On December 1, 2011 Hon. Sondra M. Miller was the recipient of the 2011 Judge Learned Hand Award by the Westchester Region of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). This was the first time that the Judge Learned Hand Award was presented by AJC's Westchester Region. The award ceremony took place at Chappaqua Crossing (the former Reader’s Digest site), in Chappaqua, New York. AJC is the oldest and most respected human relations organization in the United States. AJC builds bridges, advances security, promotes human rights, supports Israel and strengthens Jewish life. For over fifty years, AJC has taken great pride in publicly acknowledging the accomplishments of outstanding members of the legal community who excel in their field and give generously of themselves to the larger community.
Kathleen Donelli lectured on "Avoiding Ethical Dilemmas in Day-to-Day Practice" at the Marriott Hotel in Tarrytown, New York on November 30, 2011 for the Committee on Attorney Professionalism of the New York State Bar Association.
Joseph J. Brophy, who leads the firm's Legal Malpractice and Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury groups, moderated and lectured at a program for the New York State Trial Lawyers Association on November 29, 2011 in New Windsor, New York entitled, "Ethics & Honesty - Current Cases & Trends". The program offered a review and lively discussion of recent decisions in the field of legal ethics with the Hon. Lewis J. Lubell (Justice of the Supreme Court, Ninth Judicial District). Subjects included escrow accounts, conflicts of interest, partner liability and the ethical pitfalls arising from the use of litigation finance companies by both attorneys and clients. Click at Seminar Outine to see Joe's written presentation.
Dolores Gebhardt, who is a member of our Appellate Practice and Matrimonial & Family Law groups, was the moderator of the bi-annual Continuing Legal Education program on Appellate Practice sponsored by the New York State Bar Association's New York State Bar Association's Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction. Dolores also lectured at this program on "Special Considerations in Matrimonial Appeals". Click at Outline to see Dolores' written presentation for this program.
Robert J Kiggins, a member of our Corporate and Taxation groups, lectured on November 15, 2011 in Bridgeport, Connecticut for Lorman Education on "IRS Form 1099 Reporting." This was Bob's third program for Lorman on Form 1099 issues, having lectured for Lorman on this topic in Cromwell, Connecticut, and White Plains, New York. Click at Power Point to see Bob's presentation on this program.
Robert J Kiggins, a member of our Corporate and Taxation groups, lectured on November 10, 2011 in White Plains, New York for Lorman Education on "IRS Form 1099 Reporting." This was Bob's second program for Lorman on Form 1099 issues, having lectured for Lorman on this topic in Cromwell, Connecticut. He is doing a third program on the same topic in Bridgeport, Connecticut on November 15, 2011. Click at Power Point to see Bob's presentation on this program.
Representing the owner of a high end, two tenant, 20,000 sq. ft. industrial building in Mamaroneck’s “Flats,” the Village’s industrial area, Stephen Davis, who heads up the firm's Tax Certiorari & Condemnation group, successfully negotiated settlement of multiple annual tax certiorari proceedings, reducing the Town assessments by 45% and the Village assessments by 55%. In a second case this year (11/4/11), Steve achieved comparable reductions for another warehouse in “The Flats.” Steve successfully presented to the two Assessors and to the Town’s and Village’s tax certiorari counsel, evidence that the 2007 March and April floods significantly depressed market value in the area, and continues to do so. Adding to the prior flooding the deluge created by recent Hurricane Irene, these days “The Flats” of Mamaroneck seem to be referred to as the Sheldrake River flood plain. This reputation for repeated severe flooding engenders greatly reduced values for the many warehouse buildings of this once prime lower Westchester industrial area.
Along with the emergence of the global economy and the ever increasing exposure of companies and high net worth individuals to economies and tax regimes outside of their home country, migration for tax and business reasons is becoming increasingly common. Robert J Kiggins, a member of our Corporate and Taxation groups, lectured and participated in an international expert panel discussion at the Second Annual Conference of the International Tax Systems and Planning Techniques (ITSAPT) Professional Association to be held in London, England on November 3, 2011. Bob covered the topic of personal migration to the United States for social, personal business and tax reasons. The first part of the Conference discussed the complex issues involved in corporate/business migration, such as change of legal domicile or place of organization, change in place of management or control, and considerations involved in international mergers. The second part of the Conference discussed individual migration issues, such as residence and domicile, beneficial tax regimes for individuals migrating into a country, pre-immigration planning, including the use of trusts and foundations, and beneficial structures used to acquire real estate for personal use in the countries involved in a migration.
Gail M. Boggio, a member of our Charitable Gift Planning, Exempt Organizations, Surrogate’s Court Litigation, Taxation and Trusts & Estates groups, was elected to the Executive Committee of the Trusts & Estates Section of the Westchester County Bar Association on October 28, 2011.
Lisa Newfield lectured on October 27, 2011 in Mt. Kisco, New York on Charitable Planning for the Trusts & Estates Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, as part of an all-day program entitled "Introduction to Estate Planning."
Hon. Sondra M. Miller and Kathleen Donelli, members of our Matrimonial & Family Law and Collaborative Law groups, were invited and met with the New York State Law Revision Commission (“LRC”) at a Roundtable Meeting on Maintenance Awards in Divorce Proceedings on October 25, 2011 at Albany Law School in Albany, New York. Both Judge Miller and Kathleen had the opportunity to discuss the legislation that the New York State Legislature has directed the LRC to propose by December 31, 2011 on maintenance awards.
Lisa Newfield was the moderator on October 24, 2011 for an all-day program in Manhattan entitled "Introduction to Estate Planning", sponsored by the Trusts & Estates Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. Lisa also lectured on Charitable Gift Planning at this program.
Frank W. Streng is a state-wide moderator of a program entitled "Introduction to Estate Planning" for the Trusts & Estates Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. The program is offered in seven locations (Albany [10/24/11], Buffalo [10/26/11], Manhattan [10/24/11], Long Island [10/25/11], Rochester [10/25/11], Syracuse [10/24/11] and Westchester [10/27/11]).
David A. Menken, a member of our Corporate & General Business and Intellectual Property groups, participated in a panel discussion on October 24, 2011 in Greenburgh, New York on "Making the Internet and Social Media Work for You: A Tool for Citizen Engagement in Planning and Municipal Operations," sponsored by the Westchester Municipal Planning Federation. David also lectured on "Government Use of Social Media: the Legal Issues". Click at Power Point to see David's presentation on this program.
Two of our partners have been selected Super Lawyers in the New York Metropolitan area. Kathleen Donelli has again been selected in the fields of Family Law/Collaborative Law/Appellate. Joe Brophy has again been selected in the fields of Personal Injury/Medical Malpractice, and, this year, in the field of General, Estate & Trust Litigation. Joe has also been selected as one of Westchester's top 25 lawyers. Super Lawyers is a listing of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have been recognized by their colleagues as having the highest degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
Robert J Kiggins, a member of our Corporate and Taxation groups, lectured on September 27, 2011 in Cromwell, Connecticut for Lorman Education on "IRS Form 1099 Reporting." Form 1099 Reporting has been something of a hot area of late, with many businesses being caught off-guard on compliance issues. At this program, Bob covered many Form 1099 topics, including: due dates for providing and filing Form 1099s; penalties for non-compliance; most common types of 1099 filings; the distinction between independent contractors and employees; procedures for obtaining IRS determination of independent contractor or employee status of workers; electronic Form 1099 submissions; and Form 1099 error corrections. Click at Power Point to see Bob's presentation on this program.
Frank W. Streng and Gail M. Boggio, both members of our Surrogate’s Court Litigation group, lectured in White Plains, New York on September 21, 2011 for the Westchester County Bar Association (Trusts & Estates Section) on "Everything you Wanted to Know about Property Turnover Proceedings in the Surrogate's Court." Frank was also the moderator for the program and the mock examination at the program. Click at examination to see Frank's presentation and his "topical" examination, used for the mock examination. Click at nuts & bolts to see Gail's outline for her presentation.
We are pleased to announce that the firm has formed a correspondent counsel relationship with Lubbad Advogados Associados of Fortaleza, Brazil. This move, spearheaded by Robert J. Kiggins, enhances our contacts with the fast growing and dynamic Brazilian economy. It also provides the firm and its clients a presence in coastal North Eastern Brazil, an area of breath taking natural beauty. Fortaleza is rapidly being recognized worldwide as a premier breach front vacation and second home location. The firm continues to maintain its correspondent counsel relationship with the Sukiennik Law Office firm, located in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. Our relationship with Sukiennik continues to be valuable, especially in legal matters involving Brazilian federal law regulation.
Robert M. Redis, a member of our Appellate Practice, Business Litigation and Surrogate’s Court Litigation groups, received an award from the American Bar Association's Section on Litigation for "Best E-Newsletter" for his editorial work on the periodic newsletter, Technology for the Litigator.
Frank W. Streng lectured in Manhattan on July 19, 2011 on "Ethics for Trusts and Estates Lawyers" for the Continuing Legal Education Section of the New York State Bar Association, as part of a program entitled, "Bridging the Gap 2 - Making a Smooth Transition." Click at download to see Frank's seminar outline.
Dolores Gebhardt, who is a member of the firm's Collaborative Law and Matrimonial & Family Law groups, lectured on July 12, 2011 on "Basic Matrimonial Law" at the 2011 Summer Justice Academy for Young Women. The Summer Justice Academy is a unique, one-week, intensive immersion program introducing 40 minority and disadvantaged female high school students to different legal disciplines. Its mission is to inspire and empower these young women to pursue education leading to careers in law. The program was sponsored by the New York Chapter of the National Association of Women Judges and Pace Law School.
In an effort to continue its strong relationship with the internet community, McCarthy Fingar has established a Facebook page. Frank W. Streng, one of the firm's administrative partners, had this to say: "McCarthy Fingar is proud to have a vibrant web site that is not a fancy resume, but, instead, provides resources to the internet community, such as, among other things, seminar outlines prepared by our lawyers as part of their professional speaking engagements. Facebook is another example of our firm's desire to promote interactive relationships with our clients and friends."
Paul S. Aufrichtig was admitted to the Order of Rio Branco in the rank of Officer. This prestigious decoration, which was awarded to Paul by the President of the Republic of Brazil, recognizes Paul's commitment and dedication to Brazil, Brazilian companies and to the Consulate General of Brazil in New York. The Order of Rio Branco was created in 1963 to recognize and celebrate the merits of Brazilian and foreign individuals who have significantly contributed to the promotion of Brazil's relations with the world. At the ceremony, Ambassador Osmar Chohfi, the Consul General, had this to say about Paul: "His advice, always precise and balanced, has guided us through diverse and complex legal spheres and helped us to consolidate our mission: to provide support to the Brazilian community residing here while strengthening the good relations between Brazil and the United States." Click at speech to see the full comments of Ambassador Chohfi and a photograph of an Officer's medal.
McCarthy Fingar's lawyers sometimes are retained to recover funds from lawyers who improperly fail to give settlement moneys to their clients. In a legal malpractice case started in 2008, McCarthy Fingar partner, Joseph Brophy, represented a grandmother of a disabled young lady who had recently been appointed as guardian by the court in place of the young woman’s parents. The parent were squabbling over control of money that had been awarded to their daughter in settlement of a lawsuit made several years before. The grandmother was concerned that the father may have misappropriated $125,000 of her granddaughter’s money that had been entrusted to him by the court to help pay for housing for the granddaughter. In the action, Joe charged the lawyers and the father in contempt of court. Ultimately the lawyers pressured the father to sign off on the lien, and when the house was sold this year, his daughter received the $125,000 she was owed. In addition, the lawyers refunded $177,000 of the young woman’s funds that they had never accounted for, and had been holding onto for over five years. Click at representative cases to see more information about this matter and descriptions of other work of our Legal Malpractice group.
Robert J. Kiggins, a member of our Corporate and General Business group who concentrates in financial services clients, was interviewed by Reuters in an article about regulatory oversight of investment advisors. "Robert Kiggins, a lawyer in White Plains, New York who specializes in financial services clients, said the new regime creates complexities and the potential for lapses. 'Some of these states will without a doubt do a worse job than the SEC at regulating investment advisers,' he said, citing funding issues, the multi-state operations of some advisers and the increasing globalization of financial markets. 'Shifting regulation from a national level via the SEC to the states via the various state regulators is clearly a step in [the] wrong direction.'
In finishing her one year term as President of the Westchester Women's Bar Association, Dolores Gebhardt spoke at the annual dinner on June 15, 2011 about WWBA's accomplishments during her term. She also had this to say about her original goal to increase the number of men in WWBA: "One of the goals of my presidency was to increase the involvement of men in the WWBA. Despite the difficult economic climate, our membership was similar to last year’s. In fact, as of this writing, we had over 600 members, and kept our ten delegates to WBASNY. Better yet, nearly 70 members are men . . . more than last year!"
Frank W. Streng was on the Program Planning Commitee of a program entitled "Estate Litigation" for the Trusts and Estates Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. The program was offered in seven locations (Albany [6/2/11], Buffalo [6/1/11], Manhattan [6/9/11], Melville [5/17/11], Rochester [5/24/11], Syracuse [5/19/11] and Tarrytown [6/3/11]. Frank lectured in Albany on "Property Turnover Proceedings in the Surrogate's Court" and authored an outline for the program entitled, "Ethics for Trusts and Estates Lawyers."
Gail M. Boggio has been appointed as an Article 81 Court Examiner for Westchester County by Gail Prudenti, the Presiding Justice in the Appellate Division, Second Department. Prior to her appointment as Court Examiner, Gail, who is also a certified public accountant, satisfied various training and educational requirements established by Justice Prudenti. As Court Examiner, Gail's duties include examining the reports of guardians to ascertain whether such guardians have timely filed reports and accountings as required by Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law. As Court Examiner, Gail must also certify whether such guardians have satisfied their statutory duties and the provisions of the court order appointing them.
Dolores Gebhardt and Kathleen Donelli lectured on May 21, 2011 in Manchester, Vermont for the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York on the "New Matrimonial Laws: No Fault Divorce, Temporary and Post Divorce Maintenance Guidelines, Counsel & Expert Fees, Modification of Child Support And Orders of Protection." See Seminar Outline.
Joseph J. Brophy, who leads the firm's Legal Malpractice and Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury groups, was asked by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA), a division of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (NBLSC), to participate in the examination process for applicants to the Board. Joe wrote an complex essay question in civil litigation and graded the answers of over twenty applicants. This is the third time that NBTA has asked Joe to write a question for their examination. Joe was first certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by NBTA in 1995 and was just recertified for the third time. The NBTA directory lists only 37 Certified Civil Trial Advocates in the entire State of New York.
Howell Bramson lectured on "Taxes and Valuation Issues; Special Valuation Rules under Chapter 14" on May 19, 2011 in Tarrytown, New York for UJA Federation of NY’s 21st Annual Westchester Estate, Tax and Financial Planning Conference. See Seminar Outline.
Hon. Sondra M. Miller was selected as the "Pace Setter" and received the "Above the Bar" award on April 28, 2011 in White Plains, New York.
Phillip C. Landrigan has been elected to the Board of Directors of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.
Joseph J. Brophy, who leads the firm's Legal Malpractice and Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury groups, moderated and lectured at a program on April 13, 2011 at the New York State Trial Lawyers Association's offices in Manhattan entitled, "Legal Malpractice and Legal Ethics: One Lawyer’s Blunder is Another’s Opportunity". The program offered a lively review and discussion of the evolving landscape of legal ethics rules and legal malpractice litigation. With the increasing complexities of law practice, trial lawyers face larger risks of civil liability and disciplinary action. The program also showed trial lawyers how to avoid ethical violations and malpractice liability, and provided a primer to representing plaintiffs who have fallen victim to their lawyers’ misconduct or blunders. The Hon. Lewis J. Lubell (Justice of the Supreme Court, Ninth Judicial District), and Lisa L. Shrewsberry, Esq. also presented at this program. See Joe's Seminar Outline.
As an Adjunt Professor at Hofstra University School of Law, Dolores Gebhardt teaches a course on Collaborative Matrimonial Law. On March 24, 2011, Dolores talked to Professor Yishai Boyarin's class at Hofstra, "Alternatives to Litigation", about her work and experiences in Collaborative Law.
Kathleen Donelli spoke on March 23, 2011 in White Plains, New York to New York State Supreme Court Justices on the "New Matrimonial Legislation" at the New York State Judicial Institute at Pace. Click at Outline to see seminar materials.
Frank W. Streng lectured in Manhattan on March 8, 2011 on "Ethics for Trusts and Estates Lawyers" for the Continuing Legal Education Section of the New York State Bar Association, as part of a program entitled, "Bridging the Gap 1 - Making a Smooth Transition." Click at Outline for Frank's coursebook materials.
Robert J Kiggins and Howell Bramson, members of the Firm’s Corporate and Taxation groups, are working with the IFS Consultant Group, based in London, England and headed by Roy Saunders as Chairman, and with Prof. William H. Byrnes, IV of Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California, on writing the 2011 revisions to the US Chapter of “International Tax Systems & Planning Techniques”, a book on cross border personal and business financial transactions and related tax implications. The revisions will be designed to keep abreast the ever accelerating changes in this field. For example, in view of the expansion of Internet trading as a major element in today’s global economy, the revisions to the US Chapter will highlight some of the international tax issues facing Internet trading companies. The 2011 Edition of the book is targeted for release and publication in the Spring of this year.
Kathleen Donelli was part of a panel discussion on "Ethics and Professionalism Update 2011" in White Plains, New York on February 5, 2011 at Pace University School of Law. The panel reviewed the Rules of Professional Conduct. After an overview and update, the panel used a hypothetical to examine issues including advertising, solicitation, client relations, conflicts of interest, dealing with represented and unrepresented parties, specialization, competence, prosecutorial abuse and civility.
Hon. Sondra M. Miller, who has been a long-time proponent of "no fault" divorce and helped bring upon its passage in law last year, was interviewed by the New York Law Journal (2/4/2011) to comment on a recent ruling on the new law by Essex County Justice Robert J. Muller. Justice Muller is the second judge to rule that a trial is required if a party disputes whether, under the new law, a marriage has "broken down irretrievably." The article went on to say:
"Sondra Miller, the former Second Department justice who headed a commission appointed by former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye to examine the state's matrimonial laws, disagreed with Justice Muller's conclusion stating that the 'irretrievably broken' language must be read in the context within which it was written. . . . 'It is quite clear,' Ms. Miller said, that the 'purpose' of the language referring to an oath provided by 'one party' was to 'avoid litigation.' 'It was not the intent of the Legislature and the bill's sponsors to avoid litigation on fault grounds only to substitute litigation upon the ground of irretrievable breakdown,' added Ms. Miller who is now chief counsel at McCarthy Fingar in White Plains. 'The statute was designed to avoid the expense and delay of full trials.'"
Joel Martin Aurnou has been elected Co-Chair of the Appellate Practice section of the Westchester County Bar Association.
In 2004, the firm's web site contained the following item on firm news:
"As part of her representation of clients who were upset that a lawyer, acting as trustee of a trust fund created for a baby kidnapped from Harlem Hospital in 1987, had not provided proper accountings on the trust, Lisa Newfield, working with Frank W. Streng, had reviewed the lawyer’s records, identified improper withdrawals from the trust by the lawyer and ultimately forced the lawyer’s resignation as trustee. The lawyer had been the subject of a disciplinary complaint before a Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division, First Department. Lisa and the firm fully cooperated in this investigation. Citing Lisa’s investigatory work on the trust, the First Department, having first suspended the lawyer from practice, adopted the recommendation of its Disciplinary Committee and disbarred the lawyer in a decision and order dated August 12, 2004. The case has also been reported by different news publications."
In a remarkable development, in January, 2011, the kidnapped baby herself, Carlina White, through a diligent search of the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, was able to identify herself as a missing baby and find her parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson. The New York Daily News initially broke the story and reported, on January 19, 2011, that Carlina, whose name was changed to Nejdra Nance, was reunited with her parents in early January, 2011. The joyful story was a lead story for ABC News on January 19th and is now being reported by major media outlets throughout the country, including CNN.
Hon. Sondra M. Miller spoke at the Rockland County Courthouse in New City at the induction ceremony of newly elected Justice Linda J. Christopher.
Dolores Gebhardt, as President of the Westchester Women's Bar Association, was a speaker on January 10, 2011 at the Richard J. Daronco County Courthouse in White Plains, New York at the induction ceremony of newly elected judges.