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Acting Justice Devin Cohen gives Civil Practice Law and Rules update at Columbian Lawyers Association meeting

October 4, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn and its president Linda LoCascio hosted Hon. Devin P. Cohen for its monthly CLE meeting on Tuesday. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn hosted Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court Devin P. Cohen for a Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) update at the Rex Manor in Dyker Heights on Tuesday.

President of the association, Linda LoCascio, explained that Cohen has gained a reputation as a lecturer on CPRL and thought that he could provide information on the Default Judgement Part, where Cohen sits in the Kings County Supreme Court.

“Judge Cohen has an absolutely wonderful reputation,” LoCascio said. “He’s sitting on the Default Judgement Part, which is something that not everyone gets to hear about, so we’re happy to have him here for a discussion.”

Cohen explained that the trick to lecturing on CPRL updates is to avoid simply listing rules. He said it’s instead about figuring out the logic behind the rules and trying to stress the most important ones.

“It’s about trying to find out the internal logic to the rules, whether things sort of carry across, and how to remember the big rules that are fatal,” Cohen said. “Blow a statute of limitations…that’s fatal. There is no way you can get around that. But if you turn in discovery a little bit late, you can get around that. You have to know which rules you can break and which you can’t break.”

One of the cases that Cohen focused on was Daimler AG v. Bauman, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on in 2014. That case limits the forums in which a foreign or out-of-state corporation may be sued in a U.S. jurisdiction.

“You could only now sue these corporations [when] they are at home,” Cohen said. “And at home is going to be a much harder standard to satisfy. You are going to have to find really tight connection between them and the place you are trying to sue them.”

Cohen explained that the case didn’t initially have a big impact on how New York City courts behaved, but as case law has been established, the local courts have fallen into line.

Judge Cohen also took the opportunity to discuss the Default Judgement Part, what it is and what common errors he sees lawyers making when they show up in his court.

“This is a room full of really good attorneys,” Cohen said. “You can assume that there are people in this room who know more than me on any given topic in the CPLR. I can guarantee [it]. I hope that I can provide practical advice: Here’s where I see you running into a wall, here are commonsense-type things to keep your life easier and keep your blood pressure lower.”


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