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Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

What is a State of Emergency?

Now that Sandy has technically passed us, I thought it might be useful to discuss what a State of Emergency is. We hear about Governors declaring them and often see the National Guard, but little else is explained. My understanding is that a State of Emergency gives the Governor additional powers. In NJ, the Governor order that gas only be available every other day in certain counties. In New York, the Governor suspended suspended certain statute of limitations. A copy of Governor Cuomo's Executive Order (No. 52) in this regard is available here,  Download Suspension_of_Time_Limitations_10-26-12

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 4, 2012 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Misc., Legal, Misc., Non-Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bring Your Dog To Work

CNN ran an interesting story on July 23, 2012 about some employers who allow employees to bring their dogs to work, here. It discusses a survey by a managemet professor that concluded as follows:

                A sample of 76 employees were studied -- some brought their dogs to work, some didn't, and                 some didn't own dogs. The study found that while everyone started the day with low baseline                 levels of the stress hormone cortisol, those who didn't bring their dogs to work reported                 drastically higher levels of stress by the end of the working day.

                Those who had their dogs with them had low levels of stress throughout the day, and about half                 of that group felt that dogs were important to their productivity. Of the two groups without                 dogs, 80% felt that the dogs in the workplace had no negative effect on productivity.

As a dog lover, I think this is wonderful. When I was in college, students often brought their dogs to class and their were no major problems. Of course if someone has an allergy or if the dog bites someone, a problems can develop.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

 

July 23, 2012 in Misc., Legal, Misc., Non-Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The denial of a FOIL request by an entity subject to the Freedom of Information Law may not be based on the purpose for which the document or record was produced or the function to which it relates

 

Hayes v Chestertown Volunteer Fire Co., Inc., 2012 NY Slip Op 02367, Appellate Division, Third Department
The Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. [CVFC] partially denying Christine A. Hayes’s Freedom of Information Law requests, contending that it was a private corporation not subject to the requirements of FOIL.
Ultimately Hayes initiated a CPLR Article 78 proceeding seeking to compel CVFC to comply with numerous FOIL requests and the Open Meetings Law, as well as an award of counsel fees and litigation costs.
Supreme Court held that the Open Meetings Law was not applicable to the meetings held by CVFC and ordered CVFC to submit the documents requested by Hayes to the court for an in camera review so that it could redact any records containing "non-firematic" information. Hayes appealed.
The Appellate Division, agreeing with Hayes, said that “to the extent Supreme Court's FOIL determination differentiated between records concerning public, or ‘firematic,’ and private functions of CVFC, this was error.”  Although Supreme Court found, and CVFC conceded, that CVFC is an "agency" subject to the requirements of FOIL, it was incorrect in determining that “because CVFC engages in both governmental and private activities, the records of its nongovernmental functions are not subject to FOIL's disclosure requirements.”
Commenting that nothing in the statute itself and nothing in the legislative history suggesting that the Legislature intended such content-based limitation in defining the term "record," the Appellate Division said that the Court of Appeals has consistently held that "FOIL's scope is not to be limited based on 'the purpose for which the document was produced or the function to which it relates,'" citing Westchester Rockland Newspapers v Kimball, 50 NY2d at 581.
Having determined that CVFC is an "agency" subject to FOIL, the Appellate Division said that Supreme Court was required to order disclosure of the requested records — without regard to whether they related to governmental or nongovernmental functions — unless one of the exceptions set forth in Public Officers Law §87 (2) was applicable.” Noting that CVFC had not claimed the benefit of any FOIL exemption,* "it must make the requested records available” to Hayes.
The Appellate Division, however, said that it was not persuaded that Supreme Court erred in denying Hayes' request for counsel fees and litigation costs. Explaining that "Reasonable counsel fees 'may' be awarded by the court in a FOIL proceeding where the litigant has 'substantially prevailed,' where the court finds that the record involved was 'of clearly significant interest to the general public' and where 'the agency lacked a reasonable basis in law for withholding the record,'" the court said that even where all of the statutory requirements have been met, "the decision whether to award counsel fees rests in the discretion of the court and will not be overturned in the absence of an abuse of such discretion." 
Although Hayes had “substantially prevailed,” characterizing the documents sought as “not of significant interest to the general public, the Appellate Division decided that Supreme Court had not abused its discretion in denying Hayes' request for attorney fees and costs.
As to Hayes’ complaint concerning CVFC's alleged violation of the Open Meetings Law, the Appellate Division held that although “CVFC is an ‘agency’ under FOIL, it is not a ‘public body’ subject to the Open Meetings Law” and thus its monthly meetings need not be open to the public.
The Open Meetings Law, said the court, requires that "[e]very meeting of a public body … be open to the general public," citing Public Officers Law §103[a], and defines "public body" as "any entity, for which a quorum is required in order to conduct public business and which consists of two or more members, performing a governmental function for the state or for an agency or department thereof."
While there was no dispute that the Fire District, as a political subdivision of the State and thus a "public body," is subject to the Open Meetings Law, the Appellate Division noted that, in contrast, CVFC is a private, not-for-profit corporation organized as a charitable organization under the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law and governed by its constitution and bylaws.** 
As the record established that, unlike the meetings of the Board of Fire Commissioners of the Fire District where the official government business of the Fire District is conducted, the meetings of CVFC relate to its internal affairs and the social, recreational and benevolent activities that it undertakes in furtherance of its charitable purpose. Further, said the court, CVFC receives no public funds for such events and activities, which are instead supported through fundraising and donations from private sources. Accordingly, the Appellate Division concluded that CVFC is not a "public body" under the Open Meetings Law.
* The release of some public records is limited by statute [see, for example, Education Law, §1127 - Confidentiality of records; §33.13, Mental Hygiene Law - Clinical records; confidentiality]. Otherwise, an individual is not required to submit a FOIL request as a condition precedent to obtaining public records where access is not barred by statute. A FOIL request is required only in the event the custodian of the public record[s] sought declines to “voluntarily” provide the information or record requested. In such cases the individual or organization is required to file a FOIL request to obtain the information. It should also be noted that there is no bar to providing information pursuant to a FOIL request, or otherwise, that falls within one or more of the exceptions that the custodian could rely upon in denying a FOIL request, in whole or in part, for the information or records demanded.
** See N-PCL §§201 and 1402[e][1].
The decision is posted on the Internet at:

 

http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_02367.htm

Reprinted by permission New York Public Personnel Law

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

May 26, 2012 in Litigation, Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bored Court Clerk Watched Porn During Rape Trial

This is another one of those stories which you simply cannot make up. A Court Clerk watched porn during a court trial-a rape trial no less! This happened in London and the Clerk was charged with criminal law violations. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

February 13, 2012 in Misc., Legal, Misc., Non-Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The application of the doctrine of governmental immunity in the context of acts of terrorism

 

Matter of World Trade Ctr. Bombing Litigation, 2011 NY Slip Op 06501, Court of Appeals
In this appeal addressing litigation arising from the 1993 terrorist bombing incident in the parking garage of the World Trade Center complex, the Court of Appeals held that the New York-New Jersey Port Authority is entitled to the protection of "governmental immunity."
The court explained that “…….our precedent dictates that the provision of security for the benefit of a greater populace involving the allocation of police resources constitutes the performance of a governmental function [and] the governmental immunity doctrine requires [the court] to find the Port Authority insulated from tortious liability.”
The court’s rationale: “Our courts simply cannot ignore that this policy-based doctrine is intended to afford deference to the exercise of discretion by the officials of municipalities and governmental entities, especially with respect to security measures and the deployment of limited police resources. Governmental entities cannot be expected to be absolute, infallible guarantors of public safety, but in order to encourage them to engage in the affirmative conduct of diligently investigating security vulnerabilities and implementing appropriate safeguards, they must be provided with the latitude to render those critical decisions without threat of legal repercussion.”
The decision is posted on the Internet at:
Reprinted by permission New York Public Personnel Law
Mitchell H. Rubinstein

 

December 7, 2011 in Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Breaking News-Copy of Occupy Wall Street Decision

You have to have been living under a bus if you have not heard about the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I actually walk past it every day on my way to work. As you know by now, the court denied the protesters application for a TRO to prevent the police from cleaning out the park. I thought it would be interesting to post a copy of the actual court decison. Walker v. City of New York, ____Misc. 3d____(N.Y. Co. Nov. 15, 2011).  

The court's reasoning was as follows:

The Court is mindful of movants' First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and peaceable assembly. However, "[e]ven protected speech is not equally permissible in all places and at all times." (Snyder v Phelps, 131 S Ct 1207, 1218 [2011], quoting Cornelius v NAACP Legal Defense & Ed. Fund, Inc., 473 US 788, 799 [1985].) Here, movants have not demonstrated that the rules adopted by the owners of the property, concededly after the demonstrations began, are not reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions permitted under the First Amendment.

To the extent that City law prohibits the erection of structures, the use of gas or other combustible materials, and the accumulation of garbage and human waste in public places, enforcement of the law and the owner's rules appears reasonable to permit the owner to maintain its space in a hygienic, safe, and lawful condition, and to prevent it from being liable by the City or others for violations of law, or in tort. It also permits public access by those who live and work in the area who are the intended beneficiaries of this zoning bonus.

The movants have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion of the owner's reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely. Neither have the applicants shown a right to a temporary restraining order that would restrict the City's enforcement of law so as to promote public health and safety.

Therefore, petitioner's application for a temporary restraining order is denied.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

 

 

November 27, 2011 in Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Small Change-Big Deal Lawsuits

Prawfs Blawg ran an interesting posting on small change lawsuits. Lawsuits involving nominal amounts of money which made there way to the Supreme Court and established some type of important precedent. The author, Professor Jay Wexler asks readers if they know of other cases and whether this is a viable book idea. 

Small change cases happen all the time; particularly with respect to lawsuits financed by some advocacy organization. Additionally, if the party is facing a small fine, such as the $5.00 criminal fine in  Wisconsin v. Yoder, the case holding that the Wisconsin Amish had a right to keep their older kids out of school despite a state mandatory attendance law-then litigants may be more willing to fight. 

Nominal cases occur all the time in employment discrimination. Often times they effectively become cases about attorneys fees because attorneys fees in such cases can be awarded. 

As for a book, who would purchase it? It might be a better idea to discuss this in a law review or perhaps bar journal article. Anyone have any other thoughts?

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 5, 2011 in Law Review Ideas, Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Can you purchase items with gold coins?

The U.S. makes several coins in gold and silver which are technically legal tender. However, as the coins are worth substantially more than their face value, they are not used. Utah recently passed a law designed to change this. It permits businesses to accept these coins based upon market value, as opposed to face value.

Apparently, the law was enacted as a result of some tea party backers who advocate a return to the gold standard. In any event, good luck trying to find someone who will accept the market value of a coin. Good luck also agreeing on market value.

A New York Times article about this is available here.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

September 3, 2011 in Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 30, 2011

FERPA decision out of Arizona, arising from the Loughner case

 A trial court in Arizona held that documents scattered throughout a database, and only located by a keyword search, are not “maintained” by the institution for purposes of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Therefore, a community college was required to disclose email messages to, from, or about a designated student. The student happend to be the one that shot Congresswoman Gifford and killed several others. The decision is reproduced below.

Hat Tip: Castagnera's Education and Employment Watch

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

 ARIZONA SUPERIOR COURT, PIMA COUNTY
HON. STEPHEN C. VILLARREAL JUDGE
PHOENIX NEWSPAPERS INC., Plaintiff,
VS.
PIMA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Defendant.
CASE NO. DATE:
C20111954 May 17, 2011
RULING
IN CHAMBERS UNDER ADVISEMENT RULING RE: PLAINTIFF’S APPLICATION FOR ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE ON SPECIAL ACTION.
Procedural Background
Plaintiff, Phoenix Newspapers Inc., (“PNI” or “Plaintiff”) pursuant to A.R.S. § 39-121.02(A) and Ariz. R. P. Spec. Act. 4, applied for an Order directing Defendant, Pima Community College, (“PCC” or “Defendant”) to show cause why Plaintiff should not be promptly granted the relief sought in its Complaint for Statutory Special Action under A.R.S. § 39-121 et seq. (the “Arizona Public Records Law”). This matter arises out of the alleged shooting of a number of persons by Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011. Loughner had been a student at PCC until approximately October of 2010. Plaintiff, PNI, publisher of the Arizona Republic, filed the within Complaint seeking certain documents from PCC. Specifically, by Special Action, PNI seeks access to the following documents:
a. Any and all written communications, including but not limited to email records, between or among PCC officials, staff or employees regarding Loughner, from January 1, 2009 to October 10, 2010; b. Any and all written communications, including but not limited to email records, between or among
PCC officials, staff or employees and any outside agency, public or private (e.g., law enforcement or
mental health organizations) regarding Loughner, from January 1, 2009 to October 10, 2010; and c. Documents sent or received by PCC or its employees relating to Loughner or his parents on or after September 29, 2010 to October 10, 2010 (including, without limitation, correspondence with
Loughner or his parents regarding Loughner’s suspension and terms upon which he could return).
Victoria Robertson Law Clerk
RULING
Page 2 Date: May 17, 2011 Case No.: C20111954
[Comp. ¶ 7(a-c)]. PCC asserted the email documents are student records under the Family Education and Rights Protection
Act (“FERPA”) and, therefore, refused to disclose them. PNI argued that the emails are not FERPA records and should be disclosed pursuant to this Special Action.
The Court has received and reviewed Plaintiff’s Complaint, Plaintiff’s Application for Order to Show Cause and Memorandum in Support, Defendant’s Answer to Plaintiff’s Complaint, Defendant’s Response to Plaintiff’s Application for Order to Show Cause, and Plaintiff’s Reply in Support of Application for Order to Show Cause. The Court heard arguments on this issue on April 29, 2011. Additionally, the Court received Defendant’s Notice of Submission of Documents for In Camera Review, Plaintiff’s Response to Defendant’s Notice of Submission of Documents for In Camera Review, and Defendant’s Reply to Plaintiff’s Response to Notice of Submission of Documents for In Camera Review. Finally, the Court reviewed all of the documents submitted for in camera review.
The documents submitted to the Court were divided into three groups. “Group A” documents are the result of a search of PCC’s employee email database for documents containing the word “Loughner” between the dates of January 1, 2009 and October 10, 2010. “Group N” documents are redacted law enforcement reports regarding Loughner which PCC previously released to the media. “Group N” documents are not at issue in this litigation. “Group L” documents are a compilation of documents, including email and other communications between PCC employees, which PCC provided to the United States Department of Justice in response to a grand jury subpoena. These items were also provided to Loughner’s criminal defense attorney.
Analysis
FERPA was enacted to protect the privacy rights of parents and students through preventing the disclosure of students’ education records. Under FERPA “education records” are “records, files, documents, and other materials which (i) contain information directly related to a student; and (ii) are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution.” 20 U.S.C. §1232g(a)(4)(A). FERPA’s range is broad, including “records, files, documents, and other materials”. If records are not protected by FERPA, and not subject to any other privilege, then they must be disclosed under the Arizona Public Records Law which creates a broad presumptive right of access to the records of government institutions.
Victoria Robertson Law Clerk
RULING
Page 3 Date: May 17, 2011 Case No.: C20111954
“The ordinary meaning of the word ‘maintain’ is ‘to keep in existence or continuance; preserve; retain.’” Owasso Indep. Sch. Dist. No. I-011 v. Falvo, 534 U.S. 426, 433 (2002) (citing Random House Dictionary). FERPA records “will be kept in a filing cabinet ... or on a permanent secure database .... in the same way the registrar maintains a student’s folder in a permanent file.” Id. at 433. Documents in an employee’s or another individual’s possession, such as email in an individual email account, but never seen or preserved by the educational institution are not maintained under FERPA and therefore not education records. S.A. v. Tulare County Office of Educ., No. CV F 08-1215, 2009 WL 3126322, at *7 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 24, 2009). Emails, like assignments, are fleeting and pass through many hands and are maintained once they are placed in the student’s permanent file. Id.
Documents are not “maintained” by an educational institution under FERPA unless the institution has control over the access and retention of the record. Simply because emails exist on a central server and in inboxes at some point does not classify those documents as education records. Id. If emails can be removed from the database in question simply by the account holder deleting the email from their inbox then emails that happen to remain on the server by no action of the educational institution are not maintained by the school. Id.; See Owasso, 534 U.S. at 433. “FERPA implies that education records are institutional records kept by a single central custodian, such as a registrar,” not individual assignments or emails. Owasso, 534 U.S. at 435.
In this case, to locate the documents in question, at least regarding Group A, PCC searched all electronic files for the word “Loughner”. This search returned several duplicate documents and documents which were purely personal or subject to other exemptions. The fact that PCC conducted a system wide database search for a word or name indicates these documents were not saved in a central location on a permanent database which could be easily accessed after a request. Instead these documents were in individual inboxes or other locations and were simply stored on the database as a necessary component of providing email, which does not generate FERPA protection. See Tulare, 2009 WL 3126322 at *7 (finding the argument that educational institution “maintains” emails in inboxes and institution’s server fails). A key-word search that returns an unknown quantity and quality of documents, does not comport with the idea of records kept by a central custodian or records kept in a central location or database, and does not conform to the idea of records kept in a filing cabinet in the records room. See Owasso, 534 U.S. at 433, 435.
Accordingly, this Court finds that documents scattered throughout a database, only located via a key- word search, are not “maintained” under FERPA. The Court concludes, therefore, that the emails contained in Group A and the emails contained in Group L are not FERPA protected records. This Court further finds that
Victoria Robertson Law Clerk
RULING
Page 4 Date: May 17, 2011 Case No.: C20111954
the GROUP N documents are not at issue in these proceedings. The Court declines to address these documents as they are outside the purview of this litigation.
Conclusion IT IS ORDERED that PNI’s Complaint for Special Action Relief is hereby GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that PCC must disclose to PNI all documents submitted for in camera review as GROUP A.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, as to the documents submitted for in camera review as GROUP L, PCC must only disclose email documents to PNI at this time.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that PCC provide this Court further clarification regarding whether the non-email documents submitted for in camera review as GROUP L are privileged under FERPA. PCC is directed to resubmit only Group L non-email documents together with a privilege log providing clarification as to the classification and origin of the documents, how the documents were stored, and specifically what, if any, privilege PCC is asserting to the documents. PCC should remove transcripts, grades, and other conventionally protected personal information from Group L documents prior to resubmission to the Court, as PNI expressly exempted such documents from this litigation. Additionally, any documents created after Loughner was no longer a student at PCC, after October 10, 2010, should be removed from Group L as those documents are also outside the scope of this litigation.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that PCC shall file the above pleading and resubmit Group L non-email documents for further in camera review no later than ten [10] business days from the date of this ruling. PNI shall file their response to PCC’s pleading within ten [10] business days. PCC may reply to PNI’s response no later than five [5] business days thereafter. Parties are directed to email or fax their pleadings to opposing counsel to ensure their timely receipt. The Court will review the requested pleadings and documents and, if possible, rule upon the privilege or confidentiality issues without a hearing. The Court may, however, set the matter for a hearing thereafter if the Court deems it necessary.
Victoria Robertson Law Clerk
(ID: d87f1db3-7ae7-43ab-8dba-60033f2a216a)
RULING
Page 5 Date: May 17, 2011 Case No.: C20111954
cc: David J. Bodney, Esq. John C. Richardson, Esq.
Peter S. Kozinets, Esq. Sesaly Ona Stamps, Esq. Clerk of Court - Under Advisement Clerk

May 30, 2011 in Current Affairs, Education Law, Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Plagiarism On Line

Lines on Plagiarism Blur is an interesting Aug. 1, 2010 NY Times article. It is about how students of today do not realize that there is plagiarism on the internet. As the article states:

 

And at the University of Maryland, a student reprimanded for copying from Wikipedia in a paper on the Great Depression said he thought its entries — unsigned and collectively written — did not need to be credited since they counted, essentially, as common knowledge.

Professors used to deal with plagiarism by admonishing students to give credit to others and to follow the style guide for citations, and pretty much left it at that.

But these cases — typical ones, according to writing tutors and officials responsible for discipline at the three schools who described the plagiarism — suggest that many students simply do not grasp that using words they did not write is a serious misdeed.

It is a disconnect that is growing in the Internet age as concepts of intellectual property, copyright and originality are under assault in the unbridled exchange of online information, say educators who study plagiarism.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 23, 2010 in Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (15)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Suffolk County Establishes A Public Registry For Animal Abusers

Suffolk County became the first jurisdiction in the country to establish a registry for animal abusers. This registry appears similar to a sex offender registry. Animal abusers would have to register and their names would be public. A newspaper article in the North Shore Sun describes this new law as follows:

The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a bill Tuesday to create a law establishing a county registry for animal abuse offenders, the first of its kind in the nation.

The new law allows the county to create a public registry of convicted animal abusers, in which the names, aliases, addresses and photographs of animal abusers would compiled in a searchable database, much like the state's sex offender registry. The convicted abusers would pay a $50 annual fee for upkeep of the registry, and those who fail to register would be charged $1,000 or face jail time.

A public hearing for a second bill, which would require pet stores and animal shelters to check the registry before allowing anyone to purchase or adopt an animal, was tabled for a later date.

Wall Street Journal Law Blog coverage of this local law can be found here. An earlier New York Times article about this law can be found here. A Press Release about this new law can be found here

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Hat Tip: Sentencing Law and Policy Prof Blog

 

October 13, 2010 in Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Federal Circuit Rules No Link between Autism and Vaccine

The Blog of the Legal Times reported on August 27, 2010, that the Federal Circuit recently held that there was no link between Autism and childhood vaccines. You can find that article here.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

August 31, 2010 in Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Copy of Court Decision Enjoining Enforcement of Parts of Arizona's Immigration Law

As most of you are know doubt aware, a portion of Arizona's Immigration Law was enjoined on preemption grounds. I thought readers would be interested in having a copy of that decision, U.S. v. Arizona, ___F.Supp.2d____(D. Az. July 28, 2010).

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 31, 2010 in Misc., Legal, News, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cyber Bullying Not Actionable

Though not an employment case, Finkel v. Dauber, ___Misc. 3d____(Nassau Co. July 22, 2010), is never-the-less, an important case for students of labor law as well as others. The case was an action for defamation based upon a teenagers posting on Facebook. What is most interesting about the decision, however, is that the court held that cyberbullying was not actionable. As the court explained:

 Insofar as the Plaintiff's counsel suggestion that the posts constitute cyber bullying, the Courts of New York do not recognize cyber or internet bullying as a cognizable tort action. A review of the case law in this jurisdiction has disclosed no case precedent which recognized cyber bullying as a cognizable tort action.

A New York Law Journal article about this case can be found here


Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 25, 2010 in Legal News, Misc., Legal, New York Law | Permalink | Comments (3)

Free Office Products (Fax and Conference Calls)

There are now several products on the web which allow you to send and receive a fax for free as an email and to make free conference calls via a regular telephone. There are limitations to all of these services, but the are free and I thought I would share them with readers. My favorites are as follows: 

-Send Fax Via Email (www.K7.net)

-Receive Fax Via Email  (www.freefaxbutton.com)

-Free Telephone Conference Calls  (www.FreeConferenceCallHD.com)

I will be adding these links to the left side of my blog for future reference. If anyone has other suggestions that are totally free (not low cost), please comment below.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

July 25, 2010 in Misc., Legal, Misc., Non-Legal, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How To Find Out Information About A Particular Job

An over-looked research tool is the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It describes jobs, training  and educational requirements. Most importantly, it provides future employment projections. That can be very valuable to students and non-students looking to change careers. It is published by the U.S. Department of Labor and it is available free of charge.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 24, 2010 in Legal Research, Misc., Legal, Misc., Non-Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Do You Know Why BP Is Willing To Pay All Legitimate Claims? I Do.

BP has established a claims process and has repeatedly indicated in the news media that it will pay "all legitimate claims". Putting aside for the moment what a legitimate claim is, why would a company voluntarily offer to pay millions in damages? In fact, the damages may be so high that the stability of the company may be threatened. I believe that there are one or two reasons for this. First, the government may have indicated that it will assume payments after the damages reach a certain level. Second, and more likely, BP probably has insurance and it is the insurance carrier who will foot the bill. However, this bill may be even too large for the insurance carrier.

I have no inside information about any of this. However, I am surprised that I have not seen any discussion of this in the media. Perhaps this posting will help generate that discussion.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

May 31, 2010 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Misc., Legal, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Importance of thank you letters

Contributing Editor James Levy who also writes for our sister blog, Legal Writing Prof Blog, wrote an interesting April 5, 2010 story about the thank you letters and law students. He is following up on this column from lawjobs.com called "Interview Strategies:  A Flawless Follow-up."

Frankly, when I was a student, I use to think that thank you letters were complete waste of time and could do more harm than good. Having sit on the other side of the table for some years now, my views have changed. The thank you letter gives the applicant the opportunity to remind the interviewer of his or her interest and to bring to the firms attention some issue that may have been unclear. Therefore, I now believe in them.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

May 27, 2010 in Misc., Law School, Misc., Legal, Misc., Non-Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Writing Tips

Professor James Levy over at Legal Writing Prof Blog and a contributing editor here posted an interesting story outlining important writing tips for academics. I actually believe these tips are good advice for everyone and that is why I am reproducing them here:

  • Edit your papers a lot (but, in truth, better to be a Combiner than a Mozartian or Beethovenian).
  • Get feedback.
  • Stay current.
  • Be a voracious reader (and ponderer).
  • Persist like an ant.
  • Find emerging areas to research that you are passionate about or at least interested in.
  • Schedule time for writing.
  • Find professional and personal balance.
  • Write all the time.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein


May 23, 2010 in Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Does Gender Matter in Negotiations??

A Toolkit For Woman Seeking A Raise is an interesting May 14, 2010 New York Times article. While the primary focus of the article is on the pay gap between men and woman, it theories that this may be because of the negotiation process itself. As the article states:

Academic research on gender and negotiation suggests that part of the unexplained gap may be tied, at least in part, to the negotiating process itself. It may be that some women have lower pay expectations. Men, on the other hand, have been found to be more likely to negotiate higher starting salaries. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

May 18, 2010 in Misc., Legal | Permalink | Comments (0)