New York State

No one has getting indicted on their bucket list. No one sends word of their indictment to their alumni magazine.

That said, if you’re going to get indicted, it’s a whole lot better to be charged in state court in New York than in federal court anywhere else in the country, in at least one way.

The criminal case about the implosion of Dewey & LeBoeuf shows why. Last week, the folks charged in the Dewey meltdown filed a number of motions to dismiss the indictment. Everyone but Zachary Warren filed an omnibus motion to dismiss. Steve DiCarmine filed his own motion that was so, well, something that it contained Above the Law’s quote of the day. Zachary Warren filed a separate motion. There’s some great stuff in all of the pleadings about the government’s case.

What’s perhaps less obvious to those of us who do white-collar criminal defense but don’t normally practice in state court in New York is that, according to the law as set out in these papers, New York state is a magical Shangri-la of due process compared to federal court.

How?

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Zephyr Teachout

I know I’m an underdog. But New Yorkers love underdogs!

– Professor Zephyr Teachout of Fordham Law School, who is running for governor of New York with Professor Tim Wu of Columbia Law School as her running mate.

(More about the professors’ foray into politics, after the jump.)

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Do chimpanzees deserve legal personhood? A “first of its kind” lawsuit will ask a court to answer that question. Steven Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, has filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of four chimpanzees.

I will now pause while James Franco auditions for the role of Steven Wise.

I’m not sure what rights chimpanzees (or pets) deserve in our human society — but “zero” seems to me to be the wrong and certainly unenlightened answer. Wise argues that the chimps are being held as prisoners against their will. I don’t think anybody can seriously disagree with that assessment.

But if chimps have a “will,” do they also have rights that we are bound to respect?

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O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! On Friday, California bar exam results came out (and 55.8% of applicants passed, with a pass rate of 68% for first-time takers, meaning that just one stat is up (barely) from last year’s results). And today, we’ve finally got a list of the passage rates for the July 2013 administration of the New York bar exam by law school.

In 2012, more than half of the state’s law schools saw their pass rates take a tumble. In 2013, more than half of the state’s law schools were able to improve their pass rates, and in some cases, by epic proportions. The state’s overall pass rate for first-time takers jumped by two percentage points.

So which law schools’ pass rates climbed, and by how much? And which school sank like a stone?

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It’s Election Day today. Go vote. Go vote now, or make sure you go before the polls close. Whatever you are doing today isn’t as important as participating in your community. Sorry there’s no “president” on the ballot. Instead it’s just a bunch of local officials and local issues that affect your day-to-day life way more than the President of the United States. GO VOTE.

In New York, we’re going to elect a new mayor, I can only hope that Mike Bloomberg actually allows the new guy to take office.

But if you are going to vote in New York, make sure you flip the ballot over and vote on all the propositions. There are some fun things there: should we institute the regressive, idiot tax that is opening a casino? I say yes! We need money and regressive, idiot taxes are the only ones you can pass in this environment.

Gothamist has a good breakdown of all the New York ballot issues. But the one that’s most legally interesting is Proposition 6: raising the mandatory retirement age for judges to 80.

Eighty! That’s having somebody decide the latest issues in eDiscovery who was alive for D-Day.

Of course, judges are in favor of this…

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On Tuesday afternoon, we started receiving tips about the release of the New York Bar results for the July 2013 administration of the exam. We found this to be really odd because it’s not even November yet. In fact, it’s not even Halloween yet. We’ve got to say, the members of the New York Board of Law Examiners have a pretty sick sense of humor if this is their idea of holiday fun.

What kind of frights or delights are in store for New York bar examinees when they open their email? Let’s find out.

Trick or treat…

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Throwing a temper-tantrum in your office is better than throwing one in a parking lot.

I know, I know — when most of you think of “class,” you think of a small Long Island law firm that represents a small-town school district. So I’m sure it’s going to come as a shock to you that one of these Island lawyers engaged in a profanity-laced tirade after a school board meeting, in which he cursed out some parents in a parking lot.

This is Long Island we’re talking about, old sport. Respected Long Island attorneys don’t resort to such ribald language. If “Strong Island” isn’t careful, it’s going to be viewed as no better than the Jersey Shore.

Wait… I’m being told that we’re already there. Oh well, might as well take a look at this video of this lawyer calling somebody’s mom the C-word after a school board meeting….

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* Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer is checking out the big stained dress in the sky. William Ginsburg, RIP. [CNN]

* Hoo boy, North Carolina is trying to opt out of the Constitution. As the article notes, they tried this in the 1860s and it didn’t work out so well. [Lowering the Bar]

* New York state government gets another black eye with a couple of arrests for bribery. [Gothamist]

* Judge Richard Cebull is retiring to spend more time on his racist rants. [Billings Gazette]

* Obama is forfeiting $20,000 in solidarity with sequester victims. An excellent opportunity for right-wing hacks to complain about his vacations, as though Secret Service protection is supposed to be free. [Washington Examiner]

* Ken Cuccinelli is running for governor in a state that voted for Obama twice. So, obviously, he’s making a public show of his fight to reinstate a law used to harass gay people. [Washington Blade]

* Conrad Black, the media mogul who served three years in the federal pen, sits for an interview with California Lawyer magazine. Check it out (and earn California CLE credit). [California Lawyer]

Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.)

It’s hard out here for authors of judicial memoirs who are not named Sonia Sotomayor. Just ask Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.), a federal trial judge in Brooklyn since 1994 and the author of an appealing new book, Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge (affiliate link). In Disrobed, Judge Block describes his surprising rise from small-town Long Island lawyer to Article III aristocracy, where he has presided over cases involving the Crown Heights riots, Kitty Genovese, mob boss Peter Gotti, and other headline-making subjects.

The book has received several favorable notices. Writing in the New York Times, Sam Roberts described Disrobed as an “engaging” book that provides “a rare look behind decision-making on the federal bench.” Over at Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield called the memoir a “well-written,” “easy and quick read,” by a “quite well-regarded” judge. I’ve read the book myself, and I concur with Roberts and Greenfield.

But even though the book has sold well, exceeding the expectations of its publisher, Thomson Reuters, Disrobed hasn’t attained the bestselling status of Justice Sotomayor’s My Beloved World (affiliate link). And this makes Judge Block a little sad, as he confessed to me when I recently visited him in chambers.

Especially because Judge Block came painfully close to what would have been a big, big break….

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Unlike when the New York bar exam results were released in early November, we’re not experiencing a hurricane-induced blackout. But today, some people might wish that they were experiencing a different kind of hurricane-induced blackout (one that involves alcohol, not nature), because we’ve finally got a list of the passage rates for the July 2012 administration of the New York bar exam by law school.

Last year, more than half of the state’s law schools were able to improve their pass rates over the prior year’s results. This year, more than half of the state’s law schools saw a decline in their pass rates, and in some cases, epically so. The state’s pass rate for first-time takers dropped a whole percentage point, due in part to the law schools’ reversal in fortune.

So which law schools’ pass rates tumbled, and by how much?

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