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Pro Bono Barrister for April 1, 2013

A group of merry men at the Bay Ridge St. Patrick's Day Parade

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

It’s Never Too Late To Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
 
While most St. Patrick’s Day Parades were fading in memory, the 20th Annual St. Pat’s Parade brilliantly bagpiped its way up Third Avenue in Bay Ridge last Sunday thanks to local leaders like Bob Howe, a past parade honoree and president of the Merchants of Third Avenue, a major parade supporter.

Shown at pre-parade breakfast are, left to right, attorney Howe, parade founder Larry Morrish, parade president Frankie Marra and PBB’s Chuck Otey.

* * *

CLE Topic: Handling Tricky Moments at Exam Before Trial

Question: A litigation attorney is examining a defendant at an EBT involving a ‘question of lights’ at an intersection. The defendant’s just made what seems a damaging statement. She candidly admits she didn’t look at the cross traffic because she knew the light was green anyway; besides, she says, "there’s no reason to look when you know you have a green light."

Bursting with anger, her attorney proclaims: "My client is not feeling well. I’m halting the testimony -- has to use the facilities!" He grabs her hand and practically drags her from the examination room.

Should the examining attorney:

1. Warn them not to leave and direct the stenographer to keep the record open? Accuse his opponent of trying to ‘coach’ the witness?

2. Or a good sport and let defendant and lawyer leave the room, secure in the knowledge that the admission will be damning even without follow-up questions?

Answers and solutions to the foregoing dilemma and many others will be made abundantly clear Thursday evening, April 4, when a highly skilled Brooklyn Bar Association panel expertly presents an agenda entitled: "Nuts & Bolts of Taking a Deposition.”

Many PBB aficionados know exactly what to do when the opposition attempts to coach a witness. Typical of the wise veterans hereabouts are Arthur Hill, Mark Dittenhoefer, Rosario D’Apice, Hon. Beth Bonina, Helene Blank, Mike Russo, Mark Longo, Greg Cerchione, and they just may be in the 123 Remsen St. audience that evening. Perhaps some jurists who were former outstanding defense counsels will be there, for instance Justice Ellen Spodek or Justice Karen Rothenberg.

* * *

A Jam-Packed Season For BBA CLE Programs

April is one of the busiest months in the BBA’s CLE schedule, which is directed by Meredith Symonds with the ever-valuable assistance of Executive Director Avery Okin.

Before the month is out, BBA members will take part in a number of programs ranging from the ‘Rules of Evidence, "Social Media and Employment Law" as well as updates in the CPLR and more.

* * *

Gun-Safety Folk In West Virginia Appreciate Manchin

West Virginia, my home state, gets pretty rough treatment in this city, especially from the “green” faction, that condemns its (remaining) citizenry out right. Dismissively, candidate Barack Obama suggested voters there are too close to ‘their Bibles and guns.” He later came to regret this brusque condemnation because, if you’ve lived in West Virginia and experienced its hard-scrabble existence, you don’t have much more to hold onto than your “Bibles and guns."

West Virginia is one of the poorest states because it’s more like a plantation than a sovereign electoral entity.

The state has been owned for the past century by Big Coal and Big Energy. Think of a plantation the size of a state where the rulers are not the elected officials. Snapping the whips are those who own the rights to mine your coal and slice off the tops of your beautiful mountains in the cause of “clean energy.”

That’s why Sen. Joe Manchin deserves a round of applause for his willingness to admit guns are truly out of control in this country. He favors uniform gun-owner registration even though he has to be painfully aware of the continuing romance between the gun manufacturers and their personal puppet – the National Rifle Association.

The NRA pours hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to the gun owners of West Virginia. who, ironically, are seeing their hunting grounds razed and gobbled up by the mining interests.
The ravaged mountains are a heartbreaking site for those of us who used to roam its wondrous green hills and beautiful fresh-flowing mountain streams. Its charm is being killed off by the continuous, devastating destruction of hundreds of mountains, which are sliced off to produce two main elements: Coal and sludge.

Coal is that “clean energy” we hear so much about. Sludge is the billions of tons of ‘waste’ hacked and hosed away to reach wealth-producing seams of coal. Every once in a while a sludge dump the size of 10 Yankee Stadiums slides down a valley destroying everything in its path. But it’s never front-page news in these parts.

Just about everybody who still has a job in this wounded wilderness is linked to coal because this country is addicted to fossil-fuel energy.

* * *

Dem. Leader Fails To Provide Leadership

Into this endangered environment steps an unlikely hero in the form of Sen. Joe Manchin, a guy who likely hunted in the same hills and mountains as my Dad and I did. Sadly, many of those mountains resemble barren desert mesas today.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could use some of the courage demonstrated by Manchin. Reid admitted defeat of a new, sensible gun-safety bill, whining that he had "only have 40 votes" in its favor. Reid left his courage in the boxing ring a long time ago.

Meanwhile, Manchin’s reasonable position will certainly earn him well-financed opposition if he seeks re-election in 2016. Plantation owners have long memories.

* * *

Justice DiMango Moves Bx. Calendar

Just a few years ago the city’s court calendars were so choked with civil cases that it literally took years to get a trial date (even longer if you were suing the City of New York). Generous Bronx juries were the dream of every negligence attorney. Today there’s been a total turnaround in that courthouse overlooking hallowed Yankee Stadium.

In fact, due to some unwise procedural changes a few years back, the criminal court is now so congested that hundreds or more cases are on the verge of being dismissed for failure to timely prosecute.

Two months ago, some 5,590 criminal cases clogged the Bronx criminal calendar. At least 73 percent of those cases failed to meet the 180-day deadline. Even worse, 1,000 of those cases were more than two years old!

Dealing with the crisis, Chief Judge Jon Lippman sent 10 highly qualified jurists into the Bronx back in December as his version of a "SWAT team” to get rid of the lingering matters. He’s receiving due credit, as is new Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters Douglas McKeon.

But making the most headway in the innovative judicial beachhead is Brooklyn’s own Justice Patricia DiMango.

* * *

Doing Our Legal Community Proud

A Daily News story by Dareh Gregorian described her as "The busiest judge in what’s now the busiest courthouse in the state [who] likes to keep it that way." And she doesn’t mind stepping on a few toes in the interest of timely justice.

"Ugh! It’s like watching paint dry" she remarked one day during a delay involving an imprisoned witness.

Gregorian, descending to easy though inaccurate stereotype, called her the "brash Brooklyn judge who was temporarily brought to the Bronx for her expertise in working out plea deals."

Justice DiMango has been called “determined, relentless and extremely productive” according to those who practice in her court. (No one in Brooklyn calls her “brash” because she’s one of the most talented and charming jurists in this borough. Mr. Gregorian must be from Manhattan.)

The very photogenic visiting jurist unavoidably “butted heads” with prosecutors and defense lawyers who simply weren’t ready to proceed when their cases were called. Capturing the likely essence of the problems facing Bronx criminal administrators, she explained that "It’s not enough to just tell me, ‘The defendant stole a bag from another individual’...You have to tell me the circumstances" before any plea can be considered.

Justice DiMango regularly credits her parents – community leader Mafalda DiMango and Dr. Anthony DiMango – with preparing her for the spotlight she so effectively commands.

Mafalda DiMango’s volunteer civic and educational work has earned her just about every prestigious award available in Southwest Brooklyn.

* * *

Judiciary Night And Golf Outing

The Brooklyn Bar Association will hold its popular Judiciary Night on April 3 at BBA headquarters. President Domenick Napoletano and President-elect Andy Fallek, working with Executive Director Avery Okin, advise that this special night will be one of the best. E-mail aokin@brooklynbar.org.

One of Kings County’s most remarkable jurists – the late Judge Theodore Jones – will be appropriately remembered with the First Annual Hon. Theodore T. Jones Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament on Monday, April 29.

Sponsored by the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation, the tourney will be held at the Colonia Country Club in Colonia, N.J. Those who had the pleasure of knowing Justice Jones are aware that he loved golf.

Frank Carone is chairing the Golf Tournament Committee. Further information is available by calling (718) 624 0868.

April 1, 2013 - 9:00am


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