Around the Bar
City Bar Presents 2011 Stimson Awards
On June 7th, the City Bar presented the 2011 Henry L. Stimson Awards for outstanding Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. From left: Samuel W. Seymour, President, New York City Bar; David Bitkower, EDNY, Criminal Division; Claire S. Kedeshian, EDNY, Civil Division; Sharon Cohen Levin, SDNY, Criminal Division; Jeanette Anne Vargas, SDNY, Civil Division; Hon. Jon O. Newman, U.S. Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; Mark R. Hellerer, Chair, Stimson Medal Committee.
Jay Holtmeier to Chair City Bar Justice Center; New Officers Announced
Jay Holtmeier, a partner at WilmerHale, has been elected as Chair of the City Bar Fund, overseeing the City Bar Justice Center, the pro bono affiliate of the New York City Bar Association. In addition, the following officers were elected for the 2011-12 term: Wanji J. Walcott, Managing Counsel, American Express Company, as Vice President; Michael J. Chepiga, Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, as Vice President; Barbara Berger Opotowsky, Executive Director, New York City Bar, as Vice President; Mary K. Warren, Partner, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, as Secretary; and Carol S. Rosenbaum, CFO, New York City Bar, as Assistant Treasurer. Samuel W. Seymour, Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and President, New York City Bar, and Hon. Allan L. Gropper, United States Bankruptcy Judge, SDNY, who serves as City Bar Treasurer, serve ex-officio as President and Treasurer of the City Bar Fund, respectively. Four new members were elected to the board: Carmita Alonso, Partner, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP; Lisa M. Brill, Partner, Shearman & Sterling; Heidi Levine, Partner, DLA Piper; and Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, Administrative Judge of the New York City Family Court. Read more here.
City Bar Welcomes Chinese Judges
On June 7th, the City Bar hosted a reception for nearly 50 judges from China who are participating in a four-week program at Columbia Law School to gain understanding of the U.S. legal system. The event was co-sponosored by the City Bar's Foreign and Comparative Law Committee and the Asian American Bar Association of New York, and coordinated by Justice Doris Ling-Cohan (center, in red). Photo: NY Law Journal/Rick Kopstein
Recent Committee Activity
In a report on S.79-A, which would establish “benefit corporations” in New York State, the Committee on Corporation Law expressed support for the concept of benefit corporations and noted that Section 717(b) of the New York Business Corporation Law already authorizes directors to consider various factors that contribute to the communities where the corporation does business, and thus, with minor modifications, could be used to accomplish the goals of S.79-A. The Committee recommended a number of changes to the legislation to ensure that the proposed statute creates a viable and attractive framework for creating benefit corporations in New York.
Devocalization of Pets
The Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals issued a report in support of A.3431-A, which would restrict the performance of surgical devocalization procedures on dogs and cats. Specifically, the bill provides that: 1) devocalization surgery may be performed only by a licensed veterinarian and only when medically necessary to relieve the dog or cat from pain or harm; 2) veterinarians must file with the municipal clerk a record that identifies the animal, name and address of the animal’s owner, the date of the procedure, the reason for the procedure, and the basis for the diagnosis that devocalization surgery was medically necessary; 3) veterinarians report annually to the State Board for Veterinary Medicine about the number of such surgeries performed and provide a notice to the animal’s owner; and 4) a person selling a dog or cat who has been surgically devocalized must provide a written notice about the surgery prior to the sale.
Amendments to the Lobbying Law
The Committee on New York City Affairs issued a report recommending changes to the Lobbying Law and the rules and procedures by which it is implemented and enforced. The Committee notes that the 2006 Lobbying Law is both useful and necessary, but believes changes should be made to make the law less burdensome, clearer, and more focused in order to be truly effective.
Third-Party Litigation Financing
The ethical issues that may arise when a lawyer represents a client who is contemplating or has entered into a non-recourse litigation financing agreement are addressed in Formal Ethics Opinion 2011-2 by the Committee on Professional Ethics. The Opinion concludes that though it is not unethical per se for a lawyer to advise on or be involved with such arrangements, various ethical issues for a lawyer may arise, such as the potential waiver of privilege and interference in the lawsuit by a third party. A lawyer representing a client who is party, or considering becoming party, to a non-recourse funding arrangement should be aware of the potential ethical issues and should be prepared to address them as needed.
In a joint report the Committees on Consumer Affairs and Civil Courts expressed opposition to the Short-Term Financial Services Loan Act (A.7047/S.3841), which would allow check cashing establishments to make small loans between $300 and $2,000 to consumers. The report notes that the bill creates a huge and unwarranted loophole in New York’s longstanding 25% usury cap for consumer credit transactions. The type of loan this bill allows would prove to be unaffordable, as demonstrated by the track record of similar products in other states.
City Bar in the News
Reuters, June 7, 2011
Judge Calls for Legislation to Mandate E-filing in NY Courts
It’s cheaper, faster and greener, and if New York court officials get their way, electronic filing could become the standard for filing and serving cases statewide. In the report – which was delivered last week to Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature – Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau called on lawmakers to pass proposed legislation that would allow for the gradual expansion of e-filing in New York, a move that could result in “hundreds of millions of dollars” of savings to the court system.…New York City Bar Association President Samuel W. Seymour welcomed Pfau’s proposal. “The City Bar has for years urged increased use of e-filing as good for litigants, lawyers and the courts. We urge swift legislative approval of expanded e-filing,” he said in an e-mailed statement.
WNYC, June 8, 2011
Amid City Budget Crisis, New Scrutiny on Millions in NYPD Settlements
As the City Council grapples with the one-two punch of billions in state and federal cutbacks in municipal aid as well as $8 billion in required pension contributions, what the city pays out in legal settlements is coming under heightened scrutiny.…In 2000, the New York City Bar Association issued a detailed report entitled “The Failure of Civil Damages to Modify Police Practices, and recommendations for Change.”…“Most important the present policy, in place for years, has resulted in a situation in which the city consistently misses opportunities to increase the protection of the rights of persons in the city and to reduce injuries that poison the relations between police and citizens and in doing so saving millions of dollars,” concluded the report.