THE ODD LEGALESE OF WINNING AND LOSING – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My ex-husband, Larry Kaiser, was a young litigation attorney in New York City in 1979. His law firm assigned Pro Bono Appeals cases to junior associates as part of a public service program.

Larry was given the appeal of a defendant, Eric Michaels, who had been convicted, in a second trial, of rape, sodomy, robbery and burglary. His first trial had been declared a mistrial. It was clear that the defendant was rightfully convicted. He had definitely done it. So Larry had to look for a procedural irregularity that he could exploit to try to get the conviction overturned on appeal. That was his job, unsavory as it was.

Larry discovered that the trial judge, Judge Arnold Fraiman, had declared a mistrial for a questionable reason – he and several jurors were scheduled to leave on vacations. I believe the judge even had his wife and his packed suitcases in the courtroom. If this was seen as an abuse of discretion by the appellate court, it would invalidate the guilty verdict of the second trial. The entire second trial would be considered invalid as a violation of double jeopardy. You can only be tried once for any crime or crimes.

Larry was drowning in work so I helped him write this Pro Bono brief. It was very much a joint effort. I was practicing law at a small New York City law firm at the time. We won the appeals case and Eric Michaels was released from prison.

One morning shortly after the appellate verdict was rendered, I was getting out of bed and I heard Larry yelling from the living room. He had just opened the New York Times and found his case on the front page! The misconduct of Judge Fraiman was considered a big enough deal to warrant a prominent story. This was particularly true because his misconduct resulted in the release of a convicted rapist. The District Attorney of New York had described Eric Michaels’ crimes as some of the more vicious crimes prosecuted by the state in years.

Judge Fraiman was now in the spotlight. Larry was interviewed by several newspapers. Over the next few days, reporters dug into the Judge’s prior cases. And they discovered that the exact same thing had happened before. Judge Fraiman had previously declared a mistrial for the same reason – he was due to leave on vacation. His prior mistrial declaration had also been considered inappropriate by an appellate court. And again, an appellate court had released another guilty defendant back onto the streets because of Judge Fraiman’s actions in court.

This was now a really big judicial scandal. The story stayed in the news for a while and destroyed Judge Fraiman’s reputation. I think he may have been censured by the judiciary or by the Bar Association.

Larry always had mixed feelings about this case. He had won a major legal success and got his name in the New York Times.

On the other hand, he also helped get a rapist released from jail. This is often the plight of lawyers in the criminal field. It was also a prime reason I didn’t go into criminal law. Winning isn’t everything.

TWO MEMORABLE LEGAL CASES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I had a very short legal career. I practiced for three and a half years in two small, general practice firms in New York City.

The first firm I worked for was most memorable for its dissolution. The firm did some criminal law cases. So it was even more shocking to discover that one of the partners was being indicted. And not just for your run of the mill tax fraud or other dry, boring crime. He was indicted for aiding and abetting a child pornography ring!

The partner considered himself a wheeler-dealer. So he put two acquaintances together who he thought could do business. And they did. The business was child pornography! I was never clear about how much the partner knew about the illegal and grossly immoral activities. It was a devastating way to end a legal partnership. And of course I lost my job.

Me and my then husband when I was practicing law in NYC

I found another job, coincidentally in the same office building. What are the odds with all the offices in New York City? And it was the perfect location for my commute. It was right above Grand Central Terminal. So the subway to the office literally dropped me off next to my building.

My second law firm was also a small, general practice firm. We did a little bit of everything. Some Trusts and Estates, Corporate, Tax , etc. I had two memorable cases there, one in Criminal Law and one in Matrimonial Law.

My job in the criminal case was to deliver bail money from our client to the judge at the courthouse. It was cash in a brown paper bag. I’m not kidding! I had always thought that that was an urban legend. Apparently not. I actually handed a brown bag of cash to a judge and went home. Our client, skipped bail, as we had expected.

My second memorable case was a custody battle between two exes. Every other week I had to write motions accusing the ex husband of breaching the terms of the visitation agreement. For the family poodle. The complaints involved giving the dog too many treats and returning the dog to the ex wife in a hyper state, unable to go to sleep at night. I think I actually won a few of those motions.

It sounds trivial, but the level of emotional distress for my client was off the charts. I had to spend time on the phone with her calming her down and holding her hand. We laughed about the case at the office, but the couple were jerking each other around using the poor dog as a weapon. It was very uncomfortable to be in the middle of this battle.

So now you know the highlights of my legal career. Maybe you can understand why I haven’t missed it for 35 years!

A PRO BONO CASE THAT BECAME A FRONT PAGE SCANDAL – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My ex husband, Larry Kaiser, was a young litigation attorney in New York City in 1979. His law firm assigned Pro Bono Appeals cases to junior associates as part of a public service program.

Larry was given the appeal of a defendant, Eric Michaels, who had been convicted, in a second trial, of rape, sodomy, robbery and burglary. His first trial had been declared a mistrial. It was clear that the defendant was rightfully convicted. He had definitely done it. So Larry had to look for a procedural irregularity that he could exploit to try to get the conviction overturned on appeal. That was his job, unsavory as it was.

Larry discovered that the trial judge, Judge Arnold Fraiman, had declared a mistrial for a questionable reason – he and several jurors were scheduled to leave on vacations. I believe the judge even had his wife and his packed suitcases in the courtroom. If this was seen as an abuse of discretion by the appellate court, it would invalidate the guilty verdict of the second trial. The entire second trial would be considered invalid as a violation of double jeopardy. You can only be tried once for any crime or crimes.

Larry was drowning in work so I helped him write this Pro Bono brief. It was very much a joint effort. I was practicing law at a small New York City law firm at the time. We won the appeals case and Eric Michaels was released from prison.

One morning shortly after the appellate verdict was rendered, I was getting out of bed and I heard Larry yelling from the living room. He had just opened the New York Times and found his case on the front page! The misconduct of Judge Fraiman was considered a big enough deal to warrant a prominent story. This was particularly true because his misconduct resulted in the release of a convicted rapist. The District Attorney of New York had described Eric Michaels’ crimes as some of the more vicious crimes prosecuted by the state in years.

Judge Fraiman was now in the spotlight. Larry was interviewed by several newspapers. Over the next few days, reporters dug into the Judge’s prior cases. And they discovered that the exact same thing had happened before. Judge Fraiman had previously declared a mistrial for the same reason – he was due to leave on vacation. His prior mistrial declaration had also been considered inappropriate by an appellate court. And again, an appellate court had released another guilty defendant back onto the streets because of Judge Fraiman’s actions in court.

This was now a really big judicial scandal. The story stayed in the news for a while and destroyed Judge Fraiman’s reputation. I think he may have been censured by the judiciary or by the Bar Association.

Larry always had mixed feelings about this case. He had a major legal success and got his name in the New York Times. On the other hand, he helped get a rapist released from jail. This is often the plight of lawyers in the criminal field.

It was also a prime reason I didn’t go into criminal law. Winning isn’t everything.

RETHINKING GUNS

So, I finally have to ask this question. If your own or a loved ones life is the price you pay for supporting “everyone’s” right to have and use a gun … is it worth it? Really worth it? Is your career, supported by money from the National Rifle Association really and truly worth your own life? The life of a friend? Of a colleague?

I am sorry when anyone gets shot. Anyone, anywhere, at any time. This was yet one more meaningless shooting which could easily have been prevented. I’m sorry Steve Scalise is back in intensive care. Horrified that this crime apparently has not even given gun advocates some pause to consider that maybe there is a way to control guns without eliminating them. To at least keep them out of the hands of those patently unable to control their use … including children, toddlers, and mental patients who’ve slipped off medications and are wandering the streets, looking for targets.

Guys, maybe you could consider rethinking your position? Even a small movement in the direction of simple commonsense might stop at least some of the killing.


A little more from Garry Armstrong:


There’s always been a nonsensical reaction to the issue of gun regulation in the United States. I did myriad stories during my career about illegal weapons used in gang wars, drive by shootings and mentally deranged people killing and or seriously injuring innocent bystanders. Gun lobbyists always said “It’s unfortunate but you can’t legislate because of isolated incidents”. Isolated, my rear end!! If you tally the number of “collateral damage” victims — just in the past 50 years — the numbers are staggering. It was popular to say the gun violence occurred mostly in the inner cities and “Those people were just killing each other off”.

Check again and note the shootings in upscale, predominantly white communities — just in the last calendar year. Few of “those people” were involved.

It’s a national nightmare that behooves people of all political persuasion to realize that “ALL lives matter!”.

CRISP TREES AND TELEVISION TESTIMONY

A CRISP AND SHINY DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Today is one lovely early summer’s day. After all the cold and rain, this is the kind of day you hope for. It’s the first beautiful day in a quite a while.

It’s also the day James Comey — America’s former FBI Director — is giving live-on-television testimony about his relationship with America’s president. We are expecting a great television experience.

For a goodly number of us, it brings back nostalgic waves of memory for the Good Old Days of Dick Nixon and Watergate which oddly, doesn’t seem like nearly as big a deal now as it did then. Time puts everything into perspective.  I do not have my popcorn ready because it is too early in the morning for anything quite that salty and crunchy.

Later, after the Big Show, I’m sure I’ll have something more to say on the subject. Or not. It’s hard to know how I’ll feel. Later.

To keep your visually occupied,  these are some very crisp photographs I created last night while I was messing around with pictures. That’s what I do while there’s stuff on television in which I’m not terribly interested. I go through the files of pictures from the past few months to see what I’ve shot, but never did anything about.

These were originally photographs of young, leafy oak trees on a very bright day in May.

I love shooting upward towards the sun, but I’m never sure what to do with the pictures. Unless there’s a special set of clouds or birds or something, well. There are just so many pictures of leafy trees that anyone needs, so I wanted to find something different for these.

I think I would call these pictures crisp. Let me know what you think. They are a highly filtered form of line drawing or sketch. I think I like them.

DOGS GONE BAD – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Marilyn and I follow lots of those TV procedural crime shows. We anticipate all the cliché lines.

“Stay in the car”

“He was turning his life around.”

“Everyone loved him.”

“No one was supposed to get hurt!”

72-Bishop-Portrait-122415_15

We usually figure out who the “vics” and “perps” are before the coppers and lawyers find the answer, often before the credits finish rolling. Now, fiction has turned to cold, hard reality in our home. We are the victims. Not the mob, not the cabal, not even some local mokes looking for an easy score.

It’s an inside job and the perps are our DOGS!

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They’ll smile, offer constant affection and cheer us up when we aren’t feeling good. But it’s part of their sting.

Food is the motive. Their “jackets” are full of priors. Most are misdemeanors but now they’ve moved up the chain to felony. Bonnie, our beloved Scottie, is the boss. She leads the furry gang in snatches, intimidation, assault (head butting), larceny and perjury.

Amber

We’ve tried to turn their lives around with extra Christmas goodies, more fun battles on the love seat and long chats to emphasize our affection.

But Bonnie and her accomplices are food-driven. Nothing we do can stop this furry reign of terror. We don’t want to profile Bonnie because she is black, and we are afraid of possible lawsuits. Perhaps the IA people can check out her background.

72-Bonnie-Mar-110615_047

Bonnie, clearly driven to revenge, is hell-bent on retribution because … we’ve put her on a diet. Bonnie is relentless in stealing Marilyn’s food. She stalks Marilyn and refuses to back down when confronted. The other dogs make sure Bonnie’s six is protected.

We’ve tried so hard to show them the path to a good life but their crimes are senseless.

Generosity… That was our first mistake.