February 2022 Archives

250,000-plus lawyer disciplinary records leak • The Register

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Approximately 260,000 nonpublic disciplinary records stored on behalf of The State Bar of California were found to be exposed to the public and to have been republished on Judyrecords.com, a website that aggregates over 630 million public court records.

The sensitive records exposed include the case number, filing date, case type, case status, and respondent and complaining witness names.

Full case records were not disclosed, the State Bar said, and it's not yet clear how many attorney and witness names were revealed. The State Bar, which oversees the licensing of attorneys in the US state of California, also expressed concern that other government entities may be affected.

"We believe the issue is broader than the State Bar, because it appears that confidential records from other jurisdictions are appearing on the site as well," the State Bar said on its privacy breach update page.

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Web Surrogate--NY Courts

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https://websurrogates.nycourts.gov/

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WebSurrogate provides information on estate proceedings and other filings within New York State Surrogate's Courts. WebSurrogate is a free service that allows you to search files, retrieve documents, and view historical records that are considered to be public information.

Available Search Options

Find Surrogate's Court files by Party Name, narrow your search by date of death. View file history and associated documents.

Find Surrogate's Court files by file number. View file history and associated documents.

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Find historical Surrogate's Court records (Old Indexes) by file number or file name. View images of available file records.

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Browse and view available images of pages from Surrogate's Court index books.

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Find records for Wills Filed For Safekeeping with a Surrogate's Court by Testator name. View a list of matching Will records held at a Surrogate's Court. Wills Filed For Safekeeping are not available for public view.


*Not all Surrogate's Courts have these records available online.

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The Long Crusade of Clarence and Ginni Thomas - The New York Times

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The Supreme Court justice and his wife battled for years for a more conservative America. New reporting shows how far she was willing to go after Donald Trump's 2020 election loss.

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Karim A.A. Khan, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), released a statement Friday commenting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and acknowledging the ICC's jurisdiction over possible war crimes in Ukraine.

Khan affirmed that his office is closely monitoring the situation, adding that the ICC has jurisdiction over "any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within the territory of Ukraine since 20 February 2014." Ukraine's parliament granted the ICC jurisdiction over such matters in 2015 when it passed a declaration addressing "crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by senior officials of the Russian Federation."

The statement makes it clear that the ICC has power to prosecute anyone who commits, orders, or incites such crimes.

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Refunds | Internal Revenue Service

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Tax Time Guide: Use the Where's My Refund? tool, IRS2Go app to check refund status

Remind your clients that the fastest and easiest way to check on tax refunds is by using the Where's My Refund? tool on IRS.gov or through the IRS2Go app. This article is also available in Spanish.


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What Lawyers Need To Know About Cannabis--Above the Law

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Live Webinar:
Date: March 31, 2022
Time: 1pm ET / 10am PT

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In this webinar, they will cover:

  • Emerging policy developments and forward-looking trends
  • How to support your clients on cannabis-related matters
  • How to provide services to "plant-touching" businesses
  • The risks and rewards cannabis may pose for law firms
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BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS

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Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the state's child protective agency Tuesday to investigate parents who provide medical treatments to their transgender children.

Abbott acted after Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a Feb. 18 opinion saying treatment such as puberty-suppressing drugs, hormones and sterilization can constitute child abuse.

The New York Times, the Washington Post and KERA News are among the publications with coverage.

Abbott's directive was in a Feb. 22 letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, with copies to the Texas Medical Board and other agencies.

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Former President Donald Trump and his two kids--business executives Don Jr., and Ivanka--must sit down with New York investigators and face questions about potential bank fraud, tax dodging, and shady real estate values.

New York State Judge Arthur F. Engoron issued his order on Thursday afternoon shortly following a two-hour court hearing in which lawyers for the Trumps did their best to smear the state's attorney general in what could be their last-ditch effort to avoid potentially damning testimony.


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If Russia Invades Ukraine, TikTok Will See It Up Close | WIRED

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ON THE SNOWY roads near Kursk, tanks and military equipment stop traffic. Videos from around the Russian city--roughly 100 miles from the border with Ukraine--show cars waiting in line to cross train tracks being used to transport tanks from one place to the next. Dozens of military vehicles have been filmed parked together. And shaky footage shows tanks rumbling across snowy ground alongside a busy road. All of these records have one thing in common: They were shared on TikTok.




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"There is a lot of data out there," says Benjamin Strick, investigations director at the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR), a nonprofit organization that focuses on countering influence operations. The CIR team, along with other open source investigators, have been busy verifying and mapping videos of troop movements in Russia and Belarus for several weeks, painstakingly comparing landmarks in video footage with satellite images and other official data to confirm their authenticity. The CIR's map of verified videos plots the movements of military equipment and troops all around Ukraine's eastern flanks. In January, the CIR mapped 79 pieces of footage; in February, it has verified 166 videos so far.

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Professional Responsibility for the Animal Lawyer--Animal Legal Defense Fund

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The legal system poses many challenges and dilemmas for attorneys to navigate, and animal law issues can bring unique variations that are often not considered in usual discussions. Join us for a special CLE event, as Russ Mead leads attendees through a hypothetical scenario detailing what to do, what not to do, and what to look out for as an animal lawyer. The Model Code of Professional Responsibility will be used. Following the ethics presentation, Animal Legal Defense Fund Pro Bono Manager Taylor Waters will discuss how to get involved with our pro bono network, types of work that volunteer attorneys perform, and the benefits of membership. English closed caption subtitles will be available.

This webinar has been approved for 1 hour of ethics credit by the Oregon State Bar Association. A certificate of attendance will be provided via email after the webinar. Most states accept credits from other mandatory CLE states such as Oregon, but please check with your local bar association to confirm your state's reciprocity and reporting rules.

 (Chris Libonati | clibonati@syracuse.com)

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People sell and shop for marijuana and marijuana-laced products on a recent weekend at the Farmer's Market presented by The CNY Lounge in Syracuse. It is one of a number of gray markets that have popped after the state legalized possession of marijuana but have not come up for rules on selling it.

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US District Court NYND (@USDCNYND) / Twitter

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Please note that the Northern District of New York is now on Twitter. Please follow us to obtain court related news and information.  Follow us at @USDCNYND - https://www.twitter.com/USDCNYND


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Please note that case related information will not be posted to Twitter.

Are You Being Tracked by an AirTag? Here's How to Check | WIRED

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WHEN THE AIRTAG launched in 2021, Apple's Bluetooth tracker with ultra-wideband was lauded as a step toward the future of augmented reality and a great way to find everyday objects, like your lost TV remote. Cybersecurity experts expressed concern that the tracking device would be exploited by stalkers. As we get closer to AirTag's one-year anniversary, those warnings appear prescient.


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Are You Being Tracked by an AirTag? Here's How to Check | WIRED

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WHEN THE AIRTAG launched in 2021, Apple's Bluetooth tracker with ultra-wideband was lauded as a step toward the future of augmented reality and a great way to find everyday objects, like your lost TV remote. Cybersecurity experts expressed concern that the tracking device would be exploited by stalkers. As we get closer to AirTag's one-year anniversary, those warnings appear prescient.


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NEW YORK - A federal district court in New York on Wednesday evening ordered the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals to establish an online library of its unpublished opinions - the result of a settlement between the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) and the U.S. Department of Justice. By giving immigrants and their lawyers full access to the Board's opinions, the settlement will allow them to fight removal and other adverse actions with the same knowledge of case law that attorneys representing the government already have. Public Citizen Litigation Group served as lead counsel for NYLAG in the case, along with NYLAG's own lawyers.

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IR-2022-31, February 9, 2022

WASHINGTON -- As part of ongoing efforts to provide additional help for people during this period, the IRS announced today the suspension of more than a dozen additional letters, including the mailing of automated collection notices normally issued when a taxpayer owes additional tax, and the IRS has no record of a taxpayer filing a tax return.


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The IRS announced the suspension of more than a dozen additional letters, including balance due notices and unfiled tax return notices. The IRS entered this filing season with several million original and amended returns filed by individuals and businesses that have not been processed due to challenges of the historic pandemic and is taking this step to help avoid confusion for taxpayers and tax professionals. These automatic notices have been temporarily stopped until the backlog is worked through.


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Historically, the United States systemically excluded women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) from land ownership, wealth accumulation, and legal assistance. As a result, these marginalized groups could not transfer wealth generationally, which fed into our current wealth gap:

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Estate-planning attorneys can help with this wealth gap by helping less-served communities transfer and protect their wealth. Yes, estate planning can be overwhelming. Talking about death, planning for incapacitation, navigating taxes, and protecting your child is not an easy discussion. Estate-planning lawyers must learn how to have this conversation with the lens of cultural humility. For example, a bilingual or multilingual client may need a professional translator to help them understand the documents in their native tongue. Because many marginalized communities haven't had a tradition of using estate planning, they are not immediately aware of how it works. (And this is independent of socioeconomic status!)


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BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS

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An 87-year-old town court justice in New York has resigned amid an ethics investigation into allegations that he encouraged a minor to have sex with his teenage son.

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced the resignation of George K. Wittlinger of the Ancram Town Court in Columbia County, New York, in a Feb. 8 news release. He has agreed never to seek judicial office in the future.

The New York PostLaw.comHudsonValley360.com and Syracuse.com coverage.

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Moral rot in celebrity academia - Lawyers, Guns & Money

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Three graduate students filed a lawsuit against Harvard on Tuesday alleging the school ignored years of sexual harassment and retaliation by professor John L. Comaroff, who was placed on unpaid leave last month.

The suit, filed by three graduate students in the Anthropology Department, alleges that Harvard mishandled Title IX complaints and allowed Comaroff to intimidate students who threatened to report him, including the plaintiffs.

The suit -- filed by Margaret G. Czerwienski, Lilia M. Kilburn, and Amulya Mandava -- charges that Comaroff committed physical and verbal sexual harassment, including unwanted kissing and groping. In the 65-page filing, the students took sharp aim at Harvard, which they allege "watched" as Comaroff retaliated against accusers and "allowed its investigatory process to be used in service of Professor Comaroff's campaign of professional blacklisting."

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This week on Eagle Eye, hosts Eamon and Jack interviewed Senator Doug Jones, the former U.S. Senator of Alabama, a visiting professor at BC Law School, and President Joe Biden's recent selection for sherpa of the Supreme Court nominee.


Listen to find out more about Senator Jones' experience prosecuting the two unconvicted Ku Klux Klan members who led the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, his passion for improving polling equality for eligible voters, and his approach to teaching his class "The US Senate Today: How it Works, Why it Doesn't" at BC Law. Thank you for listening!

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NEW YORK -- Civil rights groups sued over its constitutionality. State legislatures are studying its efficacy. San Francisco declared it antithetical to democracy.

But the mayor of the nation's most populous city is fully embracing the use of facial recognition technology by the police and is now exploring a dramatic expansion in how it is used.

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On Monday afternoon, the Supreme Court crushed yet another key component of the Voting Rights Act, halting a lower court order that required Alabama to redraw its egregious racial gerrymander. The court's intervention in Merrill v. Milligan was so radically unjustified that Chief Justice John Roberts--an architect of the judicial attack on voting rights--dissented, alongside the three liberals. The court's order indicates that the five ultraconservative justices are preparing to dismantle the VRA's guarantee against gerrymanders that dilute the voting strength of Black Americans. Indeed, by interceding so aggressively in Merrill, these far-right justices have effectively nullified this guarantee for the current redistricting cycle.

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By Christopher Dunn

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In an 8-1 decision written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, liberal and conservative justices agreed that the Court of Appeals' position that prosecutors were free to introduce hearsay evidence without an opportunity to cross-examine if the defense had created a "misleading impression" violated the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause.

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As part of a larger effort to help people during this year's filing season, there will be special Saturday hours at many Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) across the country. Visit IRS.gov to see which TACs will be open and their Saturday schedules. 

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5 tips for new lawyers who want to go solo--ABA Journal

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BY MICHAEL E. RUBINSTEIN

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Ten years of practicing law is an appropriate time to contemplate the past and reflect on what worked and what didn't. If you're a young lawyer or law student reading this, I hope my experiences as a solo practitioner and the following lessons can help you as you begin to make your way in the legal world.

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A Fight Over the Right to Repair Cars Turns Ugly | WIRED

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Subaru disabled the telematics system and associated features on new cars registered in Massachusetts last year as part of a spat over a right-to-repair ballot measure approved, overwhelmingly, by the state's voters in 2020. The measure, which has been held up in the courts, required automakers to give car owners and independent mechanics more access to data about the car's internal systems.

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US right to repair bills aim to make ownership great again • The Register

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The Agriculture Right to Repair Act [PDF], a US Senate bill introduced on Tuesday by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), aims to force farm equipment makers to provide parts, documentation, software, and tools for repairs to third parties on reasonable terms.

The Freedom to Repair Act, introduced to the House of Representatives on Wednesday by US Representatives Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Victoria Spartz (R-IN), promises to "legalize repairing what you own or taking it to the repair shop of your choice" by revising copyright law.


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Contact: media@aldf.org

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service(APHIS) to demand enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) where users on YouTube, TikTok, and other social media platforms exhibit animals without proper licensing. The complaint cites prolific online exhibitors residing in Florida, Ohio, and Texas, including Jacob Feder, 'Rico Exotic,' 'CatAleah,' and Taylor Nicole Dean, all of whom exhibit private collections of animals to millions of people for hefty sums of money, without required APHIS oversight. The complaint asks APHIS to prohibit the social media personalities from exhibiting animals unless and until they receive AWA licenses and comply with minimum standards outlined in the law for animal welfare standards.

The AWA requires that individuals who exhibit a certain number of warm-blooded animals for compensation to be licensed. The licensing process requires individuals to subject themselves to an inspection by APHIS to determine whether they comply with AWA regulations, which include adequate veterinary care and species-specific standards for enclosure type, species separation, sanitation, water access, and diet. However, many individuals are currently exhibiting across social media platforms, for millions of viewers and compensation, without accountability for the treatment of animals.

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New York Appellate Digest--Bruce Freeman

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Bruce Freeman

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The "Third Department Quarterly Reversal Report October - December 2021" is up. The Reversal Report is an organized compilation of the summaries of selected decisions, mostly reversals, released by the Third Department and posted on the New York Appellate Digest website October 1 - December 31, 2021. The entries in the Table of Contents link to the summaries which link to the decisions on the official New York Courts website. Click on "Table of Contents" in the header on any page to return there. Right click on the citations to keep your place in the Reversal Report.

The links to the Quarterly Reversal Reports are near the top of the Home Page.

Click here to go to the site.

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