This Week at the City Bar
Join a Committee
Recent Committee Activity
City Bar in the News
This Week at the City Bar
9 AM – 11 AM,
ERISA Litigation: A View From Both Sides of the Bar on Key Developments

12 PM – 2 PM,
Hostage/Crisis Negotiation – Public Affairs Luncheon

8 AM – 10 AM,
New York Environmental Year in Review

6 PM – 9 PM,
Fundamental Concepts in Drafting Contracts: What Most Attorneys Fail to Consider

8:30 AM – 10:15 AM,
Professional Presence: Communicating with Confidence – 2012 Professional Development Workshop Series

9 AM – 11 AM,
Preserving Privileges: Ethical Issues Confronting Insurers Policyholders & Counsel

12:30 PM – 2 PM,
Attorney-Client Privilege and Confidentiality: Challenges with Social Media and E-Communications

7 PM – 9 PM,
Contemplative Lawyers Group

Join a Committee
Want to Serve on a Committee? Now is the Time to Apply

If you’re interested in serving on a City Bar committee, now is the time to apply, as committee members are generally appointed in the spring to begin serving a three-year term in September. If you haven’t thought about committee work, you should; committees are how the City Bar’s work gets done, and joining one can give you great experience while opening up a number of career doors, including some you might not anticipate. A list of the City Bar committees along with a brief description of their activities, where available, and an application form, can be found here.

Recent Committee Activity
Foreclosure Process in New York City Courts
The recent housing crisis and surge of residential mortgage foreclosure actions have had a profound impact on the court system. In a letter to Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, the Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosures (of the Council on Judicial Administration) outlined proposals to help address the challenges facing the court system. The letter recommends that a service-specific conference presided over by judges rather than referees be created as part of a pilot project. This would enhance accountability and efficiency of foreclosure actions and perhaps create incentives to resolve more cases consensually and promptly. Additional recommendations include: cases should be sent to the service-specific parts only after a referee or other presiding official determines they are ready, or where the parties are not negotiating in good faith; cases should not be allowed to linger in either the referee or judicial settlement parts; cases in which the borrower has failed to appear and cases involving vacant properties should be considered for separate tracking; and consideration should be given to whether volunteers might be used to assist borrowers and the court system.

Uganda’s Oil Contracts
In letters to oil companies Total SA, Tullow Oil plc, and CNOOC Limited, the Committees on African Affairs and International Human Rights urged the companies to comply with Uganda’s freedom of information laws and state publicly that they will not object to the release of the full details of the oil production sharing agreement. The letter notes that disclosure of Uganda’s oil contracts is a necessary first step toward more accountable management of the country’s natural resource revenues.

Disclosures Concerning “Conflict Minerals”

In a letter to the SEC, the Committee on International Human Rights offered comments on the proposed changes to the annual reporting requirements of issuers to implement Section 13(p) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which was added by Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act. Section 1502 addresses an emergency humanitarian situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), by requiring disclosures concerning “conflict minerals” in order to deter the use of those minerals to finance armed conflict in the region. The letter tracks earlier comments on Section 13(p), emphasizing the importance of the SEC publishing its rules expeditiously in order to encourage responsible commercial actors to begin purchasing minerals again from the DRC, and makes a number of suggestions concerning covered companies, materials necessary to the functionality or production of merchandise, country of origin, due diligence with respect to supply chains of conflict minerals, armed groups, and DOJ referrals.

Rule of Law in Iran

In a letter to the UN Ambassador from Iran, the Committee on International Human Rights expressed concern at the continuing incarceration of prominent defense lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani. The intimidation and harassment of a lawyer because of the identity of his or her clients is contrary to international standards set forth in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which the U.N. General Assembly adopted without dissent. The letter urges that Iran reaffirm the rights afforded to Iranian lawyers under domestic and international law to practice their profession without governmental interference, and effect the immediate release of Mr. Soltani.

City Bar in the News
New York Law Journal, February 8, 2012

City Bar Announces 2012 Legislative Agenda
Improving access to justice for low-income New Yorkers in civil cases and expanding the use of the state’s DNA database to better investigate crimes and exonerate the wrongly convicted are at the top of the New York City Bar’s legislative priorities for 2012. The group said it would also push for passage of a Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. While laws now forbid discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, the city bar argued that bias based on perceived sexuality or against transgendered individuals is still occurring. The city bar said it would also renew its more than century-old call for state judges to be appointed upon the recommendations of regional committees of legal experts rather than through the convention system still used to select most judicial candidates.

Salon, February 7, 2012

Guantanamo’s Deepening Failure
Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, the sixth and current chief prosecutor for the military commissions, gave a talk to the New York City Bar Association last month. In it, he used the phrase “reformed military commissions” more than three dozen times. Apparently tacking the word “reformed” onto “military commissions” and using it over and over is supposed to erase a decade-long record of failure that has, as then-Sen. Obama said, tarnished “our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law.”

Thomson Reuters, February 6, 2012

City Bar Sets Out Legislative Priorities for 2012
The New York City Bar Association will focus in 2012 on increasing access to the legal system for the poor, adding judges to family and civil courts and consolidating state trial courts, the group said in a wide-ranging report released Monday. The 53-page report is a compilation of the association’s views on a host of issues currently before the state legislature, some of which impact attorneys and the court system directly, and others that do not. Like its statewide counterpart, the New York State Bar Association, the NYCBA is calling on the legislature to pass the Office of Court Administration’s proposed $2.5 billion budget in full…“The budget as proposed is fiscally prudent, ameliorates the harshest consequences of last year’s budget cuts, and helps address vital unmet legal needs of the state’s most vulnerable individuals,” the report reads

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