Recent Committee Activity
Licensing of Process Servers
The Committee on Civil Court testified before a public hearing on the Department of Consumer Affairs' proposed rules pertaining to process service. While the testimony praises the proposed rules as a giant step toward reforming the process serving industry, it offers a number of suggested modifications to help clarify the new rules.
Workers' Rights in Abu Dhabi
In a letter to NYU and the Guggenheim Museum, the Committee on International Human Rights urges both institutions to take steps to prevent worker abuses at their new facilities in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and sets forth a list of recommendations regarding enforcement, monitoring, and evaluation mechanisms that both NYU and the Guggenheim Museum can implement as they move forward with the construction.
Save Our State Amendment
A report issued by the Foreign and Comparative Law Committee expresses concern over Oklahoma Referendum Question 755, which would prohibit Oklahoma courts from considering or using international law or Sharia Law. The report concludes that Question 755 not only violates the federal Constitution but is discriminatory and will make conducting business and personal affairs more difficult not only for people who may choose to observe rules or principles based upon Sharia, but for all who have personal or business relationships with those individuals. The Questionˇ¦s prohibition against consideration of ˇ§international lawˇ¨ will also confuse and complicate legal matters in Oklahoma for all those whose personal and business affairs relate to international affairs or matters in other countries.
Government Ethics Reform
In a report to Governor Elect Cuomo's transition team, the Committees on Government Ethics and State Affairs summarize a number of recommendations the committees have advocated regarding ethics reform in New York, including calling for a single ethics agency to oversee both the legislative and executive branches and requiring lawmakers to disclose their sources of income, including paying clients, with limited exceptions. The Committees also call for a public comment period before the issuance of major Executive Orders, where time allows.
HRSA's Service Definition of Legal Services
Program guidance issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration defining the allowable scope of legal services funded by the Ryan White CARE Act reveals a disturbing narrowing of the definition from its original parameters. In a joint letter to HRSA, the Committees on AIDS and Social Welfare Law point out that this unnecessarily narrow definition is depriving persons living with HIV/AIDS in New York City of crucial support services, and urge that HRSA re-examine and clarify the scope of service definition to ensure that individuals with HIV/AIDS are able to receive the legal support services they need to achieve positive medical outcomes.
Legislative Rules Reform
In separate letters to the New York State Assembly and Senate, the State Affairs Committee urges each House to amend their rules of procedure to give committees more authority over their budgets and staffing, provide a mark-up process for bills, and require reports on bills reported out of committee. The letters also include additional recommendations particular to each House of the Legislature.
Redistricting in New York
The Committee on Election Law gave testimony at a public forum discussing the upcoming redistricting process in New York State. The testimony suggests that under the current system of redistricting, individual legislators find themselves more beholden to their leaders for re-election than to their constituents, which has produced noncompetitive elections, permanent legislative deadlock, and a Legislature unresponsive to the will and interests of the voters. The testimony focused on the criteria that should be followed in redistricting, offering recommendations on such subjects as population equality, contiguous territory, fair representation of minority groups, and state constitutional border requirements.
Hybrid Court for Sudan
In a letter from Association President Sam Seymour to the head of the African Union, the Committees on African Affairs, International Human Rights, the United Nations and the Council on International Affairs endorse the recommendation of the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur for a hybrid court for Sudan. Because of the mass number of perpetrators implicated in the crimes, the limited capacity of the International Criminal Court to prosecute no more than a few high level individuals, and the need to rebuild the Sudanese judiciary, there is need for a hybrid tribunal to examine the crimes committed in Darfur, Sudan, in addition to the prosecutions of top-level perpetrators being conducted by the International Criminal Court.
Trials of Detainees in Federal Courts
In a letter to Congress drafted by the Task Force on National Security and the Rule of Law and signed by City Bar President Sam Seymour, the Association expressed concern over Section 1116 of the 2011 Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, which would terminate funding for the transfer of a non-citizen to the U.S. for any purpose, thereby preventing Guantanamo detainees from being tried in Article III courts for offenses related to the events of September 11, 2001. Enactment of the bill, the letter argues, would deprive the Department of Justice of what has been its most effective means of bringing suspected terrorists to justice ˇV the federal court system.
City Bar in the News
Human Rights First, December 16, 2010
Lawyers Oppose Congressional Ban on Guantanamo Transfers
“This week the New York City Bar Association added its voice to the chorus urging the Senate to halt the ban on Guantanamo transfers – which would block any efforts to close Guantanamo and try its detainees in federal courts here in the United States. Congress is now considering (and expected to pass this week) an omnibus spending bill that includes a provision that would block all transfers of Guantanamo detainees to the United States – even for trial or imprisonment. The House already voted on this provision, and the Senate is likely to vote any day. The letter warns that ‘enactment of this bill would deprive the Department of Justice of what has proven to be its most effective enforcement weapon to prosecute and bring suspected terrorists to justice.’ Read the full text of the letter, as well as the opposition of retired military leaders sent to Congressional leaders last week.”
New York Times, December 10, 2010
Awards for Prosecutors
“On Tuesday, the New York City Bar Association handed out its annual Thomas E. Dewey medals, which go to an outstanding prosecutor in each of the cityˇ¦s five district attorneysˇ¦ offices and the office of the special narcotics prosecutor. The event, at which former District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau of Manhattan gave the keynote address, provided a warm atmosphere."
New York Law Journal, December 10, 2010
Firms Roll Out Perk to Employees in Same-Sex Domestic Partnerships
“Some law firms are rolling out new perks aimed at reimbursing their gay employees for the tax liability they incur when they elect to add domestic partners to their health benefits plans.…The percentage of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered attorneys in law firms is a fraction of the bar both nationally and in New York. A December 2009 report by the New York City Bar pegged the population of LGBT lawyers in law firmˇ¦s New York offices at 3 percent.”
A Message From the City Bar Justice Center
Give New Yorkers The Gift They Really Need This Holiday
Every day the calls for help pour into the City Bar Justice Center ˇV and we turn to you this holiday season so we can continue to provide 20,000 disadvantaged New Yorkers access to free legal services, and the safety, security, and hope they need.
Every $1 of your fully tax-deductible gift is leveraged into $9 of pro bono legal services to the poor.
Please consider making a generous contribution to the Justice Center to answer the increasing calls for help in our community. Visit www.citybarjusticecenter.org to make your credit card donation quickly and securely online, or mail your check payable to City Bar Justice Center to 42 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036.
Thank you for your partnership and generosity.
For more information about our work, download the 2009-2010 Annual Report.