The City Bar's Legislative Advocacy

This issue of the 44th Street eNews features a wrap-up of the City Bar's recent legislative advocacy work on the State level. It gives a snapshot of how our committees work to shape law and public policy. Dozens of committees each year prepare reports on legislation or comment letters on pending regulations on the city, state and national level. A substantial number of these committees go beyond drafting reports to meet with legislators and agency officials, or even draft legislation that they then seek to have enacted. Read more.

6 PM – 8:15 PM, CLE
Jury Voir Dire & Other Jury Issues

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM, Event

Careers in Non-Profit Organizations

8:30 AM, Event
Mentoring Circles Meeting

6 PM – 8:30 PM, Event

The Role of An Attorney on a Not-for-Profit Board

6 PM – 9 PM, CLE

Determining Privilege in Insolvency & Restructuring Matters

1 PM – 5 PM, Event
Disaster Lawyering: Delivering Legal Aid Post Sandy

6 PM – 8:30 PM, CLE

Ethical Issues in Employment Law

6 PM – 9 PM, Event

3D Printing: The Potential Impact of Open Source Manufacturing on Intellectual Property

6 PM – 8 PM, Event
Friday Evening Chamber Music


The City Bar has wrapped up an active State legislative session, during which our committees issued or reissued 85 reports proposing new legislation and commenting on pending legislation or proposed agency rules. We’ve responded to tragedies and controversies, supporting measures to strengthen New York’s gun laws and calling on the legislature to bring about necessary campaign finance reforms. We provided comments on a number of provisions of the 2013-2014 NYS Budget, which included a $15 million increase in funding for civil legal services. Once again, we opposed the enactment of measures which would harm New York consumers by expanding the ability of dubious debt settlement agencies and payday lenders to operate in the state. And we supported the Women’s Equality Act, a 10-point plan aimed at providing women the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society, including by codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade and strengthening anti-trafficking and pay equity laws. Read more.


A panel on October 7th explored how cities around the world, including New York, are adapting to climate change. From left, Radley M. Horton, Associate Research Scientist, Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University; Elliott Sclar, Professor of Urban Planning and International Affairs and Director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development, the Earth Institute, at Columbia University; and Michael B. Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice and Director, Center of Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School. Not pictured: Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, Senior Associate Director, The Rockefeller Foundation.


The City Bar's Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization Committee has authored a new book entitled Examiners in Bankruptcy Cases, A Guide for Examiners, Courts and Practitioners. Written by attorneys who have served as or represented examiners in leading cases and former bankruptcy judges who have presided over such cases, this book is replete with real-world advice and a collection of actual forms covering the gamut of the examiner process. For more information and to order from Thomson Reuters, click here.


Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act
In a letter to the SEC, the Committee on Securities Regulation commented on proposed amendments which would implement Section 201(a) of the JOBS Act, thereby permitting the use of general solicitation or general advertising in offerings conducted under Rule 506 of Regulation D and Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933. While the proposed amendments will assist in evaluating the development of market practices in unregistered offerings involving general solicitation and support future consideration of additional changes related to Rule 506(c), the Committee expressed concern that in some instances these goals may be achieved by means other than public filing and disclosure, and urged the Commission to consider whether these goals would be better served by confidential submissions to the Commission of relevant information. The Committee also raised the concern that the disclosure and disqualification provisions of the proposed rules will dissuade many issuers from utilizing the Rule 506(c) exemption and undermine the intent of the JOBS Act provisions. The committee then set forth specific issues and recommendations for consideration by the SEC.


Animal Welfare Act
The Committee on Animal Law submitted comments to the US Department of Agriculture regarding a proposed amendment to regulations implementing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which would affect the handling of big cats, bears and nonhuman primates by members of the public in the context of exhibitions of such animals. The Committee urged that the Department amend the regulations of the AWA to prohibit public handling of or direct physical contact by the public with big cats, bears and nonhuman primates of any age, and prohibit the separation of big cats, bears and nonhuman primates from their mothers before weaning unless medically necessary, in the context of exhibition of such animals.


Going Concern Presumption
In a letter to the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the Committee on Financial Reporting offered comments on the exposure draft on Disclosure of Uncertainties about an Entity’s Going Concern Presumption. The Committee’s comments focused on the use of the concept “probable” as a threshold for providing disclosure and expressed concern that the degree of confusion regarding the meaning of “probable” under Topic 450 will take on greater significance under the new standard. The letter suggests adding an explanatory clause to the final sentence of the “substantial doubt” definition that would further the Board’s stated objective and clarify the meaning of “probable.”


Rule of Law in Venezuela
The Committee on Inter-American Affairs filed an amicus brief in Brewer-Carías v. Venezuela with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The brief urged the Court to grant the application of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to find the government of Venezuela responsible for violation of Article 8 of the American Convention on Human Rights, and to order Venezuela to provide relief to Allan Brewer-Carías. The brief argued that the Venezuelan justice system improperly exposes members of the judiciary to external pressures, including from the executive branch. This executive domination of the judiciary seriously threatens the human and civil rights of all Venezuelans. The proceedings against Mr. Brewer-Carías, a prominent Venezuelan jurist, constitutional law scholar and former elected official in the Venezuelan government, have been conducted almost exclusively by temporary judges and prosecutors who lack independence and impartiality, depriving Mr. Brewer-Carías of due process.

Debt Collection

Comments prepared by the Committees on Consumer Affairs and Civil Court expressed support for the proposal by the NYS Department of Financial Services to enhance regulation and oversight of debt collection and clarify the duties and obligations of debt collectors, noting debt collection consistently ranks as a top sector for consumer complaints by New Yorkers with federal, state and local consumer protection agencies. The committees proposed a number of amendments to the proposed rule with regard to the definition of “debt,” initial disclosures and disclosures regarding the statute of limitations, verification of debts, debt payment procedures and communication through electronic mail.


New York Law Journal, October 9, 2013 (subscription required)
Backers of Judicial Retirement Changes Raise $350,000

"The proposed amendment would allow elected Supreme Court justices to be re-certificated for two extra two-year terms than current law allows, or until age 80. It would also extend the mandatory retirement age for the Court of Appeals from 70 to 80. In other news related to the amendment, the New York City Bar issued a statement explaining the constitutional amendment and urging its passage. The group said the state’s retirement age of 70 for judges was set in the Constitution in 1869, when general health and life expectancies were far different than today….The city bar noted that Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has said he intends to use some of the judicial resources freed up by the amendment to assign more judges to Family Court, where caseloads have soared in recent years."

, October 7, 2013 (subscription required)

NYC Bar Group Backs Retirement Age Bump For State Judges
"The New York City Bar Association on Monday backed a proposed change to the state constitution that would raise the retirement age for many Empire State judges, including those on New York's top court, saying it would allow experienced, productive judges to help tackle an ever-growing caseload....'The City Bar supports Proposal 6, consistent with our long-standing position that the mandatory judicial retirement age, which was enacted in 1869, is outdated. Many individuals who reach the age of 70 have a substantial number of productive years ahead of them,' the group said in a statement."

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