January 2018 Archives

NY Investigates Company Selling Fake Followers - Technologist

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By William Vogeler, Esq. 

What's the difference between paying for fake followers and selling bots that use stolen identities?

There is no difference because they are both embarrassments. Actually, selling bots with stolen identities as fake followers is also a crime.

That's what New York's attorney general says after opening an investigation based on an expose by the New York Times. The newspaper disclosed that social media users buy fake followers -- bots using real identities -- to raise their public profile.


Opinion warns against judges doing online research on facts related to cases

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In Formal Opinion 478, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility addresses the restrictions imposed by the 2007 ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct on a judge searching the internet for information helpful in deciding a case. The ABA opinion concludes that Rule 2.9(C) of the Model Code prohibits a judge from researching adjudicative facts on the internet unless a fact is subject to judicial notice.

Rule 2.9(C) clearly and definitively declares that "a judge shall not investigate facts in a matter independently, and shall consider only the evidence presented and any facts that may properly be judicially noticed." Acknowledging the integral part that search engines play in everyday life, Comment 6 to Rule 2.9 bluntly tells judges that the prohibition "extends to information available in all mediums, including electronic."


January 23, 2018, New York, NY - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Muslim Advocates (MA) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demanding documents from federal agencies related to visa denials to dozens of Yemeni families seeking entry to the U.S., stemming from President Trump's Muslim Ban. The FOIA request seeks information on the process by which the federal government has purportedly agreed to grant case-by-case waivers from the Muslim Ban to certain individuals from countries whose citizens are otherwise denied entry to the United States. Despite the administration's claim that the waiver process would be "robust," the organizations have received reports of en masse denials to people who should, according to the administration's guidelines, be eligible for a waiver, casting doubt on whether a meaningful process exists at all. The request is directed at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of State, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 


From the University of California's Bancroft

Library, with financial support from the National

Parks Service, comes this powerful digital archive

dedicated to the experiences of Japanese-Americans

who were incarcerated in internment camps during

World War II. This collection features almost

150,000 documents, including papers, photographs,

maps, and personal archives from the Bancroft

Library. These documents have been digitized by

Calisphere and the Online Archive of California. The

collection includes the personal papers of writer

Yoshiko Uchida (Invisible Thread; Picture Bride),

who was interned at camps in California and Utah;

the papers of California attorney general Robert

Walker Kenney; and a collection of recorded

interviews with individuals who spent time in

internment camps (available in the multimedia

section). In addition to viewing this collection

through Calisphere and the Online Archive of

California, visitors can explore this collection by

internment camp via an interactive map.

Copyright © 2017 Internet Scout Research Group - http://scout.wisc.edu

Traveling lawyers get new protections in device searches at border

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Hundreds of American lawyers will be traveling to Vancouver, British Columbia, for the ABA Midyear Meeting next week. As they pass through U.S. and Canadian customs, they and their electronic devices can be searched. 

But through the efforts of the ABA, the Department of Homeland Security has recently clarified its policies on how it intends to protect privileged information during its searches.

The ABA contacted Homeland Security in May with its concerns about the potential for violations of attorney-client privilege at the nation's borders in a letter written by then-ABA President Linda Klein.

Klein said the ABA was concerned about the breadth of the authority given to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to search lawyers' electronic devices "without any showing of reasonable suspicion." She asked that DHS clarify the directive on electronic device search and seizure, originally written in 2009, to protect attorneys and their clients.

"We recognize that security at the nation's borders is of fundamental importance, and we acknowledge that lawyers traveling across the border with laptops and other electronic devices containing confidential client documents and other information could become subject to routine searches by CBP and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents," Klein wrote. "But just as border security is fundamental to national security, so too is the principle of client confidentiality fundamental to the American legal system."

According to ABA President Hilarie Bass, senior DHS officials met with the ABA after the letter was received, and CBP released a revised directive.




The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday demanded documents from 23 sanctuary jurisdictions and threatened subpoenas if they fail to comply.

The letters are intended to find out whether police officers in the jurisdictions are failing to share information with federal immigration authorities, according to a DOJ press release. The Justice Department cites a federal law requiring information sharing, and says jurisdictions that don't comply aren't eligible to receive Byrne Justice Assistance Grants.

Jurisdictions receiving letters include the states of Illinois, California and Oregon, as well as the cities of Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles. USA Today, the Washington Post and the New York Times have stories.

The letters asked the jurisdictions to provide "any orders, directives, instructions or guidance to your law enforcement employees."




Hours after a humanitarian group released videos showing border patrol agents kicking over water bottles left for migrants in the Arizona desert, a volunteer for the organization was arrested and charged with harboring undocumented immigrants.

Scott Daniel Warren, 35, a volunteer with the group No More Deaths, faces a federal charge of harboring two people in the country illegally. 



Hey Siri, read me the news - iPhone J.D.

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 by Jeff Richardson,


To start, just say "Hey Siri, read me the news" or "play the news" or "give me the news" or something like that.  Siri will start playing the latest episode of the NPR News Now podcast, which is updated every hour (so it is always fresh news) and only lasts 3-5 minutes (so you quickly get the highlights).  I tried it out a few different times yesterday.  It worked great, and the news updates were interesting and timely.


Ed. Note:  You also have the option of changing the news source.

Seattle-based Avvo, which runs an online legal directory, marketplace and reviews site, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Internet Brands, a large holding company whose portfolio includes companies such as eDoctors, CarsDirect Connect and WebMD.

Internet Brands is especially strong in the legal arena, holding interests in Lawyers.com, AllLaw.com, Martindale-Hubbell and Nolo. That strength played a big role in the company's decision to be acquired.


Artificial Lawyer Interview: Jake Heller, CEO, Casetext - Artificial Lawyer

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Artificial Lawyer recently caught up with Jake Heller, the co-founder and CEO of Casetext, ahead of the legal AI company's launch of two new features for its litigation analysis platform.

So, first, let's hear about the two new aspects of the natural language processing-driven platform that is seeking to change the way lawyers approach legal research.

The new capability Black Letter Law enables users to quickly identify axiomatic statements of law, which is particularly useful for lawyers researching outside of their core practice areas, 'as well as for litigators hunting for foundational case law to support a brief or oral argument'.

Meanwhile the new Holdings feature is the largest searchable collection of concise case summaries ever assembled, the company says. To create Holdings, Casetext applied a tactic they call 'judicial language processing', exploiting patterns within the US case law corpus to excerpt summaries directly from judicial opinions. This allows 'any lawyer looking to quickly familiarise herself with the crux of a judicial opinion and nimbly compare and contrast similar holdings across a particular area of law' says Casetext.



Library Extension detects when you're viewing a book or ebook on a site like Amazon or Goodreads and adds a box showing the availability of that item in your local library. If you have access to more than one local library, it is able to check all of them. When an item is available from your library, Library Extension will also include a link allowing you to reserve it. Library Extension currently integrates with over 4000 local libraries. Users can request support for additional libraries with a simple contact form. Users do not need to register for any additional accounts to use Library Extension. Currently, Library Extension is available for Google Chrome. A version for Mozilla Firefox is under development. 

Copyright © 2017 Internet Scout Research Group - http://scout.wisc.edu

Judiciary Open During Government Shutdown | United States Courts

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Despite a government shutdown, the federal Judiciary will remain open and can continue operations for approximately three weeks, through February 9, by using court fee balances and other funds not dependent on a new appropriation.

Read more.

The IRS and its state and industry Security Summit partners urged all employers to educate their payroll personnel about a Form W-2 phishing scam that made victims of hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees last year.

New York Cancels Private Prison Care Packages Program | The Marshall Project

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New York corrections officials said Friday they have suspended a program that forced families and friends to send care packages to prisoners only through select private vendors, amid an uproar that the move raised costs and limited choices. 

The switch to private companies had gone into effect earlier this month in a pilot program at three facilities: Greene, Taconic and Green Haven Correctional Facilities. The state planned to expand privatization to the whole system -- the fourth largest in the nation -- by the fall. 

"Concerns have been raised by families of inmates regarding the availability and prices of products under this program, concerns we do not take lightly," Thomas Mailey, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said in a press release. The program has been suspended until those concerns can be addressed, Mailey said.



Your iPhone knows where you are, and it remembers where you have been. It keeps a record of your frequent hangouts -- aka "significant locations" -- and uses this data to make location-based suggestions using Siri and to power other features. Don't panic, though: This data is kept on your phone, not collected by Apple.

 Maybe you want to switch it off anyway, though. Perhaps you're having an affair and don't want your suspicious spouse to find out where you and your lover hook up. Or you're an undercover cop and don't want your visits to the police station to show up on your phone. Today we'll see how to access your recent locations data, remove it, and switch it off altogether.


ICE raids 7-Eleven stores in immigration crackdown

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Federal agents on Wednesday raided nearly 100 7-Eleven stores in 17 states and Washington, D.C., in an immigration crackdown.

The raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement resulted in 21 arrests of workers believed to be in the country illegally, report the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Washington Post and Fox Business.


The Western District Court of New York is one of the most congested courts in the country, receiving over 3,000 filings annually with individual judges' caseloads at nearly 800. To reduce a long backlog of unresolved lawsuits, Chief Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr., revived a mediation strategy not used by the court since 1995: a settlement week.

Read more.

JANUARY 8, 2018

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a new policy on border searches of electronic devices that's full of loopholes and vague language and that continues to allow agents to violate travelers' constitutional rights. Although the new policy contains a few improvements over rules first published nine years ago, overall it doesn't go nearly far enough to protect the privacy of innocent travelers or to recognize how exceptionally intrusive electronic device searches are.

Nothing announced in the policy changes the fact that these device searches are unconstitutional, and EFF will continue to fight for travelers' rights in our border search lawsuit.

Below is a legal analysis of some of the key features of the new policy.

Read analysis....

Updated: Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Motel 6 "for voluntarily providing guest lists to agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement," on a routine basis for at least two years, which led to the detention of at least six people presumed to be in the country illegally, according to a press release issued Wednesday.

The suit, filed in King County Superior Court, states that at least six Motel 6 locations statewide released client information, including names, driver's license numbers, room numbers, dates of birth and license plate numbers, affecting at least 9,000 guests.

Motel 6 leaves the light on for ICE...

Courtesy of:

Harry G. Meyer, Esq.
 Docent and Lecturer
Western New York  History and Architecture


Erie County Clerk Michael P. Kearns has come up with a new initiative to combat two of the biggest problems that contribute to "zombie homes" -- homes that have been abandoned by owners during the lengthy foreclosure process but have not been been taken over by banks.


Kearns' program will enable cities, towns and villages to have direct access to Erie County Clerk's Office databases showing all new foreclosure actions in their communities since the start of January.

The information will not only include property addresses, but the name of the bank foreclosing on the property, and the name of the lawyer handling the legal process. That information will allow communities to take action early to keep properties from turning into "zombies," he said.

"This is not being done anywhere else in New York State," he said.



Following several Executive Orders announcing travel bans and increased immigration enforcement, the legal community has increased its efforts to deliver vital immigration legal services to our communities and thousands of attorneys have volunteered to donate their time and services on a pro bono basis. The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) received many inquiries from its members about how they can help.  In order to best address the rise of attorneys seeking to do pro bono work, while supporting the non-profit and legal service organizations actively serving New York's immigrant communities, NYSBA paired up with the New York Bar Foundation and Legal.io to create a web-based portal through which attorneys can be referred to volunteer opportunities in a tailored and timely fashion. 

NYSBA's Immigration Pro Bono Portal provides volunteer attorneys with tailored referrals to current and relevant volunteer opportunities at legal services organizations where the attorneys' specific skills and experience are needed. As a result, attorneys are connected with appropriate volunteer opportunities in a timely manner while legal services organizations are able to provide more services and save valuable resources.

Since July, we have referred over fifty attorneys to more than twenty organizations across the state. In the long run, we seek to assist New York's civil legal service community in achieving 100% legal immigration representation (currently the nationwide average is about 30%), where representation in deportation and detention contexts is the norm, not an exception.

We encourage attorneys who are interested in volunteering to visit www.nysbaprobono.org and register as a volunteer attorney so that we may provide them with tailored referrals to volunteer opportunities for which they may be well suited. We also encourage organizations across the state that both serve New York's immigrant population, and have a need for pro bono volunteers, to visit the site and create a listing, indicating their volunteer needs, so we may refer suitable volunteers to them. If you have any questions about NYSBA's Pro Bono Immigration Portal, please email me at probonoportal@nysba.org or call me at 518-487-5642.

Best Regards,

Yuriy Pereyaslavskiy,

Immigration Pro Bono Fellow

FREE CLE from the IRS

Topic: The Office of Professional Responsibility: What you need to Know about Practicing before the IRS (rebroadcast) 

Date: Wednesday January 17, 2018
Times: 2:00 p.m. Eastern; 1:00 p.m. Central; Noon Mountain; 11:00 a.m. Pacific 
Duration: Two hours 

Webinar featuring OPR Director Stephen Whitlock with live Q&A at the end of the presentation 

Topics include:

  • Regulations governing tax practice before the IRS (Circular 230, Rev. 6/2014)
  • Due diligence obligations of tax professionals
  • Overview of other key Circular 230 provisions
  • Practitioner responsibilities to their clients and to the tax administration system
  • Best practices for all tax professionals
  • Office of Professional Responsibility policies and procedures

Register for the webinar

Earn two CE credits in ethics

To receive a certificate of completion and CE credit, you must:

  • View the live presentation on 1/17/18 for at least 100 minutes from the start of the program.
  • To confirm your attendance and receive your certificate of completion, view the presentation while signed-in using the same email address used to register; you will not receive credit by watching this webinar on someone else's computer.
  • Groups cannot register with one email address and receive separate certificates; each person must register separately.
  • Look for your Certificate of Completion by email approximately three weeks after the broadcast.
  • If you have met all requirements, you will automatically receive your certificate of completion by email about three weeks after the event.

Enrolled Agents or other tax return preparers attending for education on a voluntary basis must register using your 8-digit PTIN and name as shown on your PTIN card or letter. If you don't have a PTIN, you will receive a certificate; however, your credit will not be reported to the IRS. Other tax professionals will receive a certificate and may receive credit if the broadcast meets their organizations' or states' CPE requirements. 

Stay in-the-know on the go! View IRS webinars on smartphones and tablets.

Find this event archived on the IRS Video Portal about three weeks after it airs.


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