May 2008 Archives

New York Begins to Alter Policy on Gay Marriage

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Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to
begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize
same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like
Massachusetts, California and Canada. In a directive the
governor's legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the
agencies that gay couples married elsewhere "should be
afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed

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Local Gas Prices By ZIP Code

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Gas Prices - MSN Autos

Every night MSN Autos receives pricing data from over 90,000 gas stations across the nation. Please note that gas prices in your area may change more frequently than they can obtain them.

MSN Autos does not receive prices every day from every station. Their partner, OPIS, obtains pricing data from participating credit card transactions, direct feeds from participating retail chains, and other survey methods. Please note that during times of extreme price volatility, these collection methods may trail the latest prices at some stations.

Enter your ZIP and scroll down below the map to find local pump prices.

FINDLAW: Daily Opinion Summaries for U.S. Supreme Court - 05/27/08

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Riley v. Kennedy, No. 07-77
In a case concerning section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Court rules that a covered state need not obtain fresh preclearance required by section 5 in order to reinstate an election practice prevailing before the enactment of an election law struck down by the state's supreme court.


CBOCS W., Inc. v. Humphries, No. 06-1431
The longstanding civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. section 1981, encompasses retaliation claims.


Gomez-Perez v. Potter, No. 06-1321
A federal employee who is a victim of retaliation due to the filing of a complaint of age discrimination may assert a claim under the federal-sector provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. section 633a(a).

CNET: Cell Phone Radiation Chart

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Cell phone radiation chart - CNET reviews

Cell phone radiation levels
By CNET staff (updated May 23, 2008)
What it all means
According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), specific absorption rate, or SAR, is "a way of measuring the quantity of radiofrequency (RF) energy that is absorbed by the body." For a phone to pass FCC certification, that phone's maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6W/kg (watts per kilogram). In Europe, the level is capped at 2W/kg while Canada allows a maximum of 1.6W/kg. The SAR level listed in our charts represents the highest SAR level with the phone next to the ear as tested by the FCC. Keep in mind that it is possible for the SAR level to vary between different transmission bands and that different testing bodies can obtain different results. Also, it's possible for results to vary between different editions of the same phone (such as a handset that's offered by multiple carriers).

10 Highest US Models

10 Lowest US Models


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USCourtForms - Products and Services

With more than 60,000 continuously updated forms and more than 70,000 current users, U.S. Court Forms inlcudes:

State - including Statewide, Local County, Local Federal, Secretary of State, UCC, Appellate, Workers Comp, Blue Sky, and more.

Federal - including District Courts, Bankruptcy, Circuit Court of Appeals, and more.

USCourtForms collects these official forms and makes them available on line for download as pdf's for a free registration. These forms are not interactive and must be printed out and filled in as you would with paper forms.

The premium subscription allows you to fill in and save the forms more easily in multiple interactive formats. Autofill capability. $$$

Sorry--not Macintosh compatible.

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Watch as an event unfolds half way around the world at a conference or a meeting, or next-door at a concert, community gathering or sporting event, all from the comfort of your computer or mobile device.

ScribbleLive allows broadcasters, publishers, educators, lawyers, corporations, social groups, writers, students, bloggers and individuals to be instant publishers, live to your screen.

Logging in is a snap. They seamlessly integrate with your FaceBook, MSN Live or your Open ID account so you don’t have to remember another ID and password. Since there is no need to install software or learn some complicated back end, you can create your event in seconds. Give it a name and off you go. Now, send out the invitation to your friends to help you cover the full story. They instantly become your team or writers, photographers and editors and ScribbleLive ensure you are all on the same page.

Once that post hits the page, in seconds, you can instantly edit your text right in the post without the need to leave the comfort of the browser. The update instantly appears on everyone’s screen.

Don’t want to be the writer, no problem. Just click on someone else's event to watch as the event unfolds.

II you would rather see the post from the newest to the oldest, just log in, and reverse the order.

ScribbleLive is not a chat line; this is a collaborative, real time journaling of events as they unfold.

Its easy to use, you have instant access, the posts appear in seconds without the need to reload, you can edit instantly, you have unlimited users that can watch the event and its totally new in this Beta.

SmartBike DC

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Clear Channel Smartbike Washington DC

SmartBike DC is a self-service bicycle rental system that Clear Channel Outdoor provides as part of its citywide bus shelter program for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). The program will initially consist of ten rental locations with 100 bicycles.

In order to rent a bike go to the Subscription page and register. (Currently, the page has a telephone number to call) Once your application has been processed and accepted, you will receive a user card and booklet with further instructions. You have to visit the website one more time to activate your user card. Your activated user card will allow you to rent a bike from any station. After your ride, you may drop off your bike at the same or any other station. Make sure that the bike is properly inserted into the docking point (the red LED light must be constantly lit).

SmartBike DC is open from 06:00 AM to 10:00 PM, Monday through Sunday. The last rental can be made at 10:00PM. Bikes can be dropped off a 24 hours.

Individual annual subscription: $40 ($37.83 plus 5.75% sales tax $2.17)

All revenues from subscriptions and usage fees are paid to District DOT.

During the time you rent the bike, you are responsible for it. A fee of $200.00 will be billed if you don't return the bike within 48 hours after the designated rental period or if the bike is otherwise damaged, lost or stolen.

If all this sounds familiar, SmartBike DC operates on a similar principle to Zipcar and other car sharing services,

Google Health

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Google Health has launched in beta, providing free, online storage in one location for all of your health records.

Google wants you to gather your medical records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies in one place. They say this will:
Keep your doctors up to date about your health
You will be more informed about important health issues

Google says they will store your information securely and privately. They will never sell your data. You are in control, you choose what you want to share and what you want to keep private--subject, of course, to a subpoena.

Our cheeky British friends at The Register have reviewed the new service and have some questions and raise some interesting issues; e.g., what happens to HIPAA protections?

Swergold, v. Andrew F. Cuomo,

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Operation Pushback has begun.

This class action suit was filed May 15, 2008. It will include all current members of the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and all current retirees from the ERS in all Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4, who have rendered part-time annually salaried service, whether elected or by appointment, to any participating employer in the ERS.

Swergold, v. Andrew F. Cuomo,, Index No. 3897-08 NYS Supreme Court- Albany County

Pleadings and Briefs

Documents filed on Thursday, May 15, 2008:

Summons and Complaint

Exhibits to Summons and Complaint

FINDLAW: Daily Opinion Summaries for U.S. Supreme Court - 05/19/08

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Justices Uphold Child Pornography Ban

(U.S. Supreme Court, May 19, 2008) - In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld part of a rule that outlaws possession of child pornography.

LAX Millennium Bomber’s Terrorism Conviction Upheld

(U.S. Supreme Court, May 19, 2008) - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the LAX Millennium bomber, who was convicted of carrying explosives during the commission of another serious crime when he lied on a U.S. Customs form while crossing the border in December 1999.

Tax-Exemptions for Municipal Bonds Upheld

(U.S. Supreme Court, May 19, 2008) - The Supreme Court says that tax exemptions that states and municipal governments offer for in-state municipal bonds do not discriminate against out-of-state bonds.


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What is Evernote? | Evernote Corporation

Evernote allows you to capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from anywhere.

Everything you put into Evernote is synchronized across all of your devices.

Get an invitation.

Super Blawgger Robert Ambrogi has a review of Evernote today on


Porter Airlines: Newark to Toronto

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Destinations - New York City

Connecting the largest cities of Canada and the United States, Porter Airlines now flies 7 times daily between Toronto City Centre Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. The convenience that Porter offers from its urban Toronto hub is extended with Newark, located about 16 miles from midtown Manhattan.

Porter Airlines, a new budget carrier, at the end of March began nonstop service from Newark to Toronto, with one-way fares as low as $99; see

Porter lands at the Toronto City Centre Airport (TCCA), on an island in Toronto Harbour, just a 400-foot ferry ride away from downtown.

Hat tip to Matt Gross-NYTIMES Frugal Traveler.

California Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

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The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia


The ruling paves the way for California to become the second state where gay men and lesbians can marry.
Text of the Opinion

Baltsoft announces free PDF converter online site

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Lithuania-based Baltsoft has announced its online PDF conversion site, which enables users to convert MS Word documents images, web pages and vector graphic files to PDF documents.

Example: you need to convert a Power Point (PPT) file into PDF. Use the "Browse" button to locate the source file on your local PC, select it and click the "Convert" button.

Perils of Part-timers' Public Pensions Persist

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Albany Times Union (Rick Karlin): Class-action lawsuit in state pension cases?

An Albany lawyer is preparing a class-action lawsuit to try to stop Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli from stripping pension credits from lawyers who state officials say don't deserve them. The lawsuit will likely be filed later this week in state Supreme Court in Albany County and will seek restraining orders against Cuomo and DiNapoli, said lawyer James Roemer, who specializes in public sector employment issues. While he wouldn't immediately divulge details of his legal strategy or name the initial plaintiffs, Roemer said he's representing four individuals from Long Island who have lost pension credits during the past few weeks.


UPDATE: Roemer has a web site for the class action suit Save New York State Retirement Benefits.


Albany Times Union (Fred LeBrun Column): Cuomo pension probe tinged with a certain lack of fair play

On the best of days, elevating the reputation of lawyers in general is too heavy a lift for one mere columnist. And these are certainly not the best of days for the image of the legal profession, thanks in great measure to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and his zealous rooting out of lawyers who may have gotten public retirement benefits for which they were not eligible. That Cuomo is himself a lawyer, and the First Lawyer of the state to boot, must be disconcerting at the least to the lawyer community. Particularly because the brush with which he's tarring a wide range of attorneys who don't deserve it is usually the stuff of spiteful lawyer-bashing. Hasn't Andrew heard all those professional courtesy jokes?

Advisory Opinion on Judicial Compensation 4/24/08

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Albany Times Union (Jay Jochnowitz): Pay raise suit no excuse for judges

New York's judges can't refuse to hear cases involving state lawmakers or legislators' law firms because Chief Judge Judith Kaye and the Unified Court System are suing the Legislature for a judicial pay hike, the Commission on Judicial Conduct said Monday. Moreover, the panel warned, it wouldn't help the judiciary's image if the commission has to look into instances of judges bowing out of cases involving lawmakers or their firms. A commission spokesman would not say whether any judges are under investigation for refusing to hear such cases. The issue came to the fore in recent weeks after various judges around the state started citing conflicts of interest because of Kaye's battle with the Legislature.
Full Text of Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinion

Stimulus Payments Update 5-12-08

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Get the answers to the most frequently-asked-questions about the stimulus payments.

Check the Economic Stimulus Payments Information Center on for updates. Also in Spanish.

FINDLAW: Daily Opinion Summaries for U.S. Supreme Court - 05/12/08

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Gonzales v. US, No. 06–11612
Express consent by counsel suffices to permit a magistrate judge to preside over jury selection in a felony trial, pursuant to the authorization in the Federal Magistrates Act, 28 U.S.C. section 636(b)(3)

Iron Key

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IronKey: Privacy Protection from an Encrypted Flash Drive

You can run portable applications directly from your IronKey secure flash drive without leaving personally identifiable information behind on the computer. For example, you can carry the Firefox web browser with you, including all your bookmarks, plug-ins and settings, and use it on almost any PC—all without leaving a footprint or passwords on the computer. This may be particularly important when you are using a public computer, such as at school, the library, or a hotel's business center.

Additionally, the onboard browser has been secured and is fully accessible only after you unlock your IronKey, ensuring that access is only available to you. It integrates with the IronKey Password Manager so you can securely and automatically log into your online accounts wherever you go.

IronKey packs a military-grade Cryptochip into each device for automatic, always-on protection whenever—and wherever—you use your IronKey drive.

The Cryptochip scrambles your data with encryption algorithms approved for protecting sensitive government and Department of Defense data. The IronKey also resists advanced cyberattacks with its state-of-the-art key management.

From $79.00...Iron Key


In the Matter of IG Second Generation Partners L.P. v. New York State Div. of Hous. and Cmty. Renewal, No. 67
In an appeal addressing whether the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) had the authority to cancel rent arrears owed by a rent-stabilized tenant as a result of DHCR's resolution of an unusually protracted fair market rent appeal, the court of appeals rules that DHCR did not have the authority under the circumstances of this case.


Pludeman v. N. Leasing Sys., Inc., No. 64
The court of appeals rules that plaintiffs sufficiently pleaded a cause of action for fraud against individually-named corporate defendants pursuant to CPLR 3016(b) where it was not unequivocal, as a matter of law, that a finder of fact could not reasonably infer the requisite knowledge or participation by the individual defendants in an act of fraud.


People v. Umali, No. 66
Conviction for manslaughter in the first degree is affirmed where: 1) precluding defendant from speaking to counsel about his testimony during a trial recess did not deprive his right to counsel, as the ban on attorney-client communication was rescinded promptly after defendant's protest; 2) the jury charge as a whole accurately stated that the government had to disprove the justification defense beyond a reasonable doubt; and 3) defendant's remaining contentions were either unpreserved, meritless, or harmless.

Stimulus Payments Update 5-5-08

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Stimulus payments directly deposited into IRAs and other tax-favored accounts may be withdrawn tax-free and penalty-free. See news release IR-2008-68.

Check the Economic Stimulus Payments Information Center on for updates. Also in Spanish.

Optimizing Your Web Site: The ABC's of SEO

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Law Practice Magazine :: Optimizing Your Web Site: The ABC's of SEO

By Sharon Nelson and John Simek of Sensei Enterprises

Lawyers are constantly asking what single investment they can make to help grow their practices. Well, a not-to-be forgotten principle is that monies sensibly invested in Web sites will always return the investment. The bedrock element of “sensibly” involves optimization to attract visitors.

Recently we taught a seminar on legal Web sites and part of it, of course, was about search engine optimization (SEO)—which, essentially, is the art of properly constructing your site to get the highest possible rankings from search engines. Rather to our surprise, we learned from participants’ comments that many lawyers now understand how important search engine optimization is—but they also remain fairly clueless about how to achieve it.
To help rectify the situation, let’s address the fundamental questions about SEO to greatly up the odds that you invest in a first-class, creative Web site and that you know what to watch from there. Please bear with us—if you can absorb the material that follows, you will be well on your way to developing a site that really helps your bottom line.
Read entire article with helpful list of "do's and don'ts" to optimize your web site.
Hat tip to LegalEase blog.


In the Matter of Pantelidis v. New York City Bd. of Standards and Appeals, No. 129 SSM 6
The order of the Appellate Division is affirmed, with costs, and the certified question is not answered upon the ground that it was unnecessary.


Worth Constr. Co., Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., No. 52
In a coverage dispute brought by a general contractor arising from injuries sustained by a worker on a staircase installed by a subcontractor, a ruling finding that subcontractor's insurer had a duty of defense and indemnity is reversed where: 1) the victim's injury stemmed from slipping on fireproofing material applied by an entirely separate company unaffiliated with insured-subcontractor; and 2) because the general contractor admitted that its claims of negligence against subcontractor were without factual merit, it conceded that the staircase was merely the situs of the accident, and thus foreclosed arguments of any connection between the victim's accident and the risk for which the coverage was intended.


P.A. Bldg. Co. v. City of New York, No. 59
In a landlord-tenant dispute involving whether asbestos abatement costs incurred by the landlord were "operating expenses" under the relevant terms of a commercial lease, judgment for landlord awarding additional rent due including amount of interest accrued is reversed and remanded where: 1) the underlying asbestos abatement costs were not "operating expenses" within the meaning of "escalation provisions" in the lease agreement; and 2) the interest amount on additional rent due should have been calculated from the date which an audit resisted by the landlord was finally commenced.


Jericho Water Dist. v. One Call Users Council, Inc., No. 69
With respect to Gen. Bus. Law section 761, which requires apportioning the costs of the "one-call notification system" among the operators of underground facilities who belong to it, but exempts "municipalities" from paying a share of the costs, the court of appeals rules that a "water district" is not a municipality for these purposes and must pay its share of the cost.


People v. Cabrera, No. 61
In a criminal case arising from a traffic accident wherein sober defendant-driver's excessive speeding claimed the lives of three passengers, conviction for criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault is reversed and dismissed where, although defendant's excessive speeding behavior was negligent and unquestionably "blameworthy", the evidence adduced at trial did not establish that circumstances surrounding the accident amounted to the kind of "morally blameworthy" component required to infer defendant's criminal negligence.

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