Mr. Rubenstein, 82, in Brooklyn at his 26 Court St. office for nine years before entering the Surrogate's race. The defendants agreed that Manhattan had geographic jurisdiction over the two counts involving the campaign finance filings with the city Board of Election. Instead, they moved to dismiss all 10 counts claiming the state's Election Law does not make it a crime to funnel campaign contributions through an intermediary. Justice Obus rejected those arguments, noting that Election Law §14-120(1) makes it a misdemeanor to make a contribution to a campaign in any name other than one's own. He emphasized that the law bars a donor from "directly or indirectly" concealing the true donor's name.

1977 Ruling Cited

Justice Obus, however, accepted the defendants' argument that jurisdiction in Manhattan over the other eight counts could not be sustained on the strength of the New York Court of Appeals' 1977 ruling in Steingut v. Gold, 42 N.Y. 2d 311. In Steingut, which involved former Assembly Speaker Stanley Steingut, the Court of Appeals ruled that jurisdiction could not be based on the premise that "the voters of [a] county would be called upon to vote in an election allegedly tainted by criminal activity localized in a single county." Mr. Steingut had been accused of illegal activities in Manhattan to advance the election of his son in Brooklyn to the City Council. The two pending charges accuse Ms. Anderson and Mr. Rubenstein of filing false documents (campaign financial disclosure reports) in Manhattan. Four of the dismissed charges carry the same penalty of zero to four years in prison. They relate to filing false campaign disclosure reports with the New York State Board of Elections in Albany and falsifying the reports in the first instance in Brooklyn. The others are misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail: two counts of willfully evading the contribution limits in the Election Law and two counts for failing to make contributions in one's own name. Ms. Anderson won the three-way 2008 primary with 48 percent of the vote (NYLJ, Sept. 11, 2008). She raised $613,000, more than either of her two opponents: John R. Reddy, counsel to the Manhattan public administrator, who raised $600,903 and Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Milton A. Tingling, who raised $110,200. Ms. Anderson is represented by Gustave H. Newman and Richard A. Greenberg. Frederick P. Hafetz, of Hafetz & Necheles, represented Mr. Rubenstein. Messrs. Newman and Hafetz both declined to comment. Mr. Cort is the deputy chief of the Manhattan district attorney's rackets bureau. Daniel Wise can be reached at dwise@alm.com.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Judicial "Kids for Cash" UPDATE - "Losing Faith in the Justice System"

Pa. Supreme Court Throws Out Thousands of Juvenile Delinquency Cases
Court Says Cases Tainted by Alleged Kickback Scheme Involving Corrupt Judge
ABC NEWS by FRANK MASTROPOLO, LAUREN PEARLE and GLENN RUPPEL - October 29, 2009

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled late Thursday that almost all juvenile delinquency cases heard by an indicted former judge must be thrown out. The ruling means cases heard by former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella from Jan. 1, 2003 to May 31, 2008 are in question for fairness and impartiality. Ciavarella faces criminal charges that accuse him of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks from owners of private detention centers in exchange for placing juvenile defendants at their facilities, often for minor crimes. In one reported case, a college-bound high school student served three weeks in juvenile detention for making fun of the school principal on a Web site. The court said that it "cannot have any confidence that Ciavarella decided any Luzerne County juvenile case fairly and impartially while he labored under the specter of his self-interested dealings with the facilities," and called Ciavarella's actions a "travesty of juvenile justice." The decision could impact up to 6,500 Pennsylvania youth, whose juvenile detention records will now be erased and their cases dismissed without the possibility of retrial.

Most of the affected youth have already served their time. In Pennsylvania, juvenile criminal records are not automatically expunged when children turn 18, so Thursday's ruling could give thousands of kids a clean slate, said Marsha Levick, deputy director of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia and an attorney for the children. About 100 Pennsylvania children could now be released from juvenile detention or taken off of probation, according to Levick. "The court's far-reaching order is an exceptional response to the most serious judicial scandal in the history of the United States," Levick told ABC News. The ruling is the latest stunning development in a story of corruption that first shocked Luzerne County residents in January 2009. Federal prosecutors announced that respected county judges Ciavarella and Michael Conahan had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and honest services fraud. However, their plea deal and relatively light sentence were later rejected by a federal judge who ruled that Ciavarella and Conahan had failed to accept responsibility for their crimes. In fact, Ciavarella had previously told "20/20" that "we would never agree that [the kids' sentencing] was improper." Now, the two former judges face much more serious federal racketeering, bribery, and extortion charges. All of this is the result of a lengthy investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI. Ciavarella and Conahan have pleaded not guilty. "They sold their oath of offices to the highest bidders and engaged in ongoing schemes to defraud the public of honest services that were expected from them," Deron Roberts, chief of the FBI's Scranton office, said at a late January news conference announcing the case. The judges' arrests shed light on a mystery in Luzerne County: Why were so many kids getting sent directly to juvenile detention after seeing Ciavarella in his Wilkes-Barre juvenile court? And why were those kids sent away in such a rush?

'I Had No Clue What to Say'

Eric Stefanski had never been in trouble before he found himself in front of Ciavarella, who took office in 1996. "I was 12 years old when I got locked up. I had no clue what to say when he asked me how do I plead," Stefanski told "20/20" correspondent Jim Avila. "I was 12 years old. I didn't know too much about the court system." His offense? He went joyriding with his mom's car and ran over a barrier, smashing the undercarriage. No one was hurt, not even Stefanski, but in order to get her insurance to pay for the damage, his mom, Linda Donovan, had to file a police report. Donovan even thought an appearance before a judge would be good for her son and give him a little scare. She wasn't prepared for what happened when Eric came before Ciavarella. "He read me my charges and said, 'How do you plead?' And I didn't know what to say, so I looked at my mom, and I guess she didn't know I was looking, and I said, 'Guilty,'" Stefanski said. "That's when I turned around, I looked at my mom and she started crying."

'The Most Egregious Abuse of Power'

Stefanski was locked up for two years. He was not represented by an attorney, his mom said, because she didn't think he needed one. "His first offense, he's so young, I just didn't think that it was necessary," Donovan said. It's not supposed to be like this in juvenile court, where incarceration is considered the last resort, legal experts said. But Levick told ABC News she saw a disturbing trend inside Ciaravella's courtroom. And she had the evidence to back it up, she claimed. "The numbers of children going into placement in Luzerne County tended to be two to three times higher than in other counties," she said. Levick said kids were being locked up for minor infractions. "A child who shoplifted a $4 bottle of nutmeg," she said. "A child who was charged with conspiracy to shoplift because he was present when his friend was shoplifting. A child who put up a MySpace page, taunting her school administrator. "I think what we have here in Luzerne County is probably the most egregious abuse of power in the history of the American legal system," Levick said. Levick turned her findings over to the FBI, and the outcome rocked the Pennsylvania justice system. Ciavarella and Conahan had allegedly devised a plot to use their positions as judges to pad their pockets. They shut down the old county-run juvenile detention center by first refusing to send kids there and, then, by cutting off funds, choking it out of existence. They then replaced the facility with a cash cow -- a privately owned lockup built by the judges' cronies -- and forged a deal for the county to pay $58 million for a 10-year period for its use. At the time, Conahan was serving as president judge of the Luzerne County Common Pleas Court, a position that allowed him to control the county-court budget. Ciavarella was the Luzerne County juvenile court judge. In the judges' original plea deal, they admitted that they took more than $2.6 million in payoffs from the private youth detention center between 2003 and 2006. Prosecutors said the judges attempted to hide their income from the scheme by creating false records and routing payments through intermediaries. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court removed them from their duties after federal prosecutors filed charges Jan. 26. The investigation is ongoing. "The defendants engaged in fraud by taking millions of dollars in connection with the construction, operation and expansion of juvenile detention facilities here in Luzerne County," U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson said. And, according to state statistics, Ciavarella's incarceration rates of juveniles jumped after the privately owned juvenile detention center opened. "The information alleges that the judges ordered juveniles into these detention facilities, the facilities in which they had a financial interest, and on occasion that those orders were done, despite the recommendation of juvenile probation officers that the child not be detained, not be imprisoned," Carlson said. Ciavarella denies having sentenced kids for cash, and told ABC News last spring, "I'm not pleading guilty to anything relative to cash for kids, embezzlement, extortion, quid pro quo. Absolutely not."

Losing Faith in the Justice System

Dave Janoski, projects editor of the Citizens Voice newspaper of Wilkes-Barre, said, "You could see that, at the very moment, when they could make the most money, that's when the number of kids spiked." Many Wilkes-Barre residents exploded with anger when they heard that men they elected, and trusted to judge their children, had profited from their incarceration. "There's been a lot of outrage," said Terrie Morgan-Besecker, staff writer for the Times Leader newspaper in Wilkes-Barre. "I think a lot of them have lost faith in the system of justice ... that they went in there blindly thinking that they were going to talk to the judge, he was going to listen to them and hand down an appropriate punishment ... and they're just yanked away from their parents and put in shackles," she said. "It just left them absolutely stunned and not believing that this could happen." Many people wanted to know who was looking out for the kids as they worked their way through the judicial system. "I think that we had a conspiracy of silence going on in Luzerne County," Levick said. "There were officers of the court, there were members of the district attorney's office, members of probation, private lawyers, public defenders, who were in the courtroom every day. And they had to know what was happening and whether it was by virtue of intimidation or an unwillingness to get involved. The fact remains that nobody stood up." When Ciavarella was asked about families' complaints of his rapid-fire brand of justice and trials that lasted only minutes with even first-time offenders sent to detention centers, he told "20/20," "You take a look at their file and you look to see if this was the first time they had a run-in with the law. It might have been the first time they're in front of me. You may be surprised that it's not going to be as clear-cut as they would like you to think."

'The Judge Is Incorrect'

But Arthur Grim, a Pennsylvania juvenile judge himself, who was assigned to review Ciavarella's cases, said Ciavarella is wrong. "Kids were in there for relatively minor first-time offenses and ended up being placed," Grim said. "The judge is incorrect. "I'm seeing cases which seem to take in the neighborhood of a minute-and-a-half to three minutes. ... That simply is not the way to do business." Chief Justice Ronald Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court told ABC News last spring that "the Supreme Court is committed to righting whatever wrong was perpetrated on Luzerne's juveniles and their families." Thursday, he delivered on that promise.

Kerik Offered "Get out of Jail" card

BREAKING NEWS: A knowledgeable source has advised that disgraced former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik has been offered a deal of a lifetime- he can walk out of jail, and all pending criminal charges against him will be dropped, for his complete cooperation and testimony involving public corruption concerning some of New York's most powerful: financial hotshots, prosecutors, judges and politicians. (October 30, 2009, 11:15am)

Jury Finds Against Anderson Retaliation (UPDATED 5pm)

UPDATED 5PM:

A federal jury found late Thursday, October 29, 2009 that Thomas Cahill, Sherry Cohen and David Spokony had not fired former Manhattan Ethics Committee staff attorney Christine Anderson in retaliation for her exposure of widespread corruption by the "whitewashing" of complaints against attorneys in the Bronx and Manhattan. Earlier in the day, Judge Scheindlin had found that Cahill, Cohen and Spokony were knowledgeable of the "whitewashing," but that ruling was read into the record in open court only after the jury had left the courtroom. Anderson's legal team is reported to be considering a declaratory judgment action in Federal Court to declare that the defense of Cohen, Cahill and Spokony by the New York State Attorney General's office was improper as it raises a series of conflicts and requires that the defendants be provided independent outside counsel.

Ex-Lawyer for NY Attorney Watchdog Loses Suit Over Firing
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise - October 30, 2009

A federal jury took barely three hours yesterday to throw out claims from a former staff attorney with the First Department's disciplinary committee that she had been fired in retaliation for the exercise of her First Amendment rights. The unanimous, eight-member Southern District jury rejected the civil rights suit brought by Christine A. Anderson, who claimed she was fired in 2007 because she objected that officials at the committee were "whitewashing" complaints and giving preferential treatment to attorneys with connections. The jury credited the claims of the Office of Court Administration and three individual defendants that Ms. Anderson had been fired for insubordination. The state argued that she had exaggerated her complaints and had spurned numerous opportunities to repair her frayed relationship with her direct supervisor, Sherry K. Cohen, the committee's deputy chief counsel and a defendant in the case. The other two individual defendants were Thomas J. Cahill, who at the time was the committee's chief counsel, and David Spokony, the First Department's deputy clerk. One of Ms. Anderson's lawyers, Rory J. Bellantoni, in his closing statement yesterday morning had asked the jury to award Ms. Anderson $298,000 for lost wages and "substantial" damages for pain and suffering. The jury, which returned a unanimous verdict as required, consisted of five women and three men. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, who presided over the three-day trial, had dismissed Ms. Anderson's claims that she had been discriminated against on the basis of race and national origin on a motion for summary judgment. Ms. Anderson is Jamaican. Mr. Bellantoni, who left the bench over the summer after six years as County Court judge in Westchester, said after the verdict that Ms. Anderson is "weighing her options." John McConnell, the First Department's clerk, said, "We are delighted with the verdict." The verdict embraced Assistant Attorney General Lee A. Adlerstein's closing argument that Ms. Anderson "resented" Ms. Cohen's detailed style of management and resisted numerous efforts to repair her relationship with Ms. Cohen. In 2001, Ms. Anderson, now 64, was hired as a staff attorney at the committee which is responsible for policing the conduct of attorneys practicing in Manhattan and the Bronx. Ms. Cohen, who had been with the committee since 1993, became deputy chief counsel in 2003. Sometime thereafter, she became Ms. Anderson's supervisor. There was no dispute that the relationship between the two was fraught. Both lawyers testified that in July 2006 a confrontation had occurred in Ms. Anderson's office when Ms. Cohen, with the door closed behind her, refused to accede to Ms. Anderson's demand that she be let out. A panel convened by the First Department's then clerk, Catherine Wolfe, to investigate an "incident report" filed by Ms. Anderson, resulted in a decision that Ms. Cohen should apologize to Ms. Anderson and take a management course. The panel also recommended that Mr. Cahill make it clear that the lines of authority within the office made Ms. Cohen the direct supervisor of Ms. Anderson.

Deteriorating Relationship

Ms. Anderson had testified that her relationship with Ms. Cohen began to deteriorate in August 2005, when the two disagreed over the wording of a private admonition that both agreed should be given to a lawyer. Ms. Cohen wanted references that the attorney had made misrepresentations taken out. When Ms. Anderson refused, Ms. Cohen took the file and rewrote the recommendation, which had to be approved by the committee's policy committee. Prior to Ms. Cohen's revision, Ms. Anderson testified that she had objected that the report had been "whitewashed" and "sanitized" to affect the outcome of the case. As the relationship became increasingly tense, Ms. Anderson testified that she was fearful of Ms. Cohen and refused to meet with her alone. Ms. Wolfe meanwhile counseled Ms. Cohen to take notes of her contacts with Ms. Anderson and to have a second person in the room. Mr. Bellantoni described Ms. Wolfe's advice as designed to develop a paper trail to create a pretext for firing Ms. Anderson. Ms. Anderson testified that in fall 2006 she again clashed with Ms. Cohen over the handling of several other cases. In February 2007, Ms. Anderson stated, she had complained to Mr. Cahill that attorneys with political connections or ties to those on the 64-member disciplinary committee got preferential treatment. The same was true, she said, for lawyers who hired attorneys who had previously worked at the committee. However, Mr. Adlerstein in his closing dismissed claims that Ms. Anderson had complained directly to Mr. Cahill, saying she only had made "general statements" that lacked specifics. Referring to the fact that Mr. Cahill, a former Southern District U.S. attorney, denied that the February 2007 conversation ever took place, Mr. Adlerstein charged Ms. Anderson had made the conversation up "out of whole cloth." Ms. Anderson had "exaggerated" the incident with Ms. Cohen in her office in an effort to get rid of her as her supervisor, Mr. Adlerstein said. Mr. Bellantoni's partner, John Lovett, had delivered the opening statement for Ms. Anderson and handled much of the witness examinations. He was not in court yesterday due to a family medical emergency. Assistant Attorney General Wesley E. Bauman had delivered the opening statement for the four state defendants.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NY Immigration Lawyer Sentenced to 4 Years

NY Immigration Lawyer Convicted of Fraud Sentenced to 4 Years
The New York Law Journal by Mark Hamblett - October 29, 2009

An immigration attorney was sentenced Monday to serve four years and three months in prison for presenting false documents to immigration officials. Raghubir K. Gupta, 63, who had offices in Brooklyn and Queens, was given the sentence by Southern District Judge Deborah A. Batts. Evidence at his 2008 trial showed that Mr. Gupta, who processed applications under a limited amnesty and legalization program, had clients provide false dates on applications so they could qualify. Charged amidst an increasing crackdown on immigration fraud, Mr. Gupta was convicted of one count each of willfully causing the subscription of an immigration document containing a material false statement and one count of presenting an immigration document containing a material false statement.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brooklyn DA Probes Nassau Wrong-Doing

Brooklyn DA probes wrongful jailing in Nassau
Newsday by SID CASSESE - October 27, 2009

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is investigating the actions of Nassau police and prosecutors in a 2005 case that kept a Queens teenager locked up four months for an armed robbery that, the man's lawyer says, officials knew he did not do. Raheem Crews, now 24, had the perfect alibi. He was in jail when the robbery occurred. "All I can say is that we are investigating the Crews case," Jonah Bruno, a Hynes spokesman, said earlier this week. Neither Crews nor his Hempstead lawyer, Fred Brewington, were aware of Hynes' involvement in the case, the lawyer said Tuesday. "Nobody ever talked to us," he said. The Hynes news surfaced following a letter Brewington sent last week to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. In it he castigated her for not following up on an earlier request this year for an investigation into the actions of the police and assistant district attorneys in the Crews case. Rice spokesman Eric Phillips, said: "This is [a] very serious allegation . . . and when we received it we promptly referred it [in May 2009] to federal authorities. "When it became clear that prosecutors from this office's former administration could be materially involved . . . we requested [in August] that a special prosecutor be assigned. On August 26, 2009, Nassau's chief judge granted that request and appointed the Kings County district attorney." Det. Sgt. Anthony Repalone, a spokesman for the Nassau Police department, said that after "we did an internal investigation on one member [who was a part of the Crews case], he resigned." Repalone would not identify the officer. Brewington said his client was in jail on some criminal mischief charge when he was locked up from March 24 to 31. The robbery occurred March 25. Crews went back to jail in May 2005 and remained incarcerated until September of that year. sid.cassese@newsday.com

Sneaky, Back-Door Acts, the OCA Way

Is $5,000 stipend boost a back-door pay hike?
Chief judge doubles payment to $10,000 as judiciary still in salary fight with Legislature
The Albany Times Union by IRENE JAY LIU - October 28, 2009

ALBANY, NY -- As the Legislature and governor tackle New York's $3 billion budget deficit, the state's third branch of government has doubled judges' stipends, which will cost an additional $6 million per year. Citing the judges' decade-long lack of a pay raise, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced during an Oct. 14 webcast that he would double judges' supplemental allowance from $5,000 to $10,000, to cover items such as uncovered medical expenses, robe dry cleaning, travel, judicial license plates and marriage counseling. Lippman said in an interview with the New York Law Journal, which first reported the allowance increase, that he was "pleased to be able to double" the support. "We are not giving judges (added) salary," he said. " …We have finite resources. I think it's an appropriate reimbursement of judges for expenses of all different kinds."

Judges have been locked in a battle with the Legislature over judicial pay, which has been locked at $136,700 for the past 11 years. The Legislature, which must approve judicial pay raises, has historically tied them to their own salary increases -- a practice that the judiciary has called unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals will hear arguments in three separate cases about the issue early next year. Legislative leaders and the governor have been named as defendants in the three lawsuits. Responding to the judges' lack of a pay raise, former Chief Judge Judith Kaye in 2008 created the Judicial Supplemental Support Fund, which would provide full-time judges with a $5,000 annual stipend for "services and goods to support them in the performance of their judicial responsibilities," according to a 2009 bulletin from the state comptroller's office. Judges can receive the stipend in two ways: They can file receipts for reimbursement of expenses, or they can take a lump-sum payment which is taxable as income and does not require judges to file receipts. More than 90 percent of judges take the full $5,000 allowance, according to the Office of Court Administration, costing the state roughly $6 million. Doubling the allowance will cost another $6 million per year, according to OCA spokesman David Bookstaver. The expanded allowance will become effective Nov. 1, but checks reflecting the added funds will not be cut until April 15, 2010. The expansion will be added to next year's budget, said Bookstaver. Bookstaver emphasized that the increased allowance was not in lieu of a raise. "We have to keep the best and the brightest on the bench. And frankly, some of them are leaving because they can't make ends meet," he said. "This is really to make the judges lives slightly more tenable in an untenable situation." Bookstaver added that the judiciary may reconsider the expanded benefit if judges receive a pay raise before April 15. "If the salaries are increased, we'll certainly take a second look at the judicial supplement support fund," he said.

Reaction from state leaders to the judiciary's planned increase was muted, even as Gov. David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson tackle the state's estimated $3 billion current-year budget shortfall. "It's our policy not to comment on next year's budget submission until it's formally introduced," said Division of the Budget spokesman Matt Anderson. "New York judges are overworked and underpaid, and while we are in a fiscal crisis, we have to ensure the administration of justice is never compromised," Sampson said. Silver's office declined to comment on the issue. While state leaders have stayed largely silent on the issue, the allowance expansion was met with consternation in some quarters of the legislature. "In the scheme of the larger budget problem, $6 million is symbolic ... but it is indicative of them having too much money to spend. They obviously have the money and they want to spend it," said Assemblyman William Parment, D-Chautauqua County, who has questioned the judiciary's significant budget expansion over the past few years. The judiciary's budget has grown about 45 percent over the past seven years, from $1.7 billion in the 2002-2003 budget to $2.5 billion in the current-year budget. "Is it not symbolic or symptomatic of a larger, more troubling problem within the judiciary?," asked Parment of the stipend expansion, particularly given the state's current economic crisis. Paterson did not propose cuts to the judiciary's $2.5 billion budget in his deficit reduction plan, which proposes cuts in almost every corner of state government in an attempt to save $5 billion over two years. "I don't see how the governor can expect the Legislature to cut school teachers and leave the judicial budget unscathed," Parment said. "The governor does not typically put forward proposed spending reductions for other coequal branches of government when submitting his initial budget recommendations," Anderson said. Irene Jay Liu can be reached at 454-5081 or iliu@timesunion.com.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NYCLU Says NY State has Failed the Citizens

"The NYCLU contends the state has "abdicated" its right to provide adequate counsel to criminal defendants."

Charge Is Dismissed Against Lead Figure in Defender Lawsuit
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - October 27, 2009

ALBANY, NY - An upstate appeals court has dismissed a case against a woman whose claims of shoddy representation from a public defender are at the center of a challenge to New York state's system of providing criminal legal services to indigent defendants. The felony charge against Kimberly Hurrell-Harring for bringing marijuana into a state prison cannot legally stand in light of a state Court of Appeals' determination in People v. Finley, 10 NY3d 647 (2008), that less than 25 grams of marijuana in prison is not dangerous contraband and that possession of smaller amounts of pot is a violation, as it would be outside of prison, the Appellate Division, Third Department, held last week. Although Ms. Hurrell-Harring's guilty plea to first-degree promotion of prison contraband came before the Court of Appeals' ruling in Finley, the high court clarified the meaning of an existing law that was still at issue in her appeal, the Third Department, ruled.

"Thus, applying the law as articulated in People v. Finley…the SCI [superior court information] is jurisdictionally defective because the amount of marijuana that defendant was alleged therein to have brought into the correctional facility was insufficient to constitute 'dangerous contraband' —a material element of the crime," Justice Leslie E. Stein wrote for a unanimous panel in People v. Hurrell-Harring, 101611/102295. "Inasmuch as the act of which defendant is accused does not constitute a crime, the judgment of conviction must be reversed." The Third Department decision appears on page 44 of the print edition of today's Law Journal.
Justices Robert S. Rose, William E. McCarthy and Elizabeth Garry joined the ruling. In Finley and a companion ruling, People v. Salters, the Court of Appeals decided that possessing small amounts of marijuana does not carry with it the "substantial probability" that it would contribute to death or serious injury within state prisons as do knives, razor blades or other potentially lethal weapons (NYLJ, June 11, 2008). Ms. Hurrell-Harring was arrested in 2007 for trying to smuggle marijuana in a condom hidden in her vagina to her husband, an inmate at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Washington County. She pleaded guilty to a promoting prison contraband charge and was sentenced to six months in jail and five years' probation by Washington County Court Judge Kelly S. McKeighan. Ms. Hurrell-Harring is one of 20 plaintiffs in Hurrell-Harring v. State of New York, the New York Civil Liberties Union-sponsored legal challenge to the state's legal defense system for indigent criminal defendants (NYLJ, Nov. 9, 2007).

The NYCLU contends the state has "abdicated" its right to provide adequate counsel to criminal defendants. Its complaint alleged that Ms. Hurrell-Harring's public defender took little interest in her case and failed to get her bail reduced despite the fact she had no prior criminal record. Ms. Hurrell-Harring pleaded guilty to the charge because she did not want to stay in jail indefinitely as she remained unable to meet bail, according to the NYCLU's complaint. She also did so on the advice of her public defender, the group said. She has served her jail time. With Ms. Hurrell-Harring now being represented pro bono on appeal by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, the woman had her conviction vacated by the Third Department. "This is one of these cases, it is not that often you can say this, unfortunately, where you get the opportunity to do justice like this," said Roberta A. Kaplan of Paul Weiss yesterday. "It just shows what kind of a difference it makes to have counsel who zealously represents their clients' interests and counsel who don't." Ms. Kaplan said Paul Weiss attorneys were researching whether Ms. Hurrell-Harring automatically gets back the nursing license she lost when she pleaded guilty or has to apply to the state for reinstatement. Ms. Kaplan said the NYCLU lawyers working on the suit challenging the indigent defense system asked Paul Weiss attorneys to take Ms. Hurrell-Harring's criminal case for a possible reversal. Michael N. Berger of Paul Weiss argued before the Third Department on Ms. Hurrell-Harring's behalf. He was not available for comment. Washington County District Attorney Kevin C. Kortright did not immediately return a call yesterday. In July 2008, a 3-2 Third Department panel threw out the NYCLU's suit, with the majority ruling that a "massive overhaul" in the public defense system requires legislative action. An appeal of the decision is before the Court of Appeals. The state has until Nov. 13 to file its brief in the case. The NYCLU's brief was filed on Sept. 29. No date has been set for oral arguments, which are expected to take place early next year. Joel Stashenko can be reached at jstashenko@alm.com.

Monday, October 26, 2009

NY Daily News Editorial: Unfit to Judge

Unfit to judge: Scofflaw Pam Fisher belongs in court, but not on the bench
The New York Daily News - EDITORIAL - October 26, 2009

Surprise, surprise. Pamela Fisher, previously identified here as this year's poster person for sleazy judge-making, is a serial ethics violator to boot. Fisher's sole, uh, qualification for the Civil Court is that she is an old friend and political ally of Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez. Although licensed as a lawyer, she has had virtually no legal experience. And she cannot claim to respect the laws and regulations that govern the conduct of judicial candidates.

Many are her transgressions:
  • Fisher has never filed a personal financial disclosure statement. Court rules say declared candidates for judgeships must reveal personal holdings, assets and liabilities to the public in reports submitted to the court's Ethics Commission. Fisher's statement was due Dec. 30.
  • Fisher never filed a campaign finance report with the city Board of Elections. Her campaign committee was required to submit written reports in January and July detailing its fund-raising and spending.
  • Fisher has not filed a campaign finance report with the state Board of Elections since July, missing mandated submissions Oct. 2 and another on Friday. Penalties for late filing and noncompliance include fines, court judgments and possible jail time.
  • Although she faces no opposition, thanks to maneuvering by Lopez, Fisher's campaign included flyers touting her candidacy jointly with that of Lopez-backed City Council contender Maritza Davila. Would-be judges are strictly prohibited from publicly endorsing or opposing candidates in other races.
Fisher graduated from NYU in 1983 and was soon working for the cornerstone of Lopez's political empire, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a government-funded organization that cares for the homebound, serves meals to the elderly and operates housing. While working for the Lopez organization, she attended Brooklyn Law School at night, graduating in 1990. Fisher ran failed Lopez-backed efforts to win a Queens City Council seat in 1991 and a Queens Assembly seat in 1994. The Assembly campaign included a fraudulent, racially targeted flyer. She also held a patronage post arranged by Lopez at the Housing Authority, working with tenant groups. In more recent years, Fisher listed herself as either a homemaker or unemployed in connection with campaign donations. All of which adds up to negligible work as an attorney. No matter. In January, at Lopez's apparent request, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Mark Partnow made Fisher his $85,187-a-year law secretary. The judge failed to respond to queries as to what credentials he considered in hiring Fisher. Deprived of an alternative, Brooklyn voters, led by Lopez's machine troops, will elect Fisher on Nov. 3 for a 10-year term. But maybe she won't last all that long. Her arrogant disdain for the law and the rules must draw the scrutiny of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, the moment after she is sworn in.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Multi-Million Dollar Jury Retaliation Verdicts Remind Wrong-Doers

Multi-Million Dollar Jury Verdicts Serve as Reminder to Beware of Retaliation Claims

Summer 2009

In 2006 the Supreme Court’s decision in Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White changed the standards for evaluating Title VII retaliation claims. Prior to the White decision, employees in some circuits could recover only when they demonstrated that they suffered an adverse and ultimate employment decision, such as being fired or other actions affecting the terms and conditions of their employment, in retaliation for the employee’s complaint of discrimination (or participation in other protected activity). As a result of the White decision, the scope of actionable conduct under Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision was expanded, allowing employees to recover with evidence of other minor, materially adverse actions as long as such actions would deter a reasonable employee from pursuing a complaint of discrimination. Not surprisingly, the number of retaliation charges filed with the EEOC has increased significantly since White was issued. In fact, the number of retaliation charges rose from 22,555 in 2006 to 26,663 in 2007 (an 18.2% increase), and to 32,690 in 2008 (a 45% increase over claims brought in 2006). These are significant increases compared to the mere 1.2% increase in retaliation charges brought in the year before White was decided. These claims translate to significant awards and settlements by employers. In 2008, the EEOC recovered more than $111 million in connection with retaliation claims (this figure does not include settlements and verdicts obtained through litigation removed from the EEOC). These statistics, along with two recent multi-million dollar jury verdicts, serve as a stark reminder of how retaliation claims can often lead to significant judgments against employers, even in cases where the employees fail to prove their primary discrimination claim.

$4.6 Million Dollar Jury Verdict Allowed to Stand

In Monteiro et al. v. City of Cambridge (a recent Massachusetts state court decision), the defendant city filed a motion for summary judgment as to the various claims brought by the plaintiffs, including for retaliation. The city’s motion was allowed in part and denied in part, based upon the evidence each plaintiff presented and the applicable legal standards for racial discrimination and retaliation claims. Thereafter, the case went to trial on all counts of plaintiff-Monteiro’s complaint, in which she alleged disparate treatment on account of her race and national origin (Cape Verdean), including alleged disparity in pay and refusal to recommend her candidacy to a city affiliated graduate school scholarship program. The jury rendered a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor on the retaliation claim only, finding that the city retaliated against her after she lodged a discrimination complaint in 1998. The jury awarded the plaintiff nearly $4.6 million in compensatory and punitive damages, and the Court awarded her over $600,000 in pre- and post-trial interest, along with attorneys’ fees and costs. The city challenged the jury’s verdict on a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and filed a motion for new trial (or alternatively to reduce the verdict), contending that the jury had no basis to infer causation or animus because five years separated the filing of plaintiff’s discrimination complaint and her termination. Ordinarily, a retaliatory motive may be inferred from temporal proximity alone where the adverse action occurs very shortly after the protected activity. However, the greater the time between the protected activity and the adverse employment action, the more the plaintiff must rely upon other evidence beyond temporal proximity to establish a causal connection between a complaint and a subsequent termination. In Monteiro, the defendant argued that because the jury failed to award the plaintiff damages for any intermediate employment actions between the 1998 complaint and the 2003 discharge, such actions could not be “materially adverse” since they did not produce any injury or harm as required by White. The Court rejected the city’s challenges to the verdict, including the city’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s holding in White. In doing so, the Court noted that the White decision does not require an evaluation of the level of seriousness to which the injury or harm must rise before liability can attach and damages can be awarded. Rather, according to White, a court must determine whether an action constitutes legally actionable retaliation by evaluating whether the action would dissuade a reasonable worker from making a charge of discrimination. Based upon this analysis, the Court held that because the jury found that the plaintiff endured materially adverse actions between her discrimination complaint and termination, she proved her case of retaliation, despite the fact that the jury did not award her any specific monetary damages for the retaliatory intra-employment actions. These “materially adverse” actions included documenting a complaint against the plaintiff without informing the plaintiff; removing some of the plaintiff’s responsibilities; forwarding to the police commissioner a newspaper article in which the plaintiff was quoted about racial profiling occurring in the police department; and launching a one-year investigation into the plaintiff’s performance on the police review board. The Superior Court likewise rejected the city’s argument that punitive damages could not be awarded for the city’s post-complaint conduct where the jury found that the employment actions did not produce any injury or harm to the plaintiff. Again, in denying the city’s post-trial motions, the Court held that because the jury affirmatively found that the city’s conduct was retaliatory, punitive damages could be awarded even where the plaintiff sustained no compensatory damages as a result of the conduct.

Jury Awards Former Employee $3 Million in Damages

A Federal Court jury in Colorado recently awarded plaintiff Jennifer McInerney, a former United Airlines ramp-services supervisor, $3 million in damages after finding that she was retaliated against due to her complaint of sex discrimination. The former employee became pregnant in May 2005, and requested consideration for alternative positions because she anticipated complications with her pregnancy. She claimed that she was denied alternative positions because she was a pregnant woman and complained in December 2005 that United’s failure to consider her for open positions was discriminatory. Her son was born 11 weeks premature in November 2005 and she took family and medical leave, vacation leave and sick time until her available time off expired in March 2006. United denied her request for additional unpaid leave, and instructed her to return to work in March 2006. When she did not return to work, United terminated her employment. United contended that there was a shortage of ramp supervisors, and that when the plaintiff requested additional leave, the company could not hold her job open any longer. As in the Monteiro case, the jury found that the plaintiff failed to establish her underlying discrimination claim. Rather, the jury found that the plaintiff was terminated in retaliation for the gender discrimination complaints she made in December 2005. Although it is unclear what ultimately led the jury to reject the plaintiff’s discrimination claim, yet credit her retaliation claim, the jury’s decision provides a general warning to employers to use caution when considering requests for leave or other accommodations and to avoid taking adverse actions against employees in such circumstances, particularly following an employee’s complaint of discrimination.

General Guidance

The importance of avoiding exposure to retaliation claims is highlighted by the fact that in both Monteiro and McInerney the respective juries found in favor of the defendant-employers on the underlying claim of discrimination, but determined that the employers’ post-complaint actions were retaliatory. As a result, liability was created for the employers which, perhaps, could have been avoided by making appropriate employment decisions concerning those employees following their complaints. In essence, in cases such as this, the retaliation claims have become the proverbial tail wagging the dog, and are exposing employers to multi-million dollar verdicts when they did not discriminate against the employee in the first instance. Given the increasing frequency of retaliation claims since the White decision, and the higher likelihood that retaliation claims will go to trial, employers should not take the potential for retaliation claims lightly when making employment decisions about employees engaged in protected activity. Rather, employers are encouraged to evaluate their current anti-discrimination policies and take steps to ensure that they do not inadvertently expose themselves to liability for a retaliation claim. In particular, employers can: Revise and/or develop policies to ensure that they contain an express prohibition against retaliation and describe the consequences of violating the prohibition against retaliation; Encourage employees to report complaints of retaliation, report actions believed to be retaliatory and provide alternative channels for complaints to be reported; Educate and train supervisors and employees alike on anti-retaliation policies to ensure that employees understand that retaliation against individuals who engage in protected activity is illegal and strictly against company policy; Involve counsel or human resource management in any employment actions impacting employees who have raised complaints of discrimination or engaged in other protected activity; Consider carefully whether job transfers, shift changes or changes in employee’s responsibilities following a claim for discrimination are appropriate or necessary, and whether they might deter a reasonable employee from engaging in protected activity; Maintain files concerning the claim of discrimination separate from any personnel file, so that only those personnel with a need to know have access to and knowledge of the complaint; Whenever possible avoid having a supervisor conduct the employee’s evaluation, who is involved in (or accused of) the discriminatory action, and consider whether a supervisor who is not privy to the employee’s complaint or protected activity can properly evaluate the employee; Act consistently in enforcing anti-retaliation policies as well as in enforcing any other workplace policies; and Evaluate and document all employment actions taken against employees carefully, including the legitimate business reasons for such actions, while avoiding targeted monitoring of such employees, which is inconsistent with the treatment of other similarly situated employees.

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Jury Awards $4M+ to Employee in Retaliation Case
by Daniel Schwartz - July 28, 2008

Late last week (when, of course, I was out of the office), word came down about another large verdict in an employment law case in Connecticut. The verdict, composed of $1M in compensatory damages and $3M in punitive damages in Tucker v. Journal Register Co. was first reported by the Connecticut Post last Friday here. (H/T Jottings blog) Long time readers of the blog may recall my discussion of the employer's summary judgment motion and the court's decision back in November 2007. In my posts back then (which can be found here and here). I talked about how the former employee alleged that her employer terminated her employment because she was opposed to testifying as a favorable witness in the company’s defense of another employee against whom a sexual harassment complaint had been filed. the employer denied the claims and said that she had been fired for misusing an office telephone in which collect calls were accepted. The case went to trial on two legal claims: 1) retaliation under Title VII as a person who participated or opposed a discriminatory practice, and 2) Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-51q, which applies the First Amendment to private employers. You can download the trial memorandum here. The Court's docket sheet hasn't yet been updated with some of the nitty gritty and I hope to followup with some more information about what happened during the trial. For instance, the employer moved for judgment as a matter of law during the trial and the court has taken that motion under advisement. I would certainly expect post-verdict motions to occur -- even before an expected appeal (though it is unclear what the grounds would be). According to Tucker's attorney, the jury found against the employer on both claims.

Tucker's attorney, Jeff Bagnell, was understandably pleased with the multi-million dollar verdict: We were very pleased with the jury's verdict. It sent a clear message that you can't retaliate against an employee who is going to tell the truth in a legal case. This excellent jury showed that people still care about the oath and what it means. Thank God for the Seventh Amendment. This case demonstrates once again that retaliation claims and 31-51q claims are among the more dangerous type of employment law claims out there. And although there aren't hard numbers out there on this, the damages that juries in Connecticut are awarding on such claims seem be on the increase. What does this mean for employers? It's yet another reminder to treat all claims of retaliation seriously. And consider settlement of such claims when the opportunity arises. No matter how strongly an employer feels about the claims, once the claims go to a jury, there is always a risk of loss -- no matter how strong the facts may appear to be to the employer.

Connecticut Employment Law Blog - July 31, 2008 8:34 AM
Earlier this week, I posted on a $4M verdict in federal court in a retaliation case, Tucker v. Journal Register Co.But did you ever wonder what the verdict form actually looks like? In other words, when the jurors fill out...

Connecticut Employment Law Blog - August 18, 2008 3:50 PM
Is a trend forming in First Amendment free-speech cases in Connecticut? It certainly seems that way. Last week, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Andrea Charron in her lawsuit against the Town of Griswold. The jury awarded damages...Daniel A. Schwartz of Pullman & Comley, LLP | 90 State House Square | Hartford, CT 06103. Phone: 860.424.4359

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Court: Employee's Firing After Expressing Reluctance to Participate as a Witness in CHRO Hearing May Be Retaliation
by Daniel Schwarts - November 7, 2008

For retaliation cases, an employee's active participation in another person's discrimination case has been viewed, in the past, as the threshold to be a "protected activity" under Title VII's retaliation clause. That has been watered down in the Second Circuit in recent years. A new District Court decision today has concluded that simply expressing a reluctance to testify in another employee's case, without actually testifying, could also be a protected activity. InTucker v. Journal Register East, (known more commonly as The New Haven Register), the Plaintiff -- a former employee, alleged that the Register terminated her employment because she was opposed to testifying as a favorable witness in the Register’s defense of another employee against whom a sexual harassment complaint had been filed. The Employer filed for summary judgment claiming that the employee never opposed a discriminatory practice. The Court rejected that argument finding that a different section of Title VII analysis -- the participation clause -- may apply. Notably it follows the "it would leave the employee 'wholly unprotected' language used by the Second Circuit in recent years.

The court believes that, in accordance with the principles set forth by the Supreme Court..., and by the Second Circuit..., [the employee]’s conduct is sufficient to qualify as a “protected activity” under Title VII. To hold otherwise would permit an employer involved in a Title VII proceeding to retaliate against an employee based upon that employee’s decision as to what her participation in the Title VII would be. Indeed, [the employee- would be “wholly unprotected” if the court were to find that the Register could terminate her because she had changed her mind about testifying on the Register’s behalf in the CHRO proceeding. While the court's broad reading of Title VII is disputable, it appears the court was simply troubled by the timing of the employee's termination; it occurred two days after the employee allegedly expressed reluctance. Moreover, the employer's reasons for terminating the employee (she allegedly accepted a collect call at work from a felon at a state correctional facility) seemed, to the court, excessively harsh. Because this case involved a local newspaper, it'll be curious to see the media's reaction to this case...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

First Department Justice Testifies at Anderson Trial

First Department Justice Testifies at Trial as Witness
News In Brief, The New York Law Journal - Monday October 26, 2009

Justice Angela M. Mazzarelli of the Appellate Division, First Department, made a cameo appearance Friday as a defense witness in the $10 million damages trial brought by Christine C. Anderson, who was fired as a First Department Disciplinary Committee lawyer. Justice Mazzarelli, a member of the liaison committee with the disciplinary body, described herself as "very concerned" about Ms. Anderson's claim that her supervisor had "whitewashed" the report of a probe prepared by Ms. Anderson. In her appearance Friday on the third day of the Southern District trial, Justice Mazzarelli also described herself as "a little confused" because both Ms. Anderson and the supervisor, Sherry K. Cohen, recommended the attorney under investigation be privately admonished. After reading the reports in the matter, Justice Mazzarelli testified that she had found Ms. Cohen's report "more readable, more comprehensive—a better work product" than Ms. Anderson's. She also said Ms. Anderson's proposal that a "Chinese wall" be erected between her and her supervisor reflected "a lack of professionalism." Ms. Anderson's lawyer, John Lovett of Lovett & Bellantoni asked only one question on cross examination. In all, Justice Mazzarelli's testimony took about 10 minutes. - Daniel Wise

Friday, October 23, 2009

Press Release From Upstate 'ExposeCorruptEssex.Com'

Gotti Trial On 26th Floor NYC Federal Court Was Mirrored By15th Floor Testimony Of "The Cleaner", Naomi Goldstein, Whitewashing Attorneys In 1st Appellate Division Disciplinary Committee

2009-10-22 By TFinnan

A "cleaner" belongs in the Gotti trial on the 26th floor of NYC Federal Courthouse and not in the Anderson trial v NY State Attorney Disciplinary Committee heard on the 15th floor of same courthouse.

For Immediate Release:

Keene, NY, USA (Free-Press-Release.com) October 22, 2009. Terence Finnan and Eliot Bernstein of Boca Raton, Florida report that in the "Anderson v The State of NY" trial now in Federal Court in NYC, that Naomi Goldstein was identified as "the cleaner" who whitewashed attorney complaints before the NY Appellate Division First Department Disciplinary Committee. This Anderson trial revealed document destruction and other Federal and State crimes by those within the Committee. While this testimony was on the 15th floor, it mirrored corruption more likely belonging in the Gotti trial on the 26th floor of the same NYC Federal Courthouse.

Christine Anderson’s attorney, Jonathan Lovett of Lovett and Bellantoni, was quite clear to the jury in his opening statement. “The case you are about to hear is very straightforward. It involves corruption. It involves Whitewashing.” Further testimony showed US Attorneys, District Attorneys,Assistant District Attorneys and favored law firms were also whitewashed of crimes and/or unethical acts by the same Disciplinary Committee. Christine C. Anderson claims the First Department Appellate Division Disciplinary Committee "whitewashed" at least nine cases because the lawyers being investigated were politically connected or represented by lawyers who had previously worked for the committee." Terence Finnan calls on Andrew Cuomo, NY Attorney General, to not tolerate whitewashing, document destruction and a "cleaner" involved in Attorney Discipline. Terence Finnan demands Andrew Cuomo convene a Grand Jury to indict all identified. (including Thomas Cahill, Sherri Cohen, and David Spokony)

A "cleaner" belongs in the Gotti trial on the 26th floor of NYC Federal Courthouse and not as part of the NY Attorney Disciplinary Committee heard on the 15th floor. Andrew Cuomo's duty is to the people of NY and not the corrupt. Andrew Cuomo's Public Integrity Unit must prosecute. Andrew Cuomo must convene a Grand Jury for indictments, as requested in my 9/29/2009 letter to Andrew Cuomo and his staff. This letter was labeled in Regard: Your honor, your duty, New York Law; 2. All testimony at NY Senate Hearings on 9/24/2009 and on 6/8/2009; 3. My testimony at NY Senate Hearing on 9/24/2009; and 4. Your immediate acts in 08-5977-cv in Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals. This letter is shown at http://www.exposecorruptessex.com/Cuomo9_29-1.html -- Because of Andrew Cuomo's inaction,Terence Finnan made a request on October 7, 2009 to US Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, Jr. and FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Division, Joseph M. Demarest, Jr. to act on a Criminal complaint against Robert Tembeckjian and to end the criminal systematic corruption in NY Courts.

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For more information: Visit our website: http://exposecorruptessex.com
Keywords: Christine Anderson, Andrew Cuomo, Thomas Cahill, Gotti, Sherri Cohen, David Spokony, Naomi Goldstein
Contact us: PO Box 354 Keene NY 12942 Phone 518-576-9734 -tfinn@ExposeCorruptEssex.com

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Head of Embattled Justice Dept. Unit is Stepping Down

Head of embattled Justice Dept. unit is stepping down
Anti-corruption division under fire for handling of Sen. Stevens's case
The Washington Post by Carrie Johnson - October 22, 2009

William M. Welch II, the head of the Justice Department's public integrity unit, will step aside and return to Massachusetts, where he spent the bulk of his career exposing corruption in the state government, according to two sources familiar with the move. Welch reached the decision after consulting with authorities about his family responsibilities and the professional opportunities in his home state, the sources added. He notified subordinates in the public integrity unit late Monday. He will remain an employee of the department's criminal division. The unit, which leads some of the Justice Department's most explosive investigations of political figures, came under fire this year when Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. abandoned the case against former senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who had been convicted on corruption charges, citing multiple lapses by the prosecution team in the sharing of evidence. Six department lawyers -- including Welch, who supervised the case but did not play a major role during last year's trial -- remain the subject of a probe by the department's internal ethics investigators and a separate criminal investigation launched by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who presided over the Stevens trial.

The sources said Welch's decision to leave Washington did not spring from an adverse finding by investigators. Welch's attorney, William Taylor of the Zuckerman Spaeder law firm in the District, said, "While the ultimate result in the Stevens case has been highly disappointing professionally and personally, Bill knows that his management decisions, where permitted, comported with his own and the department's highest ethical standards." Welch's departure, set for Oct. 30, comes after the exit of several other lawyers connected to the Stevens case. Earlier this year, Brenda Morris, the section's deputy chief, relocated to Atlanta for personal reasons. Morris served as the government's lead voice during the Stevens trial and delivered a forceful cross examination of the senator. Two other section lawyers who worked on the Alaska case, Nicholas Marsh and Edward Sullivan, were transferred to the department's international affairs unit in June. A Justice Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters, said Raymond N. Hulser will serve as the unit's acting chief while department leaders conduct a nationwide search to fill the post, which those leaders described as vital. The unit's prosecutors are leading sensitive investigations of earmarks on Capitol Hill, among other cases. Welch has headed the unit since March 2007. During his tenure, the office has continued to investigate figures tied to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and it presided over the guilty plea of Samuel Kent, a former U.S. district judge in South Texas who was accused of assaulting female courthouse employees. Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general for the criminal division, said Wednesday that Welch is "a dedicated public servant who's devoted his entire professional life to serving the American people." He added that he and Welch had come to a "mutual decision" about what was best for the prosecutor and the division.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NY Law Journal on Court Corruption Trial

Trial Begins in Case of Attorney Fired From Disciplinary Committee
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise - October 21, 2009

In low-key opening statements to a Southern District jury yesterday, the two sides presented starkly different portrayals of the reason an attorney with the Appellate Division, First Department, disciplinary committee was fired in 2007. John Lovett, the lawyer for the fired lawyer, Christine C. Anderson, told the six-member jury that his client had been fired in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights in complaining to court officials that well-connected attorneys received preferential treatment and that the committee had "whitewashed" certain cases. But Assistant Attorney General Wesley E. Bauman insisted the firing had nothing to do with Ms. Anderson's exercise of her free speech rights but instead was a result of her "unprofessional conduct and refusal to have any contact" with her supervisor. The one thing both sides agreed on was that Ms. Anderson and Sherry K. Cohen, who became the committee's first deputy counsel in 2003, had an exceptionally tense and difficult relationship.

In his half-hour opening, Mr. Lovett, of Lovett & Bellantoni in Hawthorne, N.Y., described Ms. Anderson, now 64, as having a good relationship with her immediate supervisor from the time she began work at the committee in 2001 until August 2005. Although Ms. Cohen became deputy counsel in spring 2003, Mr. Lovett said that Ms. Anderson had the same immediate supervisor until Ms. Cohen demanded that Ms. Anderson "sanitize" the factual findings in one of her cases where she had concluded that an attorney had lied to committee personnel. Mr. Lovett said that a finding that an attorney under investigation had lied to the committee was "a giant no-no." In August 2005, he said, Ms. Cohen told Ms. Anderson that she wanted her to drop her conclusion that the lawyer, only identified as R.N., had been untruthful. When Ms. Anderson objected to taking out the finding that the lawyer had made "misrepresentations" as a move that "would dictate the outcome of the investigation," Mr. Lovett said, Ms. Cohen took over the file and rewrote the recommendation herself. Both Ms. Cohen and Ms. Anderson agreed that the attorney should be privately admonished. After taking control of the R.N. case, Mr. Lovett said, Ms. Cohen took over as Ms. Anderson's immediate supervisor and "began micromanaging and harassing her." Mr. Lovett said that in subsequent conversations with Thomas J. Cahill, then the committee's chief counsel, and other court officials, Ms. Anderson complained that certain lawyers got "the soft touch, another form of corruption" at the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, where "who you know and what your connections are" influenced investigations. Mr. Lovett said that Ms. Anderson had complained to Mr. Cahill that prosecutors and lawyers with connections to members of the committee's policy committee or with lawyers who had previously worked for the committee had received preferential treatment.

'Detail-Oriented' Supervision

Mr. Bauman laid out a different timeline, saying that Ms. Cohen took over as Ms. Anderson's direct supervisor shortly after becoming deputy counsel in 2003, and brought a more "detail-oriented" style of supervision. She became directly involved with staff attorneys' cases to provide them "with her 15 years of experience and best judgment," Mr. Bauman said during his 15-minute opening. Mr. Bauman said Ms. Anderson "resented" the more-detailed approach, but "there were many opportunities to repair the supervisory relationship." Instead, he said, Ms. Anderson demanded that she have no direct contact with Ms. Cohen. Confronted with Ms. Anderson's refusal "to repair the continuing hostility," Mr. Bauman said, the "court reluctantly fired" Ms. Anderson in June 2007. Mr. Lovett countered that the reason Ms. Anderson demanded that she have no direct contact with Ms. Cohen was that she was afraid of the deputy clerk, primarily as a result of an incident in August 2005. He said that was when Ms. Cohen had entered Ms. Anderson's office to speak to her, but Ms. Anderson said she had to leave to meet a complainant in a conference room. When Ms. Anderson sought to leave the office, Mr. Lovett said, Ms. Cohen leaned against the door to prevent the lawyer from exiting. As Ms. Anderson reached for the door knob, Ms. Cohen grabbed her hand and scratched her, he said. Mr. Bauman referred to the incident briefly in his own opening, saying, "It was not an assault." Former Westchester County Court Judge Rory J. Bellantoni is also representing Ms. Anderson. In addition to the court system, Mr. Bauman and Assistant Attorney General Lee Alderstein are representing three individual defendants: the First Department's deputy clerk, David Spokony, Mr. Cahill and Ms. Cohen. All three were at the defense table yesterday. John McConnell, the clerk of the First Department, and Roy L. Reardon, the chairman of the 64-member disciplinary committee, attended yesterday's session as spectators.

The trial, which is expected to last about one week, is being presided over by Southern District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin. Judge Scheindlin denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment in April. She ruled that Ms. Anderson could proceed with her $10 million claim for compensatory and punitive damages on the ground that the committee had retaliated against her for expressing her view that it had whitewashed as many as nine cases. In her opinion, Judge Scheindlin noted that a "host" of e-mails had made evident Ms. Anderson's "hostility" toward Ms. Cohen and her "refusal to cooperate" with her supervisor (NYLJ, April 30, 2009). But Judge Scheindlin also noted that "a reasonable jury could find that the defendants refused to remove [Ms.] Cohen as [Ms.] Anderson's supervisor so they could use [Ms.] Anderson's inevitable resistance to [Ms.] Cohen's continuing supervision as pretext for firing her." After the opening statements, Ms. Anderson took the stand. Her cross examination is set to continue this morning. About 10 people dissatisfied with the way the disciplinary committee had handled their complaints against their attorneys also attended yesterday's session. Daniel Wise can be reached at dwise@alm.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PRESS RELEASE ON COURT CORRUPTION TRIAL

Christine Anderson’s attorney, Jonathan Lovett of Lovett and Bellantoni, was quite clear to the jury in his opening statement. “The case you are about to hear is very straightforward. It involves corruption. It involves Whitewashing.”

PCAC Seeking Citizen Control Over Attorney Grievance Committees
PUBLIC COMMITTEE ON ATTORNEY CONDUCT
Tel: 347-632-9775 email: pcacinformation@gmail.com
Fax: 206-309-0450 Web: www.pcac.8k.com

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

Public Committee on Attorney Conduct Issues Statement on Start of Litigation Brought By Christine C. Anderson Against New York State Court System Defendants

PCAC President John T. Whitely Applauds Anderson Case Opening Statement Focused on Corruption and Illegality of New York’s Lawyer Controlled Grievance Committees
New York, NY. Public Committee on Attorney Conduct (PCAC) has issued a statement
on the opening of Christine C. Anderson’s case against New York State’s attorney-controlled grievance committees. The litigation before U.S. District Court Judge Shira A Scheindlin in New York City seeks to expose the illegal and unethical conduct of the named defendants, including the leadership of the grievance committees. Ms. Anderson is being represented by Jonathan Lovett, a noted Civil Rights attorney and Rory Bellantoni, a respected former New York judge, who recently resigned from the bench to resume private practice.

Attorney Jonathan Lovett of Lovett and Bellantoni, was quite clear to the jury in his opening statement. “The case you are about to hear is very straightforward. It involves corruption. It involves Whitewashing.”

PCAC President John T. Whitely issued the following statement:

PCAC applauds the efforts of Christine C. Anderson and her counsel, Jonathan Lovett and Rory Bellantoni, as they open their litigation to hold New York State officials liable for conspiring to operate a thoroughly corrupt attorney disciplinary process. As reflected in Mr. Lovett’s comprehensive opening statement, this court challenge is fully prepared to prove that the New York State attorney controlled grievance committees are managed and controlled strictly by money, favoritism and cronyism. This corrupt system must be terminated and its leaders sanctioned. Ms. Anderson, a former attorney employed by the Departmental Disciplinary Committee in Manhattan, is providing the court extensive details of the inner workings of the official corruption and malfeasance, which permeates the attorney controlled grievance process. It is this culture of illegality, which was turned against Ms. Anderson, attacked her, and sought to destroy her reputation and professional standing. Ms. Anderson’s good name must be restored, and she must be fully compensated for the serious damages that she has suffered.

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PCAC resolutely believes that Ms. Anderson’s litigation will become a key part of an ever expanding court reform campaign to terminate the existing attorney-controlled grievance system. Recently, individuals and organizations, including PCAC, have filed statements before the New York Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator John Sampson, which is reviewing allegations of official corruption throughout the judicial system. These statements have detailed abuses by the grievance committees and officials, including concealment of evidence, obstruction of justice, sexual assault by attorneys, pilfering of estates by attorneys, abuse of power, fraud, conspiracy and repeated violations of Constitutional rights.

PCAC was established in 2007 by affiliated member organizations, including Litigation Recovery Trust (LRT), a New York based rights administration organization, and Integrity in the Courts, and Expose Corrupt Courts, two Internet blogs focused on judicial and attorney disciplinary processes and procedures. The objective of the PCAC is to replace the existing New York State Attorney Grievance Committees with a body controlled by non-attorneys. PCAC is in the process of completing a review process, prior to submitting draft legislation for consideration by the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee for the purpose of terminating and replacing the current disciplinary committee structure with citizen controlled bodies.

Headquartered in New York City, PCAC represents the first bar review mechanism in the United States established by non-attorneys. Since news of the formation of the PCAC was first made public, individual complainants have been submitting requests in growing numbers to the committee to review both past and current matters before the New York State grievance committees. Requests and documents are being received by PCAC via email at: pcacinformation @gmail.com. Telephone inquiries can be directed to 347-632-9775. For additional information, contact the PCAC website at www.pcac.8k.com.

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For additional information please contact:

John T. Whitely
Chairman Executive Search Committee
Public Committee on Attorney Conduct
515 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Telephone 347-632-9775
E-mail: pcacinformation@gmail.com
Web: pcac.8k.com

Expose Corrupt Courts
Email:corruptcourt@gmail.com
Web: www.exposecorruptcourts.blogspot.com

William J. Hallenbeck
Executive Director
Litigation Recovery Trust
515 Madison Avenue
New York, New York
Telephone 646-201-9269
E-mail: lrtinformation@gmail.com
Web: litigationrecoverytrust.8k.com

Integrity in the Courts
Telephone 202-370-1885
www.IntegrityintheCourts.com
Email: integrityinthecourts@gmail.com

The Frank Brady Organization
www.FrankBrady.org
Email: FranknBrady@gmail.com

About Public Committee on Attorney Conduct (PCAC)
The Public Committee On Attorney Conduct reviews both past and present cases brought before the New York State grievance committees to provide an independent assessment and analysis of the facts, and issue proposed findings. With respect to past cases, the committee seeks evidence from persons, who maintain that they have been treated unfairly and unjustly by the state disciplinary committees. As part of its efforts, the committee is actively seeking documentation of all complaints against any attorneys dating to January 1, 1988. Public Committee On Attorney Conduct includes as members individuals, who through their personal and professional lives have established a reputation of responsibility and fairness. While attorneys will be available to the PCAC as advisers, all voting members issuing formal reports and decisions are non attorneys. PCAC is the first such lawyer conduct review organization in the U.S. to be controlled solely by non attorneys.

About Litigation Recovery Trust
Founded in 1995, Litigation Recovery Trust is a New York based claims and rights administration organization. LRT pursues claims and causes of action worldwide, and processes single and group litigation claims, as well as general rights fees and awards. LRT also participates in legislative and administrative initiatives designed to protect or advance individual claims and rights.


About Integrity in the Courts
Integrity in the Courts focuses on ethical and legal issues related to the administration of justice nationwide. Issues impacting both the judiciary and the bar are examined, including compliance with codes of judicial conduct, and codes of professional responsibility. Violations of law and failure to abide by codes of conduct are monitored, together with actions leading to disciplinary rulings, including attorney admonishments, reprimands, censures, suspensions and court ordered losses of licenses to practice law.

About Expose Corrupt Courts
Since beginning publication in March 2007, Expose Corrupt Courts has become one of the leading sources of both public and inside information concerning bench and bar misconduct. While the blog focuses primary attention on the court system of New York State, it regularly covers stories of interest throughout the U.S. Expose Corrupt Courts has led coverage of the massive corruption charges that have been filed against the attorney grievance committees in New York resulting in the filing of over a dozen law suits with the federal district court in Manhattan.

Fallout from Corrupt Commission on Judicial Conduct Continues

High Court Removes One Judge But Reduces His Brother's Penalty to Admonition
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - October 21, 2009

ALBANY, NY - The state Court of Appeals today removed Joseph S. Alessandro of Westchester County as state Supreme Court justice, but reduced to an admonition a removal recommendation against his brother Francis M. Alessandro, a Bronx Civil Court judge. In a pair of 6-0 rulings in one per curiam decision, the judges distinguished the severity of wrongdoing by Joseph from that of his brother Francis. The brothers ran afoul of ethics rules in connection with a loan Joseph took out while seeking a Westchester County judgeship in 2003 and subsequent omissions on loan applications and financial disclosure forms filed by both brothers. Joseph failed to repay the $250,000 loan to his former campaign manager Barbara Battista within the promised time period, "strung ... along" the manager's lawyer about meeting the obligation and failed to accurately disclose the loan as required by law, the Court concluded today. "His failure to disclose the Battista mortgage in these documents is consistent with an ongoing pattern of shirking his obligation to repay her," the Court held.

The judges said they agreed with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct that Joseph's actions were far worse than "mere carelessness" and should result in Joseph's removal as judge. As to his brother, the Court held that Francis was not obligated to repay the $250,000, Joseph was. Omissions on Francis' subsequent financial disclosure forms and loan applications did not appear to be intentional or designed to conceal obligations to gain Francis any advantage, the Court held. "We emphasize that judges should adhere to the highest standards of honesty and integrity in all matters; however, we are unwilling to remove a Judge from office for completing loan applications in a sloppy fashion where there is no evidence of intent to deceive," the Court held. The Commission on Judicial Conduct had voted 9-0 to recommend Joseph's removal and 8-1 for Francis' ouster. In separate decisions containing nearly identical findings, the commission determined that the two men's actions had "irretrievably damaged" their ability to remain as judges (NYLJ, Feb. 24). Francis co-signed for the 30-day loan brother Joseph accepted from his campaign manager. But Joseph told the commission he renegotiated a 15-year loan—which he alone signed—when he realized that not repaying the obligation within the 30-day period would represent receipt of a campaign contribution far in advance of acceptable limits. The campaign manager ultimately sued and Joseph settled for $274,000.

Both brothers subsequently were charged by the Commission on Judicial Conduct with failing to report the loan and the suit on various loan applications and court financial disclosure forms they filled out from 2003 to 2005. Joseph won the 2003 election and, in 2005, was elected to the state Supreme Court in the judicial district covering Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange and Rockland counties. Francis, 70, has been a Civil Court judge in the Bronx since 1990. At oral arguments before the Court of Appeals in September, Francis' attorney Robert P. Roche noted that Francis is facing mandatory retirement at the end of this year due to his age. Mr. Roche pleaded with the judges not to allow Francis' judicial legacy to be overshadowed by removal from the bench in the twilight of his career. Counting today's rulings, the Court of Appeals had upheld 66 removal recommendations by the commission and in 10 other instances reduces removals to lesser sanctions. Both brothers had been suspended with pay since appealing the commission's removal recommendations. jstashenko@alm.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

More Change At Appellate Division, But Corrupt Friedberg and Cohen Linger

Buckley's Move Continues Reshaping of First Department
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise - October 19, 2009

Justice John T. Buckley, the former presiding justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, will hear his last case tomorrow. While Justice Buckley, 73, who was presiding justice from 2003 to 2006, will retain his seat, he will be devoting full time as the new head of appellate education at the Judicial Institute in White Plains. The move is the latest in a recent series of far-reaching personnel changes at the court. Governor David A. Paterson last month created an additional judgeship, bringing the department's total complement to 20, including Justice Buckley. The new slot was the third added in the last two years to cope with an increasing backlog. Since Jan. 1, 2008, nine new justices have been appointed to the First Department, two by former Governor Eliot Spitzer and seven by Mr. Paterson. The appointments of women and minorities have greatly increased the bench's diversity. Of the last nine justices named, one is a black man, two are black women, two are Hispanic men and one is a Hispanic woman. Three are white women, one openly gay. As of Dec. 31, 2007, there were 13 white men, one black man, one Hispanic man, one Asian-American man and one white woman on a court of 17 members. Now there are 13 men—including one black, three Hispanic and one Asian-American—and seven women, including two black and one Hispanic. One of the court's Hispanic members—Luis A. Gonzalez—was named presiding justice after Jonathan Lippman was appointed chief judge (NYLJ, March 25). Mr. Paterson approved the latest additional judgeship a few days before he made his last two appointments (NYLJ, Sept. 25). They were Justices Nelson S. Roman and Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, both from the Bronx, increasing that borough's representation on the court to four from two. Justice Roman began his career as a prosecutor, and Justice Manzanet-Daniels with the criminal division of the Legal Aid Society. Justice Manzanet-Daniels, 45, who is married to Randy A. Daniels, secretary of state under former Governor George Pataki, was elected to the Supreme Court in 2001. She was Justice Gonzalez's law secretary when he was sitting in the Bronx before his appointment to the First Department in 2002. Justice Roman, 49, who is married to Deputy Mayor Carol A. Robles-Roman, was elected to the Supreme Court in 2002.

Backlog Creeps Up

Under the state Constitution, the governor is authorized to approve an additional appellate division justice when a department certifies that another judge is needed for the "speedy disposition" of its work (NY Constitution Article VI, §4). Justice Gonzalez said the latest additional judgeship was created because the court, in effect, is losing the services of Justice Buckley. The other two positions were added in an effort to make a dent in the court's backlog (NYLJ, Nov. 1, 2007; June 2, 2009). When the court broke for its summer recess in July 2006, the year before Judge Lippman's arrival as presiding justice, there were 177 appeals unresolved, 21 pending more than six months. Two years later, at the court's 2008 summer recess, the number of unresolved cases was reduced to 34 with only three pending more than six months. This past June, however, three months after Justice Gonzalez had taken the helm, the number of cases pending at the break climbed back to 79, including 14 pending more than six months. Justice Gonzalez said he hoped that by next summer's break only a "few" appeals will remain unresolved. "We owe the legal community relatively quick dispositions without sacrificing scholarship," he said. At 20 judges, the First Department is nearly as large as the Second Department, which has 22 judges. The last time an additional judge was authorized in the Second Department was 2002. Before the latest additions, the First Department last received an additional justice in 2004. The recent additions mean judges need to sit on panels only four times a month rather than five. Also, Justice Gonzalez said, the added slots have enabled the court to dispense with a half-day session on Fridays except in months with multiple holidays. But space is getting tight. The judges squeeze to fit around the courthouse lunch table and the table where the court holds its weekly meetings, sources said. Five of the judges have their chambers in the building at 41 Madison Ave., which is adjacent to the courthouse at Madison Avenue and 25th Street, where the rest of the justices have chambers. There is an interior entrance from the second floor of 41 Madison directly into the courthouse. Additionally, many of the non-judicial personal are either doubled up or work in cubicles. John McConnell, the court's clerk, said the space problems pre-date the three added judges, and that plans have been developed to convert unused basement space in the courthouse into added offices.

Impact on Practitioners

The changes in the court's personnel have already caused some practitioners to take notice. "The impact of the new judges has been a hot topic of discussion, and many lawyers—both for tenants and landlords—have noted an increased receptivity to tenants' arguments," said Samuel J. Himmelstein, of Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph, a tenants' firm. Several criminal appeals specialists, from both the prosecution and the defense side, said several of the new judges are more receptive to defense arguments than the judges they replaced. One criminal defense lawyer said, "It's fair to say that the center of gravity on the court has shifted slightly" toward the defense, Robert S. Cohen, a matrimonial specialist at Cohen Lans, said the Pataki-era court was more generous to husbands than wives in dividing marital assets. "The life experiences of the recent appointees is somewhat different from those of the judges they replaced," Mr. Cohen said. "In view of those differences, it will be very interesting to see what happens." But another appellate specialist, with a practice representing insurance companies in personal injury cases, said the "intellectual power" of the veteran judges on the court is likely to forestall any major change in his field of practice.

Justice Buckley's New Job

With Justice Buckley relinquishing his judicial duties, only two of five justices appointed by Mr. Pataki—James Catterson and John Sweeny—from outside New York City remain active on the court. Mr. Pataki appointed Justice Buckley, a former state assemblyman from Oneida County, to the First Department in 1999. Four years later, Mr. Pataki appointed him as presiding justice, a post Justice Buckley held until the end of 2006, when he was required to relinquish it because he had turned 70. Justice Buckley will continue to receive his $144,000 salary and will have access to a court car and driver to take him to and from the Judicial Institute's suburban campus, 22 miles north of New York City. Justice Gonzalez said in a statement, "It gives me great pride and pleasure to announce that, upon the invitation of the Judicial Institute, Justice John T. Buckley has consented to accept the first Chair of Appellate Practice at the Institute. In that capacity, he will assist in the development of research and training programs for judicial staff on appellate practice and the operations of appellate courts." The Judicial Institute was established by the court system in 2003 in collaboration with Pace Law School. Justice Gonzalez said "the appointment of a distinguished jurist of such broad experience is designed to enhance the Institute's goal of developing cutting-edge approaches to judicial administration and public policy." Justice Buckley did not return calls for comment. Judge Juanita Bing Newton, the institute's dean, was not available for comment. Daniel Wise can be reached at dwise@alm.com.

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2