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Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Kidney For Your Freedom

Disturbing news from the Deep South: organ donation as a condition of one's freedom

Missisippi Governor Haley Barbour (also a likely 2012 presidential candidate and a former national Republican Party chairman in the 1990s) has granted an indefinite suspension of sentences for two sisters convicted of armed robbery in 1994. But there is a catch: one sister must donate a kidney to the other sister who is on dialysis.

Now, a suspension of sentence is not required but can be granted in the state's discretion; the state doesn't have to do it.  This sentence seems driven by the sisters in crime.  

The sisters' lawyer is quoted as saying the healthy sister volunteered to give up the kidney.   That makes Crime, Politics and Policy wonder what level of desperation people reach after 15 years in prison (perhaps an excessive sentence, but this was armed robbery, folks).  After all, plenty of people do many irrational -- or very coldly rational, if illegal -- things to avoid jail, or get out of one.  Especially hedge fund managers and others in the white-collar world who are accused of trading corporate secrets to hedge funds.

People like Winifred Jiau, arrested yesterday in the unfolding massive insider-trading hedge funds scandal and reported to have been warming up the car and having packed luggage when the FBI arrived.

Or former Symbol Technologies CEO Kobi Alexander, who was so afraid of an American federal prison (aka Club Fed) that he fled to the modern African nation of Namibia.  (Hmmm.  A different sort of prison, perhaps.)

Or people like Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas from the classic movie Escape from Alcatraz.

Governor Barbour may be showing mercy by suspending the sentence, but it should not be conditioned with any organ donation.   Such actions should be against public policy.  If nothing else, they raise questions as to an Eighth Amendment violation on the basis of cruel and unusual punishment, in that conditioning freedom from incarceration on organ donation -- an act which can endanger the donor's life -- must be considered cruel punishment and at the very least would post a legal question that would survive motions to dismiss.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer.  Mr. Dixon has been practicing law since graduating from Yale Law School in 1994.  Mr. Dixon has substantial securities law compliance experience and handles complex investigations and other sensitive legal, personal and political matters for business and individual clients through Eric Dixon LLC.  Mr. Dixon is available for comment or consultation at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.
 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mickey Mouse Governor

Elected officials' indifferent responses to the Sunday blizzard and the alarmingly poor cleanup are not limited to New York City's Mayor Mike Bloomberg.


Over in New Jersey, still-fresh Governor Chris Christie (R-YouTube) went down to DisneyWorld...and stayed there while his constituents got hit with between six and 32 inches of snow.


Even worse, Christie stayed away while his lieutenant governor (and former prosecutorial sidekick to whom he lent money a few years ago!) Kim Guadagno was out of the country!


As the Star-Ledger's Paul Mulshine has pointed out this morning, the reason for a lieutenant governor is to have someone be in charge if the Governor is unavailable. It is designed to prevent the leadership void like that which happened in 2006 when former governor Jon Corzine was critically injured in a car crash...or in 2002 when then-governor James McGreevey broke his leg while taking a leisurely (or romantic?) stroll with...well, was it Golan Cipel or Dina McGreevey (nee Matos)...we don't know, do we.


If both Governor and Lieutenant Governor are gone, why on earth do we have two statewide elected officials?


And Christie's absence in the face of the first bonafide natural disaster in the state during his tenure, indicates his disinterest in the role of Governor.  One can picture a burning city, with its emperor on a hill overlooking the flames; I wait for the political cartoon lampooning Christie as Emperor Nero, fiddling while Rome burns below. (Ditto for New York's Mayor Bloomberg whose public handling of the press conferences after the blizzard has been nothing short of disastrous and 2012-aspiration-killing.)


Is Christie just using the Governor's office to keep his feet warm, avoid a resume gap and build up his credentials (and warchest) for a presidential run? On our dime?


This is the strongest indication that Christie is running for President...in 2012.  However, the New York press corps is noticing the issue...and the other two dozen rumored contenders for the Republican nomination must be thrilled.  Has the Christie in 2012 movement already jumped the shark?

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who offers strategic analysis and top-notch legal advice and counseling through Eric Dixon LLC.  Mr. Dixon is available for comment, consultation or engagement on sensitive legal, investigative and political matters and may be reached at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.

Is Labor Protest Behind Slow Snow Cleanup?

Most of the New York metro area is coping very poorly with the cleanup after the Blizzard of 2010. Incompetence is one theory for the bad response. But what if city and state workers, angry and fearful about possible pension plan insolvency, are dragging their heels as part of an organized labor slowdown? This theory seems more plausible, as alternative explanations for the woeful response start to get debunked one by one. 




The easiest explanation -- that the severity of the storm is to blame -- is also easily debunked.  Yes, this was a two-foot snow accumulation event, but this was not the Storm of the Century.   In the last eight years alone, there have been three snowstorms producing more than the 20 inches reported for this past weekend's blizzard.  None resulted in the chaos reported this week.  


The storm ought not to have caught emergency officials by surprise. I was tracking this storm system since it hit California earlier last week -- so were the forecasters at Accuweather. Overnight on Christmas morning the first forecast change from zero snow to 4-8 inches was announced. By Christmas afternoon -- 24 hours before the storm "got bad" -- predictions were for blizzard conditions and over one foot of snow.


That was ample time for preparations.


Oh yes, it was Christmas. Couldn't get distracted from the Christmas Day basketball tripleheader.  That theory just doesn't wash either.

A silent labor action, perhaps by workers annoyed at getting squeezed with increasing pension contributions and health insurance contributions, marginal nominal wage increases and other burdens, becomes more and more plausible by the hour.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer.  He operates Eric Dixon LLC, offering world-class strategic analysis.  Mr. Dixon is reachable at 917-696-2442.

Bogus Process Servers Imperil Florida Homeowners

The residential real estate market is besieged by many problems.  Another problem emerging and finally getting noticed is the problem of bogus service upon homeowners/borrowers.  (Thanks to Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post for bringing this to my attention.)

Bad service of process means a court case proceeds, often with the homeowner totally unaware of it.

Bogus service -- or more accurately, false or fraudulent service -- constitutes obstruction of justice and perpetuates a fraud upon the court and all its participants.  Bogus service is one element in a series of events that can allow a bank to literally steal someone's home, even when the homeowner is making payments in full or, even worse, has no mortgage in the first place!

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer specializing in investigating complex financial and business matters. Mr. Dixon is a 1994 graduate of Yale Law School and has significant securities compliance, business transactions and investigative experience.  Mr. Dixon is available to consult with interested Florida parties, but is not admitted to the Florida Bar -- despite being far more qualified than many of the lawyers crawling the Sunshine State -- and accordingly will not make court appearances as counsel of record in Florida. Mr. Dixon is available for consultation and comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.




Monday, December 27, 2010

Foreclosure Deadbeats Target Young Florida Lawyers

The investigations into the causes of the residential real estate meltdown are apparently featuring a new twist.  Instead of blaming the lawyers running the notorious "foreclosure mills" like The Law Offices of David J. Stern -- that is, the attorneys actually named David J. Stern -- the deadbeat homeowner advocates are turning their sights on the novice lawyers who worked for these allegedly shady operators.

This is a new variation on the old tactic of: When all else fails, blame the lawyers.

Note in the report I've linked to (as well as virtually every other report on the foreclosure mills that you or I can find) that these operations are universally described as paralegal driven.  It is my theory that these operations have a use for lawyers: it is to have a ready-made alibi, a convenient scapegoat, ready to assume the blame for the very conscious misdeeds of a non-lawyer.  

There may be thorny questions of attorney ethics to resolve.  However, the blame-the-lawyer crowd almost always has the same material misconception as to lawyers' true role.  Lawyers are advocates for their clients.  Lawyers are not intended, nor required, and are certainly not paid, to investigate  their own clients.  Lawyers are also not compliance officers and definitely are not guarantors of their clients' obedience to the law.  

Such missions are often literally impossible.  The imposition of such expectations or directives on lawyers would not only transform the lawyers' role, but also require the cooperation of the client -- often the prime wrongdoer and concealer of the wrondoing! - in providing truthful, candid information to the lawyer.  This presents not merely a thankless task, but too often, an impossible one.

Lawyers should not be "investigated" or be accused of civil or criminal wrongdoing merely because of their status as lawyers, nor should they be targeted because they may be young and presumed to be financially unable to defend themselves on account of burdensome college and law school loans -- and therefore, vulnerable to attack.

These elementary facts will not deter many politically ambitious investigators and prosecutors who see professionals like lawyers and accountants as delicious red meat for the masses, useful for whipping up public outrage and riding the resulting sea of indignation towards a lucrative private-sector gig or higher-profile government appointment.  Investigating, and even wrongfully accusing young and often totally-innocent professionals will be no impediment.  Those people too often are considered acceptable collateral damage. 

Understand one thing, readers:  You have some unsupervised, ignorant young lawyers out there who were taken advantage of by people who may have committed actual crimes, and who now may be under state -- and likely, federal -- criminal investigation on an issue where the political winds will blow very strongly for show trials and blood lust to satisfy the angry masses. 

The more the investigations into the real estate mess proceed with seeking vengeance, the more the real villains will escape scrutiny.  One suspects the true wrongdoers are the ones who gave the orders; these would be the same people who concealed facts -- the truth -- which if revealed and known would have made a difference in what the downstream lawyers and others chose to do.  Among many professionals, it is known that young newbies -- even lawyers -- require (and want) meaningful suspicion.  The problem here is what happens when your supervisor may be crooked.

For a real and much bigger criminal problem about fraudulent service of process, check out this story in this morning's Palm Beach Post.

While there are many bonafide victims in the real estate market crash, the fact remains that many people facing foreclosure recently were eager homebuyers in 2002-06 who were chasing double-digit housing appreciation and were too happy to overpay (and admit to having done so) because they wanted their piece of the "action." 

This homeowner greed is a characteristic of a bubble.  It was also characteristic of many other types of investor speculation.  Such people, when they lose their money when the bubble bursts and market plunges, should not be assumed to be victims.  Sharp investment losses resulting from often-horrid investment decisions do not qualify one as a victim deserving of repair at the expense of the more prudent neighbor.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer specializing in investigating complex financial and business matters.  Mr. Dixon is a 1994 graduate of Yale Law School and has significant securities compliance, business transactions and investigative experience.  Mr. Dixon is available for consultation and comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.

Bloomberg's Snow Job Hurts Presidential Aspirations

Does the atrocious New York City response to the Blizzard of 2010 indicate that Mayor Bloomberg is temperamentally ill-suited to be President -- and/or managerially incapable of successfully running for President?

New York City was hit with near-blizzard conditions and about 20 inches of snow ftom midday Sunday through the overnight hours.  However, nearly 18 hours after snow stopped falling, the City's response and condition is deplorable.  Criticism of the City government's readiness is warranted. 

There was the true-life horror story of 400 people marooned on an above-ground A train in Queens for eight hours. Cardiac 911 calls are reportedly met with a three-hour wait; if true, people have surely died. (Hmmm. Wonder what the response time is of the City's new organ harvesting -- officially, the organ preservation -- unit today?)  Most major roads and highways remain impassible, virtually all bus service and above-ground subway service has been and remains suspended, and most underground subway service is running with significant delays.

This is nowhere near the first time New York has been hit with such snow.  In fact, some other storms were worse.  But never in this observer's memory has New York City been crippled like this.

This raises serious questions about the vaunted preparedness of the City's Office of Emergency Management.  The poor performance may have political ramifications.  Even worse, city officials including Mayor Bloomberg strenuously defended the indefensible, asserting the City's response was appropriate.  Instead of a contrite apology and pledge to examine procedures, City residents and commuters were met with a troubling defiance that strongly suggests that City leadership cannot tolerate -- or arrogantly believes it is above -- any criticism. 

It was obvious that the City was ill-prepared for this storm.  That fact was more appalling in light of recent history -- say, since the infamous 1972 debacle where the failure to plow side streets in the outer boroughs is widely accepted as having led directly to then-Mayor John Lindsay's defeat the next year.  Major snowfalls have traditionally been met efficiently and dispensed with rapidly by City government, especially in the last 15 years.  Anyone claiming otherwise has risked losing credibility with the news media, the public's "opinion leader" class, and the general public.  Furthermore, to claim the response was typical or sufficient is to risk insulting the intelligence and integrity of the listener.  Such a response smacks of astounding hubris, incompetence, or an indifference that indicates some people -- from Mike Bloomberg on down -- have overstayed their effectiveness and hence their welcome. 

There are ramifications from this woeful episode.  If either the incompetent crisis management indicates the true level of managerial acumen, or the aversion to legitimate, well-deserved criticism indicates the true level of organizational judgment, it would seem that Mike Bloomberg is woefully ill-prepared -- and at age 67, too old to learn new tricks -- for a presidential run in 2012.  In fact, either characteristic is a sign that Bloomberg's personal business success with his eponymous Bloomberg LP (whose radio network seems much more informative since Bloomberg left his own company) was an accident more than the product of design.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who specializes in strategic analysis of sensitive legal and personal affairs, investigations, business due diligence, transactions, and election law.  Mr. Dixon is available for comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.
 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Northeast Blizzard: Winter Version of Tropical Storm

December 26, 2010:  A powerful low pressure system is off the Virginia coast as we post at 4:00 pm.  Winds along the mid-Atlantic coast are expected to hit tropical storm force gusts (that is, 39 mph or greater).  This storm is also producing barometic pressure readings that are lower than some readings for named tropical cyclones.  

Right now, Central Park's National Weather Service station reports a barometic pressure of 29.54 inches and sustained winds of 16 mph.  The predicted sustained winds over the next 12 hours are expected to approach tropical force intensity and gusts are expected to soon reach over 40 mph and to approach 60 mph. 

Even worse, the Islip, NY station at 4:00 pm reported 29.39 inches (995 millibars) with sustained 30 mph winds and tropical storm force gusts already being recorded.

If this system were marching up the Atlantic coast in August, even if it were a "cold core" system, the intensity might prompt the National Hurricane Center to classify it as a "subtropical" storm and give it a name. (Compare these barometic pressure figures with the May 9, 2007 readings for Subtropical Storm Andrea showing 1001 millibars of pressure.)

Elsewhere, tonight's Vikings-Eagles game in Philadelphia was postponed from its original 8:00 Sunday night kickoff and rescheduled for 8:00 pm Tuesday night.  The National Weather Service reports current Philadelphia conditions including the same 29.54 inches of barometic pressure at 4:00 pm; however, the predicted winds and snow accumulation are not supposed to be anywhere as bad as those predicted for New York.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who provides legal advice and strategic analysis for individual and business clients.  Mr. Dixon specializes in sensitive matters, crisis management, government investigations, third-party investigations, and securities law compliance.  Mr. Dixon is available for comment or consultation at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.

  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve Document Dump Tries to Sneak Bloomberg Aides' Special Treatment for Ground Zero Mosque By Skeptical Press Corps

Embarrassing press releases are often scheduled on Friday afternoons or on the day before long weekends in order to catch a slow news cycle, so that by the time the news media is back in "full gear" the embarrassing news is old and has been replaced by fresher, new embarrassments.  However, the Bloomberg administration may have embarrassed itself, by trying to hide this and being revealed for doing so. 

The latest example of this hide-the-cheese strategy comes courtesy of the Bloomberg administration regarding its extreme support for the "Ground Zero mosque" project.

On Thursday, December 23rd, the Bloomberg administration -- trying to sneak a document dump while most of the city and nation are Christmas shopping or preparing for the holiday -- released e-mails showing it went to "great lengths" to help the Ground Zero mosque's planners.  However, it did not do so voluntarily.  It released these e-mails only after the organization Judicial Watch reportedly went to court seeking to enforce its New York State Freedom of Information Law request for the e-mails, after the request had been ignored for months.

Don't accept the excuse that the timing was the product of a court order; there hasn't been any such order.  (Crime, Politics and Policy is unable to confirm that an order to show cause or similar action was even filed, pursuant to its own search of court records, and hence is relying on and assuming the accuracy of the press reports to which links are provided in this article.)  Even when compelled to do so by a court, a party responding to a lawsuit often has a deadline to comply...but has the ability to choose when to make a release at any time prior to the deadline.  The Bloomberg Administration chose to delay complying with the Freedom of Information Law request in the first place, then ignored it; even after the court action was initiated, the City still controlled when it produced the e-mails. 

To be clear, the City of New York chose the timing for the release of the e-mails.  In fact, I believe the City chose to pre-empt any court order by releasing the embarrassing e-mails at a time considered most optimal for the Bloomberg Administration -- and not coincidentally, to take advantage of the pre-Christmas slow news cycle in the hope that this issue would be "old news" by the time everyone returns to work next week.  

The delay in releasing the e-mails has a greater significance.  It means that the City ignored the law in order to avoid (and thus was fully aware of) the negative publicity, or did so out of a disregard for the law.  That just raises further questions as to why the Bloomberg Administration is so proactively behind this project. 

Crime, Politics and Policy -- and yours truly -- theorized in August 2010 that the Bloomberg Administration's support for the mosque (aka Park51, Cordoba Institute) and pulling strings for it and its backers amounted to unconstitutional special treatment in violation of the First Amendment clause that Congress shall make no law "respecting the establishment of religion."

We have further theorized that the backers are just interested in greenmail -- in other words, something analogous to blackmail but with the motive being that of getting one's desired price. 

The Bloomberg administration's support of the Ground Zero mosque project is also curious, given the checkered past of Sharif El-Gamal (whose company, Soho Properties, has gone into strategic default and been sued by Citi) and of Imam Abdul Rauf (who has been characterized by some press reports as a slumlord for neglecting his Union City, NJ multi-family property), and the recent revelation that they are seeking federal, special 9/11 recovery funding for their development of the Islamic cultural center.  Some even charge that the mosque backers are just globalist stooges, fronting for some as-yet-unrevealed cause.

Here's the lesson for observers:  Whether in business, personal or political affairs, the decision about which cause and which people to support or associate with shows one's judgment.  This judgment demonstrates not only one's priorities and decisions, but also one's procedures and processes. 

The embarrassing details coming out about the mosque backers indicate that the Bloomberg administration is either woefully incapable of doing basic investigative due diligence on the backers of a high-profile and emotionally-sensitive project...or that it simply did not care. 

Eric Dixon is a New York investigative lawyer and strategist.  Mr. Dixon provides legal advice and strategic analysis on legal, business, political, economic and personal affairs through Eric Dixon LLC.   Mr. Dixon also provides litigation stress counseling for lawsuit defendants.  Mr. Dixon is available for comment or consultation, and welcomes your inquiries, at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Animal Rights Issue Used for NYC Fee Generation

A new release from New York City community activist Donny Moss charges that City Council Speaker (and presumed 2013 mayoral candidate) Christine Quinn is giving the public the false impression that she's helping the neediest New Yorkers when she's only helping herself.

Quinn is pushing two animal-related bills through the City Council.  One bill raises the license fee for pets who aren't spayed or neutered.  This is an administrative issue that was supposed to be handled by the Department of Health (not the City Council), according to an unrevealed State Assembly Member who claims to be familiar with this issue.

The second bill prohibits people from chaining their dogs in their backyards for more than three hours. Dog chaining is horribly abusive (to the dogs and to the people who have to hear their barking while their narcissistic owner is blocks away sipping on a macchiato latte!), but it's not a big problem in the City, according to the many local animal activists with whom Moss has spoken.  However, even if chaining were a problem somewhere, the law might be unenforceable, as explained in this NY1 story.

Neither the licensing bill nor the chaining bill is a legislative priority for the local animal activist community. So why is Quinn using city resources on these new bills as opposed to the many existing bills that would, in fact, reduce animal suffering in the City? Here's a theory why: These bills require her to expend no political capital, but allow her to hold another press conference stating that "she cares about the welfare of animals." Free publicity! Dog lovers around the city will open their newspapers, learn about the horrors of dog chaining and be grateful that Quinn is putting a stop to it -- not realizing that it's largely irrelevant. 
  
Quinn pulled a similarly deceitful stunt in April, 2010, and Moss made a short video to document it:  (Video provided by Moss; CPP expresses no opinion and disclaims all responsibility for its content.). In Moss' opinion, dirty tactics like those he documented reinforce why it is -- in his opinion -- important to continue to educate New Yorkers about why Christine Quinn should be voted out of public office for good.

As an aside, these bills were very likely introduced as a reaction to protests, but, in typical fashion, the ASPCA has stepped in to take credit and raise money.  If protecting animals from cruelty is their priority, then the management at the ASPCA should be criticizing these bills as the window dressing that they are and demanding that Quinn act on the many other bills she has blocked that would actually reduce animal suffering in the City.


Comments on the foregoing are welcome. The foregoing expresses the commentary of Donny Moss and is provided here for informational purposes. These views do not necessarily reflect the views of Crime, Politics and Policy nor of its owner Eric Dixon.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and strategic analyst who represents business, political and individual clients through Eric Dixon LLC.  Mr. Dixon is available for consultation and comment on various legal, business and policy issues at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.


Eric Dixon
Eric Dixon LLC
World-Class Strategic Analysis
917-696-2442

Tyler Clementi's Parents to Sue Rutgers

The Associated Press reports that the parents of cyberbullying victim Tyler Clementi plan to sue Rutgers University.

Clementi was the young 18-year-old Rutgers freshman who committed suicide in September 2010 after video of his romantic encounter with another man was allegedly captured and distributed through a webcam in his dorm room.

In the wake of the Tyler Clementi tragedy, some misguided legislation has been proposed and enacted in places including New Jersey. Crime, Politics and Policy has previously been critical of the unintended consequences such legislation can be expected to produce.  

Eric Dixon is a New York investigative lawyer and strategic analyst.  Mr. Dixon counsels lawsuit defendants and others on how to handle the extreme stress of litigation.  Mr. Dixon also handles legal and management issues for businesses and individuals. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SEC Protest of Congo Atrocities To Hurt American Investors

The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill has led to the Securities and Exchange Commission proposing new rules that will hurt innocent American shareholders in order to make a protest statement against human rights abuses.

The SEC proposes new disclosure requirements for companies with publicly-traded stock which engage in commerce in so-called "conflict minerals." These requirements would force companies to disclose whether the minerals come from the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

These conflict minerals include gold and various ores from which many important electronic and electrical components in everyday products are made.  The conflict minerals include casserite, the ore from which tin is extracted and used in electronic circuits.  A conflict minerals disclosure could hurt public companies like Cisco and Intel, and any phone company. China is the world's leading tin producer. As reprehensible as the human rights abuses occurring in many parts of the world are, the disclosure requirements will only pose a risk to the disclosing companies that either (i) current shareholders will disapprove of any connection and sell their shares, or (ii) other participants in the market will avoid buying these shares. Both (i) and (ii) pose a serious risk of selling pressure on the stock, which in turn threatens to depress the stock price in an uncertain amount and for an uncertain duration. Current shareholders -- that is, entirely innocent American shareholders -- of the stock of these companies would thus face significant financial injury. Meanwhile, the rules are likely to (if that is not the actual purpose) deter other investors in the stock market from buying the shares of these companies, possibly at any price.  That does nothing to protect those market participants who never bought shares; it does hurt the companies doing business in the Congo, and it hurts their shareholders including individual American shareholders and mutual funds. 




Another conflict mineral is wolframite, an ore from which tungsten is extracted for use in electrodes and metal wires and contacts in lighting, electronic, electrical, heating and welding applications. This could affect, for example, General Electric.


Yet another mineral is columbite-tantalite, an ore from which tantalum is extracted.  Tantalum is used in electronic components for mobile phones, computers, videogame consoles and digital cameras. Issuers that could be affected could include Dell, GameStop (GME) and Kodak. (Major non-U.S. users: Nokia, Sony.) The Congo is the major producer; it is also found in Australia, Brazil, Canada and China.)




This is an example of political correctness that will hurt innocent shareholders. As laudable as a protest against human rights may be, the function of the Securities and Exchange Commission is to regulate the American capital markets and their participants -- that is, to protect American investors. 

It is not the job of the SEC to make humanitarian political statements that will harm American shareholders.


Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who represents clients on legal and strategic consulting matters through Eric Dixon LLC.  Mr. Dixon has substantial experience in securities law compliance.  Mr. Dixon is available for consultation or comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque Greenmail Continues


The publicity-seeking front men for the "Ground Zero" mosque (also known as Park51 and the Cordova Institute) on New York City's Park Place (about 400 feet from Ground Zero) continue to insist they are not moving anywhere and are not amenable to moving to another site.
Crime, Politics and Policy maintains its theory: The backers only want to sell the property (they own 47 Park and have an option to buy 45 Park but that sale requires state utilities commission approval) and are using the mosque controversy to generate a "white knight" buyer who will cash them out to "save" Ground Zero.
The backers likely do not have the financial resources to do anything with the property.  The owner, Soho Properties LLC, bought 47 Park in 2009 but has done virtually nothing to renovate or improve the property or to negotiate a purchase price on the adjoining plot.  Meanwhile, the mosque's purported imam, Abdul Rauf, has been revealed in numerous press reports and court filings to be an alleged slumlord with his apartment buildings in Union City, NJ. (See the Crime, Politics and Policy archives for prior reports.)  Soho Properties has also been reported to have applied for federal government 9/11 reconstruction funds.  This is an indication that conventional bank financing, as well as the feared foreign investment, for the Cordova project has not been forthcoming.
Crime, Politics and Policy continues to argue that the unusually favorable treatment accorded this developer and development by the City of New York raises First Amendment Establishment Clause concerns and may thus be challengable in federal court.
Eric Dixon is a New York investigative lawyer and strategic analyst.  He is available for comment or consultation at 917-696-2442.

Dodd-Frank: Deterring Whistleblowers?

The Securities and Exchange Commission's proposed new whistleblower awards program has several provisions that will discourage reports of corporate wrongdoing, not encourage it.

See Eric Dixon's analysis and criticisms in his comment letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Proposed Rule 21F-7 would require identifying whistleblowers (pursuant to proposed Rule 21F-10) before the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) would pay any award. Proposed Rule 21F-12 provides that awardees may not appeal the amount of an award if it is within a certain range, and that the record for any appeal shall not include “internal deliberative process materials” used to determine the claim.

The provision of monetary awards for whistleblowers is made to encourage people with knowledge or suspicion of corporate wrongdoing to provide such information. The awards support an inference that they are necessary to induce people to come forward with information about suspected corporate wrongdoing. On the other hand, they may create improper motivations for putative whistleblowers and induce false or reckless allegations that potentially may harm their subjects. 

Whatever the motivations for whistleblowers, it is important to recognize that whistleblowers assume tremendous risk just by reporting an allegation of wrongdoing. The identification of whistleblowers exposes them to serious risk, including physical harm to them and their families, professional or career reprisals and community ostracization. Whistleblowers may also face retaliation from alleged wrongdoers or their associates, including civil suits. In an era which has seen revelations of huge, shocking financial frauds perpetuated by some of the pillars of the financial community (e.g., Bernard Madoff, Allen Stanford) and legal community (e.g., Marc Dreier, Scott Rothstein) that went undetected by government regulators, prosecutors, auditing firms and banking institutions for years, prospective whistleblowers can hardly be assured that government investigators will “get it right” with future investigations.



[More...after the jump]

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Awards Exclude Lawyers Unfairly

Eric Dixon, the author of Crime, Politics and Policy, submitted a comment letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission expressing concerns over the proposed new Section 21F to the Exchange Act of 1934 providing for whistleblower awards but excluding lawyers from eligibility under the program. 

See Mr. Dixon's comprehensive comments to the SEC on Dodd-Frank here. 

Mr. Dixon has exposed wrongdoing as a whistleblower earlier in his professional career, and handles various investigative matters ranging from investigating wrongdoing in order to exonerate the wrongfully-investigated or wrongfully accused, to using the findings of investigations in the course of litigation.

Mr. Dixon is concerned that the new Dodd-Frank provisions will unfairly punish lawyers, impose a de facto strict liability upon lawyers and discourage efforts by lawyers to uncover wrongdoing. 

For a fuller treatment of these concerns, click on this link to the comment letter.

Eric Dixon is a New York investigative lawyer, whistleblower lawyer and strategic analyst. Mr. Dixon has been a practicing attorney since graduating in 1994 from Yale Law School. Mr. Dixon handles matters involving government investigations as well as third party investigations of businesses and individual affairs, and has represented more than two dozen political candidates, committees and party organizations on ballot access and election law matters. Mr. Dixon is available for comment or consultation at 917-696-2442 and at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.
whistleblower lawyer fraud lawyer criminal defense wrongfully accused innocent but still accused wrongfully convicted investigative lawyer criminal investigation fraud investigation corporate investigation sham investigation Dodd Frank expert Dodd Frank whistleblower law Dodd Frank lawyer


Friday, December 17, 2010

Condom Thief: Crime of the Week?

You know times are rough when...

A New Jersey man was arrested Friday, December 17th on a theft charge for stealing approximately 25 boxes of condoms.
 
One wonders if his arrest will interfere with his, er, plans.

Eric Dixon is a New York investigative lawyer and strategic analyst. Mr. Dixon has been a practicing attorney since graduating in 1994 from Yale Law School. Mr. Dixon handles matters involving government investigations as well as third party investigations of businesses and individual affairs, and has represented more than two dozen political candidates, committees and party organizations on ballot access and election law matters. Mr. Dixon is available for comment or consultation at 917-696-2442 and at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.

Indulging Heidi Jones

Getting a few minutes on air every day doing the weather was apparently not enough attention for a certain prejudiced New York weathercaster. 

There is a report that disgraced WABC-TV weather anchor Heidi Jones used her fabricated Central Park rape allegation to get round-the-clock protection from New York City police. 

Jones was recently arrested for filing a false police report in the matter. (Note: As Crime, Politics and Policy reported earlier this week, quoting a New York Post article, Jones admitted her story was false.)  As more details emerge, it may become apparent just how much the police take reports of attempted rape and the volume of resources expended to investigate the matter and protect people.  Those details should provide cold comfort to observers; the flip side is that any false report diverts needed resources from other crimes and leaves other potential victims vulnerable.  False reports -- particularly ones identifying possible suspects -- also lead to entirely innocent people coming under suspicion, being surveiled, and questioned, and all because of a lie. 

But the problems with Heidi Jones' criminal behavior and seemingly out-of-control  who thought to identify her attacker as a middle-aged Hispanic man, thinking that such a description would be likely to be credible.  Crime, Politics and Policy has previously criticized her description as showing an anti-Hispanic bias that is overtly, inexcusably and seriously prejudical.  

To sum up, it appears the criminal consequences of this false allegation may be proportional to the potential harm it posed to the public and the specific class of suspects matching her fabricated account, as well as to the outrage the authorities must feel for having their trust get violated so egregiously by a member of the respected news media.

Eric Dixon is a New York investigative lawyer and strategic analyst.  Mr. Dixon has been a practicing attorney since graduating in 1994 from Yale Law School.  Mr. Dixon handles matters involving government investigations as well as third party investigations of businesses and individual affairs, and has represented more than two dozen political candidates, committees and party organizations on ballot access and election law matters. Mr. Dixon is available for comment or consultation at 917-696-2442 and at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Racial Profiling of Muslims Feared

An inquiry into the radicalization of the American Muslim community is being proposed by longtime New York Congressman Peter King. 

As the report states, Congressman King cites his perception that Muslim leaders have been generally less than cooperative with law enforcement efforts to investigate possible terrorism, or other crimes.

Some Muslim leaders cite a fear of "racial profiling" of Muslims.  Racial profiling is another way of saying that certain segments of the population which share certain characteristics, like age and physical appearance, will be greeted with a greater-than-average amount of suspicion without necessarily having done anything.

This raises important legal and policy questions.  Americans treasure their concept of "equal protection." However, we also treasure our lives.  Law enforcement may not be "perfect," but its primary mission is to protect the public.  

Profiling of criminals is done routinely as a device for solving crime.  The term "racial profiling" suggests an improper, unwanted and possibly (but not automatically) unconstitutional practice.  However, when attempted terrorists -- or to put it more bluntly, attempted mass murderers -- are found to share certain characteristics, what is the rationale for asking that the authorities willingly ignore these characteristics?  

It helps to define the issue as follows:  What is the primary mission of law enforcement?  Is it to stop crime -- or terrorism -- or to publicly and overtly demonstrate to society the fairness and religion-blindness of the authorities?  

Is the primary concern the protection of the public, or the preservation of a group's self-asserted, collective self-esteem -- while risking the protection of the public?

Let's get something straight:  No one should like any encounter with law enforcement.  Being under suspicion should be disturbing and insulting.  However, the refusal to acknowledge basic similarities in the religion professed to be practiced by almost all convicted terrorists is to demand that the authorities deliberately ignore perhaps the most predictive factor indicating one's propensity to commit mass murder.   Such a decision is incompatible with law enforcement's primary directive to protect the public. 

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer.  He is available for consultation or comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com   

Malcolm Smith Acquitted

The second acquittal of a defendant perp-walked in the Bid Rig / Solomon Dwek investigation: former Hudson County, NJ assemblyman Malcolm Smith was found not guilty on seven counts.


This was a case where the apparently strongest evidence (that is meant both seriously and sarcastically) was Dwek throwing cash into the open window of Smith's car; Smith testified he returned the cash. 

If one can be deemed to have accepted a bribe because someone throws money into your car, then there may be few limits to what falsified, illegitimate charges can be brought...and to the danger that rogue government investigators can pose to our basic rights.

If that was the case, it raises troubling questions about basic organizational judgment -- or indicates outright bias and a dangerous inclination to "get people at any cost."  There is the possibility that the investigators (and perhaps the federal prosecutors supervising or directing them) had an attitude of "not taking 'no' for an answer." 

Some practical question for observers involved in business, political or civic affairs:  When one is liable for being criminally charged because the government informant (here, Solomon Dwek) is all but literally chasing you down the street and throwing money at you, what must you do to show you will not accept the bribe?  What must one do in order to avoid being viewed as guilty?  How high is the standard one must reach in order to demonstrate one's innocence, and to avoid being "investigated," much less charged with a trumped-up crime?


Smith's attorney Peter Willis may have been dead-on correct in calling this a set up. In other words, no bonafide crime, just some investigators looking for a "name" scalp and not taking "no" for an answer.


The eagerness of the federal authorities in pursuing this particular case -- in light of so much other rather obvious corruption and other crime -- is curious.


It has to be disturbing that, in New Jersey at least but assuredly throughout the nation, an elected official (or anyone else) can expect to be subject to a never-ending procession of "integrity tests" to see if he or she can be tricked into doing or saying something suggesting illegality...and that these tests only stop when you die, move out of the country or get thrown in jail.  

Perhaps the most dangerous thing for people -- entirely innocent people -- is to get caught in the crosshairs of someone with a badge, an unlimited budget and a roster of informants ready and willing to do anything to other people to get a reduced prison sentence. 


On the other hand, to be fair, Smith could have -- and at the age of 60 and being a state assemblyman, definitely should have been expected to have been -- much more diligent in choosing better company to employ or associate with. There are issues of judgment which people need to exercise, purely as a matter of self-interest.  A lack of judgment, either in one's individual life or in the case of companies and goverment (that is, organizational judgment), can have major and adverse consequences. 


Eric Dixon
Eric Dixon LLC
World-Class Strategic Analysis
917-696-2442

ABC Weather Bimbo: Hispanic Men Are Good Suspects

According to one network weathercaster, Hispanic men are good for more than cutting the grass or delivering lunch. They make good suspects -- convenient targets to blame -- when you want to make up a story for the cops.


A weather forecaster for ABC's New York flagship station WABC-TV, Heidi Jones admitted to cops that she lied to them and made up a story about a Hispanic man in his 30s or 40s trying to rape her while jogging in Central Park, according to the New York Post. 


Ms. Jones was charged criminally with filing a false report. According to the Post report, she has admitted to making up the allegation.


Ms. Jones' actions are reprehensible for two other reasons. First, she had no hesitation to implicate and cause the harassment -- or imprisonment -- of entirely innocent, anonymous men by making a false report.  This also diverted police resources from real victims and put innocent people at risk.  A separate WCBS-TV report claims that one man fitting her fake description was actually stopped and questioned.  Ms. Jones' lie exposed innocent men to the risk of being stopped and questioned for no good reason.

False accusations have the potential to deny innocent people their rights and their freedom, and cause all sorts of unjust collateral damage -- and they are rightfully prosecuted.


Secondly, she identified her imaginary attacker as a Hispanic male. Her choice of perpetrator characteristics shows an explicit and intolerable prejudice. It implies a belief that men fitting that description are believably criminal, and that by choosing that population segment to blame, she thought she would be believable and get away with her lie.


As a Hispanic male in that age range, who happens to run competitive races and train in Central Park, I am concerned and outraged.   I do not want to be pulled over and questioned...for jogging while Hispanic!


As Ms. Jones has admitted her guilt, one needs not reserve judgment. The ABC network appropriately suspended Heidi Jones without pay on Wednesday.  Her narcissism and subtle prejudice should end her professional career in New York.
_______________
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who handles strategic and legal issues for business, political and individual clients.  Mr. Dixon has been a practicing attorney since graduating from Yale Law School in 1994.  Mr. Dixon has an interest in investigating incidents of wrongful accusations.  He may be reached for comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.

Organizational Judgment and Charities

The end of the year brings the phone calls from charities and other not-so-charitable organizations. There is the phone drive, the capital fund, the pressing we-must-have-this-by-year's-end-drive.

One may wish to assess how effective an organization has been in achieving its stated goals. No one likes to "just give away" money.

This is where organizational judgment comes into play. Decisions indicate the collective judgment in setting priorities, managing ongoing projects, starting new projects and deciding how to handle yesterday's problems or failures. Outcomes indicate the effectiveness of management.  

Rash decisions can backfire and cause reputational damage to both an organization and its principals. It is much easier to damage a reputation than to develop one.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who handles strategic and legal issues for business, political and individual clients. Mr. Dixon has been a practicing attorney since graduating from Yale Law School in 1994. Mr. Dixon has an interest in investigating incidents of wrongful accusations. He may be reached for comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Steroid Abuse: On The Taxpayers' Tab

Better late than never.  New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow is forming a committee to look into various measures such as random testing of police officers for steroids (a/k/a performance enhancing drugs, or PEDs).


The Newark Star-Ledger has had a recent series of articles detailing a pattern of steroid abuse among a substantial number of uniformed officers in northern New Jersey.  (The doctor at the center of the abuse, one Anthony Colao with an office on Jersey City's Kennedy Boulevard, died in 2007.)  Only after the news media revealed this pattern, which was either missed or not acted upon by some asleep-at-the-switch prosecutors in Hudson County, did the Attorney General's office take notice feel compelled to take action to avoid embarrassment.
The risk with police officers taking steroids is that these substances affect and impair judgment.  This puts the officers at risk; anything impairing their judgment while they are on duty puts them in mortal danger should they encounter an armed and dangerous person. Steroid abuse -- really, any substance abuse -- also raises the risk that officers will not use the proper amount of restraint and discretion in these and other sensitive situations.  This convergence of circumstances can lead to unintentional police abuse where an officer "just loses control." 

Who pays?  If you live in the New Jersey towns where cops are popping pills...for whatever reason...you do.

Here's why.  Every time a civilian files a police misconduct claim, lawyers get involved -- and that's an expense picked up by the town.  Insurance companies covering the town get involved.  When they make a payout, usually in a settlement, that insurer then raises its premium to cover that payment and to recoup its anticipated profit margin.  Who pays that payout?  Who ultimately pays that higher premium?  You do.  Whether you pay it in the form of higher property taxes, special sales taxes, town user fees (think of parking and traffic tickets, sanitation citations and other traps for the unwary) and reduced services, you bear the burden.

Who paid for the steroids?  It appears many of these steroids were dispensed through bogus (read: illegal) prescriptions from the late, aforementioned Dr. Colao.  One may assume that health insurance companies picked up the tab.  Such prescription abuse contributes to rising health premiums. 

The average person on the street has a role here:  Merely by breathing and being enrolled in the pool of people covered by insurance, you help spread the risk.  The risk -- that is, the risk to the insurer to cover such prescriptions -- is shifted from the users to the non-users, and spread out among the general population of covered policyholders.  This is measuring and predicting risk and spreading it out so that the sick do not bear (and thus do not get crushed by) the proportionate burden of their illness.  This enables people to afford and access health care, but the flip side, of course, is that you pay significant premiums when you are not sick at all.  This is how insurance works. 

Now factor in prescription abuse as one item raising the overall cost among the patient pool.  Who ultimately paid for these officers' steroids?  You did.

The investigative acumen in New Jersey sometimes seems confined to the conventional press -- the newspaper media.  The absence of a true New Jersey tabloid paper is felt in the Garden State.

As with all situations where public monies are converted into benefits for exclusive private use, one wonders if the United States Attorney's Office in Newark has taken notice of these developments. 

One must distinguish the possible criminality in this case against the wave of cases brought by the Justice Department (which has taken a peculiar interest in pain management doctors) over the last several years.  There has been much criticism about the thin line between legitimate pain management or hormone treatments, and outright overprescriptions and prescription abuse which, even if proven, may be more of a questionable medical judgment issue than one of criminal conduct.  One problem (and a danger) is deciding what constitutes illegal activity by the doctors.  However, in the case of the patients of Dr. Colao, any criminality may be in the fraud perpetuated on the health insurance companies -- and by extension, on the municipalities and their taxpayers.  This may implicate various statutes covering health care fraud, and hence should spark the interest of federal authorities.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who handles various strategy and legal issues, including investigations on behalf of non-governmental third parties.  He is available for comment or consultation at 917-696-2442 and at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.

Espada Indicted For Health Care Fraud

New York State Senator (and former Senate Majority Leader) Pedro Espada, and his son Pedro G. Espada, were both indicted today on federal criminal charges alleging embezzlement of federal funds in connection with their Soundview Health Clinic. The indictments were handed down by a Brooklyn federal grand jury.


Espada's clinics have received federal government funding in the past. This gives credence to the claim that public funds were converted into private benefits, constituting a misuse (and claimed criminality) of taxpayer funds.  This sparked government scrutiny.


Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who handles strategic and legal issues for business, political and individual clients. Mr. Dixon has been a practicing attorney since graduating from Yale Law School in 1994. Mr. Dixon has an interest in investigating incidents of wrongful accusations. Mr. Dixon has represented over two dozen political candidates or committees, including some clients in the Bronx. (Mr. Dixon does not and has never represented any of the persons or entities referenced in this article.)  He may be reached for comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.

Monday, December 13, 2010

ObamaCare Mandate Declared Unconstitutional

A Virginia federal district court has invalidated the provision in "ObamaCare" which required people to enroll in health insurance plans.  Crime, Politics and Policy: By Eric Dixon was among the first sources anywhere to discover and report that the health reform bills sought to force people to enroll -- that is, to pay -- for health insurance under penalty of fines or even jail time as contemplated in the Max Baucus-sponsored Senate bill and later also in November 2009 when the final bill was passed.

Victory is premature on this issue.  Be warned, however, that there are many lawsuits on this issue, and many judges have yet to render decisions.  The federal circuit courts will likely consolidate and then resolve these issues at the appellate level, and then the road leads to the Supreme Court. 

 

Mayor Booker an Ineligible Jersey Lawyer

Newark Mayor Cory Booker is not in good standing as a New Jersey lawyer and is presently ineligible to practice law in New Jersey. He appears on the new Ineligible List from the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection (go to page 14).

Prior to being elected mayor in 2006, Booker was the name partner of a Newark law firm, Booker Abramowitz.  The likely cause of ineligibility is failure to pay the required annual assessment imposed on all lawyers admitted to practice in New Jersey.

Eric Dixon
Eric Dixon LLC
World-Class Strategic Analysis
917-696-2442

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More Indictments in Madoff Scandal?


As the two-year deadline approaches (today) for Madoff entity bankruptcy trustee Irving Picard to file clawback suits, Friday brought the bombshell lawsuit against an Austrian bank and its founder and alleged Madoff co-conspirator Sonja Kohn.  (The New York Times article to which we link also contains a link to the filed lawsuit, which is in excess of 100 pages and lists the alleged involved entities.  Happy reading.)

UPDATE SATURDAY MORNING:  Multiple news organizations report that Bernie Madoff's son Mark Madoff was found dead Saturday morning of an apparent suicideMark Madoff was sued by the trustee earlier, was reportedly under criminal investigation and had been a broker at his father's firm for many years.

More...after the break...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Free Ambulance, If You Die

On top of New York City's recently-announced organ-preservation pilot program (which is possibly just organ harvesting), now the City may charge private hospitals up to $1 million a year to participate in a voluntary ambulance program. See this Wall Street Journal report by clicking here:

http://mobile2.wsj.com/device/article.php?CALL_URL=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052748703493504576007743046682606.html%3Fmod%3Drss_newyork_main

There is a quote from a doctor who says "patients are going to suffer because of longer wait times" if hospitals stop participating in a voluntary ambulance program.

This now indicates that New York City has the resources to send an ambulance, free of charge and paid with federal funds, to take your organs should you die. But you should expect longer wait times for an ambulance should you want to actually live!

If the questions of how and where money is spent accurately portray what the City's priorities are, this indicates that saving lives is a lesser priority than harvesting organs for a privileged few.

(See the side panel for a link to my December 1, 2010 article on the Organ Harvesting plan.)


Eric Dixon
Eric Dixon LLC
World-Class Strategic Analysis
917-696-2442

Housing Double-Dip Coming?

Reports Wednesday that it may take "years" before we see a housing market recovery may be tame in their forecast.

As Crime, Politics and Policy has predicted before (October 6, 2010), the housing market could be hit by several factors including a sharp uptick in mortgage rates.  (The bond market may already have responded; some inverse-bond-price ETFs such as the one with New York Stock Exchange ticker "TBT" are already up 30% recently from their lows.) This would reduce new purchasers' buying power as banks re-assess their ability to make monthly payments and lower the principal amount of the mortgage they qualify for.  That should alone account for a sizable drop -- at the minimum, it should stop any increases in price in their tracks.

However, all these people with adjustable rate loans (whether first or second mortgage) will start to get hit as those loans get ratcheted higher.  This will trigger a new wave of eventual foreclosures, because there will be some banks that will seek to seize houses that still have equity.  

Ask yourself if any slow recovery will be enough to overcome the foregoing factors.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and strategic analyst who provides legal, business and strategic advice to clients through his firm, Eric Dixon LLC.  Mr. Dixon has been a lawyer since graduating in 1994 from Yale Law School.  Mr. Dixon is available for comment at 917-696-2442 and viai email at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WikiLeaks and Criminal Prosecution

The suggestion that WikiLeaks, and its founder/frontman Julian Assange, should be prosecuted under United States law raises numerous questions. 

First, any theory of criminality in which a requisite element of the crime is the status of divulged information as "classified information" will raise a huge question of fact as to whether the published information in fact was classified, and then, whether it should have been classified.  The Government classifies all sorts of information in order to prevent its dissemination, and not because it is necessarily sensitive.  The investigation -- whether pre-indictment or during post-indictment, pre-trial discovery -- relating to this issue could be immense.

Secondly, there are First Amendment concerns. There has even been the suggestion from Senator Joseph Lieberman that the New York Times face prosecution.

This raises a separate point, and the point of my analysis here.  There are things you can do, as they are not prohibited.  There are other things you cannot do because they are illegal, or impractical.  And then there is the third category of things that you can do...but should not do, either for reasons of common sense, patriotism or a desire for self-preservation.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and president of Eric Dixon LLC.  Mr. Dixon handles investigative matters and strategic analysis for business, political and individual clients.  He is available for comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com

Monday, December 6, 2010

New York Election Reform Threatens Republicans, Third Parties

Some suggested election law reform would allow outside infiltration of low-enrollment third parties and Republican primaries in much of New York City.

A group of self-styled reformers, including Mayor Mike Bloomberg, back a package of changes to the New York State Election Law. Notably, none of the changes enhance the notoriously tough ballot access laws. (Gee, wonder why?).

Among the changes would be an easing of the laws governing voters' change of party enrollment. Under current law, there is a practice known as deferred enrollment. In New York, one must change parties by early October of one year in order to be eligible to vote in the next year's primary (or sign or carry a petition) for the party being joined. Miss the deadline, and your change isn't effective for almost two years!

Before you question the constitutionality, be aware that the Supreme Court upheld an earlier version of New York's deferred enrollment system in its 1970 ruling in Rosario v. Rockefeller.

I have been a critic of the length of this deferred enrollment since my third year at Yale Law School when my proposed law review article on this practice was considered for publication. I would support this reform -- except that it misses an important ingredient to safeguard political minorities like Republicans and all third party members.

Allowing people to switch parties very close to a primary invites attempts at organized party raiding. A large group can suddenly enter and swamp a party, and outvote its "legitimate" members to nominate a candidate who is not a genuine party member and who may not be sympathetic to any of the party's principles. Given the tiny enrollment of Republicans and all other minor parties in much of New York City, such raiding would not only become much more possible. It actually could give candidates an ability to do an end-run around the Wilson-Pakula process which is now the only way for nonparty members to get another party's endorsement.

I proposed then -- and propose now -- that the waiting period be shortened, but also come with a limit on successive party switches prohibiting changes in consecutive years. This would make voters "stuck" in their new party for one year after the current year and prevent political hopscotch. It would prevent mischief and organized infiltration.

Reform is nice, but details matter.
___________
Eric Dixon is a New York election lawyer.
Eric Dixon
Eric Dixon LLC
World-Class Strategic Analysis
917-696-2442

New York's Organ Harvesting Judges Whether Your Life Is Worth Saving

New York City's recently-begun organ preservation program (which dispatches a second ambulance to the scene of cardiac arrests so, if you conveniently "don't make it," medics can harvest and transport the body to Bellevue Hospital for organ removal) raises the risk of morbid triage.


The existence of this program implicitly admits that there are additional medical resources available to save patients...and that such resources are allocated towards other uses considered more valuable.


In its own way, this program raises serious and complex medical ethics questions.


Does this program represent the latest frontier in the decision as to whose life is worth saving?


Does this program suggest that some cardiac victims are not the most optimal owners of their own bodily organs?


In short, is there (at least potentially) the question of whether you deserve to be saved?


More troubling are the procedural safeguards for ensuring that all efforts are made to save people. The presence of these safeguards implies awareness that, without these procedures, there is at least the temptation to do less than the best effort. That temptation is the very problem; it is the temptation to let you die...or cause you to die.


A noble cause - saving someone else - is no justification. Sacrificing your life to save another is your decision alone.


Let there be no doubt: The procedural safeguards exist to shield New York City from lawsuits.


As for you, you are just a caretaker of organs. Your life ending prematurely may just be acceptable collateral damage.
_________________
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer.