The RCBA Journal Legal News Blog

In response to the certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit: 1) for purposes of administering a related bankruptcy, a dissolved law firm’s pending hourly fee matters are not partnership “property” or “unfinished business” within the meaning of New York’s Partnership Law; and 2) a law firm does not own a client or an engagement, and is only entitled to be paid for services actually rendered.

In an action alleging defective design of a product, the trial court erred in giving a jury charge that a defendant who has or claims to have “special skills” in a trade or profession is required to use the same degree of skill and care that others in the same, where: 1) said charge is generally given in case alleging malpractice; and 2) in this situation, the error requires reversal and a new trial.

Defendant’s conviction for cyberbullying after anonymously posting sexual information about fellow classmates on a publicly-accessible internet website is reversed and remanded, where: 1) the text of the cyberbullying law does not adequately reflect an intent to restrict its reach to the three discrete types of electronic bullying of a sexual nature designed to cause emotional harm to children; 2) Albany County therefore has not met its burden of proving that the restrictions on speech contained in its cyberbullying law survive strict scrutiny; 3) although the First Amendment may not give defendant the right to engage in the activities at issue, the text of Albany County’s law envelops far more than acts of cyberbullying against children by criminalizing a variety of constitutionally-protected modes of expression; and 4) Albany County’s cyberspace law, as drafted, is overbroad and facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

Defendant’s conviction for depraved indifference murder is reduced to manslaughter in the second degree, where the evidence was legally insufficient to support defendant’s conviction for depraved indifference murder because the circumstances of this high-speed vehicular police chase do not fit within the narrow category of cases wherein the facts evince a defendant’s utter disregard for human life.

Defendant-city was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, where the markings on the Big Apple Map failed to raise an issue of fact as to whether defendant-city had prior written notice of the alleged defect.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) does not permit the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to demand that three closely held corporations provide health-insurance coverage for methods of contraception that violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the companies’ owners.

Under Illinois’ Home Services Program (Rehabilitation Program), which allows Medicaid recipients who would normally need institutional care to hire a “personal assistant” (PA) to provide homecare services, where defendant-union was designated the exclusive union representative for Rehabilitation Program employees, the First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from Rehabilitation Program PAs who do not want to join or support the union because the First Amendment does not permit a State to compel personal care providers to subsidize speech on matters of public concern by a union that they do not wish to join or support.

Retirement and Social Security Law section 480(b) does not requires defendant-city to make “Increased-Take-Home-Pay” (ITHP) pension contributions on behalf of New York City police officers and firefighters appointed on or after July 1, 2009, and accordingly, defendant-city has properly deducted 3% from the gross annual wages of these tier 3 police officers and firefighters as mandatory employee pension contributions.

Defendant’s convictions of grand larceny and money laundering are affirmed, where testimony regarding the source of the stolen funds, Mayor Bloomberg, did not violate the best evidence rule.

Defendant’s conviction of two counts of murder is affirmed, where the People’s failure to disclose evidence that a federal civil action had been brought against one of their police witnesses, a homicide detective who interrogated defendant, alleging that the detective engaged in police misconduct in an unrelated case, did not constitute a Brady violation.