Around the Bar
Texas Tech School of Law Takes Top Prize at Moot Court Competition
The Texas Tech School of Law won the final round of the 61st Annual National Moot Court Competition, held Thursday night at the City Bar. The winning team was comprised of Alexis Butler, Daniel Durell and Jason Jordon. The University of Tennessee College of Law was the runner-up team, featuring Amy Rao Mohan, G. William Perry and J. David Watkins. Pictured above from left: Gregory P. Joseph, President, American College of Trial Lawyers; winners Daniel Durell, Alexis Butler and Jason Jordan; and Sandra Lynch, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Read more here.
Recent Committee Activity
Definition of Fiduciary Under ERISA
In a letter to U.S. Department of Labor, the Committee on Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation offered comments on the proposed rule issued by the Department defining the term “fiduciary” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The letter states that the proposed rule, which represents one of the most significant developments in the regulatory framework governing ERISA fiduciaries since the statute was first exacted, is too broad as it would classify as fiduciaries many service providers who should not reasonably be regarded as such and would increase the cost of managing plans that are subject to ERISA.
Gubernatorial Transition - Civil Rights of New Yorkers
In a letter to Governor Cuomo, the Committee on Civil Rights highlighted important steps New York State can take to modernize and enforce New York’s civil and human rights laws including: expand the classes protected under the Human Rights Law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, citizenship or immigration status, domestic violence victim status, and source of income; expand the relief available under the Human Rights Law, including punitive damages, civil penalties, and attorney¡¦s fees; and rescind New York¡¦s participation in the Secure Communities program, which involves coordination between law enforcement and immigration authorities.
Gubernatorial Transition - Domestic Violence Issues
The Committee on Domestic Violence outlined some of the key issues relating to domestic violence in New York State in a letter to Governor Cuomo, including: prohibiting discrimination against domestic violence victims in housing, with the definition of “victim of domestic violence” being consistent with the definitions currently used throughout New York State law; requiring employers to provide victims of domestic violence with reasonable accommodation to attend to legal matters or other needs associated with the domestic violence; and allowing victims of domestic violence who are currently serving time in prison as a direct result of the abuse they have suffered to be eligible for merit time.
City Bar in the News
New York Law Journal, February 3, 2011
Republicans Appear Skeptical at Halligan Confirmation Hearing
Caitlin Halligan followed an often-used script today during her confirmation hearing for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, telling a Senate committee that if confirmed, she would defer to U.S. Supreme Court precedent and to the Framers’ intent. But her hour-long testimony made clear that Republicans are laying the ground for possible opposition to her nomination….Senator Jon Kyl, R.-Ariz., questioned Ms. Halligan about a 185-page document produced in 2004 by a committee of the New York City Bar. The document attacks Mr. Bush’s system of indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, and Ms. Halligan is listed on a page as a member of the 39-person committee that produced it….
New York Law Journal, February 2, 2011
Cuomo Urges Judiciary to Reduce Spending
Samuel W. Seymour, president of the New York City Bar, said in a statement after the governor’s presentation that state courts have been “pushed to the brink” in trying to dispense justice despite the recession. “To address this crisis, the Judiciary 2011-2012 budget provides funding for basic access to justice in cases involving fundamental human needs, including for low-income litigants,” Mr. Seymour said. “The city bar urges the Legislature to enact the Judiciary’s proposed 2011-2012 budget in its entirety.”
New York Journal, February 2, 2011
Bronx Acting Justice Moved to Brooklyn Civil Court
Patricia Anne Williams is a Criminal Court judge who has been an acting Supreme Court justice for all but three of her 24 years on the bench. She had handled a mix of cases in the Bronx, including medical malpractice and negligence suits….In 2009, the Bronx Bar Association by a narrow vote recommended against her re-appointment to Criminal Court, according to Carlos M. Calderon-Homs, who was president of the association at the time….The New York City Bar split with the Bronx Bar, recommending Justice Williams’ reappointment, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg named her to a third term.
New York Law Journal, January 31, 2011
Delegates Back Changes in Disciplining Judges
After spirited debate, the New York State Bar Association’s governing body on Friday adopted several recommendations advanced by the New York County Lawyers’ Association that would alter the Commission on Judicial Conduct¡¦s procedures for disciplining judges….The other item attracting comment was the proposal to raise the standard of proof. New York City Bar delegate Alan Rothstein said judges have a “special public trust” that they adhere to through the use of the current standard of proof in the commission’s rules. “Nothing could be more essential than for the public to have confidence in the judiciary,” Mr. Rothstein said. “When there is an alleged transgression, we don’t think it should be approached as most proceedings, where an individual’s property or personal rights are at stake. Rather, the question should be placed in the context of the public interest. We believe the standard of proof currently in the rules strikes the proper balance between the public's interest and the judiciary’s interest.”
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