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October 1, 2008 Letters

first_imgOctober 1, 2008 Letters October 1, 2008 Letters Letters Moral Compass I read “The Colonel’s Moral Compass” article in the September 1 News. The attorney/soldier could not go on with prosecuting a Guantanamo Bay detainee because it was his opinion that the detainee was coerced into a confession.I’m not writing to make a judgment about the lt. colonel’s decision. I’m concerned that only one perspective was presented. From a 1L’s first day of class through actual trials, lawyers deal in a world of critically examining opposing viewpoints. The article only provides one perspective while leaving others out.The legal status of detainees and interrogation techniques are hotly contested current issues which are open to debate. Because the article was published during this critical election period, and because it mentioned Congress, it would be nice to have the opportunity to read a story from another perspective. Perhaps the News can do a story of Guantanamo Bay officers whose moral compass requires them to prosecute the detainees.Stephen Fulton Shaw Silver Springs Bank Failures Having just read the September 1 News story “If the bank fails, what happens to trust accounts” and the Bar’s response, or lack thereof, to this very real and potential problem, it is with dismay that I write these words.The notion that lawyers, with all the obligations we now have to our clients, our profession, and to the public at large, may also need to ascertain the financial stability of the licensed financial institution we select to house our attorney trust accounts, strikes me as nothing short of preposterous.How or why the Bar would even entertain the idea that lawyers may be responsible for client trust funds over and above FDIC limits housed in a failed financial institution is indeed troubling. Perhaps the Bar believes that real estate lawyers such as myself who regularly close large dollar transactions should establish dozens of trust accounts and require parties to wire funds in increments of $100,000 or less to institutions all over the state for every transaction. Yeah, right.And to those Bar members who could not make such an obvious determination with regard to a lawyer’s liability: I’d like you to opine as to the stability of the financial institutions where you keep your trust accounts. Of the 80,000 lawyers in this state, I would defy even one to accurately decipher the financials of any major banking institution.Check the ratings services while you’re at it, the same ratings services that assured investors in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just weeks ago that these companies were solid. Then ask yourselves just how or why you should be liable for your bank’s failure.Stephen A. Baker St. Pete Beach Palsgraff In the development of the law concerning liability for acts of negligence, one of the thorniest issues was how to limit the scope of responsibilities to parties within reasonable foreseeability. In other words how far should a defendant be held responsible for injuries not reasonably foreseen when the negligence occurred.One of the most bizarre decisions in this field is the case of Palsgraff v. Long Island Railroad. The essential facts are to the effect that an individual boarding a LIRR train in Jamaica, NY, was either pushed or jostled while boarding and dropped a package, containing explosives, which detonated, the shock wave causing a set of scales some distance down the platform to fall over, landing on Palsgraff and causing her injury. Whether the fellow carrying the package had a bomb or fireworks is not clear. The incident occurred in the 1920s when anarchy was fashionable.In any event there was apparently some involvement of an LIRR employee in the jostling, hence a suggestion of culpability on the part of the railroad. Despite the “Rube Goldberg” nature of the event, the courts solemnly considered various doctrines of the law of negligence in evaluating whether the railroad should be held liable for Mrs. P’s injuries. Was the nature of the event too far-fetched, beyond foreseeability for liability to attach or should that not be a consideration? A conundrum to devil law students for years to come.I often thought that this issue was given an excessive amount of consideration, in view of the unlikely possibility of similar circumstances arising, that was until Janos walked into my office in 1964. It seemed that there had been some extensive road repair and ditching under construction in the area of Sarasota County known as Fruitville, and in accordance with contract requirements the contractor had erected barriers (sometimes called saw horses) as necessary and topped them with battery-powered flashing yellow lights. Unfortunately on one of these barriers the battery had failed and the light was out. Janos, having imbibed quite a bit at the local pub, was riding his bicycle home; the flashlight attached to the handlebars aimed at the roadway in front of him so as to reveal obstacles. Suddenly he ran out of road and fell into a 15 foot ditch, sustaining serious injuries. The immediate question that comes to mind is: Didn’t the barrier bar his passage so that he couldn’t have fallen in the ditch, light or no light?This is where the question of foresee- ability arises; you see, Janos was an acrobat employed by the Ringling Brothers Circus and stood barely three feet tall. He was riding on a little bicycle designed for little people and passed under the barrier and fell into the ditch. His contention was that if the light had been working he would have been warned and would not have fallen, and since Fruitville was the community where the Ringling Circus winter quartered, the barriers should have been more substantial, since the possibility of drunken circus little people on bicycles should have been foreseen by the contractor.Randy Ludacer Lake Placid Character and Fitness In a September 1 letter on the topic of character and fitness for admission to the Bar, William Sumner Scott of Miami suggests that “to try to teach music majors any law subject” is a difficult task at best. I have a masters degree in music composition from Northwestern University and, after graduating from Stetson University College of Law, have been successfully practicing labor and employment law for over 20 years. I take issue with his criticism that music majors, math majors, and history majors lack a “solid education” and thus are not equipped for the legal profession and its challenges. Many fine attorneys majored in those fields of study during their undergraduate work and routinely “speak truth to power.”Marcia S. Cohen St. Petersburglast_img read more

Barrister suspended for 14 months

first_imgA barrister has been suspended for 14 months for trying to conceal from his chambers that he had taken on public access work without being authorised to do so. Dominic Brazil had claimed he was acting pro bono in family cases.last_img