News Item

MyCase Acquired by AppFolio

Image representing Appfolio as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

Earlier this week, it was announced that the company for which I work, MyCase, which provides an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for lawyers, was acquired by AppFolio

Words cannot express how excited I am by this news! Appfolio, a company backed by $30 million in venture capital and which provides cloud computing services for a number of verticals, including property management and secure virtual data rooms, is an amazing company made up of amazing people. It was founded by the very same people who created GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC.

Mycase_logo (1)The MyCase team will remain intact, with fellow attorney Matt Speigel at the helm, and we will work just as diligently as we always have to improve our product and exceed our customers expectations. The only change will be that we now have more resources to grow and develop the MyCase platform.

Needless to say, I am thrilled to be a part of this tremendously talented team and am looking forward to making MyCase the best it can be!

Judge Kaye Sues to Obtain Pay Increase for New York Judges

Gavel2 Judge Kaye has thrown down the gauntlet and followed through on her promise to sue to enforce a pay increase for New York State judges.  A copy of the Summons and Complaint can be accessed here.

As reported in this article from the New York Law Journal, the lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court just one day after the legislature failed to include a pay raise for New York judges in the state's budget. 

As explained in the article:

The suit...argues that the governor and the Legislature, by failing to enact a raise for the state's 1,300 judges, have failed to uphold their constitutional obligation to provide for an independent judiciary. The complaint also contends that the other branches of government have effectively come to violate a provision of the state Constitution prohibiting the pay of judges from being diminished...

Two other suits for higher judicial pay are also before state courts. The actions, filed by individual judges and supported by some judicial organizations, are on appeal before the Appellate Divisions in the First and Third departments. Supreme Court justices allowed the claims to go forward in each case on the separation-of-powers argument that Mr. Nussbaum also makes in Chief Judge Kaye's suit.

What an interesting development.  I can't wait to see how it plays out.

Hat tip:  New York Personal Injury Law Blog


Maggie Brooks--Have You Been Reading My Column?

Maggie I suspect that she has--or at least someone at the County Law Department read my recent article: It all Depends on How You Define Marriage.

As reported in this Democrat and Chronicle article, the County intends to appeal the Martinez decision, in which the Fourth Department held that valid marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions must be recognized in New York.

From the D & C article:

On Friday, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks announced that the county would appeal the appellate court ruling to protect taxpayers. "We certainly cannot ignore the definition of marriage that currently exists under New York state law," she said in a statement...A county statement issued Friday states: "According to the New York state law, marriage is an institution that exists strictly between a man and a woman..."

And, this from a article:

On Friday, Monroe County's top political official, Republican executive Maggie Brooks, announced that the judges' clear "misinterpretation" of New York law must be challenged, and ..argued that "we're letting people in Ontario, Canada define marriage for people who live in New York State. I don't think that's appropriate."

And, finally, from my Daily Record article published on February 12, 2008:

From a philosophical standpoint, I agree wholeheartedly with the Fourth Department, just as I found the dissent’s argument in Hernandez to be far more palatable than the majority’s...Determination of the issues raised in Hernandez necessarily revolve around the definition of the term “marriage.” The concept is not defined in the Domestic Relations Law and, instead, has been refined through case law...As explained in Hernandez, “implicitly or explicitly, the Domestic Relations Law limits marriage to opposite-sex couples.” In New York, in other words, the term “marriage” is limited to a marriage contract entered into between a man and a woman. That another jurisdiction chooses to define marriage more broadly than New York may not require our state to expand its concept of marriage.

I hesitated prior to penning my column about the Martinez decision when I realized that my legal analysis potentially lead to a result that conflicted with my philosophical views.  However, I felt that the decision was too important to ignore.  And, I felt that to address the decision by either avoiding any legal analysis or to alter my legal analysis simply because I did not like where it lead would be disingenuous, at best.

So, write about it, I did.  And, perhaps I offered ammunition to the County.  Or, perhaps my humble article wasn't even on its radar.  I'll never know. 

But, I'm comfortable with my decision to write about the decision as I did.  And, isn't that what's important?

Hat tip: New York Legal Update.

Judicial selection, certifications and lies, oh my.

Checkmark Just a few quick New York highlights--direct from Florida.

Old news already, but important news:  the United States Supreme Court has upheld New York's judicial selection process.  More here from Simple Justice and New York Legal Update.

And, in Reddington v. Staten Island University Hospital, ___F.3d___(2d Cir. Dec. 14, 2007)the Second Circuit certified the following questions to the New York Court of Appeals:

(1)Does the institution of a time-barred claim pursuant to New York Labor Law § 740 simultaneously with a claim pursuant to New York Labor Law § 741 trigger section 740(7)’s waiver provision and thereby bar the section 741 claim, even if the section 740 claim is subsequently withdrawn?

(2) Does the definition of employee in New York Labor Law § 741 encompass an individual who does not render medical treatment, and under what circumstances?

Hat tip:  Adjunct Law Prof Blog.

Finally, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York criticized the CIA's handling of interrogation tapes. (NY Times) 

Flying the Friendly Skies

050902_usair_katrina_hmedhmedium In the last 5 years, has at least one of your flights been delayed for hours on end with no explanation whatsoever?  Have you sprinted through a terminal past multiple fast food restaurants in an effort to catch your connecting flight, your stomach rumbling, knowing full well that you can't stop--and that you'll be fed no more than 10 peanuts during your flight, even though it occurs during a mealtime? Have you felt as if you were performing some sort of bizarre strip tease at the security check points?  Have you ever stood in an airport cursing the unhelpful and downright surly personnel under your breath, or even out loud?

I know I have.

So, I can totally relate to the irate reaction that Carol Ann Gotbaum, a New Yorker, apparently exhibited after gate crews refused to allow her to board her flight, even though the plane was still in the gate. 

Granted, she was late, but who knows why she was late?  Perhaps her prior flight had been delayed?  Maybe she'd been detained by security because it was the third Tuesday of the month, thus mandating the detention of every fifth woman with brown hair who walked with a limp and wore a size 7 shoe. I mean honestly--who the hell knows what sort of ridiculous system TSA has in place on any given day.

And who knows what was waiting for her at the end of her flight?  Perhaps an ailing child or relative?  An important and time sensitive business meeting?  Cutting edge cancer treatment?

Airport and security personnel at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix likely had no more knowledge than I as to what peculiar set of circumstances led her to become so irate.  And, I doubt they really cared.  Their solution was to handcuff her and place her in an airport holding cell--where she died, as explained in this AP article:

A traveler who may have accidentally choked herself to death while handcuffed in an airport holding cell was a "wonderful" woman and mother, according to New York City's public advocate, who is her relative...

The events that led to Gotbaum's death began when she became irate over not being allowed on a US Airways flight, though she was rebooked on a later flight, officials said. Officers handcuffed her and took her to the holding room, where she kept screaming, authorities said. They checked on her when she became quiet and found her unresponsive, said Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill.

It appears Gotbaum may have tried to get out of her handcuffs, which ended up around her neck, Hill said. A medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

I don't know about you, but the next time I travel, I'm taking the train.

Tax the Rich to Feed the Indebted?

Pigs_flyThis New York Law Journal article from this week's Legal News Round Up deserves further attention:  Tax on BigLaw Attorneys Proposed to Subsidize Loans of NY's Public Lawyers.

From the article:

Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo last night called for legislation to help attorneys working in the public sector cover the cost of repaying their student loans....He proposed that the program be funded by increasing the $250 fee for taking the bar exam and the $350 fee for biannual state registration for attorneys employed by large and mid-sized firms.

What an absolutely fabulous idea, dahling! 

Let's pull a Robin Hood on BigLaw and tax the cold hearted, rich bastards at the top of the legal ladder and send some of that money downhill to the lowly  do-gooder Legal Aid lawyer-types--those naive "true believers" who actually want to try and make a difference in the world--aka--the alleged "losers" that those who attended "top tier" law schools wouldn't dare be seen with in public, lest they be taunted endlessly by their colleagues, most of whom seem to spend inordinate amounts of time leaving nasty, misogynistic, anonymous comments at The Volokh Conspiracy, The Wall Street Journal Law Blog and Above the Law blogs.

Oh, that such a law would come to pass!

Call me cynical, but I just don't see it happening.  There's no way that the most powerful attorneys in New York would allow it to happen.  And, this less-than-rousing endorsement from the speech of the bill's sponsor serves only to support my suspicions that a law of this sort will never come to fruition:

There is some slight hope in both Albany and Washington that some kind of loan forgiveness program might become a reality. This year the State created a limited loan forgiveness program, structured along the lines I just mentioned, for attorneys employed by district attorney offices in the state Unfortunately, the Legislature appropriated just $1.5 million to fund the program, which expires in any event a year from now. Moreover, the legislation is limited to district attorneys offices, and, unlike other legislation that has been introduced in Albany, doesn’t include public defenders, attorneys representing state or local governments, or civil legal service attorneys. (Emphasis added).

Oh, and forget what I said about do-gooder Legal Aid types.  Apparently just those who prosecute stand to even have a chance of benefiting from a loan forgiveness program.  Imagine that.

Mark my words, the only time public interest lawyers will experience loan forgiveness straight from the pockets of BigLaw is when when pigs fly.

Live Webcast of Court of Appeals Arguments Today In Death Penalty Case

Gavel2As reported in this NY Sun article, today the New York Court of Appeals will hear an appeal by the last inmate remaining on death row.  From the article:

The state's highest court today will hear an appeal by the last inmate on New York's death row. In the process, the Court of Appeals, which sits in Albany, will decide the future of capital punishment in New York State, legal analysts say.

There has been no active death penalty statute in the state since 2004, when the Court of Appeals struck down capital punishment on a technical point involving the instructions judges gave jurors. That decision, however, does not automatically protect John Taylor, whose death sentence was handed down in 2002, from execution.

The court's decision in the appeal will determine whether the earlier ruling only applies to some capital prosecutions, or to all. The effect of a ruling upholding Taylor's death sentence could be to revive death penalty prosecutions across the state.

The argument began at 9:30 a.m. and is being broadcast via live web cast at the Court's website as we speak.  Click here to view it.

An archived webcast of the entire proceeding will be posted on the New York Court of Appeals web site on September 11th, 2007 and will remain available for several months.

Continue reading "Live Webcast of Court of Appeals Arguments Today In Death Penalty Case" »

AG Appeals NY Lawyering Advertising Ruling

Attorney_ads Earlier today, the Attorney General filed a Notice of Appeal challenging the ruling of federal district court Judge Scullin which declared certain provisions of the recently enacted lawyer advertising rules unconstitutional, as more fully explained in this post.

As reported in this Business Review article:

At the 11th hour, the state Attorney General's office filed a notice of appeal seeking to reverse a decision that found many of New York's attorney advertising guidelines to be unconstitutional...

The case was brought by Public Citizen that represented its members, attorney James Alexander and Syracuse law firm Alexander & Catalano LLC.

"We'll keep fighting; we're not going to give up at this point," Greg Beck, an attorney who litigated the case for Public Citizen, said about the appeal. "I think the district court's decision was careful and well-reasoned and I have a hard time feeling it will be reversed on appeal"...

The court permanently banned enforcement of most of the challenged rules against attorney advertising, including rules against attention-getting techniques; use of nicknames and mottos; use of client testimonials; portrayal of judges; and use of Internet pop-up ads.

Yet another interesting development in this lawsuit.  I'm looking forward to following this appeal and will provide updates as I learn more.

My prior posts on this issue can be found here.

Don't Believe the Hype

Black_man_jailIt would seem from this AP headline that our illustrious law enforcement officers have once snatched another dangerous, home-grown "terrorist" right off the streets:  College student accused of terror threat.

According to the article: 

He allegedly sold a fully automatic M-16 assault rifle he never owned. And a court document says he was seen walking around campus wearing a bullet-resistant vest in May....Police said they found a handwritten note inside his car threatening a "murderous rampage" similar to the one at Virginia Tech that left 32 people and the gunman dead...At the time of Oduwole's arrest, federal authorities had been investigating a gun dealer's concerns that Oduwole seemed overly eager to receive guns he had purchased online.

Oh my!  This kid sounds downright scary, doesn't he? 

Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement, it would seem that another awful school shooting has been prevented!  Hallelujah!

Or, maybe the whole thing was blown out of proportion by overzealous cops?  Naaaah.  That never happens, right?


From what I can glean from the above article and this Chicago Tribune article, Mr. Olutosin Oduwole was screwed over badly--and then some.  Currently he's charged with Attempting to Make a Terrorist threat and unrelated fraud charges and is being held on $1.1 million in bail.

So, how did all this come about?  Well, it seems that Mr. Oduwele, a black college student and president of his fraternity, legally ordered guns from a gun dealer, but seemed "over eager" to receive them.  So, the gun dealer notified federal authorities.  And the fishing expidition investigation thus commenced. 

After an initial investigation the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms discovered that a report was pending with local police regarding a fraudulent online auction transaction that Mr. Oduwele was involved in.  It seems that he sold an M-16 that he didn't actually own, and deposited the money, approximately $1000, into his bank account.  The buyer was understandably upset when he didn't  receive his gun, so he called the cops.

Assuming that the facts allaged are true, clearly, Mr. Oduwele engaged in some sort of fraud/theft.  But, that's a far cry from "terrorism", isn't it?  The "evidence" discovered shortly thereafter, which "support" the charges against him regarding alleged acts of terrorism are, in my humble opinion, built on a house of cards, at best. 

After he was arrested for the theft, for some reason the police impounded his abandoned car that was located on university property.  In that car--his car, mind you--they foound a scrap of paper on the front seat.  Rap lyrics were written on one side and on the other side they found "a handwritten note demanding payment to a PayPal account, threatening that 'if this account doesn't reach $50,000 in the next 7 days then a murderous rampage similar to the VT shooting will occur at another highly populated university. THIS IS NOT A JOKE!'"

Mind you, this note was found in his abandoned car.  He hadn't given it to anyone.  He hadn't left it laying around on a table at the library.  He hadn't mailed it to anyone.  It wasn't a copy of an email that he'd sent.  It was simply a scrap of paper with lyrics on one side and this ridiculous note on the other.

The cops then searched his campus apartment and located a loaded gun.  But, wait!  There's even more evidence that he intended to bomb his school--the cops found a photo of him flashing gang signs !  Yes, it's true!

If anyone's guilty of planning acts of terror, it's this kid.  He sold a gun he didn't own, he scribbled a threat on a scrap of paper and had the audacity to leave it on the front seat of his car, he legally purchased guns and was "eager" to receive them, and he legally owned a gun which he kept in his campus apartment.  And his worst offense?  He flashed "gang signs."  I say we lock him up and throw away the key!  How about it?

For a summary of the "proof" against him gleaned from the court affidavit of an investigator, see this Newsday article.

Outrageous.  What have we become?

"Ring of Steel" Around Manhattan--The Allure of a False Sense of Security

Big_brother In the past I've discussed  New York City's plans to build a "ring of steel" in the form of hundreds, if not thousands of security cameras, around Lower Manhattan.  In spite of financial setbacks last summer resulting from a 40% cut in a Homeland security grant, it now appears that the plan may now be moving ahead. 

Last week, in a New York Times article, the security plan to be implemented was described as follows:

Mr. Kelly said last week that the department had since obtained $25 million toward the estimated $90 million cost of the plan. Fifteen million dollars came from the city, he said, while another $10 million came from Homeland Security grants, more than enough to install 116 license plate readers in fixed and mobile locations, including cars and helicopters, in the coming months...

The license plate readers would check the plates’ numbers and send out alerts if suspect vehicles were detected. The city is already seeking state approval to charge drivers a fee to enter Manhattan below 86th Street, which would require the use of license plate readers. If the plan is approved, the police will most likely collect information from those readers too, Mr. Kelly said.

But the downtown security plan involves much more than keeping track of license plates. Three thousand surveillance cameras would be installed below Canal Street by the end of 2008, about two-thirds of them owned by downtown companies. Some of those are already in place. Pivoting gates would be installed at critical intersections; they would swing out to block traffic or a suspect car at the push of a button.

Unlike the 250 or so cameras the police have already placed in high-crime areas throughout the city, which capture moving images that have to be downloaded, the security initiative cameras would transmit live information instantly...

The Police Department is still considering whether to use face-recognition technology, an inexact science that matches images against those in an electronic database, or biohazard detectors in its Lower Manhattan network, Mr. Browne said.

Ah yes, I feel safer already.  So what if that feeling is illusory, as evidenced by the fact that the ridiculous number of surveillance cameras in London did nothing to prevent the subway bombings or the recent terrorist attacks?  Even if the cameras don't protect us in the all-important-reality that we actually live in, at least we feel better about it, right? 

And damned if the cameras don't help us to catch the bad guys after the fact!  We may not be able to prevent a future attack, but at least we can locate the the bad guys that caused it!   And then, we can fry 'em to boot!

Take a deep cleansing breath.  Do you smell that?  No, no, not the smell of the bad guy's burning flesh.  The other smell.  You smell it now?  The sweet, sweet smell of vindication.  Vindication to the tune of 25 million dollars or more.

Hey, it's a lotta cash, but, it's the price we've got to pay to ensure that we'll never, ever die, no matter what.  Or, at least if we do die in Lower Manhatten, rest assured it will be caught on tape, in real time, as it happens. 

I sure feel better now, don't you?