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Jurists, lawyers, court personnel to assemble Feb. 17 to keep trial calendars on course, meet new judges

Chuck Otey's Pro Bono Barrister

February 1, 2016 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Justice Sylvia Ash. Eagle file photo
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In keeping with a valued practice that was launched back in the late 1990s when Mike Pesce was Kings County administrative justice, the Irving/Goldberg Civil Forum will be held at 9 a.m. in the 11th-floor boardroom of 360 Adams St.

Heading the Civil Forum is Justice Sylvia Ash, who last year succeeded Justice Donald Kurtz. Kurtz had handled the post for four years.

Initially, the forum was introduced to help jurists, court personnel and lawyers smooth out the myriad problems that arose when the civil calendars became overloaded, resulting in years-long delays of trials. The situation was exacerbated by a steady barrage of budget cuts affecting staff and expenses.

Some veteran barristers claim that “the city” — i.e. NYC Corporation Counsel — took advantage of the clogged schedule to coerce plaintiffs into settling cases for a fraction of their true monetary worth, rather than wait six or seven years to achieve a “date certain.” (City lawyers, of course, denied this.)

The forum is named in honor of two late justices who succeeded Justice Pesce as chair — Hon. Richard Goldberg and Hon. Irving Aronin. Among others who have held the position are retired Justices Abraham Gerges and Joseph Levine, both of whom served as interim chief administrative judges.

Justice Ash advises attorneys, “If you have any matter that you wish to be placed on the agenda, please feel free to contact me either by email at [email protected] or by telephone at (347) 401-9518.”

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Weather Wreaks Havoc on Law-Related Meetings

Commuting barristers, court personnel and litigants might have been grumbling, but it was “business as usual” in our courts this past week despite a near-record smashing snowstorm that hit the city and much of the East Coast.

Deciding that the sudden flurry of blizzard-like weather did not provide an appropriate venue for deep thinking, the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association cancelled a CLE session set for Monday that was to have presented the benefits of meditation to the active practitioner.

A new date is being contemplated.

Stating that they would go ahead — bad weather or not — were the leaders of another CLE session — the Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA)’s Real Property Section, with a program titled “The Sky and The City: Development Rights in NYC.”

Scheduled to provide two CLE credits in the skills category, the presenting panel was headed by Kevin Dwarka, managing partner of KDLLC and a senior fellow at Pace University’s Land Use Center.                                                              

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Kings Inn Survives Storm to Review Gun Control Laws

On Tuesday night, even though many roads were still impassable, the Kings County Inn of Court, led by President Justice Arthur Schack, gathered at BBA headquarters, 123 Remsen St., to enlighten its members about the many challenges facing clients who want to legally acquire and carry guns.

Past BBA President Larry DiGiovanna, working with Hon. Joanne Quinones and Anthony Vaughn, staged a fact-filled forum and effectively dramatized the difficulties and confusion that (especially in New York City) confront those who wish to legally own a “piece.”

Starring in supporting roles were Justin Blash, Harriet Wong, Hon. Jackie Williams, Shantae Johnson, Stephen Z. Williamson, Avery Okin and Jeff Miller.

Under the guidance of Co-Chair DiGiovanna, the presenters did their best to sidestep the roiling controversy surrounding the use of guns. Williamson, in giving a brief history of the National Rifle Association (NRA), did point out that for its first 50 years or so, the NRA was almost solely concerned with the “safe use” of weapons.

Starting with developments in the 1970s, Williamson noted, the NRA has taken the lead role in championing the increased purchase and use of guns. Its battle reached its pinnacle when the Supreme Court decided that the term “a well-regulated militia” contained in the Second Amendment in effect determined that any single person could actually constitute a “well-regulated militia.”

Ironically, this decision was championed by Justice Antonin Scalia, the renowned “strict constructionist” who saw no reason to assume that the original framers would be puzzled to learn that a “well-regulated militia” would one day be “liberally constructed” to mean a single, solitary citizen.

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Designer Simonton, Fort Hamilton HS Class of ’63, Says, ‘Rename Shore Road School for Fed Chair Janet Yellen’

Most people know that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is one of the most powerful women in the country, but not too many are aware that she was (no surprise!) an honors graduate of Fort Hamilton High School, which rests alongside the Narrows in Bay Ridge.

When Yellen was named to the prestigious post, a New York Times reporter called her Class of 1963 classmate George Simonton, a well-known fashion designer and QVC star, and asked him to comment.

“I told them she was very nice and everything seemed so easy for her. We knew she was brilliant because of all the awards she kept receiving, but she was always ‘just another one of the kids’ to us. It would do so much for the school’s image if we could get it renamed for her,” he said. “I’d be pleased and honored to design a dress for her if she could come back for a renaming, or any other, ceremony.

“In fact,” he quickly added, “I would travel to Washington, D.C. in an instant, just to say hello and exchange warm memories of her school days.” 

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