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Kings Inn to delve deep into ‘Choice Behind the Choice’

Chuck Otey's Pro Bono Barrister

September 26, 2018 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hon. Joanne Quinones. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese
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Could Mindful Thinking Be Key to Reducing Bias in the Courtroom?

When members of the Kings County Nathan R. Sobel American Inn of Court gather on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Brooklyn Bar Association headquarters, 123 Remsen St., a select panel will help them explore what some might call the brave new world of mindful thinking.

Inn President Victoria Lombardi notes that Inn Administrator Lucy DiSalvo is overseeing a delicious buffet and suggests that those who would partake can show up as early as 5:30 p.m. — a half-hour before the program.

“Mindful thinking” might sound Orwellian, but it is seen across the nation as a more effective and honest method of reducing even subtle bias in the courtroom or elsewhere.

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Led by a top panel headed by Hon. Joanne Quinones and David Vaughn, Inn members will probe a world that, according to accompanying literature, asks this very important question: “When is the last time a stereotype popped into your mind?”

“If you are like most people, the authors included, it happens all the time. That doesn’t make you a racist, sexist, or whatever-ist. It just means your brain is working properly, noticing patterns, and making generalizations,” the literature says. “But the same thought processes that make people smart can also make them biased. This tendency for stereotype-confirming thoughts to pass spontaneously through our minds is what psychologists call implicit bias. It sets people up to overgeneralize, sometimes leading to discrimination even when people feel they are being fair.

“Debates have become heated and leapt from scientific journals to the popular press. Along the way, some important points have been lost.” 

These points and others will be examined by the Inn panel on Tuesday night.

Lombardi succeeds the very astute Appellate Division Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix as president of the Inn; she is assisted by a slate composed of President-elect Joseph Rosato, Counselor Justice Carl Landicino, Treasurer Anthony Vaughn and Secretary Justice Sylvia AshJeff Feldman serves as executive director.


McConnell, Grassley and Hatch Are Embarrassing Older White Men

As President Donald Trump wobbles on the edge of committing yet another instance of obstruction of justice, it’s ironic to see U.S. Rep. Sen. Chuck Grassley complaining about the delaying tactics of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, sitting on the complaint of sexual abuse against Supreme Court nominee Justice Brett Kavanaugh by Professor Christine Ford.

How about the delaying tactics of Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who vowed on the day President Barack Obama was nominated to prevent the new president from passing any major legislation and to oppose him at every turn?  

How about McConnell denying Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Justice Merrick Garland a Senate hearing for 11 months, delaying the selection of a new justice until after a Republican was elected to the White House?

Watching the boorish behavior of Sens. Grassley and Oren Hatch, it’s almost embarrassing to be an older white man. They’ve each been in the swamp too long and, despite decades-old video recordings of their disturbing bias toward women, they continue to assail Ford in an effort to destroy her cause.

Many observers suggest that this triumvirate is clinging to the shaky, leaking ship of the Trump presidency, at least until the November elections. They all fear Trump storming into their districts to campaign against them.

Maybe Democrats Are Learning to Play Hardball

Did Feinstein really hold off the Ford abuse complaint until the last minute of the Kavanaugh nomination procedure? She says she didn’t, noting that Ford was reluctant to go public.

Was Feinstein actually playing the kind political hardball that has been made infamous by McConnell? Depriving a president and the (true) majority who elected him from filling an empty Supreme Court Seat seems to this writer to go beyond hardball and smells of corruption of the democratic process.

Feinstein and company got the delays and the attention they wanted as the GOP leadership — in thrall to Trump and the Evangelical hierarchy — insulted and demeaned them, battling to prevent Ford from a fair hearing.

When and if Republicans lose the House majority in November, will these senators and other representatives break the shackles of ignorance and racism forged by this president? Will they, at least by their actions, recognize that this president has no respect for the rule of law and does not respect — perhaps doesn’t even understand — the principles and freedoms upon which this country was founded?

Bay Ridge Lawyers Take Lead in ‘Light the Night Walk’

Ever since former Bay Ridge Lawyers Association (BRLA) President Lisa Becker battled for her life and staved off a serious health challenge, BRLA members have gone to bat financially and in other ways to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by participating in the “Light the Night Walk,” which is scheduled this year for Saturday, Oct. 13 at 5:30 p.m. 

“This year they changed the location,” Becker said. “The new location is the Great Lawn at the College of Staten Island, located at 2800 Victory Blvd. The actual walk starts at 7 p.m. sharp. Last year, several members of our association met at about 6 p.m. and we walked together at this amazing event. We raised almost $3,300 and we received an award for raising the second largest amount!”


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