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Justice Maltese talks evidence at Bay Ridge Lawyers Association meeting

October 26, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association hosted Justice Joseph Maltese for a CLE on evidence during its most recent meeting. Pictured from left: Immediate past President Stephen Spinelli, Justice Joseph Maltese and President Margaret Stanton. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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It took the association more than a year of trying to get its most recent speaker, but the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association (BRLA) finally hosted Justice Joseph Maltese to give a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar during its monthly meeting in Bay Ridge on Wednesday.

Maltese, associate justice of the NYS Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, joked that before immediate past President Stephen Spinelli became president, he began asking Maltese to host a meeting. Finally, more than a year later, the justice’s schedule matched up with the association.

“I’ve been pestered to come here by Spinelli for like a year or so and finally I got here,” Maltese joked.

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Maltese was introduced by Justice John Ingram, who is a mainstay at the monthly meetings. Ingram ran through Maltese’s long bio, which includes stops at the NYS Supreme Court and the NYC criminal and civil courts. He also has five post-graduate degrees and 30 years of military experience working in the U.S. Army, Active and Reserve. While in the Army, he also served as a military judge in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG).

“Not being satisfied with over 30 years of federal service, he joined the New York Guard, a state militia where he was promoted to brigadier general of the civil affairs,” Ingram said of Maltese. “I remember one time, Under Judge Maltese, there were a lot of reserve units that needed to be activated for Operation Desert Storm, but the military could not provide the JAG officers to do such things as provide health care proxies, or power of attorney and wills. So General Maltese took the New York Guard to Connecticut and Rhode Island to active them.”

Maltese opened his lecture, titled “Getting it In or Keeping it Out: The Admissibility of Evidence,” by talking about new rules for evidence that the NYS Unified Court System has been working on under Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. He explained that it was a culmination of the state Legislature failing to pass any sort of evidence reform.

“Chief Judge DiFiore has put together a group of attorneys and law professors to put out what is known as the guide to New York evidence,” Maltese said. “The guide will be like a code. It is going to be quotable as the body of common law, some statutory law of evidence of New York.”

Maltese advised attorneys to go on to the NY Courts’ website to download a copy of the new evidence guide.

Throughout the rest of his lecture, the justice went over the rules of evidence and discussed errors that he sees attorneys making, and highlighted any changes in the law.

“My first caveat: Get your rulings first,” Maltese said as he raised his voice. “As a judge, I want to know, I don’t want surprises. I have lawyers coming to me … making motions verbally, not done in a motion the way it should be. This has happened to me on a number of occasions. Don’t do it, judges don’t like it. Get the rulings first.”

Much of his discussion also centered around the U.S. Supreme Court case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, which, Maltese said, “started a revolution amongst evidence professors.”

BRLA is planning a “Breakfast with Santa” event at the Fort Hamilton Community Club located on the Fort Hamilton Army Base. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 2, the group is asking for people to bring unwrapped toys as part of its annual Toys for Tots tradition of donating toys for the soldiers’ children at the base.

“We’re going to have goodies for the kids, breakfast for everyone,” BRLA President Margaret Stanton said. “We’ll have a lot of things for the kids to do. Bring your grandchildren, your children, nieces, nephews and neighbor’s kids.

“We definitely could use volunteers,” Stanton added. “Some of the older children of our members have volunteered to dress up as elves. It’s going to be a fun time.”

The next monthly meeting will be held on Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. and it will feature Justice Jeffrey Sunshine, the supervising judge of the matrimonial court, as the speaker.


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