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May 10, 2010

The New Bluebook

Does the Bluebook still matter to your practice? Sometimes it seems like such an anachronism, until you have to do some legal writing to impress someone somewhere. Be it a brief for court, an article for publication, or maybe just for a writing sample. When you have to write it like it matters, there's still no substitute for at least trying to follow the Bluebook rules. (Though it often seems impossible to follow every rule perfectly.) If you're still reading this entry, then you probably want to know that there's a new version of the Bluebook coming out. This will be the 19th Edition. One of the best legal research blogs, Pace Law Library's blog, has a quick note here about the new edition. And click here for a summary of the changes.

Extra credit to those who know what color the cover of the new Bluebook will be. (JK!)*

*Just Kidding ;-)

May 21, 2010

Good Marks for Government Online

Here's good news to end a hard week at work. According to this recent article in the New York Times, governments are doing a good job of serving their constituents online. In fact, it's reported that 79% of all users were able to achieve "most or all of what they wanted to accomplish on the last government site they visited."

Now that's public service!

May 25, 2010

"Civil Gideon" Initiative

The Brennan Center for Justice reports on its blog about a new "Civil Gideon" initiative proposed by the Hon. Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals in a recent speech given on Law Day. The concept is to find ways to provide counsel to low-income parties in cases where "basic human needs are at stake--shelter, sustenance, personal safety, health, or child custody." For more details about the initiative, click on these links to see the New York Times and New York Law Journal articles.

June 2, 2010

Dialogue with Dershowitz

Slate Magazine has posted a lengthy interview by Katherine Schulz with the inimitable Alan Dershowitz. It's called "The Wrong Stuff". Part One is called, "Alan Dershowitz on Being Wrong, Part I: Lawyers, Pundits, Error, and Evil", and Part Two is called, "Alan Dershowitz on Being Wrong, Part II: Error in the Law". If you don't have time to read the whole thing, (or you want to be sure it's worth your investment of time before reading it), Law.com's "Legal Blog Watch" has a summary online. Just to whet your appetite, here's a sampling from the interview:

. . . I tell my students, if you ever become comfortable with your role as criminal defense lawyer, it's time to quit. It should be a constant source of discomfort, because you're dealing with incredible moral ambiguity, and you've been cast into a role which is not enviable. You have to stand on the side of somebody who probably did it, but the "probably" isn't enough, or the process by which the evidence was obtained was not pure. There should be moral ambiguity, there should be discomfort. But there should be discomfort with the other [inadequate or nonexistent legal representation] as well. Anytime you try to abolish the system or change it, what are we opting for? What's the alternative? . . . .

June 18, 2010

Lack of Quorum Consequences

If you've recently relied on a decision from the National Labor Relations Board, you may want to revisit your work - quickly! The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that hundreds of NLRB decisions were invalidly decided because that Board did not have the requisite number of members participating when it decided those decisions. The National Law Journal summarizes the Supreme Court's decision, and the potential (unprecedented?) consequences, and the NLRB's website has posted a press release about the decision. Although it appears that this wasn't a simple factual scenario, there is a big lesson to be learned for attorneys representing public boards: Don't minimize concerns that a proper quorum may not be established before letting boards conduct official business!

July 6, 2010

Learning Something New Everyday

Remember when there were only two legal research databases, and they both charged by the minute? Happily for all of us, times have changed. Courtesy of LLRX.com, here's a link to a short summary of some of the good places to go online, or as the author says, "a short list of 'go to' sites" on the Internet: http://www.llrx.com/features/basiclegalresearchinternet.htm

No matter how much you think you know, there's always something more to learn!

July 8, 2010

The List For Supreme Court Clerk Watchers

Above the Law, often a cut above other legal blogs, has a listing of confirmed as well as rumored names of people selected for U.S. Supreme Court clerkships for the Court's next two terms . . . and there appear to still be some openings . . . just in case you know of anyone who might be interested.

July 13, 2010

Cool Summer Reading

Have you heard of the Legal Workshop? It's an interesting concept website featuring what it calls "op-ed versions" of law review articles appearing in certain law reviews. For example, there's a recent entry online about a Stanford Law Journal article called, "All Hands on Deck: Local Governments and the Potential for Bidirectional Climate Change Regulation." Sounds like it would be of great interest to many of this blog's readers. And it's especially timely as the dog days of summer are panting heavily upon us. Keep Cool!

July 23, 2010

Courtroom Tenants

Who has offices in the courtrooms you frequent? Professor Eric E. Johnson, Assistant Professor of Law
at the University of North Dakota School of Law suggests on the PrawfsBlaw blog that tenants such as the U.S. Attorney's Office down the hall from federal judges may send subtle messages to jurors:

The question is, do these office arrangements cause any regular people on the street to have some inkling of doubt about the independence of the judiciary? I think the answer is, of course they must.
Interesting thought to mull over during your summer break.

July 26, 2010

Hearings on Civil Legal Services to the Indigent

The New York Law Journal has an item about upcoming court-sponsored hearings on civil legal services to the indigent. Presently, hearings are set to begin on Sept. 28. According to the NYLJ:

Hearings will be held in each of the Appellate Division's four departments: on Sept. 28 at the First Department at 27 Madison Ave. in Manhattan; on Sept. 29 at the Fourth Department, 50 East Ave., Rochester; on Oct. 5 in the Third Department at the Court of Appeals, 20 Eagle St., Albany; and on Oct. 7 at the Second Department, 45 Monroe Place, Brooklyn. The sessions will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. except for the hearing in Rochester, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Judge Lippman will conduct the sessions, which will be attended by the presiding justices of the departments where the hearings are being held, Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau and New York State Bar Association President Stephen P. Younger.

For the full story, (if you're lucky enough to have a subscription), you can read the news item by clicking here. Otherwise, look around your office for the print newspaper (remember those?) dated July 26, 2010 (News in Brief).

July 29, 2010

Government & Public Interest Lawyering

Ms JD, a blog "concerned by the rates at which women opt out of the legal profession, the lack of representation of women in the highest courts and echelons of the legal community, and the role of gender in the progression of many women’s legal careers," (how's that for a short description?), has a couple of entries of interest to readers here. Actually, more than a couple, but for now, you may want to glance at:
Breaking Chains to Build New Links: For the Public Interest Lawyer
and
Breaking Chains to Build New Links - For the Government Lawyer

If you have the time, click around the the blog generally because there's a lot of interesting content to read - whether you're a Ms. or Mr. JD.

August 12, 2010

Land Use and Administrative Law Convergence

Here's a blog entry tailor-made for our CAPS community. Dean Patty Salkin, esteemed CAPS member among other things, recently posted on her incomparable blog, Law of the Land, an interesting article about a zoning board decision (or in this case, decision by indecision) which denied permits for an LED sign display for a parking garage. The title of the article is interesting enough:

PA Court Upholds Denial of Permits for LED Billboard Where ZBA Decision Was Evenly Split Leading to a Negative Decision and Doctrine of Natural Expansion for Non-Conforming Uses was Inapplicable
("Doctrine of Natural Expansion" - Really?). But if that's not interesting enough for you, if you practice in the administrative law arena at all, here's where it gets especially good. Another blog, The Administrative Law Prof Blog, picked up on Dean Salkin's article, and analyzed the issues in that article even more. So if land use, administrative law or legal analysis is your cup of tea, drink up and enjoy!

September 14, 2010

Careers in Public Service

Are you reading this blog because you're interested in finding a job in the public service sector? If so, here's a link to an upcoming webcast from the NYSBA's Lawyers in Transition Committee called, Community Law Work – You Can Do It Too! Public Interest Practice – How Individual Attorneys Can Make a Difference in People's Lives.
Hold the Date - September 23, 2010.

October 15, 2010

Private Attorney Working for Municipality Is Not Immune

Is a private attorney, hired by a municipality, entitled to at least qualified immunity? Not according to this recent decision in California:
http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/09/09/09-55514.pdf

For a nice summary of the decision, take a look at Harry Randall's blog, "New York Public Personnel Law". And click around while you're there; there's always interesting content on this blog.

October 27, 2010

Saving Documents Online

Are your thoughts in the clouds these days? (And if you're not sure what "clouds" have to do with saving documents online, click here first.) If for no other reason, expectations for people to work via their smartphones from any location creates a case for saving documents in one place online that can be accessed from any location from any device. One emerging solution is to save documents online via services such as Google Documents. This presents a host of issues for lawyers in particular - not the least of which is the attorney-client privilege. And for lawyers in municipal or other public service settings, the questions raised multiply considerably. For a beginner's primer on some of these issues, check out the Sui Generis blog article which cites to both an ABA and NYSBA Opinion No. 842 discussing some of the relevant issues.

November 12, 2010

NYS Legislative History Research Guide

If you've ever needed some New York State legislative history documentation, you know how challenging it can be to find that needle in the haystack. Pace Law School's library has set up a good resource page for this, and you can access it by clicking here.

November 22, 2010

Converting Government Paper to Electronic Records

What government papers can be safely transferred to electronic documents? And what should be done with the original papers after the conversion? These questions were perplexing when computers first invaded government offices; they're not much easier to answer today. The Law Librarian Blog has a good summary of some of the issues raised by a recent article called, "The Historical and Legal Underpinnings of Access to Public Documents," 102 LLJ 613 (2010) in the Law Library Journal.

November 29, 2010

Is Airport Security Landing in Courthouses Next?

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Marshals service is exploring the use of full-body scanners at federal courthouses. The obvious questions arise (will there be alternative "pat-down" searches available, for example), but there are also unique issues in the context of the courthouse such as FOIA, (if the images are stored, will they be available to the public to see?); health (there are probably a lot more "frequent courthousers" than frequent fliers - will the courthousers frequent visits expose them to unhealthy levels of scanning?); necessity (is there a difference between protecting planes and protecting judicial activity?); and of course the usual "big brother" questions (is this where we want the third branch of our government to go?).
The debate surely has just begun.

November 30, 2010

Update: Civil Gideon Initiative

As an update to two earlier stories on this blog, the New York Times reported yesterday that Chief Judge Lippman is proposing a 50% increase in state financing for civil legal services to the indigent. Click here and here for the earlier postings.

December 14, 2010

Can the Government Be Estopped?

Here's an interesting blog entry from the Administrative Law Prof Blog summarizing some thoughtful issues regarding whether or not governments can -- or should -- be subject to estoppel liability just like any other private sector entity. The article summarized, "Estoppel and Public Authorities: Examining the Case for an Equitable Remedy", is from New South Wales, but certainly the theories are applicable anywhere -- even in New York.

January 14, 2011

You Are Cordially Invited

To the NYSBA Annual Meeting, and the CAPS 2011 Educational Programs and 2011 Awards for Excellence in Public Service Award Reception

Looks to be a dynamic program, so mark your calendars and sign up today.



January 28, 2011

CAPS Kudos

Congratulations to the three recipients of CAPS 2011 Award for Excellence in Public Service.  This year's three honorees, presented at the NYSBA Annual Meeting, were:

Norman Goodman, New York County Supreme Court
Jerome Lefkowitz, Public Employment Relations Board
Frederick P. Schaffer, The City University of New York

Click on the links above for details on the distinguished service to the public provided by each honoree.  Kudos from CAPS!



January 31, 2011

Message from CAPS Chair Peter S. Loomis: CAPS, CLE and the Association's Annual Meetings

With the Committee on Attorneys in Public Service (CAPS) having just sponsored its 11th CLE at the Association's 2011 Annual Meeting, it seemed a good time to reflect upon our past programs and their relevance to attorneys working in the public sector.

CAPS' first two meeting programs were half day afternoon affairs, and featured then USC Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky. On January 27, 2000, Professor Chemerinsky's topic was "Is the Supreme Court Changing the Balance of Power? The Sovereign Immunity Cases," while on January 23, 2001, he reviewed the U.S. Supreme Court 2000 term. That review began a tradition of annual Supreme Court reviews, with Professors Chemerinsky and Susan Herman of Brooklyn Law School in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005; Professors Herman and Burt Neuborne of NYU Law School in 2006; Professors Herman and Jason Mazzone, also of Brooklyn Law School, in 2007 2008 and 2009; and Professors Mazzone and William Araiza, also of Brooklyn Law School, in 2010 and 2011.

Beginning in 2002, the CAPS program expanded to a full day, with the annual Supreme Court review and the remainder of the day devoted each year to a current topic of interest. On January 22, 2002, Dr. Isaiah Zimmerman, Ph.D., a clinical and consulting psychologist specializing in the areas of collegial relations on appellate courts and judicial stress management, presented a talk entitled "Decision Making and Stress Management" that had been co-sponsored by CAPS' Subcommittee on Administrative Law Judges.

Given the present interest in government ethics reform in 2011, it is noteworthy that CAPS' second topical program, in 2003, was entitled "Ethics in Government: The Public Trust - A Two-Way Street." The speakers that day included Karl Sleight, then Executive Director of the former NYS Ethics Commission; Ralph Miccio, counsel to the NYS Temporary Commission on Lobbying; Mark Davies, Executive Director and General Counsel of the NYC Conflicts of Interest Board; and Professor Patricia Salkin of Albany Law School, later to also become a Chair of CAPS.

2004 saw a CAPS program that recognized that concerns about national and local security altered the work of government attorneys and public interest lawyers. Moderated by Professor William Banks, an expert in national security from the Syracuse University College of Law, a panel on the subject "Safeguarding Civil Liberties while Countering Terrorism" that day also included Professors Herman and Chemerinsky; Linda Cantoni, of the Investigations Division of the Queens District Attorney's office; and Benton Campbell, Assistant US Attorney and former Anti-Terrorism Task Force Coordinator for the Eastern District of New York, In 2005. national security concerns led to a second expanded program on the subject, this time entitled "Safeguarding Civil Liberties in an Era of Terrorism: The Dialogue Continues" with Professor Herman moderating a discussion among speakers that included Professors Chemerinsky and Banks, Professor John Eastman of the Chapman University Law School and the Claremont Institute Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence; and Hon. Shira Scheindlin, US District Judge for the Southern District of New York. Concurrent with the Annual Supreme Court review that year, 2005 also included a separate session on Lobbying, Procurement and Ethics Laws featuring Anne G. Phillips and Lisa Fox, Esqs., both of the NYS Office of General Services; James D. Featherstonhaugh, Esq., of Featherstonehaugh Wiley and Clyne; David Grandeau, Esq., Executive Director of the NYS Temporary Commission on Lobbying; and Stephen P. Younger, Esq., of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP, and who became President of NYSBA in 2010.

In 2006, a program entitled "Current Legal Issues in Government Reform: Judicial Elections, Public Authority, and State Government" was moderated by Professor Salkin, and the panelists included, on Public Authority Reform, Ira Millstein, Esq., and Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky; on Judicial Reform, Dean John Feerick of Fordham University School of Law and Fern Schair, Chair of the Fund for Modern Courts; and on the State Constitution and Governance, Professor Michael Hutter of Albany Law School and Jeremy Creelan of the Brennan Center for Justice.

The topic for the 2007 annual program was "Eminent Domain: Is this land your land?," with a general overview provided by Professor John Nolon of Pace University School of Law, followed by two panels. Henry DeCotis, Esq., Assistant NYS Attorney General, Lisa Bova-Hiatt, Esq., of the NYC Department of Law and Michael Rikon, Esq., discussed the procedural differences by which property is acquired by different levels of government, while Mr. DeCotis, Jon Santemma, Esq. and Westchester County Attorney Charlene M. Indelicato talked about issues facing practitioners in the field.

The 2008 meeting revisited ethics and lobbying, with a program entitled "Introducing the New York State "Commission on Integrity": Strengthening the State's Ethics and Lobbying Law." The speakers that day all came from the new Commission and included its Executive Director, Herbert Teitelbaum, and Ralph P. Miccio and Joan P. Sullivan.

Recalling and remembering the distinguished career of former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, the 2009 program reflected on her distinguished role both as Chief Judge of the State of New York and of the Court of Appeals following the end of her service in 2008. Hon. Jonathan A. Lippman, then Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, moderated a panel discussing Judge Kaye's legacy of visionary leadership and which included six distinguished speakers, following which two additional panels reflected upon New York's revolution in problem solving justice and Judge Kaye's judicial humanism. The day concluded with remarks by Judge Kaye.

The 2010 program, co-sponsored by the Judicial Section, dealt with "The State Legislature and the State Constitution: The Path Forward" and featured three panels. Moderated by Professor Hutter, the first panel focused on the Legislature and its speakers were Laurence D. Laufer, Esq., Justin Levitt, of the Brennan Center for Justice and Mark. F. Glaser, Esq. The second panel focused on state constitutional change, featuring Professors Hutter and Peter Galie of Canisius College, while the third panel, on constitutional change, featured Supreme Court Justice (New York County); former Senator John R. Dunne, Esq.; Robert Ward, of the Rockefeller Institute of Government; and Peter J. Kiernan, Esq., Counsel to former Governor Paterson.

This past week, therefore, marked the 11th year that CAPS has presented a program on a program of timely interest. Recognizing the fiscal crisis currently faced in New York, two panels addressed the sobering issues in a program entitled "Government in a Time of Economic Crisis: Doing More With Less." The first panel, appropriately captioned as "Don't Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste: Opportunities Created in Times of Fiscal Hardship," featured three speakers. Chief Administrative Judge Anne Pfau discussed, among other issues, the need of the Judiciary to handle increasing workloads with fewer staff resources, approximately 1800 nonjudicial employees of the Judiciary having taken advantage of the early retirement incentive in 2010. Former Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch, and Blair Horner, Legislative Director of the NYS Public Interest Research Group, also gave frank and disturbing visions of the state's current fiscal problems and the extraordinarily difficult decisions that will be required to bring about improvement. Following this group, a second panel discussed labor issues in a time of cutback and utilizing federal resources to mitigate those issues. The three panelists were Robert Ward, of the Rockefeller Institute, who made a repeat appearance following his 2010 talk; Mary Kavaney, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety for former Governor Paterson, and who continues in that position under Governor Cuomo; and Timothy Gilchrist, President of the Moynihan Station Development Corporation, and Director of former Governor Paterson's Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet. Sadly, the Committee learned on the day prior to the program that the fourth scheduled speaker of the day, John Galligan, Esq., of the NY Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, a recognized authority on local government issues, had died earlier in the week.

The CAPS Annual Meeting program is followed each year by our Awards Reception, where the Association's Award for Excellence in Public Service is presented, and this year's honorees were noted, and links to press releases about them cited, in an earlier posting on this blog. They were Rick Schaffer, General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs at the City University of New York; Jerome Lefkowitz, Chair of the NYS Public Employment Relations Board; and Hon. Norman Goodman, County Clerk of New York County.

Prior CAPS honorees have been:

  • 2010 - Diane F. Bosse, NYS Board of Law Examiners Hon. Patricia D. Marks, Monroe Count Court Peter H. Schiff, NYS Department of Law
  • 2009 - Anthony J. Annucci, NYS Department of Correctional Services Denise E. O'Donnell, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services
  • 2008 - Mark Davies, NYC Conflicts of Interest Board Barbara F. Smith, Lawyer Assistance Trust
  • 2007 - Murray M. Jaros, NYS Association of Towns Hon. Judith S. Kaye, NYS Court of Appeals Joan A. Kehoe, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • 2006 - David P. Klingaman (posthumously), NYS Court of Claims Hon. Jonathan Lippman, NYS Unified Court System Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, 42nd Infantry Division
  • 2005 - Robert J. Freeman, NYS Commission on Open Government Walter E. Mugdan, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • 2004 - Jeffrey Friedlander, NYC Law Department Leonard Koerner, NYC Law Department
  • 2003 - NYS Office of the Attorney General, under the direction of Hon. Eliot Spitzer
  • 2002 - Archibald R. Murray (posthumously), NYC Legal Aid Society Prof. Patricia E. Salkin, Albany Law School, Government Law Center
  • 2001 - Robert Morgenthau, NYC District Attorney
  • 2000 - Hon. Joseph Bellacosa, NYS Court of Appeals

Continue reading "Message from CAPS Chair Peter S. Loomis: CAPS, CLE and the Association's Annual Meetings" »

February 24, 2011

Facebook Modifications for Munis

From the "if you can't beat them, join them" file, for those municipalities previously hesitant to use Facebook, there is one less hurdle in your way now.  Last month, Facebook entered into an agreement with the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Social Media Legal Workgroup and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), revising its standard terms and conditions for state and local governments.  For a summary of the changes, check out this press release on NASCIO's website; and this link for the actual amended Facebook terms
[Thanks to the Local Open Government Blog - for Washington State practitioners - for the tip.  And if you find yourself visiting over on that blog, check out its summary of a fascinating NY Times story on how Sunshine laws are being used to fight corruption in India.]

March 30, 2011

Paycut Vitiates Recusal

Here's an interesting resolution on an ethical quandary facing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. According to this story in the ABA Journal online, Justice Scalia's son, (a partner at the law firm handling the Wal-Mart class action case presently before the Supreme Court), pledged to disclaim any income relating to the law firm's Supreme Court litigation. According to the Journal story, this satisfies Supreme Court recusal guidelines. (Do you think they used the "Easy" button from Staples for that one?)

April 20, 2011

A Will for the Public Interest Lawyer


Normally we don't publish stories in the wills, trusts and estates context, but this one may be of special interest to public interest lawyers. The ABA Journal reports that Joseph Flom, formerly of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, left the bulk of his estate to various charities - many of which have known public interest law practices. Here's a link to the article, Most of Joseph Flom's Millions Will Go To Charity.

Unlike other similar bequests, one would expect there to have been top legal talent drafting this one.

May 5, 2011

Plain Writing = Open Government


Can you imagine a world where every official document was written so that everyone could understand it? Imagine how nice it would be to never again come across a law -- or even a legal opinion -- that seemed to be written intentionally with the goal to obfuscate, rather than elucidate readers. (And yes, as you can see from that last sentence, big words don't necessarily frustrate readers - it's the bulky phrasing and endless sentences that produce the most confusion.) Well worry no more - the federal government has now promulgated The Plain Writing Act of 2010. While at first glance this could appear to be a joke, it actually at least tries to recognize the problem - even if it won't ever really fix it. Here's a link to the Federal Plain Writing Guidelines promulgated to aid government writers: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/guidelines/bigdoc/TOC.cfm. So the next time you set yourself down to write a new law or regulation, or a legal brief, or even just a letter or email (notice no mention of texting), consider the reader's perspective and try to say it simply, say it plainly, and okay, we'll go there - just KISS it!* (And yes, extra credit to the reader who identifies the most violations of the guidelines in this entry. Just email: caps@nysba.org with your critiques.)


_____________________
*KISS = Keep It Simple, Stupid ;-)

May 10, 2011

Oregon's Open - Especially on the Web


The State of Oregon has created a website for the public to access a variety of datasets and other information. Click here for a link to a news article about the website. It's fascinating just to glance at the different types of information available. But in addition to letting people view the available information, the website invites people to actually sort and create sets of information on their own. In fact, there's even a button to "suggest" new datasets. Although this is hardly a new idea (the White House has something similar, for example), it's nice to see this concept roll out to broader audiences.

Kudos to Half Hollow Hills East HS


We must give a special shout-out to Long Island's Half Hollow Hills East High School students for being recognized at the National "We the People" competition funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The students were honored recently for their excellence in the unit on "How the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices." Here's a link to the NYSBA's press release announcing the honor. If you've ever wanted a really rewarding volunteer/mentoring experience, contact your local high school and see if they're interested in getting involved with this competition. It will take but a little of your time, and you get back a ton of good feelings watching the students thrive while they learn about the basics of our government principals.

May 24, 2011

International Municipal Law Assignment


It's not quite the everyday assignment for a typical municipal lawyer, but it's probably something a good municipal lawyer can handle nevertheless. As the ABA Journal Online reports, Carl McGuire, counsel to various municipalities on behalf of a Colorado law firm, is shipping out to Afghanistan to counsel the Navy on various legal issues. Issues such as "contracts, employment issues, military discipline, ethics and the rules under which we will be able to defend ourselves. . . In large part," he reportedly told a local newspaper, "I will be responsible for telling the Seabees how we can defend ourselves, what weapons we can use to defend ourselves, and how we should interact with the Afghanis."

Just another day for a municipal lawyer?

June 8, 2011

Donations for Furthering Public Interest Law


The ABA Journal reports that the University of Pennsylvania received a $2.5 million alumni donation for public interest law and loan forgiveness programs. This follows a 2006 donation of $10 million for public interest initiatives. Do any New York schools get this kind of interest in public interest??

June 14, 2011

NYCLA's New Leader with Old and New Priorities


It's that time of year, when local bar associations welcome new leaders and embark on new priorities. The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel online edition has a wide-ranging interview with Stewart D. Aaron, the new president of the New York County Lawyers' Association. It's refreshing to see one of the new initiatives includes a "Rapid Response Committee", which is tasked with protecting the independence of the judiciary. Click here for the full interview.

June 21, 2011

State Greases the Revolving Door


A big tip of our "CAPS" to one of the newest NYSBA CAPS members, Michael C. Fallon. Michael is a blogger in his own right, and he's just posted this very timely piece on his blog, N.Y. Lobbying, Ethics and Election Law Compliance. The entry relates to the State Legislature's recent approval of a bill which slightly relaxes the revolving door prohibition for state employees who were (or will be) laid off by the State between April 1, 2011 and April 1, 2012 from the "revolving door" prohibition. So check out the item, hot off the presses (as they used to say), and check out the rest of the blog while you're there.

July 18, 2011

Public Interest Jobs Bumped Up in Prestige Column


From the "silver lining" files, here's a story from the National Law Journal which reports that top law school students are clamoring to get into Public Interest law careers upon graduation. While that was always the case for a handful of prestigious government offices (Department of Justice, to name one), the prestige of a public interest career track is now apparently spreading farther and wider. Click here for the story.

August 15, 2011

Lifetime Bar Guidance - as of Today


If there's one topic of interest to just about every lawyer working in government, it must be the do's and don'ts of post-employment restrictions. Even lifetime government lawyers need to know what the restrictions are because they are often confronted with former government lawyers practicing before them as private sector representatives. For a heads-up on the latest pendulum swing, be sure to check out a recent entry on the New York Lobbying, Ethics and Election Law Compliance Blog, entitled, "CPI Changes Position on Lifetime Bar". As if the current political pendulum swings weren't enough, seems like the guidance on ethics compliance is undergoing similar uncertainty.

Thanks to CAPS committee member Michael Fallon for this news item.

August 16, 2011

An Economic Viewpoint of Intern Programs


Does your office have an intern program, or maybe a fellowship or volunteer lawyers program? It's not an easy discussion to have, but like most things in this new economic reality of ours, there are upsides and downsides to the intern program model. The CBS program Sunday Morning had an excellent piece this past weekend touching on the multi-faceted issues involved. Here's a link to the online news story, with an online video: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/08/14/sunday/main20092149.shtml

October 28, 2011

CAPS Award Honorees - Just Announced


The 2012 selections for the NYSBA Award for Excellence in Public Service have just been announced. And the honorees are:

Stephen G. Brooks, General Counsel to the New York State Interest on Lawyer Account (IOLA) Fund of the State of New York (retired);
Bennett Liebman, Deputy Secretary to Governor Cuomo for Gaming and Racing;
Hon. Marian W. Payson
, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Western District of New York; and
Carol Van Scoyoc, Chief Deputy Corporation Counsel, City of White Plains.

This NYSBA Award recognizes members of the legal profession for their commitment to, and performance of, public service. The Award is presented annually to individuals epitomizing that commitment to the highest and noblest calling afforded by the legal profession: to preserve and protect the public. The selected individuals' efforts demonstrate a commitment to service, honor and integrity. For the complete list of past recipients, click here.


This year's honorees will be presented with plaques at a reception during the 2012 NYSBA Annual Meeting on Tuesday, January 24, to be held from 5:30 to 7, in Sutton Parlor South, at the New York Hilton on Avenue of the Americas in New York City. More details will be forthcoming on the NYSBA website.

Hats off (or should we say "CAPS off") to this year's honorees!

(And a big thanks to CAPS member Donna M. Giliberto for providing the information to our blog readers so quickly!)

November 21, 2011

Grants for Public Interest Lawyers


If you're still re-paying your student loans and you're practicing in the public interest sector, you must check this out. The NYSBA is offering grants to help re-pay law school student loans! Click here for a link to the NYSBA's website for all the information on this debt relief program. There are deadlines so don't delay!

December 7, 2011

Still Arguing About Cameras in the Courtroom


From the "Deja Vu All Over Again" file, according to the ABA Journal Law News Now, because the Supreme Court still doesn't permit cameras in its courtroom, federal lawmakers are "pondering" over whether they should enact a law mandating that the Supreme Court televise its proceedings.
See also, Generalíssimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

December 19, 2011

Resources for Public Service Careers


For those people reading this blog who are "in transition" or otherwise, make sure you check out this great website by the City Bar Justice Center. The City Bar Justice Center's mission is, among other things, to leverage the resources of the New York City legal community. Make sure to check out the Events Page, which includes what appear to be very interesting clinics and training programs in the near future, as well as pro bono opportunities for all.

January 2, 2012

CAPS (& NYSBA) Annual Meeting


If you're an attorney in public service, you don't want to miss this year's NYSBA Annual Meeting program for the Committee on Attorneys in Public Service. Educational programs are planned for the day on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, and the day is then "capped off" (pun intended) with the 2012 Awards for Excellence in Public Service, followed by a free award reception. The online brochure has all the details.

January 12, 2012

Ethics on the Go


Need to resolve an ethics quandary on the go? The NYSBA now has an App for Ethics. Here's a link to the NYSBA's press announcement.

January 17, 2012

Providing Records for Open Meetings


Effective February 2, 2012, the public will have greater access to records discussed during open meetings. According to the COOG* website:

The purpose of the legislation is simple: those interested in the work of public bodies should have the ability, within reasonable limitations, to see the records scheduled to be discussed during open meetings prior to the meetings.

For the amendment to the statute, click here to see NY Public Officers Law Section 103(e).
For the long-form summary of the changes, click here.

*For those following this blog from its inception, you may remember the tip for finding the NY State Committee On Open Government's ("COOG") website just by typing into Google: COOG

January 23, 2012

Governmental Immunity for a Private Lawyer? [Update]


If you were interested in a story we published last fall about Filarsky v. Delia, which raises the question of whether a private attorney working for a municipality is entitled to governmental immunity, then you'll probably also be interested to know that the Supreme Court heard argument on this last week (January 18, 2012). The SCOTUS blog, (which incidentally - IMHO - is one of the best blogs out there!), has full coverage of this case, including a "plain English" summary of the issue, a link to the transcript of the oral argument and all of the briefs filed (including an amicus brief filed by the American Bar Association in support of immunity).

Certainly a decision for The CAPS Blog to watch!

January 26, 2012

2012 Annual Meeting and Excellence in Public Service Awards


And so it has come to pass - another great CAPS program at the New York State Bar Association's Annual Meeting. As Chair Peter Loomis said at the beginning of the evening's awards ceremony, he always looks forward to the program because it "showcases" what CAPS is all about.

And the day was certainly "capped" off well with the awards ceremony for these four well-deserving individuals who have demonstrated a higher calling through an extraordinary commitment to service, honor and integrity in the public sector:

Stephen G. Brooks
Bennett M. Liebman
Hon. Marian W. Payson
Carl L. Van Scoyoc

Upon receiving their awards, each honoree spoke about their public service experiences, providing uniquely interesting and moving insights as well. As Chair Loomis said at the end of the ceremony, it's obvious by their words how much each person was supported so many others along the way. Obviously epitomizing the true meaning of "public service." (Click here for the NYSBA Press Announcement summarizing the experiences and accomplishments of the honorees.)

The CAPS blog also wants to give a "CAP" tip to Annual Meeting Co-Chairs Catherine Christian and Anne Murphy, a special thanks to Albany Law School's Professor Patricia Salkin for suggesting and then moderating the day's program, and a big thank you to Awards Committee Co-Chairs Theresa L. Egan and Donna M. Giliberto as well.

February 22, 2012

2012 State of the State Judiciary


Through the magic of the Internet, you can watch (with multiple camera angles) Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman delivering his annual report on the State of the Judiciary, and explaining his primary legislative and administrative initiatives for the year. You can also avail yourself of a written version of the report, to read at your leisure.

Just to give you a preview of the relevance of this report to our CAPS committee members, take a look at the title of the topics noted in the table of contents:

I. RETHINKING JUVENILE JUSTICE
II. PREVENTING WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS
III. ENHANCING INDIGENT LEGAL DEFENSE
IV. GUARANTEEING CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES
V. RESPONDING TO THE FORECLOSURE CRISIS
VI. REINVIGORATING THE COMMERCIAL DIVISION
VII. EXPANDING E-FILING

A worthwhile diversion in your busy day, at the very least.

March 13, 2012

Landing a Public Service Sector Job

Here's a link to information about a timely CLE about landing a job in the Public Service sector called, "How to Find a Public Service Job".

March 22, 2012

Recognizing a Special Achievement in Public Service


Although there are surely many, CAPS is looking to honor a public service attorney who has made a unique or special contribution recently. If you want to make a nomination, please do! Here's a link to the NY State Bar's web page with more details. The deadline for nominations is April 13, 2012 though, so don't dilly-dally!


April 13, 2012

Dress Codes in Courtrooms


The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog has a posting called, "A Judge's Crusade Against Saggy Pants," reporting about a defendant's imprisonment for wearing allegedly offensive clothing in the courtroom. Apparently, the defendant was charged in Alabama's Autauga County Circuit Court with "contempt of court" for wearing saggy pants at his plea hearing. The judge told USA Today that he didn't think the penalty was excessive. In fact he told reporters, "the only thing that's different is that most of the time I give a person five days in jail."

Easy moral to this story: Always keep emergency belts handy for court appearances. Or conversely, don't appear in Autauga County Court unless you pass muster with that court's fashion police first.

April 18, 2012

Immunity for Private Lawyers Working for Municipalities [Update]


The Supreme Court has unanimously reversed the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Filarsky v. Delia, a case involving the immunity status of private attorneys working for municipalities. As you may recall, we previously noted here on our CAPS Blog the Ninth Circuit's determination that that private attorneys were not entitled to the same qualified immunity privileges as government attorneys. The Supreme Court has now ruled that private counsel hired by municipalities are entitled to the same protections against lawsuits generally available to government lawyers. Here's a good recap of the underlying facts and the Supreme Court's decision from the New York Times.

April 25, 2012

Pathologically Committed


The Legal Skills Prof Blog has a thought-provoking entry on the types of people that are committed to nonprofit careers. Pointing to an article in the Harvard Business Review, Professor Louis J. Sirico ponders "why we do what we do, why we have made the financial choices we have." Although the entry is about nonprofit careers, it's potentially applicable in the legal public service career sector too.
For example, the Harvard Business article asks:

[W]hy would we choose to go into an industry where our compensation is not tied to our value? Where we are constantly told that there are not enough resources with which to fulfill our potential to make a difference? Why would we do that if I really do want to change things? And why would we choose to work on problems that are so intractable? What in our personalities draws us to frustratingly difficult -- perhaps unsolvable -- problems?
Aptly titled, "Nonprofit Pathology", its definitely worth a click to read more about the topic.

May 16, 2012

Civility Counts


Civility in the legal profession may be hard to define, but at least to a disciplinary judge in Arizona, professional conduct is a mandatory requirement for lawyers. The legal practice blogs are atwitter with a story about a lawyer in Arizona who was suspended for a year because he was rude, offensive and demeaning, among other things. As the disciplinary judge stated:

Respondent is intentional in his conduct and bull whips people by his words with a zeal. While in private life he may be as rude, offensive and demeaning as he chooses, in his professional life he may not hide behind his First Amendment rights to ignore his sworn responsibilities.
Here's the blog entry from the ABA Journal And here's a link to the full disciplinary opinion.

May 24, 2012

NOTE: June 14th Event To Be Rescheduled


Due to spring fever, or other excusable reasons, the June 14th ceremony honoring our 2012 Citation Winners is now postponed sine die. Stay tuned for information about re-scheduling.

If this is the first you're hearing about the event, here's what the announcement about the event said:

You Are Cordially Invited to Attend! Come celebrate the achievements of our 2012 Citation winners, Jonathan A. Darche, Esq. and Karen J. Freedman, Esq. Meet members of NYSBA's Committee on Attorneys in Public Service and colleagues. NYSBA members and non-members are welcome to attend. Here are the details:

Thursday, June 14, 2012 | 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
New York State Bar Association, Great Hall
One Elk Street, Albany, New York

RSVP by June 10th to: caps@nysba.org or 518.487.5571

2012 Citation Winners

Jonathan A. Darche, Esq.
Assistant District Attorney, Queens County District Attorney's Office
In addition to his duties as an assistant district attorney in the Narcotics Investigations Bureau of the Queens County District Attorney's office, for the past five years, Jonathan has volunteered his time to the Youth Court of Queens County. The Youth Court is an innovative program that helps two different sets of young people in Queens County. The program takes gifted and motivated high school students and gives them comprehensive instruction in legal theory and practical courtroom skills by working with legal practitioners. Once they have "graduated," the student-lawyers are assigned cases involving children diverted from family court. These "defendants" are represented by student lawyers who are advised by attorneys donating their time, but when the trial occurs, the student-lawyers are on their own. From case to case, the student-lawyers switch roles from prosecutor, to defense attorney, to judge. Most importantly, the student-lawyers often serve as role models for the "defendants." It is always a proud moment when a former defendant enrolls in the program to become a "student-lawyer." Jonathan serves as instructor to the students when they are getting their initial training and advises student lawyers during their cases. In addition to his work with the Youth Court, Jonathan also participates in STARTrack, an outreach program dedicated to educating at risk youths about the risks of gun violence.

Karen J. Freedman, Esq.

Executive Director, Lawyers For Children
Karen J. Freedman is the founder and Executive Director of Lawyers For Children Inc. Since founding LFC 28 years ago, Ms. Freedman has created several projects at LFC to serve particularly vulnerable young people in the foster care system. These include initiatives on behalf of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Questioning youth, young people who have been sexually abused, children living in homes where domestic violence is present, youth aging out of foster care, youth in care who suffer from mental illnesses, young people in foster care who require specialized educational advocacy, and immigrant youth in foster care. In addition, LFC has participated in several important class action cases on behalf of youth in foster care and maintains a division of LFC devoted exclusively to impact litigation and child welfare policy. Before establishing LFC, Ms. Freedman was a staff attorney with the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society and a Law Clerk in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ms. Freedman received her BA from Wesleyan University and her JD from New York University School of Law where she was a Root Tilden Scholar and a Hays Civil Liberties Fellow.

Covering Marriage Equality: A Look Back
Presented by Casey Seiler and Jimmy Vielkind, Times Union

Casey and Jimmy will bring us front and center during the hectic final weeks of the 2011 session -- specifically the battle over marriage equality -- to explain how they and their Capitol colleagues responded to this rapidly changing national story, and how it felt to be in the Capitol as individuals with widely divergent viewpoints kept vigil -- with chants and songs -- during the historic debate.
Presenters

Casey Seiler
Times Union state editor and columnist Casey Seiler joined the 'New York NOW' team in 2009. Casey previously served as the paper's entertainment editor. In 2011 he was awarded the Hearst Eagle Award, the highest recognition for an employee in the Hearst Corporation.

Before arriving in Albany in 2000, Seiler worked at the Burlington Free Press in Vermont and the Jackson Hole Guide in Wyoming.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Seiler is a Buffalo native who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in Albany's Pine Hills.

Jimmy Vielkind
Jimmy Vielkind covers politics from the Capitol, finding the fun in dysfunction in print and at the Capitol Confidential blog. He is also a contributor to WMHT's New York NOW and CapitalNewYork.com.

Vielkind has been watching state government since 2008, first for the New York Observer and then for the Times Union. He previously covered breaking news and police as the Times Union's night-time reporter.

Vielkind has a degree in urban planning from Columbia University and, as a Clifton Park native, loves working for the paper he grew up reading. He now lives in Albany.

NYSBA Committee on Attorneys in Public Service
Catherine Christian, chair
Terri Egan and Donna Giliberto, Award co-chairs
Donna Giliberto, Event chair

June 29, 2012

Quantitative Technology Finds the Courthouse


It was probably only a matter of time. It looks like there's now enough raw electronic material out there for the useful synthesis of court decisions. For example, the ABA Journal recently reported on efforts to crawl through legal decisions and make predictions on how future cases might come out. Seems long overdue now that it's here, doesn't it? Unlike Lexis or Westlaw, which simply provide the decisions to its users, these databases can actually look at certain information within those decisions and make some conclusions and predictions based on things like probabilities, etc. This "quantitative" legal prediction analysis has all kinds of potential applications in the legal world. Read the ABA Journal item for just a few of them. If this whets your appetite for more, here's a link to an article aptly called, "Interesting Article on Quantitative Research in Law in Canada", about some early musings about the applicability of quantitative legal analysis in Canada. Maybe this is the next area for lawyers to branch out of their day jobs?

July 12, 2012

A Blog Entry About New York Blogs


If you're looking for some "under the radar" legal research, sometimes blogs may be helpful. Here's a link to the New York Public Personnel Law's blog entry listing 274 blogs that are out there dealing in some way or another with New York law. I'm not sure why this CAPS blog didn't make the list, but we'll keep trying!

September 5, 2012

Don't Forget to RSVP to the 9-19-2012 Event in NYC


Come celebrate the achievements of our 2012 Citation winners, Jonathan A. Darche, Esq. and Karen J. Freedman, Esq. Meet members of NYSBA's Committee on Attorneys in Public Service and colleagues. NYSBA members and non-members are welcome to attend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | 12:30 - 2:30 p.m. New York County Lawyers' Association 14 Vesey Street New York, NY 10007

RSVP by September 12, 2012 to: caps@nysba.org or 518.487.5571

Jonathan A. Darche, Esq.
Assistant District Attorney, Queens County District Attorney's Office
In addition to his duties as an assistant district attorney in the Narcotics Investigations Bureau of the Queens County District Attorney's office, for the past five years, Jonathan has volunteered his time to the Youth Court of Queens County. The Youth Court is an innovative program that helps two different sets of young people in Queens County. The program takes gifted and motivated high school students and gives them comprehensive instruction in legal theory and practical courtroom skills by working with legal practitioners. Once they have "graduated," the student-lawyers are assigned cases involving children diverted from family court. These "defendants" are represented by student lawyers who are advised by attorneys donating their time, but when the trial occurs, the student-lawyers are on their own. From case to case, the student-lawyers switch roles from prosecutor, to defense attorney, to judge. Most importantly, the student-lawyers often serve as role models for the "defendants." It is always a proud moment when a former defendant enrolls in the program to become a "student-lawyer." Jonathan serves as instructor to the students when they are getting their initial training and advises student lawyers during their cases. In addition to his work with the Youth Court, Jonathan also participates in STARTrack, an outreach program dedicated to educating at risk youths about the risks of gun violence.

Karen J. Freedman, Esq.
Executive Director, Lawyers For Children
Karen J. Freedman is the founder and Executive Director of Lawyers For Children Inc. Since founding LFC 28 years ago, Ms. Freedman has created several projects at LFC to serve particularly vulnerable young people in the foster care system. These include initiatives on behalf of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Questioning youth, young people who have been sexually abused, children living in homes where domestic violence is present, youth aging out of foster care, youth in care who suffer from mental illnesses, young people in foster care who require specialized educational advocacy, and immigrant youth in foster care. In addition, LFC has participated in several important class action cases on behalf of youth in foster care and maintains a division of LFC devoted exclusively to impact litigation and child welfare policy. Before establishing LFC, Ms. Freedman was a staff attorney with the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society and a Law Clerk in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ms. Freedman received her BA from Wesleyan University and her JD from New York University School of Law where she was a Root Tilden Scholar and a Hays Civil Liberties Fellow.

Covering Marriage Equality: A Look Back
Presented by Casey Seiler and Jimmy Vielkind, Times Union

Casey and Jimmy will bring us front and center during the hectic final weeks of the 2011 session -- specifically the battle over marriage equality -- to explain how they and their Capitol colleagues responded to this rapidly changing national story, and how it felt to be in the Capitol as individuals with widely divergent viewpoints kept vigil -- with chants and songs -- during the historic debate.
Presenters

Casey Seiler
Times Union state editor and columnist Casey Seiler joined the 'New York NOW' team in 2009. Casey previously served as the paper's entertainment editor. In 2011 he was awarded the Hearst Eagle Award, the highest recognition for an employee in the Hearst Corporation.

Before arriving in Albany in 2000, Seiler worked at the Burlington Free Press in Vermont and the Jackson Hole Guide in Wyoming.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Seiler is a Buffalo native who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in Albany's Pine Hills.

Jimmy Vielkind
Jimmy Vielkind covers politics from the Capitol, finding the fun in dysfunction in print and at the Capitol Confidential blog. He is also a contributor to WMHT's New York NOW and CapitalNewYork.com.

Vielkind has been watching state government since 2008, first for the New York Observer and then for the Times Union. He previously covered breaking news and police as the Times Union's night-time reporter.

Vielkind has a degree in urban planning from Columbia University and, as a Clifton Park native, loves working for the paper he grew up reading. He now lives in Albany.

NYSBA Committee on Attorneys in Public Service
Catherine Christian, chair
Terri Egan and Donna Giliberto, Award co-chairs
Donna Giliberto, Event chair

Most Creative Brief Ever?


Even if you're not a comic maven, you have to at least appreciate the creativity behind the amicus brief submitted in an antitrust case pending in the Southern District of New York. The ABA Journal reports that the litigant, Bob Kohn, is an expert in music licensing law and chairman of RoyaltyShare Inc. Instead of filing a traditional brief, Kohn filed a "graphic novelette" because the court restricted the size of amicus briefs to only 5 pages. If you have any interest in creative legal writing, (and no, that's not an oxymoron), or antitrust law, (or both), take a look at the filed brief by clicking here. Talk about making a complex subject simple!

September 21, 2012

Special Achievers in Public Service


Congratulations to Jonathan Darche and Karen Freedman! They were the latest recipients of the CAPS award for their special achievements which have had a significant positive impact on the community. Here's some of what NYSBA President Seymour James and CAPS Chair Catherine Christian had to say about these two special people:

"We are pleased to honor Jonathan Darche and Karen Freedman. They understand how guiding a child through traumatic legal issues can make a difference and alter the course of his or her life," said New York State Bar Association President Seymour W. James, Jr. (Mr. James is with the Legal Aid Society in New York City).


"Jonathan Darche and Karen Freedman share an admirable commitment to helping young people. We congratulate them and wish them continued success as they work to shape the future of countless young people in New York City," said CAPS Chair Catherine A. Christian (Ms. Christian is an assistant district attorney in New York County).

Click here for the full NYSBA press release.

Click here for the New York Law Journal report online with a great picture from Wednesday's award ceremony.

September 27, 2012

Friending Judges


The Adjunct Law Prof blog has an interesting summary of a recent appellate court opinion in Florida which held that a defendant's motion to disqualify a trial judge was legally sufficient to require disqualification where the trial judge was a Facebook friend with the prosecutor assigned to the case. What other consequences arise from the use of social media by public service attorneys and judges? Seems like a new set of landmines just waiting to be discovered by the unwary. Starting now,* we'll try to keep a lookout for some of the more provocative developments for our loyal readers of this CAPS blog. In the meantime, tread carefully before leaping into the quagmire!

*As you can see on the lower right of your screen, we've added a new category called "Social Media" to try and group these stories into one convenient click.

October 11, 2012

Looking for Award-Worthy People


CAPS is seeking nominees for its 2013 Award for Excellence in Public Service, which is presented annually to members of the legal profession who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to serving the public.

All lawyers active in government service or related public service are eligible for nomination. Recommendations should be based on the nominee's outstanding commitment to and performance of public service and may recognize individual attorneys or the collective work of attorneys in an office during the past year or over the course of a career. The award will be presented on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, at the New York State Bar Association's Annual Meeting in New York City.

Nominations must be submitted by using the nomination form located at www.nysba.org/capsaward

Nomination forms and any supporting documentation must be sent no later than Friday, October 19, 2012, to:

Megan O'Toole
Membership Services
One Elk Street, Albany, NY 12207
caps@nysba.org
Phone: 518-487-5743
Fax: 518-487-5579

More information on the Excellence in Public Service Award and a listing of past recipients may be found at www.nysba.org/capsaward.

October 19, 2012

Is a Public Service Career Worth It?


The ABA Journal poses the question, "Are Public Interest, Public Sector Careers Worth Law School Cost?"

The article references a National Association for Law Placement ("NALP") salary study finding that public interest and public sector salaries have shown little growth since 2004. NALP calls the study's findings evidence of a "significant economic disincentive" for law students to pursue careers in the public sector. With such slow growth on the salary side weighing against the continuing escalation of law school tuition and resulting long term loan debt, students interested in public interest careers may be thinking a bit more carefully about going to law school.

What do you think about the cost/balance of law school - was it worth it for you? Whether you are a recent graduate or a long time public servant, all perspectives would be interesting. Email your opinion to us at caps@nysba.org and we may update this blog with some of the comments received at a later date. In the meantime, take a look at the comments being posted on the ABA Journal's blog for some very good food for thought.

UPDATE: The NYSBA isn't sitting on the sidelines here - it is taking steps to alleviate some of the burdens. It has just announced grants to help people who are working in public interest or government law for at least five years. For the details of this program, click here for the press release and more information.

November 19, 2012

Congratulations to Three Public Servants


CAPS is pleased to announce these winners for the 2013 Award for Excellence in Public Service:

Suffice it to say, these three exemplary public servants demonstrate individually, as well as in the aggregate, an extraordinary commitment to serving the public.

Be sure to join CAPS in presenting the awards on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, at the New York State Bar Association's Annual Meeting in New York City. More details to follow.

December 4, 2012

What's So Great About a Career in Public Service?


The next time you're having one of those days, questioning why you are toiling away in public service rather than making more money in the private sector, click on this link in the New York Law Journal to read recent remarks delivered by Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. Although it's an interesting speech about why Ms. Lynch has chosen a career in public service, it's also an inspiring essay about why public service is important. In referencing Emory Bruckner, the award's namesake with which she was being honored, Ms. Lynch described what she learned while she was at the Rwandan war crimes tribunal:

[N]othing can prepare you to hear the story of a woman who survived an attack carried out on a crowd of people in a churchyard by hiding under a pile of dead bodies and pretending to be one of them. Or to hear the story of a woman whose employer promised to smuggle her out of the country, away from the genocide but instead took her money and betrayed her to the killers. She narrowly escaped with her life, and showed me the marks still on her skull where the machete nearly ended her time on this earth. Still mistrustful of the tribunal system, these people and so many more told their stories to me in the hopes it would help someone else and bring justice to other victims. In that way, I was given both the gift of their trust and the opportunity to serve.

All of that Emory Buckner would have understood.

He would have understood as well the privilege I was given when I was asked to return to the Eastern District.

The man who wrote "civil office in time of peace is the greatest honor which can be conferred upon a citizen by his country," . . . understood that when you are at the helm of an office of dedicated public professionals, you are not just running an office, you are shaping a generation. Your obligation is not just to process cases, but to take young lawyers and give them the tools and the understanding to see the whole case and focus not just on winning but on doing the right thing, because that way not only is justice . . . truly served, it is made a part of them.

January 3, 2013

Upcoming CAPS CLE and Award Ceremony


Here now are the details for the upcoming CAPS CLE and Public Service Award Reception on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 as part of the NYSBA's Annual Meeting:

First up is CAP's CLE program which will be chock full of helpful information for lawyers practicing in the public interest sector. The morning program, beginning at 9:00am, will look back at the 2011-2012 United States Supreme Court term, highlighting the biggest decisions and looking ahead to the upcoming 2012-2013 term. This should be a great opportunity to get updated about important legal developments over the past year.

The afternoon program, beginning at 2:00pm, will be about social media and legal ethics. This part of the program will explore the most common uses of social media by lawyers in both the private and public sector, and examine the legal and ethical issues that are implicated by those uses. This is a good overview program for public sector attorneys looking to learn more about the opportunities and pitfalls of various online legal tools.

Finally, beginning at 5:30pm, CAPS will be hosting the award ceremony for this year's three recipients of the NYSBA Excellence in Public Service award:

Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick
Hon. Judy Harris Kluger
Deborah Liebman
As noted in a previous CAPS blog entry, these three recipients demonstrate an exemplary commitment to public service. If you're a member of the NYSBA, be sure to read "State Bar honors three public service leaders with awards" to learn more about these three impressive honorees.

The day promises to be an engaging and memorable one for CAPS members as well as all public service attorneys. You can register online from NYSBA'S homepage or by clicking here.

January 31, 2013

A Tip of the CAP to our Honorees

We'll have more on the annual meeting events in a forthcoming post, but for now, be sure to check out the great press release put out by NYSBA about our 2013 Public Service Awardees.

March 18, 2013

Gideon's Legacy

As most public interest lawyers have heard by now, this week marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court's landmark decision guaranteeing counsel in felony cases. But has that holding lived up to its promise? The web is filled with thoughtful stories about the state of that constitutional right today, including this one from NBC's blog called "A 'nobody's' legacy: How a semi-literate ex-con changed the legal system" and this interesting piece from the Huffington Post called "Gideon v. Wainwright Anniversary Highlights Lingering Problems." The latter story quotes Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont as saying that a half-century later, there are parts of the country where "it is better to be rich and guilty than poor and innocent." Senator Leahy said court-appointed lawyers often are underpaid and can be "inexperienced, inept, uninterested or worse." Cynical or true, what do you think?

Bonus Link - Click here if you're interested in hearing a recording of the oral argument before the Supreme Court.

March 28, 2013

Jump Starting a Public Service Career


A recent entry on the always informative New York Public Personnel Law Blog highlights New York's Empire State Fellows Program. According to the website about this program, it's "designed to attract talented professionals with demonstrated leadership potential who want to refocus their careers on public service." There's a full FAQ on the state website, which explains that the fellowship is intended to "jump-start the policy-making careers of individuals who have demonstrated substantial accomplishments early in their professional careers." The deadline to apply for this year is 11:59 p.m. on April 12, 2013 so if you're interested -- or know someone who is -- check this out quickly!

May 2, 2013

Mandatory Pro Bono Disclosure - Will Your Public Service Count?


The New York Law Journal has reported that Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that as of May 1, 2013 - this year's Law Day - all attorneys registering in New York State are now required to disclose how many pro bono hours they worked during the prior reporting year, or how much money they donated to pro bono programs. There's a detailed FAQ on the court system's website with additional information and various links concerning the requirement. As for the type of work encompassed by the term "pro bono" the official announcement stated:

Pro bono services covered by section 118.1(e)(14) are those personally provided without expectation of receiving a fee; services billed to a client but left unpaid are not included and should not be reported. Attorneys "retired" from the practice of law as defined in section 118.1(g), or employed by an organization primarily or substantially engaged in the provision of pro bono legal services, may choose not to report pro bono service or financial contributions.
Email us at caps@nysba.org and let us know what you think about this new requirement, and whether you think it is, or should be, separate and apart from public service lawyers' daily work. We will only publish responses that give us permission to do so.

May 13, 2013

CAPS is Seeking Nominations for Public Service Citation


The CAPS Committee is seeking nominations for its annual Citation for Special Achievement in Public Service. This citation is presented to public service attorneys or a public service law office in recognition of a unique or special achievement, which may include leadership of a particular project or initiative, or making a key contribution in connection with a project or initiative. The 2013 Citation will be presented in September. Presentation of the citation will also be announced in the New York State Bar News, on the CAPS website, and in the NYSBA's Government, Law & Policy Journal.

Nominations for the 2013 Citation for Special Achievement in Public Service must be submitted by Friday, June 21, 2013. To submit a nomination, please complete the nomination form and email or mail it to:

Megan O'Toole
Manager, Membership Services
New York State Bar Association
One Elk Street
Albany, NY 12207
e-mail: caps@nysba.org
For more information: 518-487-5743

June 4, 2013

A Judge's "Friend" is Not Necessarily a Friend


Last Fall we published an entry on this blog about a Florida ethics opinion requiring that a judge be disqualified based on that judge's "friending" a party in a case. Now New York has published Opinion 13-39 on the topic, as promulgated by the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics (ACJE).* The opinion advises that a judge need not necessarily recuse himself or herself merely because he or she is a "friend" on Facebook with an individual involved in a pending matter.

The Opinion is partially reproduced here:

This responds to your inquiry (13-39) asking whether you must, at the request of the defendant and/or, his/her attorney, exercise recusal in a criminal matter because you are "Facebook friends" with the parents or guardians of certain minors who allegedly were affected by the defendant's conduct. Despite the Facebook nomenclature (i.e., the word "friend") used to describe these undefined relationships, you indicate that these parents are mere acquaintances and that you can be fair and impartial.

The Committee believes that the mere status of being a "Facebook friend," without more, is an insufficient basis to require recusal. Nor does the Committee believe that a judge's impartiality may reasonably be questioned (see 22 NYCRR 100.3[E][1]) or that there is an appearance of impropriety (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[A]) based solely on having previously "friended" certain individuals who are now involved in some manner in a pending action.

As the Committee noted in Opinion 11-125, interpersonal relationships are varied, fact-dependent, and unique to the individuals involved. Therefore, the Committee can provide only general guidelines to assist judges who ultimately must determine the nature of their own specific relationships with particular individuals and their ethical obligations resulting from those relationships. With respect to social media relationships, the Committee could not "discern anything inherently inappropriate about a judge joining and making use of a social network" (Opinion 08-176). However, the judge "should be mindful of the appearance created when he/she establishes a connection with an attorney or anyone else appearing in the judge's court through a social network. . . [and] must, therefore, consider whether any such online connections, alone or in combination with other facts, rise to the level of a . . . relationship requiring disclosure and/or recusal" (id.).

If, after reading Opinions 11-125 and 08-176, you remain confident that your relationship with these parents or guardians is that of a mere "acquaintance" within the meaning of Opinion 11-125, recusal is not required. However, the Committee recommends that you make a record, such as a memorandum to the file, of the basis for your conclusion. This practice, although not mandatory, may be of practical assistance to you if similar circumstances arise in the future or if anyone later questions your decision. Alternatively, If you need further assistance with your inquiry, please feel free to write or call us.


*As stated on its website, ACJE is the 26-member New York State Advisory Committee that responds to written inquiries from New York State's more than 3,000 full- and part-time judges and justices, as well as quasi-judicial officials such as judicial hearing officers, support magistrates, and court attorney-referees. It interprets the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct (22 NYCRR Part 100) and the Code of Judicial Conduct, and it provides ethical advice to New York State judges and quasi-judicial officials about their own prospective conduct.

July 17, 2013

Time-saving Tip of the Day


The ABA Journal reports that many attorneys under-utilize useful Google search features. A more advanced understanding of Google search tools is invaluable for attorneys who wish to save time and effort in their research endeavors. (And what public service attorney isn't strapped for time?) If you want to pick up some tips fast, read the tips mentioned right in the article, which explain how to use tools including Google Operators and Image search. If you have more time, the article mentions that those who are unfamiliar with Google search features might benefit from taking a Google Power Searching Course. If you have even more time, Google for Lawyers by Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch is an informative read and can serve as a great starting point.

(Thanks again to Nassau County intern Abbey Jay for saving us time by writing this and other upcoming articles for the CAPS blog.)

August 19, 2013

Using Hyperlinks in Court Filings


Lisa Solomon, Esq. reports in her online newsletter called The Source that federal courts encourage the use of hyperlinks in CM/ECF documents. Ms. Solomon points to a guide geared towards attorneys that explains how to create and utilize hyperlinks, called Attorney Guide to Hyperlinking in the Federal Courts. The Guide explains that when attorneys include hyperlinks to cited law and CM/ECF filings in their briefs, it can add another level of persuasion to their writing. Moreover, hyperlinks in court filings are very beneficial for the judge and staff, as the attorneys' arguments can be immediately verified in the context of the relevant law. As the Guide explains, "links make it easy for the court to verify - and adopt - the positions taken by an advocate." Who wouldn't want to use that advantage?

Kudo's again to Abbey Jay, intern in the Nassau County Attorney's Office, for assisting with the writing of this blog post.

September 23, 2013

Pro Bono Affairs Notice



New York State Bar Assocation - Department of Pro Bono Affairs

Join your colleagues at the New York State Bar Association or the cosponsoring law schools across New York State (shown at the bottom of this announcement) for a live broadcast and discussion.

WHY WE NEED A RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN CIVIL MATTERS WHERE BASIC HUMAN NEEDS ARE AT STAKE

When: October 3, 2013
Where: New York State Bar Association, One Elk Street, Albany, New York 12207
Time: 5:00pm - 6:30pm

RSVP by close of business Wednesday, September 26 to probono@nysba.org or
(518) 487-5641 to attend at the New York State Bar Association

2013 is the 50th Anniversary of the US Supreme Court's decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Court established the right to representation by an attorney, at government expense, for people who cannot afford to pay for counsel. The court found that it was an "obvious truth" that a criminal defendant cannot have a fair trial unless counsel is appointed. Find out why it is an equally obvious truth that there should be a right to counsel for low-income people who face court cases that may result in orders evicting them from their homes, denying them custody of their children and affecting other basic human needs.

The program will include:

New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman,
N.Y. State Bar Assoc. President David Schraver, and
A live panel discussion of experts, including:
Fern Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the NYC Courts and Director of the NY State Courts Access to Justice Program
Bryan Hetherington, Chief Counsel, Empire Justice Center
Martha Davis, Professor, Northeastern University Law School
John Pollock, Coordinator, National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel
Andrew Scherer (moderator), author, Residential Landlord-Tenant Law in NY and Senior Fellow, Furman Center at NYU Law School

~To attend this event at the NYSBA location, please contact probono@nysba.org to register.~

**The law schools listed below will be showing a live broadcast of this event, along with agendas unique to their schools. If you wish to participate at one of these locations, please contact the school directly.

Sponsored by the New York State Bar Association and the following law schools: Albany Law School, Brooklyn Law School, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Columbia University School of Law, Cornell Law School, CUNY Law School, Fordham University School of Law, Hofstra University School of Law, New York Law School, New York University School of Law, Pace University School of Law, Rutgers School of Law, St. John's University School of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law, Syracuse University College of Law, Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, University at Buffalo Law School, Yale Law School.
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207

Phone: (518) 463-3200
Secure Fax: (518) 487-5993

For Public Officials: The New York State Bar Association is registered with the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics pursuant to the Lobbying Act to engage in lobbying activities. Consequently, public officials cannot accept certain benefits from the Association. Further information can be obtained by contacting an official's agency ethics officer or the Association at (518) 463-3200.

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities: NYSBA welcomes participation by individuals with disabilities. NYSBA is committed to complying with all applicable laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of its goods, services, programs, activities, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations. To request auxiliary aids or services or if you have any questions regarding accessibility, please contact Kathy Heider at (518) 487-5500 or kheider@nysba.org.

October 1, 2013

Recent Environmental Reports Available Online


The Pace Law School Library Blog has an extensive roundup of recent environmental-related research reports published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a public policy research arm of Congress.

NB: Hopefully this note will be outdated quickly, but so long as the federal government is (temporarily) shut down, some of the links and materials may not be accessible.

About Legal Practice

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to CAPS in the Legal Practice category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Laws, Rules and Regulations is the previous category.

Municipal Law is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.