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Fri Jul 07, 2006
New York's Highest Court Upholds Ban on Gay MarriageIn a decision that, in the short term, is bound to have wide ranging repercussions, the New York State Court of Appeals, the State's highest Court, rejected the constitutional claims of a "right" to marry.
As the Court opined in a 4-2 ruling:
"We conclude . . . that there are at least two grounds that rationally support the limitation on marriage that the Legislature has enacted . . . First, the Legislature could rationally decide that, for the welfare of children, it is more important to promote stability, and to avoid instability, in opposite-sex than in same-sex relationships. [Secondly, the] Legislature could rationally believe that it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and a father."
While the full ramifications of the decision have yet to be parsed out, it is clear that, except where granted by statute or policy, the argument that gay unions are of such a fundamental nature that they should be treated for all purposes as the equivalent of marriage has suffered a heavy blow in New York.
This decision, found at http://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/decisions/jul06/86-89opn06.pdf, may be the shot across the bow that ignites the real battle, that before the legislature.
Already, activists have pledged to lobby legislators to enact a statute authorizing gay marriage and the front runner for the upcoming Governor's race, current Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, has gone on record that he favors the rights of gays and lesbians to marry.
So, despite a disappointing setback, the war is far from over.
All told, according to Internet sources, no less than 45 states have statutes banning gay marriage although some allow civil unions.
Thu Jul 06, 2006
Confessions of an Identity ThiefToday's NY Times has an interesting interview with a captured identity thief, barely out of his teens, who is estimated to have stolen as much as $150,000 through identity theft.
Seeing the ease with which he did it is a real eye opener.
Thu Jun 29, 2006
New Hollander article on Legal Risks of BlogsI've posted a new article on the website relating to the legal risks of publishing blogs.
You can check it out at
Many LLC's Still Unaware of New Publication Requirements and PenaltiesIt's been almost a month since the significant changes to publication requirements for NYS
LLC's, PLLC's and LLP's went into effect.
As some of you may know, beginning this past June 1st 2006, the publication requirements governing these entities was made more onerous because, previously, the only penalty for lack of publication was a curable lack of capacity to sue in Court, something that many LLC's didn't think they'd have to do. As this deprived the State of significant publication fees, this could not stand, despite the uniform opposition of many Bar Associations.
As of June 1, 2006, the content of the publication and the penalty for failing to publish have been changed significantly.
Beginning as of June 1, these entities must also publish the names of the ten members of the entity who are actively engaged in the business and who hold the most valuable interest. If there are less than ten members, then all of the members' names must be published.
The method of the publication is also changed, from six weeks in a weekly newspaper, to four weeks, but now one publication must be weekly and the other daily.
More important is the change in the nature of the penalty for non-compliance. Where, before, the penalty temporarily served as a bar to a lawsuit, now, the penalty for failing to publish is the suspension of the entity's right to do business during the period of suspension, which automatically takes effect 120 days following the expiration of the date of formation for affected entities formed on or after June 1, 2006.
In addition to being unable to carry on its business, this provision raises an important issue about the legal consequences on members of the entity if its right to do business is suspended. It's not clear if they will be practicing without benefit of limited liability protection or not.
Worse, even if the suspension is cured by subsequent publication, the statute doesn't clearly state whether likmited liability protections would be reinstated retroactively.
There is one piece of good news. If you formed your entity before January 1, 1999, you're safe and no further publication is required.
Entities formed since then, but before June 1, 2006 have to publish under the new rules.
Tue Jun 27, 2006
Girls Bite Dog MySpace StoryA few days ago, I wrote about changes in policy being made at MySpace.com in an effort, albeit not a strong one, to prevent adults over 18 from contacting teens under 18.
Today, there's a report about an adult who was suckered by two teenage girls who lured him to a spot with misleading Internet communications and tried to rob him at gunpoint.
Will there be a change in MySpace policy for that?
Sat Jun 24, 2006
MySpace Addressing Child Predator Problems - AlmostIn a recent piece by Assocaited Press reporter Anick Jesdanun, attention is paid to something that sounds better than it really is when it comes to protecting minors from adult predators on social networking websites.
Facing growing worries over well publicized problems in lack of protection for children on its web site, MySpace.com announced that it is in the process of modifying its policies regarding adult communications access to teens and minors.
Under the new policy, due to take effect this week, those 18 years old and above will no longer be able to be listed on the web site of younger teenagers and, as a result, will no longer be able to access their full profile.... at least in theory. Since MySpace doesn't validate ages of their users, there's nothing to stop an 18 year old or an adult from registering as under 18 and circumventing the policy.
Doubtless, when the inadequacy of this change in policy becomes commonly known, more will have to come.
Thu Nov 17, 2005
"A Sigh is Just a Sigh..."For every lawyer that has counseled his client or her client on how to behave in a Courtroom, the following is a lesson in how litigants and judges should act.
Sun Nov 13, 2005
Fame No License to DefameNew York Supreme Court Justice Rosalind Richter denied a dismissal motion by Gene Simmons, famed leader of rock band KISS, brought by a woman claiming to be a former girlfriend of the singer in a "monogamous" relationship.
The suit stems from a special shown on VH-1 in which Simmons reminisces on his more sexually active days. As the the Court found, :
"juxtaposition of plaintiff's photographs alongside commentary by Simmons and others recounting Simmons's repeated casual sexual encounters with various female strangers is reasonably susceptible of a defamatory meaning"
Mon Oct 31, 2005
We Don't Need Your Stinking Venture CapitalThis morning's Wall Street Journal carries an interesting article from Rebecca Buckman, detailing how Internet start ups no longer rely on VC money like they used to in the 90's.
In yet another paradigm shift of the Internet Age, a combination of globalization and the commoditization of technology products has allowed an increasing number of Internet entrepeneurs to finance their own expansion.
As the article shows, when companies can outsource their programming costs to cheaper overseas labor, and when they can build their e-commerce sites with open source or off the shelf software, venture capital may be seen as increasingly "superfluous", as it's characterized by a quoted source in the piece.
Among other benefits to the founders, this approach allows them to grow their own valuation, which may often be higher to a potential suitor for the company, than it would have been on a pre-money basis to venture capitalists -- and without the oversight.
To be sure, many start-ups can use the discipline and marketplace experience that self-interested venture capitalists give, but, more and more, it seems that new Internet businesses will be able to approach VC's by choice and not out of necessity.
Sun Oct 30, 2005
NY Court Denies Gripe Web Site Based Defamation ClaimIn what the losing Plaintiff's attorneys have called a case of first impression in New York, Penn Warranty Insurance has lost a defamation claim against one of its disgruntled former customers, based upon continued statements made in a gripe site, established by the customer after an unsatisfactory experience with the insurer.
In The Penn Warranty Corporation v. Ronald DiGiovanni, a case decided in NY State Supreme Court on October 28th, the Court granted the Defendant summary judgment, deciding against the carrier on free speech grounds.
Read more »
In granting the motion of the Defendant, representing himself, the Court, by Justice Gische, noted:
"Perhaps most compelling is the fact that the web site, when viewed in its full context, reveals that defendant is a disgruntled consumer and that his statements reflect his personal opinion based upon his personal dealings with plaintiff. They are subjective expressions of consumer dissatisfaction [and] are not actionable because they are defendant's personal opinion."
The decision may be found at http://www.nylawyer.com/adgifs/decisions/103105gische.pdf
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