1. PANEL REJECTS CITY’S BID FOR DISCLOSURE OF CLIENTS
[SIDEBAR: GC’S URGE STATE LEGISLATORS TO PASS PAY RAISE FOR JUDGES
This one is a mid-brainer, when you look past the motive of self-serving interests. The General Counsels of 37 corporations (GE, Ford, Pepsi, Intel, Dow, Pfizer, Merck and Colgate-Palmolive among them) made the petition to the Guv to increase the bucks to the bench-warmers. The way it pans out, they are more likely to be fronting for their orgs before the robes and it wouldn’t hurt to let them know which side of the baked goods has the primo oleo.
Which leads us to the lead story...]
1. Every time a salaried schlub logs into ACRIS to prep a client’s RPTT, fiduciary duty will always evoke an impulse towards deciding ‘Which box do I check for an exemption?’ at the back of the mind. But when you’re the head honcho of that self-same Dept. of Finance database, you can have loftier ideals—such as ‘If I enter this…so, no one will ever have to ask for the Mansion Tax on this one’ or ‘We’ll just back-date this assignment of mortgage 2 years and that’s another $15,000 saved right there…’ and you can be as altruistic as you like on the Public Trust. The problem is that, unless you are making such patently illegal transactions possible out of a sense of anarchistic rebellion, to smash the system by boring from within—as we used to say in our olde commie-pinko, radiclib leftie days—then these actual entities who benefit from such tricks probably shouldn’t be on your private client list.
However, the queer bit is that, even though it is against the law to have such clients (conflict of interest and all that), it is just as much against the law for the prosecution by the State’s AG to subpoena that list.
Yeah. Say whaaa?
In any civil suit, the language in the Discovery Demand would sound exactly the same: “All documents, including but not limited to, lists, invoices, billing records, cash receipt journals, bank deposit records and time records reflecting, identifying or referencing by name, all persons on whose behalf you provided legal service for the period,” and here we’ll insert “1/01/03 through 6/20/05”.
That the defendants moved to quash as “overbroad” would be laughed out of 111 Centre Street—but not at 60. In April 2006, the Supreme Court in Manhattan denied the motion, finding each item sought as relevant to the department’s investigation, as would any “reasonable man”. But the Law can be irrational at times, and that was how the 1st Dept. would make this doozy: a complete dismissal of the subpoena unless the defendant is given immunity from prosecution. See, being compelled to turn over evidence of wrongdoing is, somehow, wrong? Like where does the right of Discovery end and self-incrimination begin? Not so much the "chicken/egg" puzzler as the "your fist/my nose" postulate.
“It is plain that compelling Brasskey to produce the requested client list would constitute a compelled testimonial act. In essence, Brasskey would be stating “'these are the people to whom I have provided legal services’,” the panel held. And seeing as how this “would place him in jeopardy of prosecution for representing them and would be a misdemeanor in violation of the Conflict of Interest Law,” he isn’t compelled to offer “testimony” against himself. If this sounds like a closed loop, that’s because it is: the perfect Mobius Strip of modern jurisprudence—It is against the Law to follow the Law!