#621 Radicalizing America One Murdered Black Man At A Time

April 8, 2015

21 Post Depositphotos_1831077_XS.jpgI've been taking a very long break from blogging for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is that I've been caught up in the bizarre dynamic, over the past year or so, of much more visible police executions of unarmed black men. Also, I've completely lost faith in our system of justice, on every level, from the almighty U.S. Supreme Court, right on down to the local criminal court and family court. It's not a good thing when an attorney stops believing in the legal system he's been practicing within for the past 23 years. But that is precisely what has happened. And I'm certain you will sense this in all of my future blog posts. This is not the country I was born into. It's a place far worse.

The American system of justice is broken and no one seems to give a rat's ass about fixing it and making it work. And it's not only the justice system. It's a cancer that goes directly to the core of the American spirit. Something is horribly wrong with America, from top to bottom. And, sadly, I suspect that it's only going to get worse.

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#620 Burn. It. Down.

November 25, 2014

620 Post Depositphotos_1145097_XS.jpgBurn it down. That's right. Burn it the @#$% down. At least, that is what I would be saying if I were young and black and angry. Why? Because my black life could be snuffed out in a moment, for any reason, at any time, by an entitled white man wearing a badge and brandishing a gun. And not a goddamned thing would be done about it. Not. One. God. Damned. Thing. A trial? Seriously? If they can't hand down an indictment when a white man -wearing a badge and brandishing a gun, mind you - murders a black man in cold blood, in broad daylight, with multiple witnesses, and all sorts of photography and videography, then what the hell kind of society are we living in? We're living in the kind of society that is daring its afflicted to do something about it, a kind of society that is begging to be burned to the ground.

That's right.

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#619 Profiles In Douchebaggery

October 30, 2014

619 Post.JPGI had planned on posting this on Monday, but my blog interface got a bit weird and The IT People had to get involved, so forgive me if the topic the post covers already feels like old news - because it is. D'oh!

While on vacation in the Adirondacks this summer, we visited the wonderful Village of Lake Placid. And while walking around the Olympic facilities, I happened upon a seemingly bizarre sign which I felt compelled to photograph. You see it here.

"Trampoline is canceled until further notice." Weird, right?

While I am sure there must have been some sort of context for this sign, I did not immediately notice it. Now, as a kid, I remember spending DAYS bouncing around on various trampolines at friends' houses. I mean, c'mon, who doesn't love a trampoline?

But there seemed to be an ominous tone to the sign as well - someone, somewhere simply determined that there was not going to be anymore trampoline. Ever. Until further notice. And whoever determined that this was so was apparently so far above the law that they didn't even see the need to give a reason or even state their name.

When I see the word "trampoline", I just think "exuberant fun". I think happy thoughts. Hell, why not just replace the word "trampoline" with other fun words or phrases like "being a kid", "unstructured time", "freedom" or, say, "Constitution". Yeah, let's have some fun by replacing "trampoline" with any of those words or phrases. Because that's the kind of fun we've been having, as citizens of the states of New York and New Jersey, for the past few days: "Constitution is cancelled until further notice."

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#618 Criminals With Badges, Janitors With Guns

September 30, 2014

618 Post Depositphotos_10214364_xs.jpgSo, yeah, I'm back. I went off the grid way back in the middle of summer and it felt so good that I didn't want to come back. I even unplugged from the news. Well, for a while at least. And, when I did come back, I was too angry about the news to be nice. So, I wrote a good many drafts and I deleted a good many drafts. I wanted to get back to writing about caselaw but I was too numb to do so. Whenever I would sit down to write about the latest and greatest case, my mind would wander and I would keep coming back to the two things that have happened this summer that I find so deeply disturbing that I simply cannot move on without addressing them, however lightly. So ... I will address them here: criminals with badges and janitors with guns.

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#617 In Memoriam: June 2014 Deaths

July 2, 2014

617 Post-1 Depositphotos_2071841_XS.jpgSorry for the lack of blog posts of late. Professional obligations and an illness kept me from posting much in June. Hopefully, with the holiday weekend soon upon us, I can get back into the swing of things.

Some months, there seem to be a handful of musicians that leave us. This month, it's mostly actors.

145. Ann B. Davis, 88, May 5, 1926 - June 1, 2014:
Actress; American television actress; subdural hematoma after a fall

Alice has died! No, not that Alice. The Alice from "The Brady Bunch". And if you have to ask what "The Brady Bunch" is, then there's simply no help for you. If you grew up in the 60s and 70s, then you grew up watching this show religiously. She obviously appeared in other shows, but she ultimately got typecast as Alice. Here's something about her that I did not know: she was born right here in Schenectady (though her family later moved to Erie, Pennsylvania).

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#616 In Memoriam: May 2014 Deaths

June 19, 2014

616 Post-1 Depositphotos_2695492_XS.jpgI realize that most of my "heroes" were men. But that doesn't mean that none of them were women. However, for the time being, as James Brown might say, it's a man's world, like it or not. And, if you haven't already noticed, as a kid I probably watched way too much television and listened to thousands of hours of music. That's right: my heroes tend to be of the celluloid or jukebox persuasion.

140. Jessica Cleaves, 65, December 10, 1948 - May 2, 2014:
Musician; American vocalist and songwriter; unknown

She was the one of the vocalists of the group The Friends of Distinction, most famous for their hit, "Grazing In The Grass", from 1969. Once the group disbanded, in 1975, Cleaves joined Earth, Wind and Fire, just as the band was hitting its peak with songs like "Shining Star". From there, she moved on to perform with the amazing and outrageous Parliament-Funkadelic.

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#615 The Retainer Agreement

June 3, 2014

615 Post Depositphotos_2400666_XS.jpgAnd now, we come to the third document that my potential clients read - the retainer agreement. This is the newly-streamlined version and it only runs six pages. One can easily read it within five minutes. Over time, I've found that potential clients were much more concerned about the various costs of legal representation than anything else. Makes sense.

And, over time, I've come to realize that the best way to give my clients the biggest bang for their collective bucks is to do something that might, on its face, seem counter-intuitive: I've decided to cap most of my legal fees. Not all, but most.

Think about it: how tough can it be to represent someone in Family Court? I've been an attorney for almost 22 years and I've been a family law practitioner for over 12 years. I think I now have enough experience that I can achieve a settlement for my clients, on reasonable terms, for a guaranteed maximum fee. And, in the event that the legal matter is incapable of settling on terms that my client thinks are reasonable, then I will charge a specific amount for each and every day, or part thereof, of trial.

My billing rate is extremely reasonable - and now my retainers are as well. Take a look ...

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#614 The Statement of Client's Rights and Responsibilities

June 2, 2014

614 Post Depositphotos_2400666_XS.jpgThe next thing any potential client reads, upon entering my office, is a simple three page document called the "Statement of Client's Rights and Responsibilities". It is so important that it is provided to the potential client prior to any discussions regarding the retainer agreement.

As you might guess, this document is also prescribed by the Rules of Court, namely in Part 1400, specifically section 1400.2.

This document is, like the Statement of Client's Rights, quite commonsensical and self-evident. Still, I always find it helpful to reacquaint myself with this document from time to time, to keep it fresh in my mind.

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#613 The Statement of Client's Rights

June 2, 2014

613 Post Depositphotos_2400666_XS.jpgThe first thing any potential client reads, upon entering my office, is a simple one page, ten clause document called the "Statement of Client's Rights". It is so important that it is both framed and posted on my law office's wall and it is placed on coffee tables throughout the office as well. I also make a point of handing it out to each and every person who enters my office.

Why is this document posted on the wall of my law office? Simple: I am required by the Rules of Court to do so. Specifically, Part 1210 of the Rules of Court spells this out in detail:

"Every attorney with an office located in the State of New York shall insure that there is posted in that office, in a manner visible to clients of the attorney, a statement of client's rights in the form set forth below. Attorneys in offices that provide legal services without fee may delete from the statement those provisions dealing with fees. The statement shall contain the following ..."

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#612 Third Department Caselaw Round-Up for May 30, 2013

May 26, 2014

607 Post 05-30-12 Third Department May.pngI don't know what it is lately with all these short decisions. Overall, the Third Department seems to be trending towards writing shorter decisions (like the Fourth Department). In the case at hand, the shortness of the decision is due entirely to the mootness of the appeal.

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#611 Third Department Caselaw Round-Up for May 30, 2014

May 25, 2014

606 Post 05-30-12 Third Department May.pngWhile sex offender cases are very often affirmed on appeal, every now and again they get reversed on appeal, as this one was. However, this is not so much a win for the defendant as it is an administrative adjustment to the underlying judicial determination.

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#610 In Memoriam: April 2014 Deaths

May 24, 2014

565 Post-6 Depositphotos_2071841_XS.jpgWe've got a handful of people who left us in April. For me, the biggest surprise was Bob Hoskins, who seems to have died too young. In 2014, 71 is not very old in the overall scheme of things. Aside from Mickey Rooney and Bob Hoskins, the other three personalities are probably not well-known to most. But they made their own marks nonetheless.

135. Mickey Rooney, 93, September 23, 1920 - April 6, 2014:
Actor; American actor; natural causes

Here's yet another person who, had I not known better, I would have sworn was already dead. Allegedly, this man was the very last of the vaudevillians, having started his career at the age of six in 1926. Having peaked early in life, in 1939, he was nonetheless a Hollywood survivor. He was also a man who was a star's star, beloved and admired by many of his fellow actors. I first came to notice and love him, as a kid, from watching many an old movie on rainy weekends. I also loved him as Dingy Bell in that craziest of movies, "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", from 1963.

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#609 H.O.K.A.R.R.: High-Octane Kick-Ass Rock 'N' Roll From 1973

May 23, 2014

622 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgI thought I had wrapped this series up, having explored most of the music I'd been listening to back in 1972 and 1973. But I forgot to leave you with the highlights from 1973, as I had done with 1972.

In those now faraway days, a lifetime ago really, Christmas vacation and January would become this wonderful time of reviewing the music for the year and then ranking it in the order of our respective tastes. And while the rankings were purely subjective (there were certain artists we loved, and certain artists we hated), I really am amazed at how the lists have held up over the years. It blows me away that forty years later, I find that my musical tastes have pretty much remained the same. How weird is that?

Yet, then again, maybe it's not so weird after all. I mean, I listened to all this great music in my formative years, thereby locking it forever into place in my memory. And it's not just the fact that the music is so wonderful, it's the fact that the memories associated with that music are probably even more wonderful. Memories of a world that no longer exists.

Another thing: you might think some of these songs hail from 1972 or 1974 - and you would be right. However, they're included here because they peaked in 1973. In other words, these songs are here, in 1973, because they reached their highest position on the Top 100 chart in 1973.

Also, just remember, this list was put together by a couple of knuckleheads who fell in love with music at a young age. Just imagine your 10-year old self creating this list. We'd listen to maybe 300 new Top 100 songs in a given year and winnow them down to the absolute best songs, according to a complicated formula. Looking back, I think we mostly got it right. What do you think?

And listen to those first three songs. Chills, baby. Chills. We knew what we loved.

My favorite song? Impossible. However, for pure weirdness, there is one song here that stands head and shoulders above the rest. I'd tell you but ... I'm so scared your little head would come off in my hands!!! PLAY. IT. AT. ELEVEN!!!

Know my songs, know me. Check out The Soundtrack Of My Life From 1973.

You're welcome.

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#608 Third Department Caselaw Round-Up for May 23, 2013

May 22, 2014

605 Post 05-23-12 Third Department May.pngSeems there is a surfeit of short criminal law cases to cover. Not to worry: longer cases will be coming from the looks of the decisions from May 30, 2013.

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#607 Third Department Caselaw Round-Up for May 23, 2013

May 21, 2014

604 Post 05-23-12 Third Department May.pngI analyze DWI decisions if only because they tend to be the most colorful and humorous. Very often, the fact pattern found in such cases makes you laugh out loud at the asininity of the defendant. Here, though, the Third Department completely gutted the fact pattern from its decision.

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