Brooklyn Boro

Chuck Otey’s Pro Bono Barrister: Steve Cohn’s cheesecake Breakfast at Junior’s a favorite among community leaders

October 7, 2015 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Steve Cohn. Eagle file photo
Share this:

Year in and year out, Steve Cohn’s pre-election cheesecake event is probably the most popular breakfast in Brooklyn.

Appropriately, it is set to take place again at the legendary Junior’s Restaurant and will get underway sharply at 8 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.

Barrister Cohn is a man of many talents and activities — he has held leading roles within the Democratic Party, serving as chair of the long-standing Seneca Democratic Club, and has served as president of the Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA). He was also one of those who championed the excellent Brooklyn Volunteers Program when it was in its infancy.

Normally, when an invitation promises the attendance of “federal, state and local elected officials and not-for-profit groups, artists, attorneys, bankers, educators, health care professionals, business and real estate leaders …” among others, recipients may suspect a little over-reach on the part of the sender.

But after 20 years of attracting hundreds of those leaders in all endeavors to his fun fetes at Junior’s, Cohn has the kind of track record that other leaders — political, business, whatever — have to admire, or even envy.

Of course, kosher breakfasts will be available and it’s advisable to phone — yes, phone! — ahead to confirm a reservation. Call 718-875-2400. If Cohn’s venerable partner Richard Goldberg doesn’t answer, Cohn probably will. He’s that kind of guy.

* * *

BBA’s Amber Evans Sets Busy CLE Fall Schedule

The BBA, capably headed by President Arthur Aidala, has for years offered one of the finest and most relevant Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs, a practice that is continuing under the direction of Executive Director Amber Evans.

The tradition continues on Oct. 13 when a panel of experts will discuss “New Developments in Foreclosure Practice,” a very timely topic since hundreds of new foreclosures are now taking place in Brooklyn and beyond. Participation in the program, which gets underway with a 5:30 reception at BBA headquarters, 123 Remsen St., will earn each attorney two MCLE credits.

Next on the CLE agenda will be a topic that can be as personally harrowing as it is unpredictable: “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do — Termination of the Attorney/Client Relationship: Prevention, Planning and Procedure.”

This very essential offering will start with a 5:30 p.m. reception on Oct. 20 and will also provide two MCLE credits to those who take part.

Evans may be reached at 718-624-0675, or for more information, visit www.brooklynbar.org/cle.

* * *

Inn of Court Panel Probes Advantages, Problems in the Use of ‘Expert’ Witnesses

Last Thursday night, the Kings County Inn of Court, of which Justice Arthur Schack serves as president, delved into the very delicate and increasingly expensive area of “Expert Testimony.”

The panel, chaired by Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik and Joseph Rosato, reviewed the many benefits and challenges inherent in the use of experts, who often testify on matters beyond the kin of lay witnesses. Occasionally, the cost of the expert’s “day in court” can now exceed heretofore unheard-of sums ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 and beyond!

Consequently, the panel, which wasn’t in agreement on all expert matters, advised caution when selecting an expert to make a case, or at least qualify it — in the eyes of the court — to become worthy of jury consideration.

There was much back and forth on this costly practice, and herein we offer a dramatic scenario — lifted entirely from the evening’s written agenda — cleverly concocted by Justice Cyrulnik, which we’ll call the “fact(?) pattern” in the matter of The State of Confusion v. Eyema Crook, with a cast including complainant Sunny Skye, Detective Lancelot Spamalot, defendant Crook, defense attorney Harry Icangetuoff, noted jurist Hon. Reversa Bull, Dr. Hired Gunn and prosecutor Youngan Earnest.

Narrator: Sunny Skye was on her way home from Brooklyn’s First Annual Super Moon party when she was accosted at gunpoint and robbed of her genuine fake Louis Vuitton goody bag and her collection of piña colada umbrellas. She was standing on the corner of Whodonit Avenue and Whatchamacallit Street at approximately 4:10 a.m.

The nearest overhead streetlight was out; there were some lights still on inside of Mother Matilda’s kosher Mexican-food hangout, the Burrito Nosh.

The perpetrator was approximately 6 feet tall, weighing 110 pounds, wearing a white hat, shirt, jeans and sneakers. He had on a black baseball hat and was clean-shaven. He approached her, displayed a silver pistol and said, “Hand it over, toots!”  

After Sunny complied, he fled. The entire event took approximately eight seconds. There were no other witnesses, no video surveillance footage and no forensic evidence.

Sunny met with Detective Lancelot Spamalot, who has a well-deserved reputation for solving cases, mostly correctly, more or less frequently, eventually. Detective Spamalot had Sunny view a lineup consisting of six individuals He told her to look at the lineup and then to tell him if she recognized any of them and from where.

Detective Spamalot, who has been fighting a bad cold, has to clear his throat vigorously just when Sunny is looking at the man in Seat 3.

Sunny tells Detective Spamalot that she is “absolutely, positively, certain” that the person is Seat Number 3 is the man who robbed her.  “No question in my mind, 1,000 percent certain. I would never forget that face. And he looks like all those wanted posters that are all over the neighborhood.”  

Detective Spamalot, who has also been having neck problems, finds some relief from the pain if he nods his head up and down, which he does while Sunny is talking.

The man in Seat 3, Eyema Crook, a young man Sunny has seen around the neighborhood, was arrested and charged with this dastardly crime.  Vigorously asserting his innocence, he goes to trial, represented by a well-known defense attorney, Harry Icangetuoff, coincidentally one of the founding members of the Bernard Maddoff Inn of Court. Presiding is the esteemed Brooklyn jurist, the Honorable Reversa Bull.

Prior to trial, Harry makes a motion in limine (rhymes with Bimini) seeking to call an expert witness on identification issues, Dr. Hired Gunn. Dr. Gunn would testify about problems with one-witness identification, such as weapons focus, event duration, confidence/ accuracy correlation, transference and lineup fairness.  The prosecutor, Youngan Earnest, strenuously objects

* * *

What happened next? Did the inn members conclude that Gunn could fire away? Would Crook make a motion to permit an adjournment so he could advertise his “change of name” in the Eagle with the new name “An Alleged?” Did anyone make any terrible gender jokes about the Hon. Bull? How did she react?

If she excluded all testimony regarding lineup identification due to the despicable, biasing behavior of Detective Spamalot (wheezing, coughing, etc.) would her decision be reversible? As a result “Did Sunny Get Blue — When?”

The inn members had their answers and theories — some far out — but we leave it to our readers to draw their own conclusions. Please don’t blame Justice Cyrulnik for any of this!


Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment