Brooklyn New York Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Reuland http://www.reulandlaw.com New York City Criminal Defense Sat, 02 Sep 2017 18:50:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.12 The Race for Brooklyn DA http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/race-brooklyn-da/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/race-brooklyn-da/#respond Fri, 05 May 2017 18:06:41 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1176  

The race is on here in Brooklyn for the job of District Attorney, and while many have thrown their hats into the ring the best candidate by a country mile is Eric Gonzalez.

 

Eric served under Ken Thompson, who died suddenly in office last year. Ken brought a fresh perspective to the office after years under Charles Hynes. Hynes himself came to the office as something of an outsider at a time when crime was epidemic. Under Hynes crime rates were reduced and Brooklyn like the rest of New York City began a new era in which quality of life improved for many. Hynes hired me in 1996 and supported me throughout my time as his assistant, but our relationship ended badly upon the publication of my first book.

 

While under Hynes the office continued to serve its essential purpose — the prosecution of crime — with professionalism, Hynes and his administration became mired in scandal after scandal, which took away from the good work of his legal staff. Ken Thompson took office promising to set the house in order and to set a new vision for a 21st century prosecutor’s office. He had begun this work before he died.

 

One of Ken’s top lieutenants was Eric Gonzalez, to whom Ken passed the torch. My support for Eric, however, is not based simply upon Ken’s high opinion of him. Rather, I support Eric because he is the best in a field of candidates who have thrown in their hats. I support Eric because the job chose him, not the other way around. He is our Mr. Smith, whose qualifications for the job are listed on his resume, not on his rolodex.

 

Political novice though the may be, Eric has served 20 years as a career prosecutor in Brooklyn in myriad capacities. Neither Ken Thompson nor Charles Hynes worked in the Brooklyn DA’s Office before they took it’s reins, so with Eric we will at last have a District Attorney who really knows the office he is running. More, Eric is a Brooklyn guy through and through. He has lived through the worst period in our recent history — the crack epidemic and the attendant soaring crime rates and ruination of so many lives — so he knows well what he is protecting against every day he goes to work.

 

As a Brooklyn resident, I support Eric because I know he will continue to keep our streets safe. But as a criminal defense attorney I can also support Eric because I know he will enforce the law fairly and without prejudice or politics, and he will encourage an atmosphere in his office in which every criminal defendant is treated as an individual.

Support Eric here: www.ericgonzalez.com

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I Get Beat Up http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/beat/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/beat/#comments Wed, 12 Apr 2017 18:07:47 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1179  

Twenty-four hours ago I got the snot beat out of me on a Brooklyn street corner. Today I’m sore, physically and spiritually, but uncharacteristically full of wisdom. Here is what I learned.

 

A beautiful day, I was driving my car, windows open to the spring air, slowly through an intersection when a guy dashed through the crosswalk just ahead of me. I stopped, but—irate for reasons best known to him—he began to hit my car. He then chucked a plastic cup full of ice through my window, and our relationship entered a sharp decline from there. Irate now myself, I made the classic mistake. Lesson one, to paraphrase Apocalypse Now: never get out of the car.

 

There he was, my antagonist, rather ordinary looking for a sociopath, a white dude, not young, wearing a red polo shirt. And there I was, rather ordinary looking myself, a white dude, not young, wearing a black polo shirt. Evidently I had called black in our metaphorical checkers match, but he was about to jump me. I walked over and asked him, in colorful language, what his problem was. He didn’t elaborate. Evidently a man of action, he acted, clobbering me in the face with a shattering left hook. Or so I assume, since I didn’t even see it. I only knew I’d been hit because I was now on my back. Lesson two: never bring words, no matter how colorful, to a fistfight.

 

In my twenty years as a prosecutor and now criminal lawyer, I’ve interviewed or examined hundreds of assault victims, and one thing they always say is “It was over so quickly.” And I suppose this, too, was over quickly, but in those few seconds after I hit the blacktop, he got in enough licks to open up a pretty gash on my head, raise welts and bruises all over my torso, and change my urine to the color of a New England barn. Lesson three: an ordinary looking sociopath can throw you a pretty good beating in short order, so remember lessons one and two.

 

Game over, I stood and felt that peculiar elation of adrenalin. I didn’t hurt much, yet, though the blood was now weeping down the right side of my face and clouding my vision. Somehow I found my glasses on the street. Good citizens were staring at me, not precisely rushing to do more than stare, though one handed me a moist paper towel and some words of general encouragement. Another pointed out my attacker, who—as further proof that this was just another day in the life of a sociopath—was walking, not running, in the direction of the Gowanus canal. I followed on foot, matching his easy, untroubled gait for a few blocks, meanwhile talking enthusiastically to an unenthused 911 operator who kept saying help will be there shortly and hanging up. Lesson four: New Yorkers can be kind, but not surprisingly care less that you’re beat up than you do.

 

The cops came, eventually. By then my attacker had disappeared, swallowed up inside the cavernous confusion of Lowes, probably, just as the jungle hid the Viet Cong. (I’ve been lost myself in Lowes myself for hours.) The police did some solid police work for about five minutes, then left. It was a misdemeanor, they said, so why make a fuss? Case closed. Sorry you got tuned up, sir, but have a nice day. Lesson five: unless you’re stabbed or shot—and sometimes even then—cops will treat your attack as a big inconvenience. Which is sort of the biggest lesson of all.

 

I’ve prosecuted and defended some of the most serious crimes in Brooklyn, and I realize my little case is small potatoes—small, of course, to everyone except me. To me it is deeply personal, and the literal insult to my injury is not merely that my attacker went home that night and ate a TV dinner but that the cops lifted hardly a finger to find him. No one gave me a mugshot book to peruse. I pointed out a witness out to one cop, who didn’t step out of her car to take his name. On that busy street there were certainly surveillance cameras that went unwatched. When I showed a police lieutenant the plastic cup my attacker had thrown at me, presumably containing his DNA and fingerprints, he waved goodbye and drove off. “Misdemeanor assault,” he offered with a shrug.

 

And so, at a time in New York when major crime is on the wane, I am reminded that petty crime—a stolen bike, a punch in the face, a subway mugging—is not petty to those who fall victim to it. All crime large and small is a kind of theft, and whether the criminal steals our property, our life, our wellbeing, or simply our peace of mind, those in law enforcement should respect what we’ve lost by doing whatever they can to restore it.

 

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Killer Cop Myth? http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/killer-cop-myth/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/killer-cop-myth/#respond Sun, 07 Feb 2016 18:39:13 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1133 Here is an interesting read in the Post:

To hear the media tell it, America is in the grip of an unprecedented crime wave, an orgy of wanton murder in which heavily armed thugs randomly gun down innocent unarmed people, some of them teens, just for sport.

Except that these homicidal goons are wearing the blues and badges of American police departments.

It’s the narrative that’s given rise to the protest movement Black Lives Matter and to a growing public mistrust of the police in general. From Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., to the recent shooting of a middle-aged woman and a teen in Chicago, the body count seemingly keeps rising, exacerbating racial tensions and keeping the nation on edge. And each incident is breathlessly reported by a media determined to show that America remains deeply, irredeemably racist.

Problem is, it’s simply not true.

More available here.

 

It is always good to hear the other side of the story. I mean, after all, that’s my job as a a defense attorney! The narrative of cop-on-black violence has often been tilted against cops, so we reports like this one offer a new perspective.

 

We should not, however, forget that those who decry bad behavior by our police sometimes have a point. And quite frequently they have a point. I can tell you that my own experience with cops hasn’t been uniformly great. And if I as a more or less well off white guy in a business suit can get hassled or ignored by cops in a “good” neighborhood, just imagine what a young black kid in East New York can undergo.

 

We can do better, people.

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Reuland Speaks on Durst http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/reuland-speaks-durst/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/reuland-speaks-durst/#respond Fri, 03 Apr 2015 14:39:40 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1125 Robert Reuland and other well-known criminal defense lawyers speak out in the Real Deal blog on the recent arrest of Robert Durst, available here.

In part, Reuland states:

Robert Durst’s arrest earlier this month, on the eve of the finale of the documentary that catapulted his case back into the zeitgeist, struck some as suspicious. Could the timeline of an HBO show so overtly influence the actions of law enforcement? If the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office really had a solid case, why didn’t they act sooner?

 

“They suddenly decided that they had a case against this guy on the night [before] the documentary is broadcast?” asked Robert Reuland, a former Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Homicide Bureau for King’s County who now works as a criminal defense lawyer. “Sounds to me like someone is embarrassed and decided they had to do something about it.”

 

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Cop Indicted in Brooklyn http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/cop-indicted-brooklyn/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/cop-indicted-brooklyn/#respond Wed, 18 Feb 2015 15:24:42 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1120 The indictment voted last week against police officer Peter Liang provides Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson the same political cover beneath which prosecutors hid in similar cases in Staten Island and Ferguson—the grand jury—albeit with an important difference: in Brooklyn, the DA isn’t running for cover.

 

The grand jury is a hoary old institution in our law meant as a bulwark against overzealous prosecution, empowering ordinary citizens to have some say in who is brought up on felony charges in their communities. Those critical of the grand jury system argue that it is little more than a rubber stamp for the DA.

 

Whether grand juries protect citizens against prosecutors in theory, in practice grand juries often protect prosecutors against citizens’ wrath, serving as a convenient patsy for DAs seeking to shirk blame for their decision to prosecute politically sensitive cases or—as in Ferguson and Staten Island—to avoid prosecuting them.

 

While a prosecutor can convince a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich”—as New York’s former top judge once famously observed—the reverse is equally true. A dirty little not-so-secret is that any prosecutor worth his salt knows how to engineer a “blow out,” a refusal by the grand jury to hand up an indictment.

 

The most common reason to seek a blow out is to give the DA someone else to blame. While a district attorney has discretion—indeed, a duty—not to bring unsubstantiated or fatally weak felony charges, oftentimes it is politically tempting for elected prosecutors to allow that decision to rest with grand jurors, permitting the DA to shrug and say, in effect, “Well, folks, I tried.”

 

A blow out can follow from an intentionally half-hearted presentation of evidence, an unenthusiastic charge on the law, or even a roll of the eyes. But in both Ferguson and Staten Island, the DA took the opposite tack, which nevertheless had the same effect. There, the prosecution presented essentially a full-blown trial to specially impanelled grand juries, putting in scores of witnesses and reams of evidence. The Staten Island grand jury sat for nine weeks and heard evidence from over 50 witnesses, and the Ferguson grand jury took testimony from 60 witnesses over the course of 25 days. One would not ordinarily see such a mass of evidence even at an actual jury trial on homicide charges.

 

In such a hyperventilated atmosphere, is it possible that grand jurors could forget that their role is not to deliberate guilt but merely to decide whether the DA has sufficient evidence to let the case go forward to trial? It is more likely, I suggest, that under these circumstances grand jurors will confuse their role with that of trial jurors and effectively weigh proof of the accused’s guilt. And when—as in all three of these police cases—the evidence of actual criminal behavior is thin, grand jurors will have little choice but to vote “not guilty” by refusing to indict.

 

Often, when the evidence is weak, a blow out may be the “right” decision, even when the local DA is too politically chicken to make it himself. But in my view prosecutors stepped over the line in Ferguson and Staten Island, crassly subverting the process by giving grand jurors “absolutely everything,” as the prosecutor in Missouri admitted. Even at trial, prosecutors have no obligation to give juries evidence favoring the accused; by doing so in the grand jury, prosecutors ask grand jurors no longer merely to say whether there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges but to weigh all the evidence both against and in favor of the accused—in other words, to do prosecutors’ jobs for them.

 

Compare Ferguson and Staten Island with Brooklyn where the DA took no extraordinary steps to secure—or to avoid—an indictment but instead went before a sitting jury with an unremarkable presentation of evidence consisting of 14 witnesses over a few days. The grand jury responded by doing nothing extraordinary either: it indicted Officer Liang of manslaughter, finding there to be sufficient evidence of criminal conduct at least to allow a trial jury to consider his guilt at some future date.

 

While I am hard pressed to see how the charge of manslaughter could hold up against Officer Liang at trial, published accounts of the incident—in which the rookie cop unintentionally shot and killed a young man in a stairwell—suggest that Thompson, the Brooklyn DA, at least has evidence of wrongdoing that could satisfy the lesser standard of proof applicable to the grand jury. While one can disagree with Thompson’s call, it was his call to make and he made it without resort to the cheap pretense that the grand jury forced it on him.

 

In all three cases, prosecutors got what they wanted from the grand jury, but if nothing else the Brooklyn case evinces far less political hypocrisy than those cases that preceded it.

 

 

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Cops Shot — Who’s to Blame? http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/cops-shot-blame/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/cops-shot-blame/#respond Fri, 26 Dec 2014 15:33:49 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1114 Twenty-five years ago I moved from the Upper West Side to Park Slope, then a marginal neighborhood in a marginal borough. Crime of course was a grim feature of Manhattan life then, but it was worse in Brooklyn. Often, when I stepped into a taxi after an evening in the city, the driver would take his hands off the steering wheel, refusing the fare to my new home, saying it was too dangerous. It was.

In my first few years in Park Slope, I and my friends were mugged or purse-snatched, frequently at gunpoint. My car radio was stolen, then my car. On the night my wife went into labor, they burglarized our home. They stole her wedding ring. They stole our garbage cans. They stole the flower boxes from our window ledges. And, as a final ignominy—like the Grinch who “even took the last can of Who hash”—they stole the lightbulb from our stoop lamp.

In the midst of the so-called crack epidemic that then engulfed the city, and the atmosphere of criminal free-for-all that then prevailed, we told our police department: “Fix this.” And, remarkably, they did. Were it not for the police, New York City today would undoubtedly still be mired in the dystopian nightmare that it very nearly became. Instead, over the following twenty years crime rates for serious felonies declined beyond imagination, and eventually Brooklyn became not merely safe but thriving as an international trademark for everything trendy, cool, or hip. Better still, I can always get cab from Manhattan.

Now that the police have returned our city to us, we’ve turned our back on them. We are embarrassed by what they’ve done in our name to reclaim our streets. Or rather we are embarrassed by what we’ve asked them to do.

When we asked them to get rid of the bad guys, we knew who the bad guys were. Twenty-five years ago, the bad guys were the ones in the newspaper “wilding” in Central Park; they were the ones with giant radios who took over subway cars; they were the ones glaring at us from TV screens in rap videos. They were, in other words, young black men.

So when the police went to work, we knew where they were going and we didn’t mind. Sure, it was profiling, but we didn’t call it profiling then, or think anything was wrong with it. When police resources poured into rough neighborhoods and housing projects, we didn’t complain. When young black man were stopped and frisked on the streets, oftentimes for specious reasons, we didn’t complain. When the same young men were arrested and incarcerated in alarming numbers, again we didn’t complain. We applauded. They were the bad guys after all. They asked for it, and now they got it.

In fact some of those who applauded loudest lived in those same neighborhoods and projects where these young men lived, for it was in those neighborhoods where the effect of active, “broken windows” policing was most strongly felt. It was in those neighborhoods where the sons of those applauding mothers were being killed nightly by the young black men whom the police were carting away.

Today in the placid safety they’ve given us, we can afford the luxury of holding the police to accounts for what we’ve asked them to do. Today, with my home in Park Slope worth ten times what I paid for it, many of us—smug with earned equity, drinking fair trade macchiatos in erstwhile shooting galleries, walking along avenues once strung with yellow crime scene tape—enjoy carrying signs, singing “We Shall Overcome,” and protesting white, racist, killer cops.

It makes us feel good to give the middle finger to these White-Racist-Killer Cops. It makes us feel like it is 1968, which most of us missed, and that we’re making a stand for civil rights or whatever. Few of us have ever actually spoken to a White-Racist-Killer Cop, but we know they’re out there because we see them on television. They infuriate us because they murder unarmed black men for no reason. (“They choked him to death for selling cigarettes!”) They do it all the time, and they always get away with it because prosecutors are racists too, and grand juries (whatever they are), and judges, and the whole system is racist, and because they’re racist we’re angry and because we’re angry we protest, and loot appliance stores owned by Chinese immigrants, and burn someone’s car that’s parked nearby, and eventually we shoot a couple White-Racist-Killer cops in the head as they eat lunch in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street.

Who cares that the two White-Racist-Killer cops we shot were neither killers, nor racists, nor even white? They were cops, and that is reason enough to die for doing what we asked them to do.

Patrick Lynch, the head of the city’s police union, said the blood trail from Officers Ramos and Liu starts at Mayor De Blasio, which is true enough insofar as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough. We are all to blame.

 

 

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A Blood Sacrifice for the NYPD http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/blood-sacrifice-nypd/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/blood-sacrifice-nypd/#respond Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:12:03 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1110 Interesting read by Chase Madar in the current Jacobin online magazine. Mr. Madar makes the begins:

American police can generally get away with killing someone, whether it was a reckless mistake or an act of sadism. Few expect the NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who fatally strangled suspected loose-cigarette vendor Eric Garner, to get convicted of felony charges by a Staten Island jury; or for officer Darren Wilson to be convicted of felony charges for shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown to death in Ferguson.

Even if a law enforcement officer is convicted, the penalty tends to be light — for instance, Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle’s two-year sentence for shooting Oscar Grant execution-style on New Years Day, 2009.

But heaven help the civilian who even unintentionally harms a cop.

The full article is available here.

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Freedom to Fly http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/freedom-fly/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/freedom-fly/#respond Fri, 01 Aug 2014 21:35:49 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1106 I took a friend for a flight up the VFR corridor over the Hudson River, which puts you at skyscraper height along the west side of Manhattan – in other words a trip certainly on the ten best list of things you can do with a small airplane. Her reaction was one of awe, of course, but she also asked the same thing most people ask when I take them on this same flight: “Is this legal?”

How strange it is that we here in America (the supposed home of the free) have become so accustomed to the government looming over us, watching us, and regulating us, that we now expect the government to be lurking whenever we exercise our freedom. We are always astonished whenever we find that something perfectly harmless and enjoyable is not prohibited by some obscure federal regulation. What’s happened to us?

Flying to me has always seemed like one of the most “American” things we can do. By that I don’t mean simply that Americans invented powered flight, or that we (for the time being) remain the country most open to it, nor of course that flying is just for Americans. By “American” I mean only that flying is a perfect expression of liberty, which (again, for the time being) is an American ideal. Another American ideal is self-reliance, of which flying is also a perfect example. In a airplane, who else is there to rely upon but ourselves? Like our ancestors on the plains (pun intended) we live by our own wits and abilities.

So let’s try to remember that as pilots we are not “given” freedom to fly our planes. Freedom is not something granted by governmental fiat. Freedom is not an entitlement. Freedom is not Obamacare nor a farm subsidy nor a food stamp. Freedom can’t be given; it can only be taken away. While I consent to limit my freedom to fly my airplane, to a sensible extent, we need to remain wary that the natural tendency of government is to limit and regulate freedom, particularly as government grows: freedom is what feeds the bureaucracy, which shits out regulation after regulation.

Still, the general public will support increased regulation of general aviation for the simple reason that it believes flying is dangerous, and because the weltanschauung of our age suggests we are more reliant on government than ourselves.

Yes, flying is dangerous, but (with apologies to Walter White) we are the danger. Pilots don’t die (usually) because their planes blow up or because Zeus knocks them from the sky with thunderbolts. Pilots die because they’re stupid or ill-prepared or in over their heads or just not paying attention – in other words, because pilots are human beings. Human nature, however, is rather hard to regulate out of existence.

Again, flying is a perfect example of American self-reliance, the flipside to which is: you’re on your own, buddy – no one’s there to wipe your ass for you. If you do stupid pilot tricks and crash, or if you fly into a mountain while you’re picking your nose, well, the gods of aviation say tough shit.

Yes, flying small planes is dangerous. But so is skateboarding, and bicycling, and crossing the street, and eating sushi, and driving on a New Jersey interstate. Frankly, I’d rather put my life in my own hands in my own plane, knowing all the risks, and preparing for them myself, than to put my life in the hands of some asshole on the freeway texting his girlfriend while he tries to pass me in the right lane . . .

Because flying is dangerous, we are always open to attacks like the recent one in the New York Times, calling from more regulation of general aviation. This article (written about American pilots by an English non-pilot) concludes that the FAA “should require all general aviation pilots to carry liability insurance,” so that the insurance industry can regulate us by proxy. The Times, of course, like our English and European friends, has a great fondness for government and a belief that enough taxes and bureaucracy can make the world a perfect place, so their kneejerk reaction to any social problem, real or perceived, is always the same: more regulation! They won’t be happy until we’re all driving padded electric cars back and forth to Whole Foods.

Americans have (had?) a different social contract than Europeans. Whereas they are more content to surrender liberty to their governments in exchange for social services, we Americans (for the nonce) retain our love of freedom and our historic distrust of kings. Flying reflects that. Even if I were willing to pay their $20 a gallon for avgas, would I ever be permitted to flying up the Thames or the Seine at a thousand feet? Could I circle the Eiffel Tower as I frequently circle the “Lady”? For that matter, could I ever just decide one morning to hop in my plane and fly seven hundred miles across the country without asking for bureaucratic approval?

Unlike the New York Times, I’m not sure I have an answer to the “danger” inherent in flying small planes. I am sure, however, that in a so-called free society we ought to be permitted to weigh the risk against the reward on our own, without the imprimatur of some guy behind a desk in Washington. Sometimes the risk will catch up to you, sure, but can anyone here say Babar S should not have been permitted to take his flight? He took a risk and died doing what he loved for good and valid reasons both private and public. And how beautiful and poetic that a Pakistani immigrant should help teach me (a native Texan whose family that settled this country) true American virtues.

Liberty of course is not simply doing whatever one wants without a care for others; my freedom to swing my fist ends at your nose. Laws do and should exist to limit our exercise of liberty to protect others when reasonably possible. There should be and are laws that protect me from that guy on the freeway, ineffective though they may be, just as there should be laws that limit how and when we fly our planes.

But even so I’m inclined to believe that, given that the greatest danger to a pilot is the pilot, and given that of all the people in the world the pilot himself has the strongest interest in his own well-being, general aviation – more so than most human activities – seems the most amenable to self-regulation. In the case of general aviation, self-regulation takes a form of cruel Darwinism: the fittest pilots will survive, while the unfit will crash and burn. And so mote it be.

The only fly in this ointment, however, is that unfit pilots sometimes take out unwitting passengers with them, or little girls walking on the beach with their fathers. These types of horror stories – which make the papers more regularly than the ordinary but far more numerous car crash on the freeway – are what fan public resentment against general aviation. And I for one can’t blame the public for their resentment in these cases. Freedom includes the right to kill yourself, but not others.

Since even today you can’t fly within a thousand miles of DC without a permission slip, I fully expected that after 9/11 the Hudson corridor would be shut down. I don’t know what lonely friend of GA in Washington fought to keep it open, but whoever it was deserves to be canonized or at least have a major airport named after him. Perhaps whoever it was understood that once the bad guys force us to give up our liberty in the interest of some airy-fairy notion of “safety and security” the bad guys win.

Someone should tell that the guy at LGA who wants to give me a body cavity search next time I’m forced to fly commercial.

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Putin Annexes Sheepshead Bay http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/putin-annexes-sheepshead-bay/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/putin-annexes-sheepshead-bay/#respond Tue, 22 Apr 2014 22:23:01 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1101 Russian President Vladimir Putin today announced in Moscow that he had signed a unilateral treaty of accession to bring the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn into the Russian Federation. In a brief ceremony at the Kremlin, Mr. Putin executed the document before handing the pen to himself to sign on behalf of Sheepshead Bay, for which no representative was present.

Mr. Putin’s takeover of the sleepy, ocean-side community, which has been a haven for Russian émigrés and exiles since the Reagan administration, occurred with little warning. Indeed, in an open letter penned only last Monday in Russian Men’s Health magazine, Mr. Putin denied any territorial designs on North America, making only oblique references to the need to “protect and safeguard Russian-speaking peoples in the realm of Brooklyn,” whom he described as “unhappy” and “constantly harassed with spurious accusations of phony insurance claims and Medicaid fraud.”

At a hastily-arranged news conference Friday morning, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York heatedly rejected any contention that Russian speakers in Sheepshead Bay were unhappier than anyone else in Brooklyn. Himself a long-time resident of Brooklyn, Mr. Schumer called the unilateral treaty of accession a “land grab, pure and simple” and puzzled over Mr. Putin’s motives, noting that neighboring Manhattan Beach has higher real estate values and is situated in an historically better-performing school district.

Senator Schumer urged caution. “You want World War III over this? I mean, we had a dinner at Randazzo’s last month,” he said peevishly, referring to the popular seafood restaurant in Sheepshead Bay. “The clam bellies have really gone downhill. Like rubber.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared initially to welcome the move by the country he often refers to fondly as “the Motherland” but quickly reversed himself, ordering the immediate seizure of assets from the New York bank accounts of Gazprom, Rosneft, and residents of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Reeling from declining public approval, the mayor promised to use the money to fund universal pre-K. Queried about the Upper East Side’s role in the Russian takeover of Sheepshead Bay, the mayor answered, “None that I’m aware of.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s New York consulate, in a diplomatic tit for tat, announced that it would bar former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz from the Russian sections of the Q train as well as from the newly-renamed Brooklyn-Queens-Smolensk Expressway.

In Europe, reaction was decidedly mixed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking from her vacation villa overlooking the Acropolis, declined to involve her country. Citing Neville Chamberlain with a sly smile behind her sunglasses, Ms. Merkel referred to the Sheepshead Bay affair as a “quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing.”

For his part, Mr. Putin was in no mood to debate the point. “It’s done,” he said, removing his shirt and tie to show off a fresh Brooklyn Nets tattoo to a small but generally receptive audience.

 

 

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Thompson New Bklyn DA http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/thompson-bklyn-da/ http://www.reulandlaw.com/crime-and-punishment/thompson-bklyn-da/#respond Thu, 07 Nov 2013 14:09:26 +0000 http://www.reulandlaw.com/?p=1094 Congratulations to Ken! This is the start of a new era, and we all wish him the best as he begins his new job. There is much good in the Brooklyn DA’s office. There are many hardworking professional men and women there. Also in his 23 year tenure as DA, Joe Hynes implemented several innovative programs, such as alternative sentences for drug offenders. Yet there can be no doubt that the office will benefit from the fresh leadership that Mr. Thompson will bring. I believe all of us in the criminal defense community welcome him and look forward to working with him.

NY Times article here.

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