October 2011 Archives

NYLJ: Court Finds Judicial Immunity Extends to Judge's Law Clerk

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ALBANY - Judicial immunity extends to a family law clerk who issued an order of protection under the auspices of Family Court Judge John J. Brennan (See Profile) in Herkimer County, a Court of Claims judge has determined.

The actions of Bart M. Carrig, senior law clerk to Judge Brennan, in a domestic violence case were undertaken within the proper jurisdiction and legal protections of the Family Court in central New York, Court of Claims Judge Glen T. Bruening ruled from Albany in Gookins v. State of New York, 2011-048005 and 119903.

"Judicial immunity has been extended to those individuals who perform quasi-judicial functions--those functions that are 'closely associated with the judicial process,'" Judge Bruening ruled, quoting Cleavinger v. Saxner, 474 U.S. 193 (1985), and Oliva v. Heller, 839 F2d 37 (1988). "As is relevant to this action, a law clerk for a judge, who 'generally performs discretionary acts of a judicial nature' has been described as an 'extension of the judge at whose pleasure [he or she] serve[s].'"

Read entire article by Joel Stashenko. (May require free registration)

What the Costumes Reveal - NYTimes.com

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In this New York Times op-ed entitled "What the Costumes Reveal," Joe Nocera describes the conduct of employees of the New York law firm Steven J. Baum, P.C., at last year's firm Halloween bash. Nocera writes that Baum employees wore costumes making fun of people who have lost their homes to foreclosure. In the image below, for instance, a dirty "foreclosure victim" is holding a wine bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. 20111029_NOCERA-IMG-slide-N9Q1-articleLarge

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Windows Phone Is Back, Full of Great Tricks - State of the Art - NYTimes.com

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Windows Phone 7.5 is gorgeous, classy, satisfying, fast and coherent. The design is intelligent, clean and uncluttered. Never in a million years would you guess that it came from the same company that cooked up the bloated spaghetti that is Windows and Office.

Most impressively, Windows Phone is not a feeble-minded copycat. Microsoft came up with completely fresh metaphors that generally steer clear of the iPhone/Android design (grid-spaced icons that scroll across home pages).

Read the entire review by David Pogue here.

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NYSERDA: Agriculture Disaster Program

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PON 2422 Agriculture Disaster Program


The Agriculture Disaster Program is available to assist farms and on-farm producers in New York State damaged by Hurricane Irene and/or Tropical Storm Lee. Many New York State farms sustained significant damage by the recent storms and existing aid is primarily focused on crops and soil conservation. Under this program, $4,175,000 is available to provide financial assistance toward projects replacing and installing a farm's electric and natural gas distribution and use equipment and systems damaged during the storms in non-residential facilities.

Covered equipment includes pumps, compressors, lighting, HVAC, chillers, refrigeration, commercial washers and some natural gas (limited to 10% of total). Farm residences are not covered.

The funds will be dispensed on a first come first served basis.  Limit is $100,000 per farm. The details are covered in the attached NYSERDA program description .

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Setting Up Your Home Office

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Committee on Lawyers in Transition

Setting Up Your Home Office

Live Program and Webcast

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. 
(Eastern Time)

The program is free to all attorneys, but pre-registration is required.

Attend in person or view the live webcast online

Register online


A Panel with Jeffrey Calandra, Organizational Concepts Designed 4 Life
and Rona Brand, RTB Interiors

Setting up your home office can be a challenge, whether establishing a private environment to see clients, or organizing an existing (and sometimes small) space for use as both an office and a guest or other room in your home.  Our panelists will address issues regarding floor planning and furniture (such as creating a private entrance, using limited space, floor plans for functionality, furniture that works and dual purpose rooms), organization (such as storage, use of walls and shelves, filing systems and avoiding office clutter) and what to display (such as what to keep visible (and not) and avoiding visual clutter).

This program is part of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Lawyers in Transition series of free, live webcasts on Career Development to help lawyers better manage their careers during this tough economy.  The October program is co-sponsored by the Law Practice Management Committee.

If you are in the NYC area, attend the program in person at

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
375 Park Avenue (at 52nd Street)
New York City

Please note that your name must be added to a security list to enter the building, pre-registration is required. Register online at www.nysba.org/November9thWebcast

The weblink to view the program along with any program materials will be forwarded to all registrants.  If you are unable to attend in person or participate in the LIVE webcast, the recorded archive will be available online and posted at the Committee's website www.nysba.org/LawyersinTransition.


Did you miss the October Attorney Websites and Marketing program?

Visit www.nysba.org/LITarchivedWebcasts to view archived webcast.

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NYSBA - LifeCounselor & eLAP

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LifeCounselor is an online e-Lawyer Assistance Program designed to offer you the tools and support you need to prevent or address concerns related to addiction, mental health issues, and stress. Informational articles, resources for making healthy life changes, and confidential email communication with a lawyer assistance professional are all available to you at this website. 

Lawyers and judges are held to a very high standard and this resource will help you meet and exceed the standard; while also helping you balance a demanding career and an active personal life. Getting started is as simple as completing our quick registration form. We are glad you're here. 

You are also invited to visit the Lawyer Assistance Program website at www.nysba.org/lap or call at 1.800.255.0569. 

Please NOTE: LifeCounselor does not provide treatment but, if needed, can help you find a treatment provider appropriate to your needs.


eLAP, a new website, is available to assist you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The site features more than 2,000 articles on mental health issues, assessments, self-help modules and access to direct email communication with a lawyer assistance professional.  After a brief registration process, you will be able to use eLAP's resources to learn more about issues related to stress management, mental health and substance abuse, or to seek answers to any questions you may have.  Most importantly, it is completely private and confidential.

Visit eLAP at www.nysba.org/elap and enter the access code NYLAP to explore all of the useful resources and information the site has to offer. 

Adobe Reader for iOS

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Adobe Reader is the free global standard for reliably viewing and sharing PDF documents across platfoms and devices. Easily and efficiently access the widest range of PDF file types--including PDF Portfolios, password-protected PDF documents and Adobe LiveCycle rights-managed PDF files. Now available for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

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Cameras in Court Pilot Project Now Has 70 Videos Online

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From US Court News:

The federal judiciary's digital video pilot, which started in July, now
has posted some 70 videos of various courtroom proceedings in eight
separate cases.

In all, 14 federal trial courts are participating in the three-year

The pilot is limited to civil, not criminal, cases. No proceedings may
be recorded without the approval of the presiding judge and the consent
of the parties. The recordings are posted on this website and also may
be posted on the participating court's website.

You can read more about the pilot project, and view the videos already

on the Cameras in Courts page.

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NYSBA Ethics Opinion 882 (10/14/2011)

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Topic: Lawyer's participation in residential real estate transaction that includes both a "seller's concession" and an equivalent "gross-up" in the sales


Digest: If the sales price in a residential real estate transaction has been "grossed-up" in exchange for a "seller's concession," all transaction documents containing the grossed- up sales price must disclose that the sales price has been increased by a sum equal to the seller's concession. Rules: 8.4(c).

"...in a residential real estate transaction where the sales contract, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, the transfer tax return and any other documents that contain the sales price [shall] each contain the following statement (or a substantially similar statement): "The sales price has been increased by a sum equal to the seller's concession."

Read the entire opinion here.

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Federal Emergency Management Agency

Image via Wikipedia

New York State and federal officials remind those who were affected by Hurricane Irene that they have only two weeks left to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for possible federal disaster assistance. It's important that those who may need to register for aid do so as soon as possible. Registrations cannot be accepted after the October 31, 2011 deadline.

"Registration keeps open the possibility of awide range of assistance," said Philip E. Parr, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer. "If your insurance coverage comes up short, or other damageappears later, you need to be registered with FEMA to be considered for disaster assistance."

To register, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. Phone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, seven days a week untilfurther notice. People with hearing disabilities can use the TTY number, 800-462-7585.Applicants can also register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov orwith any web-enabled mobile device or smartphone at m.fema.gov. Follow the link to "apply online for federal assistance."

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Fillable Forms For iPad-Randy Singer (MacAttorney)

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USPS - Printing Online Postage

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ZIP code promotional sign with "Mr. ZIP&q...

Image via Wikipedia

Printing Online Postage


Print postage and labels online using USPS.com® or authorized providers.

Get a complete mailing and shipping solution online with one of USPS approved online postage vendors.

See the entire list here

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App Store - Box.net

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Get a FREE 50 GB lifetime account for file storage and sharing through Dec. 2, 2011. To get your automatic upgrade, download the Box app on your iPhone or iPad and register or sign in to your account - it's that easy. Box provides simple, secure sharing from anywhere - letting you easily store files online, send big files fast, access content on-the-go, and collaborate with others. Box for iPhone and iPad lets you:

• View files directly on your iPhone and iPad
• Share files easily with a link
• Upload photos to your Box account (iPhones only) 
• Open files in other apps installed on your device, like Documents to Go and GoodReader (iPads only)
• Secure content with file-level encryption, a four-digit passcode and automatic logout when the app is closed
• Project files from Box to a TV, LCD monitor or projector via AV Out (iPads and iPhone 4S only); wirelessly stream content using AirPlay (iPad 2 and iPhone 4S only)
• Wirelessly print to AirPrint-enabled printers (iPads only)

No wonder more than 7 million users, including 77% of the FORTUNE 500, rely on Box for simple, secure content sharing. 

"With the iPad and Box, our sales teams can get to information right away - they don't even have to boot up their computer. The iPad and Box have eliminated that very scary 'is the computer going to start' moment - completely." -- Charlie Hunter-Schyff, Head of Planning at O2 Media, Telefónica


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iPad Apps for Lawyers | iPadEsq

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Kentucky attorney and Mac legal Guru, Finis Price, has a new blog on  iPad apps for lawyers.If the first two reviews are indication, iPad ESQ. will be worth reading regularly.

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Divorce Cases Are Complicated by New Maintenance Rules-NYLJ

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ALBANY - A new system for calculating interim maintenance awards in matrimonial actions, adopted last year to make no-fault divorce more palatable, is under fire from many attorneys who say it is confusing, and potentially inequitable.

Several matrimonial lawyers said the new rules are so rigid that they have taken from judges the discretion to decide fair temporary payments while divorce actions are pending.


But more and more lower court opinions have tackled the statute's anomalies.

In Scott M. v. Ilona M., 31 Misc. 3d 353, 915 N.Y.S. 2d 834 (2011), for instance, Justice Sunshine deviated from the guidelines by ruling that the temporary maintenance total was inadequate to meet the expenses of a wife and the couple's child, and he increased the amount, as well as awarded attorney's fees to the woman's attorney (NYLJ, Feb. 1).

Other cases, including J.H. v. W.H., 31 Misc.3d 1203(A), 2011 WL 1158653, and Jill G. v. Jeffrey G., 31 Misc.3d 1209(A), 2011 WL 1364481, have explored questions of how attorney's fees, child support and tax consequences should factor into the temporary maintenance formulas.

Meanwhile, court administrators have supplied judges and litigants with an eight-page online worksheet for calculating an appropriate maintenance award.



Read the entire NYLJ article by Joel Stashenko here.

Apple iPhone 4S Siri demo - YouTube

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Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen - NYTimes.com

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WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen, found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document.

The memo, written last year, followed months of extensive interagency deliberations and offers a glimpse into the legal debate that led to one of the most significant decisions made byPresident Obama -- to move ahead with the killing of an American citizen without a trial.

The secret document provided the justification for acting despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war, according to people familiar with the analysis. The memo, however, was narrowly drawn to the specifics of Mr. Awlaki's case and did not establish a broad new legal doctrine to permit the targeted killing of any Americans believed to pose a terrorist threat.

Read entire NYTIMES Report here. (May require free registration)

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Magnt websites

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Have you thought about creating your own website? Perhaps you feel that it might take too much time or be too complicated? Never fear, as Magnt is here. After signing up for a free account, Magnt will walk you through the creation of a personal website by using a number of existing templates and customized graphics. Also, users can bring together all of their social networks on their site, which makes communication with friends and potential business partners convenient. This version is compatible with all operating systems. 

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2011. http://scout.wisc.edu/

A Pro account for $9.00 per month offers your own domain name and a site optimized for mobile viewing.

NYLJ: Baum Firm to Pay $2 Million, Alter Practices

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One of New York state's biggest foreclosure law firms will revamp its practices and pay a $2 million fine to settle a six-month probe by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District that found it had filed misleading pleadings, affidavits and mortgage assignments in state and federal courts.

In a settlement agreement announced today, the firm, Steven J. Baum, P.C. of Amherst, will implement a series of internal controls that include a pledge not to bring foreclosure actions without reviewing the original promissory notes or reviewing a copy of the note from its client or custodian of the document.

The 12-page agreement also prohibits the firm's employees from executing mortgage assignments as officials or representatives of MERS, an electronic mortgage registry system.

Read the entire NYLJ article here (Free Registration may be required).

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Full text of opinion (in pdf)

Parties to a legal matter have the right to communicate directly with each other. A lawyer may advise a client of that right and may assist the client regarding the substance of any proposed communication. The lawyer's assistance need not be prompted by a request from the client. Such assistance may not, however, result in overreaching by the lawyer.

This opinion is based on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct as amended by the ABA House of Delegates through August 2011. The laws, court rules, regulations, rules of professional conduct, and opinions promulgated in individual jurisdictions are controlling.

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NYS Dept. of Taxation and Finance Cuts 37 Lawyers-- Times Union

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Albany Times-Union:

...the counsel's office in the Department of Taxation and Finance took an especially deep cut. It has 42 PEF members -- all of whom are attorneys -- and 37 were issued pink slips. The employees said this would leave the five lawyers and "a handful" of exempt employees to do legal work at the department. An administration official countered that around 20 would remain in place, and that the office is currently "bloated." The attorneys perform several tasks. They help draft legislation and changes to the tax code as needed during the state budget process, and issue advisory opinions for taxpayers about how the law should be applied. They also handle cases of taxpayer grievances, litigating on behalf of the state. More than $500 million worth of cases are outstanding, Wells and the other employees said. According to the Division of Tax Appeals' 2009-10 annual report, $130 million worth of disputes were decided, with the state winning roughly half of them. "That's money out there where they're supposed to be fighting to bring it to the state," Wells said. "Having far fewer people to do that is going to mean less coming in, and our understanding is there's not a plan in place to replace the work."

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On September 28, the New York Department of Environmental Conservationannounced its release of proposed regulations for "high-volume hydraulic fracturing," which the proposed regulations define as hydraulic fracturing operations that use more than 300,000 gallons of water.  

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