Brooklyn legal professionals converge for three key CLE sessions

Legal experts discuss housing discrimination, surrogate’s court and false arrest in BBA CLE series

November 6, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
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In its continuing effort to provide relevant continuing education for local attorneys, the Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA) has rolled out a trio of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) sessions.

Spanning two days, from Monday, Oct. 16 to Tuesday, Oct. 17, the sessions targeted a range of subjects. On Monday, attorneys could first immerse themselves in “Serving a Diverse Population in Real Estate,” a discourse emphasizing the nuances of property transactions in a multicultural society.

This was followed by a deep dive into “Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias for the Surrogate’s Court Practitioner”, a critical conversation for those navigating the intricacies of probate and estate administration.

The sessions concluded on Tuesday with “False Arrest 101: Can you take that ACD and still sue?”, shedding light on the procedural and strategic considerations of potential litigation after an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Serving a Diverse Population in Real Estate

This vital CLE lecture was presented by Keith Madden, a seasoned professional with over 15 years in the real estate domain who currently serves as vice president and underwriting counsel at Stewart Title Insurance Company.

The seminar started with a brief overview of when and why the diversity credit became a requisite for legal professionals. In the following segment, Madden highlighted multiple court cases, emphasizing the urgent need for anti-discrimination laws and their enforcement.

Keith Madden, vice president and underwriting counsel at Stewart Title Insurance Company, presenting on “Serving a Diverse Population in Real Estate” at the Brooklyn Bar Association’s CLE series.
Photo: Robert Abruzzese

The focus then shifted to the Federal Fair Housing Act, underlining its objective to prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability, especially in housing-related transactions. Madden elaborated on the protected classes and prohibited conducts, ensuring that attendees gained a comprehensive understanding of the law.

New York’s legal framework was also thoroughly examined. Madden compared and contrasted the Federal Fair Housing Act with the New York State Human Rights Act and the New York City Human Rights Law. Notably, the latter encompasses a broad range of protected classes, including age, gender identity, lawful occupation and status as a veteran, among others.

Madden shared alarming real-world scenarios that shed light on discrimination in housing. From potential tenants being denied opportunities based on race or family status to landlords refusing reasonable modifications for physically challenged tenants, these incidents underscored the pervasive nature of discrimination and the importance of legislative measures.

Furthermore, Madden highlighted the innovative Fair Housing Enforcement Program, where the Division of Homes and Community Renewal deploys trained “testers” to detect and document discriminatory behaviors in the housing market. This proactive approach aims not only to detect but also to deter and penalize instances of bias and discrimination.

Concluding the seminar, Madden stressed the Department of State’s intent to ensure strict adherence to anti-discrimination laws, including the potential revocation of licenses for any real estate broker or salesperson found guilty of discriminatory practices.

Diversity & Inclusion Highlighted at Surrogate’s Court Seminar

This event spotlighted the importance of understanding the varied needs of clients and communities that practitioners serve.

The seminar was graced by the insights of three esteemed legal figures. Mary Kim serves as the supervising court attorney-referee at Kings County Surrogate’s Court. A graduate of New York University and Brooklyn Law School, Kim has played various prominent roles in her career, including a position as assistant attorney general at the NYS Attorney General’s Office. Originally from South Korea and raised in New York City, Kim often cites her son Mac as her proudest achievement.

Thomas Sciacca, principal of the Law Offices of Thomas Sciacca, PLLC, is a recognized “Super Lawyer” with an LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law. Over the years, Sciacca has been an active participant and advocate in the New York legal community, frequently lecturing and ardently advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

Pamela Walker has been a steadfast attorney in private practice since 2003. Specializing in areas like probate/administration and real estate, Walker holds influential roles within the New York State Bar Association and the Brooklyn Bar Association.

Mary Kim, supervising court attorney-referee at the Kings County Surrogate’s Court, discussing “Diversity, Inclusion, and Elimination of Bias for the Surrogate’s Court Practitioner” at the BBA CLE.
Photo: Robert Abruzzese

The seminar delved into multiple topics, with a significant focus on the Surrogate’s Court’s role in serving a diverse populace. Areas of discussion spanned from the challenges faced by unmarried and LGBTQ+ clients to the critical role of interpreters and accommodations for those with disabilities.

A salient message from the event underscored the imperative for practitioners to familiarize themselves with the intricacies of various communities’ concerns. Such knowledge ensures that they can provide superior client service and representation.

False Arrest 101 Seminar Explores the Nuances of Civil Rights Cases

Led by Cary Langdon, a distinguished figure in the civil rights sector, the seminar provided insights into the intricacies of pursuing a false arrest claim in New York.

Cary Langdon, partner at Shulman & Hill, PLLC and chair of the firm’s Civil Rights Division, is renowned for his extensive legal background. Overseeing more than 5,000 civil rights cases and having affiliations with institutions such as Brooklyn Defender Services, the NYPD, Bronx District Attorney’s Office, as well as a clerkship under Supreme Court Justice Richard Lee Price, Langdon’s perspective is grounded in vast experience.

Opening with an introduction, the seminar shifted to the core topic that dissected the five critical elements that constitute a civil rights case.

Loss of Liberty was highlighted as a pivotal point. Langdon emphasized that any form of freedom deprivation, be it a night’s stay in jail or a brief moment of being handcuffed, falls under this category.

Another significant area touched upon was State Initiated Police Contact. Langdon detailed that the NYPD has no obligation to further investigate once an allegation is presented. The primary duty is to arrest the accused individual unless there exists exculpatory evidence that contradicts the claim.

Other areas of discussion included the nuances surrounding an arrest made without a warrant, situations leading to an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) or a dismissal, and circumstances where the client refutes the alleged conduct.

Langdon explored other facets of civil rights cases. He discussed the intricacies of search warrants, the nitty-gritty of sample charges and complaints, and elaborated on the evolving landscape post the removal of Qualified Immunity (QI).

One of the seminar’s standout segments was the discussion on the Notice of Claim. Langdon meticulously explained the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” doctrine. He dissected scenarios where the outcome of an illegal search could significantly influence subsequent legal actions, illuminating the stark contrast in approaches between federal and state claims. The critical takeaway? The paramount importance of a timely and sufficiently detailed Notice of Claim to safeguard state law claims.

A Glimpse into the Upcoming CLE Sessions:

Bridging Medical and Legal Knowledge in Personal Injury Litigation

On Nov. 14, from 6 to 8 p.m.., this CLE aims to enhance the understanding of personal injury lawyers about the medical domain. The session, featuring insights from plaintiff attorney Anthony Sears of Shulman & Hill, defense attorney Caithlin Robin of CRA and Dr. Keyvan Jahanbakhsh, emphasizes the criticality of a profound knowledge of medical procedures and conditions in personal injury cases. This knowledge can substantially influence a lawyer’s efficacy in case navigation, understanding medical records, and questioning during legal proceedings.

Exploring the Life and Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Scheduled for Nov. 15, at 1 p.m. via Zoom, this CLE offers an in-depth look into the career and contributions of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Guided by Rudy Carmenaty, deputy commissioner of the Nassau County Department of Social Services, attendees will gain a comprehensive understanding of Justice Ginsburg’s impact on the legal landscape. This session also holds significance for its provision of a Diversity Credit.

Introduction to Special Education Law at OATH’s Division

On Nov. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m., a detailed CLE session will focus on the nuances of special education law. Presented by Noel Garcia, deputy commissioner at SEHD, along with Daniel Hochbaum and Ashley Grant, both Impartial Hearing Officers at SEHD, it aims to elucidate the federal and state special education regulations, specifically the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The CLE will also shed light on New York City’s administrative due process history and the establishment of the OATH Special Education Hearings Division.

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