May 2010

Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization
Report, entitled "Corporate Bankruptcies: Trends in Asset Sales and Liquidations," considering how the global credit crisis of late 2007 and the rise of U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings have affected certain aspects of asset sales under section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The report notes that many debtors are increasingly choosing to pursue asset sales under section 363 but concludes after detailed analysis that this trend is not worrisome. 

Civil Rights
Domestic Violence

Report expressing support for A.1055-B/S.4460-A which would amend New York State’s Human Rights Law to prohibit housing discrimination against victims of domestic violence by adding victims of domestic violence to the list of protected groups.  Domestic violence victims often have to remain in an abusive relationship in order to have a place to live or risk homelessness. This bill would prevent landlords from engaging in a variety of discriminatory housing practices and allow victims of domestic violence to separate from the violent situation in a safe manner.   

Commercial Law and Uniform State Laws

Report supporting the Joint Review Committee for Article 9’s proposed amendments to UCC Article 9 Sections 9-316(h) and 9-322(b)(3) & (h). 

Consumer Affairs
Civil Courts

Letter expressing support for New York City Council Intro. 6-A which would amend the laws governing process servers in New York City and help ameliorate many of the problems inherent in the process serving industry.  The provisions in the bill would allow for a private right of action against process servers, implement new global positioning system requirements, require that process servers take an examination to obtain a license, and require that the Department of Consumer Affairs produce educational materials for distribution to licensed process servers regarding process serving laws and regulations.

Council on Judicial Administration
Letter to Governor Paterson and the New York State Legislature urging that even in the face of current economic challenges it is essential that the Judiciary Budget be approved.  It provides the minimum funding to ensure that it can fulfill its public mission to see that justice is served for everyone.

International Human Rights

Letter to the President of the European Commission expressing concern with Serbia’s application to join the European Union. The letter takes no position on the admission of Serbia to the EU but urges that admission not take place unless and until Serbia has cooperated fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia which includes the arrest and surrender of Bosnian war fugitive Ratko Mladic to the Tribunal. 

Amicus Brief: Arar v. Ashcroft, filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief argues that the failure of the Second Circuit of the Court of Appeals to hold the defendants accountable for the alleged constitutional violations, instead deferring to the executive branch’s broad assertions of national security, erodes the constitutional guarantees for citizens and all who come into contact with U.S. government officials. The brief urges that the judicial branch must determine whether the defendant executive officers allegedly violated the Constitution, and, if so, provide a remedy.

Land Use Planning and Zoning
Report--"The Role of Community Benefit Agreements in New York City’s Land Use Process"--summarizes the structure, history, and political and legal context of Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs); briefly reviews the history of New York City’s debates over deal-making in land use controversies over the past few decades; evaluates the benefits and drawbacks various stakeholders perceive CBAs to offer or threaten; surveys some of the thorny legal and policy questions presented by CBAs; and outlines a number of recommendations to the City.

Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals
Letter expressing opposition to NASA-funded research protocol, Ground-Based Studies in Neurobehavioral Biology (Bergman Protocol), which calls for the exposure of 30 live squirrel monkeys to high doses of space radiation. The letter argues that the Bergman Protocol violates NASA research protocol compliance standards as well as various sections of the Animal Welfare Act and urges that the study not be approved.

Statement condemning the attacks on Department of Justice Lawyers who while in private practice represented Guantanamo detainees or filed amicus briefs in their support.  The statement argues that all persons no matter how unpopular have a fundamental right to representation by counsel and that lawyers have a duty to provide such representation and to do so on a pro bono basis where such persons cannot afford counsel. The suggestion that doing so disqualifies these lawyers from representing the Department of Justice or any detainee or national security related matters is a misrepresentation.

Pro Bono and Legal Services
Letter to Governor Paterson urging that adequate funding be provided for IOLA and civil legal services in the 2010-2011 Judiciary and Executive budgets.

Professional Responsibility
Report on Conflicts of Interest in Multi-Jurisdictional Practice: Proposed Amendments to New York Rules of Professional Conduct 8.5 (Disciplinary Authority and Choice of Law) and 1.10 (Imputation of Conflicts of Interest).  The Report addresses certain anomalies in the New York Rules of Professional Conduct relating to multi-jurisdictional practice, particularly in the context of concurrent representations being handled by different lawyers affiliated in a firm and practicing in more than one jurisdiction.  In particular the report: 1) identifies significant differences between the New York Rule 8.5 and Rule 8.5 of the Model Rules, 2) offers proposed amendments to New York Rule 8.5, 3) explores the interplay between New York Rule 8.5 and New York Rule 1.10, and 4) makes recommendations for amendments to both New York Rules 8.5 and 1.10.

Real Property Law
Report expressing opposition to A.9441/S.6288 and A.9445-A/S.6290 which would create a state-run title insurance system in New York.  The report agues that a government-run title insurance company would undermine the provision of title insurance services in New York and have a number of serious ramifications for the title insurance and real estate industries in New York.

Sex and Law
Report expressing support for A.7670/S.4429 which would enable certain persons to vacate their convictions for prostitution-related offenses that resulted from their coerced involvement in the sex trades or some other form of trafficking in persons.  The report notes a gap exists in New York law with respect to the relief afforded victims of sex trafficking.  The bill would fill this gap and facilitate such victim’s reintegration into society.

Trusts, Estates and Surrogate’s Court
Report expressing opposition to A.2873/S.2971 which would require prior disclosure of income, assets and financial obligations of decedents in order to enforce a surviving spouse’s waiver of right of election.  The report disapproves of the bill for several reasons including: 1) it would not afford additional protection beyond that implicit in the current knowing-and-intelligent-waiver standard to spouses waiving the right of election, and 2) it would make litigation more likely by allowing spouses to litigate over what constitutes “fair and reasonable” disclosure independently of whether there was a knowing and intelligent waiver. 

Trusts, Estates and Surrogates Courts
Estate and Gift Taxation

Letter in support of budget bill A.9710-A/S.6610-A which would amend NY Tax Law § 951(a) in relation to the amount of the unified credit against the estate tax.  The proposed legislation addresses the unintended consequences of the repeal of the federal estate tax by amending N.Y. Tax Law § 951(a) to fix the applicable exclusion amount for New York estate tax purposes at $1 million independent of Congressional action on the federal estate tax.


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