NEWS RELEASE: Pace Law School and the NY State Judicial Institute to Present Panel on CHallenges to Judicial Independence

Justice Freedman, New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Justice Baer, U.S. District Judge for the State of New York, and Justice Alan Scheinkman, Chief Administrative Judge for the Ninth Judicial District, will discuss judicial independence and the rule of law at a program at Pace Law School on Tuesday, November 15. Moderated by Pace Law School Professor Jay Carlisle, this distinguished panel of judges will share personal struggles with challenges to independence. They will also discuss examples from around the world.

Judges Under Fire
On Nov. 15, Pace Law School and the NY State Judicial Institute to present panel on dire challenges to judicial independence threatening the rule of law

“An independent judiciary adhering to the rule of law is so fundamental to the successful functioning of a just society that 21st century Americans cannot conceive of a social order that does not recognize that basic principal,” wrote Justice Helen E. Freedman in the New York Law Journal about a much celebrated book by Justice Harold Baer. Yet, judicial independence and adherence to the rule of law requires constant vigilance, as Judge Baer’s book, Judges Under Fire: Human Rights, Independent Judges, and the Rule of Law, illustrates in six different stories spanning the globe over several centuries.

Justice Freedman, New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Justice Baer, U.S. District Judge for the State of New York, and Justice Alan Scheinkman, Chief Administrative Judge for the Ninth Judicial District, will discuss judicial independence and the rule of law at a program at Pace Law School on Tuesday, November 15. Moderated by Pace Law School Professor Jay Carlisle, this distinguished panel of judges will share personal struggles with challenges to independence. They will also discuss examples from around the world.

Challenges to judicial independence may be found in today’s news, as well, as several campaigning Republican presidential candidates have attacked the federal courts and the role they play. Rick Perry has called for term limits for Supreme Court justices; Michele Bachman and Ron Paul say they would forbid the court from deciding cases concerning same-sex marriage; and Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have indicated they want to abolish the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, calling it a “rogue” court that is “consistently radical.”

A personal challenge to judicial independence

In his book, Justice Baer details the highly contested, widely covered ruling he made in 1995, less than a year after his appointment to the federal bench. The controversy centered on a motion granted by Justice Baer to suppress 80 pounds of heroin and cocaine with a street value of over $5 million that was obtained by stopping a car.

As Judge Freedman noted in her book review: “At the hearing, Judge Baer found that based on the testimony of the junior officer who claimed to have witnessed a drug transaction and the videotaped confession of the defendant, Carolyn Bayless, the police did not have reasonable suspicion sufficient for the arrest. […] In response to this ruling, two hundred members of Congress wrote to President Bill Clinton demanding that he seek Judge Baer’s resignation. White House spokesperson Michael McCurry weighed in with a threatening statement, but later changed course when Second Circuit Judges, led by Chief Judge Jon Newman, excoriated the other two branches of government for their clearly unconstitutional demands and pointed out how the criticism had reached a level that threatened judicial independence.”

In the end, Judge Baer reversed his ruling following a rehearing during which the government presented a fuller case and the defendant inexplicably took the stand. Judge Baer was criticized for this decision, as well.

Date: November 15, 5-5:30 p.m. Registration and Reception; 5:30-7 p.m. Panel discussion (CLE program)

Location: New York State Judicial Institute (Lecture Hall)
Pace Law School campus
84 North Broadway, White Plains

Free and open to the public. Judge Baer’s book will be available for purchase prior to the event.

To register for CLE credit, please contact Linda Maccarrone at (914) 422-4062, or visit www.law.pace.edu/ccle

Contact:

Lauren Rubenstein
Manager, Media Relations
Pace Law School
(914) 422-4389
cell (914) 329-8680
lrubenstein@law.pace.edu

 

The Journal News: Jury’s Role Can’t Be Undermined by Media Coverage

Pace Law professor Randolph McLaughlin is a regular contributor to The Journal News on Legal Matters. In this opinion piece he offers perspective on two legal cases that have caused recent media frenzy, the Casey Anthony trial and the Doninique Strauss-Kahn case. In the case of the former, the public may not have liked the verdict but, he says, the legal system was working at its best. In the case of the latter, McLaughlin feels special treatment of the rich and powerful may be at play in a case that he feels should go to trial.

Pace Law professor Randolph McLaughlin is a regular contributor to The Journal News on legal matters. In this opinion piece he offers perspective on two legal cases that have caused recent media frenzy, the Casey Anthony trial and the Doninique Strauss-Kahn case. In the case of the former, the public may not have liked the verdict but, he says, the legal system was working at its best. In the case of the latter, McLaughlin feels special treatment of the rich and powerful may be at play in a case that he feels should go to trial.

THE JOURNAL NEWS: Release of Food Pantry Surveillance Video Could Pose Twist to Harrison Case

Pace Law Professor Ralph Stein was called upon for his expertise regarding a case in Harrison. (Left: Pace Law professor Ralph Stein).

Pace Law Professor Ralph Stein was called upon for his expertise regarding a case in Harrison.

Speaking generally about criminal cases, Ralph Stein, professor at the Pace University School of Law, said such evidence “has been the basis for a motion to change the venue.”

Release of food pantry surveillance video could pose twist to Harrison case | The Journal News | lohud.com.

DailyFinance:”Toyota Recalls – Why the Government Reports Aren’t an All-Clear”

Toyota’s bungled handling of big recalls involving its Toyota and Lexus vehicles led to a record $48.8 million in fines by the federal government. The media blitz that accompanied the recalls drove down sales in the U.S. and led to numerous lawsuits.

“I think Toyota blew it early on,” says Paul Kurnit, clinical professor of marketing at Pace University. “Acting not unlike a deer caught in headlights, Toyota management went into denial mode,” he says.

Will the official reports just released from NHTSA and NASA boost consumer confidence for the Toyota brand and give the company a leg up in its legal battles?  Pace Professors Paul Kurnit (marketing) and Steven Goldberg (law) discuss whether the world’s largest automaker can restore its battered reputation for safety and quality with David Schepp of AOL’s DailyFinance.

Pace Law School Hosting 2nd Annual Entertainment Law Program

To keep students abreast of changes in the entertainment industry, Pace Law School adjunct professor and alumnus, Vernon Brown (left), is convening the second annual entertainment law panel, “Where Do I Sign.” The entertainment industry’s biggest execs and labels, including Cash Money Records, and top sports lawyers and agents, will give students a true insiders’ look at how the industry operates from the legal perspective.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Cathy Lewis, Director of Marketing and Communications, Pace Law School, 914.422.4128 – cdreilinger@law.pace.edu

“Where Do I Sign” to Feature Music and Sports Execs

White Plains, N.Y., November 1, 2010 – To keep students abreast of changes in the entertainment industry, Pace Law School adjunct professor and alumnus, Vernon Brown, is convening the second annual entertainment law panel, “Where Do I Sign.” The entertainment industry’s biggest execs and labels, including Cash Money Records, and top sports lawyers and agents, will give students a true insiders’ look at how the industry operates from the legal perspective. The program is open to faculty, law students and Pace University undergraduates, as well.

Professor Brown, who graduated Pace Law School in 1996, is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of V. Brown & Company, Inc. Located in New York City, the company represents recording artists, film producers, fashion models, actors and sports stars. His Entertainment Law classes are very popular because he provides a real-life, hands-on approach. “Instead of teaching only through lectures, he gives students the opportunity to hear from his clients and colleagues,” remarked one student.

“Where Do I Sign”
Tuesday November 2, 2010
7:00PM- 9:00PM
Moot Court Room – Pace Law School
Moderator:

Michael Reinert, Executive VP Business Affairs of the Universal Music Group

Panelists (partial list):
Professor Vernon Brown
Bryan “Birdman’ Williams, Owner, Cash Money Records
Tracy Lartique, Sports Agent, CAA Sports

For more information about the panel discussion, please contact Beryl Brown, Adjunct Faculty Liaison, at 422-4264 or at bbrown@law.pace.edu.

Pace University School of Law has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law. On its White Plains, NY, campus, it offers JD programs and the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, including the nation’s first graduate level programs in Climate Change and Land Use and Sustainable Development, and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in Environmental Law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu.

NEWS RELEASE: The Pace Energy and Climate Center Received Award for Work on Clean Energy and Sustainability

For its work as a “tireless advocate” for clean energy, the Pace Energy and Climate Center received the Outstanding Outreach Partner Award from the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) at its annual meeting in Albany this afternoon.

Receives Outstanding Outreach Partner Award at ACE NY Annual Meeting

WHITE PLAINS, NY, October 28, 2010 – For its work as a “tireless advocate” for clean energy, the Pace Energy and Climate Center received the Outstanding Outreach Partner Award from the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) at its annual meeting in Albany this afternoon.  Presented by ACE NY’s Executive Director, Carol Murphy, this award recognizes exemplary leadership and outstanding work done on behalf of clean energy and sustainability in New York State. She praised Pace’s “dedicated efforts at the Legislature, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), and other state agencies and regulatory bodies, which help further positive policy developments for clean energy technologies.”

The Outstanding Outreach Partner Award is given to the individual, company or organization deemed most helpful in promoting the goals of ACE NY and sustainable energy through activities such as membership outreach, participation in public affairs and advocacy efforts, and government affairs.

“We are very pleased to receive this award, and to be recognized for our work in Albany promoting a clean energy agenda in New York State,” said Jamie Van Nostrand, executive director of the Energy and Climate Center. 

The Center’s work for alternative energy solutions in New York State includes:

  • Ensuring that the State meets its “15 by 15” energy efficiency target (achieving a 15 percent reduction in projected energy usage by 2015) through involvement in proceedings at the Public Service Commission;
  • Promoting solar energy in New York by proposing enactment of a target of 5000 MW of solar power capacity by 2025;
  • Representing environmental interests on the various stakeholder committees at the NYISO; and
  • Promoting demand response and energy efficiency as a means of avoiding investments in additional generating capacity.

 “These are critical times for laying the foundation of New York’s energy future, and we have made a significant investment in our Albany presence to advance a clean energy agenda focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Van Nostrand, adding, “It is gratifying to have these efforts recognized by ACE NY.”

The Center opened a full-time office in Albany in January 2010, and hired Jackson Morris as its senior policy advisor to work on legislative issues and to interact with key state agencies and other organizations involved in energy issues. These include the Public Service Commission, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the NYISO.  According to Van Nostrand, “this award is due largely to Jackson’s tireless efforts in Albany,” with assistance from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which provided valuable support for the opening of the Albany office.  Van Nostrand also noted the contributions of Dr. Laurence DeWitt and Sam Swanson in providing assistance to Jackson’s efforts in Albany.

Van Nostrand indicated that Pace will continue to collaborate with ACE NY in the future in order to further our collective goals.  “As we welcome a new administration in Albany in 2011, it will be essential that we continue building on our important relationship with ACE NY and other key players in the energy and environmental community,” Van Nostrand stated.

ACE NY is a nonprofit organization coalition dedicated to promoting clean energy, energy efficiency, a healthy environment, and a strong economy for New York State.  Its mission is to promote the use of clean, renewable electricity technologies and energy efficiency in New York State, in order to increase energy diversity and security, boost economic development, improve public health, and reduce air pollution.

The Pace Energy and Climate Center is an integral part of Pace Law School’s Environmental Law Program, which is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law.  For over 20 years, the Energy and Climate Center has been a leading multi-disciplinary organization in the areas of environmental research and advocacy on energy issues in New York and throughout the Northeast, while training law students in these areas.

Pace University School of Law has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law. On its White Plains, NY, campus, it offers JD programs and the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, including the nation’s first graduate level programs in Climate Change and Land Use and Sustainable Development, and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in Environmental Law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu.

Contact: Cathy Lewis, Director of Marketing & Communications, (914) 422-4128                                                              cdreilinger@law.pace.edu

The Journal News: Fatal Police Shooting Raises Many Questions

The tragic death of Danroy Henry, a Pace University student who was shot to death Oct. 17 in a fusillade of police bullets in a mall parking lot in Thornwood, will likely be added to the ignominious list of other recent police shooting deaths – Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and Christopher Ridley. (Left: Pace Law Professor Bennett L. Gershman).

The following op-ed by Pace Law professor Bennett Gershman appeared in The Journal News in print and online on October 24, 2010.

The tragic death of Danroy Henry, a Pace University student who was shot to death Oct. 17 in a fusillade of police bullets in a mall parking lot in Thornwood, will likely be added to the ignominious list of other recent police shooting deaths – Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and Christopher Ridley. Several law enforcement agencies are investigating, and a grand jury will hear evidence. From early news accounts, it appears that two different narratives are emerging – a police narrative describing the killing as justified, and a narrative from witnesses that the killing was unjustified and a homicide. In trying to determine what actually happened and whether the police officers should be held accountable criminally, several questions need to be asked.

When to shoot

Why did the police believe that the use of deadly force was necessary? New York law allows the police to use deadly force against another person in two situations: first, when the officer reasonably believes that the person is committing one of several highly dangerous felonies such as murder, kidnapping, arson and rape; and second, when the officer reasonably believes that he or another person faces imminent death. Did the two officers who fired shots through the windshield into the car driven by Mr. Henry and containing two other passengers reasonably believe that the occupants were engaged in the commission of a dangerous felony? Or, did the police reasonably fear that Mr. Henry or his passengers posed an imminent and life-threatening risk to the police?

Did the police fear that Mr. Henry or his companions were armed with a gun, which may have contributed to the belief that the use of deadly force was necessary? For example, in the Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and Christopher Ridley killings, the police claimed that they believed that the person they shot was armed with a gun, and this was a significant factor in their justification for the shooting. Indeed, in the Bell shooting, which bore some striking parallels to the shooting of Mr. Henry, when the police approached Bell and identified themselves, Bell accelerated his car and hit one of the officers, and then hit an unmarked police van. However, it was not until one of the officers thought he saw one of the passengers reach for a gun and yelled “gun” that the police then opened fire on the car. Related (2 of 2)Was race a factor?

How fast was the car going? Did the police reasonably believe that the car was a lethal weapon that under the circumstances presented an imminent danger to their lives, and that the police had to shoot into the car and kill the driver to prevent them from being killed? It would be important in this connection to ascertain what type of police training exists with respect to the circumstances that authorize police to shoot into a car containing several occupants. Given the fact that police-motorist encounters happen many thousands of times a day, it would be important to know when the police are allowed to use deadly force, especially if the motorist disobeys a police command to stop. Could the police simply disable the car? Or for that matter, simply record the license number, and if the driver flees the scene, arrest him later? Indeed, the Supreme Court has told us in the case of Tennessee v. Garner that it is unlawful for the police to kill an unarmed felon who is fleeing from a burglary. Did the presence of a very large and apparently unruly crowd outside the bar contribute to the police belief that deadly force was needed to quell what may have seemed like a potentially incendiary and violent situation? Were the police being attacked by the crowd? Did Mr. Henry disobey a police order, and did that contribute to the shooting? Was Mr. Henry drunk? And, finally, regrettably, the question needs to be asked, as it has been asked in every one of the forgoing police shootings – was race a factor? It is hoped that an impartial and objective investigation into the facts of this terrible event will bring answers to these questions. |The writer, a former state prosecutor, is one of the original faculty members at Pace Law School. He is a regular contributor on justice issues in the Lower Hudson Valley.

NEWS RELEASE: Pace Environmental Law Students Take on Big Coal

Student interns at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, under the supervision of law professors Karl S. Coplan, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Daniel Estrin, took the first step today in bringing a lawsuit against three mining companies in Kentucky for violations of the Clean Water Act.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Cathy Lewis, Director of Marketing & Communications, (914) 422-4128, cdreilinger@law.pace.edu

Karl Coplan Co-Director, Environmental Litigation Clinic (914) 422- 4332 kcoplan@law.pace.edu

PACE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW STUDENTS TAKE ON BIG COAL

Kentucky Coal Companies Cited for Falsified Monitoring Data in Violation of Federal Law

White Plains, N.Y., October 7, 2010 – Student interns at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, under the supervision of law professors Karl S. Coplan, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Daniel Estrin, took the first step today in bringing a lawsuit against three mining companies in Kentucky for violations of the Clean Water Act.  Representing a coalition of environmental and social justice organizations and private citizens, including Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper, and Waterkeeper Alliance, they filed a sixty-day notice letter alleging that the companies ICG Knott County, ICG Hazard, and Frasure Creek Mining, a subsidiary of Trinity Coal, exceeded pollution discharge limits in their permits, consistently failed to conduct the required monitoring of their discharges and, in many cases, submitted false monitoring data to the state agencies charged with protecting the public. Joining in the lawsuit were several local residents impacted by the dumping of mining waste into Kentucky’s waterways.

The coal companies cited in the notice letter are all operating in eastern Kentucky under state-issued permits that allow them to discharge limited amounts of pollutants into nearby streams and rivers.  Those same permits also require industries to carefully monitor and report their pollution discharges to state officials. These monitoring reports are public documents that can be reviewed by anyone who asks for them.

Among the allegations cited in the notice letter are exceedances and misreporting of discharges of manganese, iron, total suspended solids and pH.  The groups and local residents bringing these claims cite a total of over 20,000 incidences of these three companies, either exceeding permit pollution limits, failing to submit reports, or falsifying the required monitoring data.  These violations could result in fines that may exceed 740 million dollars.  Speaking at a press conference call this morning, Professor Coplan said, “No one should make money by violating the Clean Water Act.”

Under the Clean Water Act, the companies have sixty days to respond to the allegations made in the notice letter. If, at the end of that period, all violations have not been corrected, the groups and individuals plan on filing a complaint in federal court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

The claims brought today may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to irresponsible mining reporting practices and a failure in the state’s monitoring program.  A recent trip to Kentucky’s Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement regional offices by Appalachian Voices’ Waterkeeper found stack after stack of discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) from more than 60 coal mines and processing facilities covered in dust on the desks of mine inspectors’ secretaries.  They did not appear to have been evaluated for compliance by the regulators for more than three years.  A sampling of the reports showed hundreds of repeated violations by coal mine operators in the state.  Commenting during the press briefing, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. added, “Regular, systematic open fraud that anyone could have uncovered shows the contempt that the coal industry has, not just for the law but for the state agency supposed to enforce it.”

“Our state officials have closed their eyes to an obviously serious problem,” said Ted Withrow, the retired Big Sandy Basin Management Coordinator for the Kentucky Division of Water and a member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. “These are not small exceedances – some are over 40 times the daily maximum. This should have been a red flag.”

The allegations of falsification of monitoring reports are another blow in a long list of recent black eyes for the coal industry, which is under widespread pressure to clean up its destructive practices and take responsibility for its enormous and devastating ecological footprint.  “The coal industry has proven time and again that it can’t be trusted.  It continually downplays its severe environmental impacts, places profit over worker safety and offers false economic analysis to try to keep its inherently destructive practices alive,” said Scott Edwards, Director of Advocacy for Waterkeeper Alliance.  “And now, we know they’re not honest in reporting on matters that impact the health of communities where they operate.”

“The Clean Water Act’s ‘citizen suit’ provision empowers citizens to be ‘private attorneys general,’ and to bring polluters into court when government doesn’t do its job,” said Professor Estrin.  The organizations bringing this legal action are taking it upon themselves to enforce the law and put an end to the illegal practices.

The Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, which represents public interest environmental advocacy groups, has been working on this matter since April.  When he first reviewed the coal companies’ monitoring reports, Professor Coplan knew it would be a good project for the students.  Clinic Legal Interns drafted the notice letters and worked with the clients to assemble the appendices to the letters identifying the specific permit violations.

Peter Harrison, one of the Clinic law students who has been working on the case since June, came to Pace from Appalachia, where he was involved in grassroots environmental initiatives.  “It’s gratifying to come to law school in New York and get to work on a lawsuit that we hope will make a difference in the lives of people in the South,” said Harrison.  “Working at the Clinic has given me an opportunity to practice law before I even pass the bar, and has really crystallized the whole reason I came to law school.”

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Pace University School of Law has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law. On its White Plains, NY, campus, it offers JD programs and the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, including the nation’s first graduate level programs in Climate Change and Land Use and Sustainable Development, and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in Environmental Law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu

USA Today – Prosecuters’ Conduct can Tip Justice Scales – Prof. Gershman

Law professor Bennett Gershman was quoted in a USA Today investigation of misconduct by federal prosecutors, saying it revealed “glaring misconduct” that is only “the tip of the iceberg.”

Law professor Bennett Gershman was quoted in a USA Today investigation of misconduct by federal prosecutors, saying it revealed “glaring misconduct” that is only “the tip of the iceberg.”

The story that was also picked up in many other daily newspapers nationwide. Here’s an excerpt:

“Federal prosecutors are supposed to seek justice, not merely score convictions. But a USA TODAY investigation found that prosecutors repeatedly have violated that duty in courtrooms across the nation. The abuses have put innocent people in prison, set guilty people free and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and sanctions.

Judges have warned for decades that misconduct by prosecutors threatens the Constitution’s promise of a fair trial. Congress in 1997 enacted a law aimed at ending such abuses.

Yet USA TODAY documented 201 criminal cases in the years that followed in which judges determined that Justice Department prosecutors — the nation’s most elite and powerful law enforcement officials — themselves violated laws or ethics rules.

In case after case during that time, judges blasted prosecutors for “flagrant” or “outrageous” misconduct. They caught some prosecutors hiding evidence, found others lying to judges and juries, and said others had broken plea bargains.

USA TODAY found a pattern of “serious, glaring misconduct,” said Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman, an expert on misconduct by prosecutors. “It’s systemic now, and … the system is not able to control this type of behavior. There is no accountability.”

He and Alexander Bunin, the chief federal public defender in Albany, N.Y., called the newspaper’s findings “the tip of the iceberg” because many more cases are tainted by misconduct than are found. In many cases, misconduct is exposed only because of vigilant scrutiny by defense attorneys and judges.

Prosecutors’ conduct can tip justice scales – USATODAY.com.

Prof. Gershman was also interviewed by News 12 on August 27 on potential criminal charges for purgery for New York State Governor David Paterson. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXwbVHrAy4w

ABA Journal – The Immune Response

Pace Law School’s assistant dean Alexandra Dunn was quoted in a thoughtful article in the American Bar Association Journal on the disappointing record of the federal “vaccine court” set up to adjudicate disputes about diseases related to vaccines, including autism.

Click “The Immune Response” to read the full article.

Vaccine Problems? The Hazelhurst Family