The New York Law Journal and the New York City Law Department have collaborated to publish a new book entitled "Fighting for the City: A History of the New York City Corporation Counsel" by William E. Nelson, which traces the history of the city's law department from its origins in 1686. It's available (search on title or author) through NYC's CityStore or American Lawyer Media's LawCatalog.com.
Point of Law's page on New York-related legal matters is here. And our recent column exclusive, in which Alvin Lurie recounts from the inside some of the lawyering that went on during the city's 1975 fiscal crisis, may be of particular interest to historians of city law.
...and its profitable international division departs the U.S. entirely, to reincorporate in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the legal environment is more disapproving of expropriation. Hans Bader has some thoughts on capital flight.
It's true, as the plaintiffs say: New York's judicial selection methods are at best opaque and outdated, at worst hackish and corrupt (more). But as the U.S. Supreme Court has now just unanimously confirmed, the way to fix that is for New Yorkers to muster the democratic energy and will to force the needed changes, not ask an unelected federal judiciary to do it for them. More: NY Sun.
Our latest featured column is a bit different than most. It offers a firsthand account of the role played by, well, slightly creative public lawyering at one of the most crucial junctures in the history of New York City's governance, the fiscal crisis of 1975. Former federal tax official (and friend of this site) Alvin Lurie was at the center of the events he describes, and some of the details he recalls here have to the best of his knowledge never appeared in print until today's Point of Law exclusive (bumped 12:15 p.m.).
Talk of a $50,000 -per-doctor surcharge has physicians in the state "petrified", according to Robert Goldberg, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York. "A Brooklyn brain surgeon now pays $267,000 a year in malpractice insurance premiums and an obstetrician in Queens pays $180,490," but now it turns out, per state insurance superintendent Eric Dinallo, that insurance rates have been "been artificially low for more than a decade".
The policeman's widow profiled in this highly sympathetic Times article claims to be shocked that the City of New York is advancing all the legal arguments at its disposal to counter her money demand for $250 million: "It's like they don't care anymore." Funny how that can happen, isn't it? Central to her suit, it seems, is the exceedingly lame theory that it was negligent for the city's police department to have bought Chevy Impalas and Luminas as highway patrol cars.
It doesn't mention this site, or our issues. But it's still pretty interesting.
"Under a bill authored by the city's public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, employees who are taking care of children, elderly relatives, or disabled family members would receive legal protections akin to those regarding race, gender, or religion." New York Sun reporter Benjamin Sarlin quotes me with critical comments on the idea. More on what is variously called "family responsibility discrimination" and "caregiver discrimination" can be found here.
Apparently one is guilty of helping prolong the Broadway stagehands' strike if one so much as allows a certain word to pass one's lips or keyboard.
How many lawyers does it take to eject an underperforming teacher from a Gotham classroom? Apparently quite a few:
The Bloomberg administration is beginning a drive to remove unsatisfactory teachers, hiring new teams of lawyers and consultants who will help principals build cases against tenured teachers who they believe are not up to the job. ...
At the center of the effort is a new Teacher Performance Unit of five lawyers, headed by a former prosecutor fresh from convicting a former private school principal who had a sexual relationship with a student....
The plans, at a cost of $1 million a year [including five additional consultants whose job includes documenting underperformance], are described in a memo and an accompanying letter to principals from Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. In the letter, he urged principals to help teachers improve but added, “When action must be taken, the disciplinary system for tenured teachers is so time-consuming and burdensome that what is already a stressful task becomes so onerous that relatively few principals are willing to tackle it. As a result, in a typical year only about one-hundredth of 1 percent of tenured teachers are removed for ineffective performance.
“This issue simply must be tackled,” he wrote. ...
Randi Weingarten, the president of the city’s teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, called the lawyers a “teacher gotcha unit” and said she found it “disgusting” that the Education Department would issue such a memo after the release of new school report cards that bluntly grade schools A through F.