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Institutional Rules and Freedom of Choice: Who is the true architect of freedom?

posted Sep 24, 2014, 11:42 AM by Pete Weinman

The Legal Studies Institute (LSI) at the College of Staten Island (CSI) presents “Choosing Not to Choose: Autonomy, Paternalism, and Public Policy,” its inaugural annual lecture that covers Law, Philosophy, and Public Policy on Monday, September 29th at the College of Staten Island Center for the Arts, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island.

The presenter is Cass R. Sunstein, Professor at Harvard Law School and founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy. Previously Mr. Sunstein was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations.

The presentation will discuss how governments and private organizations sometimes make “default” choices for individuals—for example, when they select a health care or retirement plan for them unless they opt out of it. Alternatively, these organizations sometimes force individuals to make an active choice between two or more alternatives as a condition of employment or the receipt of some other benefit or service.

Professor Michael Paris, coordinator of the LSI at CSI, says the presentation attempts to answer some philosophical questions: When should organizations, sometime called “choice architects,” use defaults to make or encourage particular choices for individuals (which is a kind of paternalism), and when should they force individuals themselves to make their own active choices (arguably another kind of paternalism)?

“Drawing on his vast knowledge in law and behavioral economics,” Paris notes, “Professor Sunstein examines the puzzles and paradoxes of institutional rules and freedom of choice in many different contexts.”

“Choosing Not to Choose: Autonomy, Paternalism, and Public Policy” will be held at 4:45pm on Monday, September 29th at the College of Staten Island Center for the Arts, 2800 Victory Boulevard. The event is free, open to the public, and sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Student Government Association, and the Legal Studies Institute.

Mr. Sunstein has authored hundreds of journal articles and more than 20 books, including Worst-Case Scenarios (2001), Republic.com (2001), Risk and Reason (2002), Why Societies Need Dissent (2003), The Second Bill of Rights (2004), Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle (2005), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler, 2008), Simpler: The Future of Government (2013) and, most recently, Why Nudge? (2014) and Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas (2014).


The Legal Studies Institute is housed within the Departments of Political Science and Philosophy. At the core of the LSI is a new academic program of study, a minor in Legal Studies. Students opting to minor in Legal Studies will have access to introductory and upper level courses in law and philosophy, American constitutionalism, law and society, criminal law and procedure, and law and public policy. Students in any major may minor in Legal Studies. For more information, visit theLegal Studies course catalog webpage.

The LSI also offers an array of counseling services and co-curricular programs and events for students interested in careers in law and/or public policy. It also offers pre-law advisement and career counseling services to all interested College of Staten Island students and graduates. Workshops or panel discussions are held each year about the law school admissions process and career options in law and related fields. We host specialists in LSAT preparation, deans of admission at area law schools, and attorneys practicing in various practice fields, all for the purpose of providing students with access to the practical knowledge and networking opportunities they need to succeed in law school and the profession beyond. The LSI also sponsors and coordinates student internships in law. Students receive college credit for legal internships in a variety of practice settings, including the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office, Legal Aid’s Criminal Defense and Civil Litigation Divisions, and small firm practice. In conjunction with the Provost and the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, the LSI sponsors an annual lecture which brings a prominent legal scholar or practitioner to our campus each year.

By Ken Bach

Neuroscience in the Courtroom. RCBA Member, Hon. Joseph Maltese, is a panelist.

posted Sep 24, 2014, 11:40 AM by Pete Weinman   [ updated Sep 24, 2014, 11:40 AM ]

November 20, 2014 

8:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
Fordham Law School
150 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
Advances in neuroscience are challenging conventional notions about human thought, behavior, pain, and brain injury. These developments are upending established medical concepts as well as traditional moral and ethical considerations. These insights could potentially uproot old paradigms embedded in the law and rules of evidence. 

Fordham Law’s “Neuroscience in the Courtroom” has assembled a panel of world-class neuroscientists and distinguished experts, judges, and lawyers to share their knowledge and experience regarding issues posed by advances in neuroscience and neuro-imaging/investigations: diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), functional MRI (FMRI), quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG), volumetric MRI, near infra-red spectroscopy (NIRS), and positron emission tomography (PET).

By casting a new light on traditional ideas regarding brain injury, pain, morality, criminal culpability, competence, objectivity/subjectivity, and causation, neuroscience presents an array of challenges that are being played out in the courtrooms of this country and globally. 

Attend Fordham Law’s “Neuroscience in the Courtroom” to learn how judges and lawyers can respond to the advances, insights and challenges that neuroscience and neuro-imaging present for proof and adjudication. 

The conference is designed for

  • Judges who will preside over cases involving neuroscience issues
  • Attorneys in relevant practices (e.g., personal injury, criminal, trusts and estates) who will contend with neuroscience issues with their clients

Chaired by Michael Flomenhaft, Esq., The Flomenhaft Law Firm, PLLC

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30–8:45 a.m.
Welcoming Remarks: Michael Flomenhaft, Esq.

8:45–10:15 a.m.
How Neuroscience Expands and Transforms Proof

Moderator and Speaker: Michael Flomenhaft, Esq.

Panelists: Ruben Gur, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Director of Neuropsychology, and the Center for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Brain Behavior Laboratory, Perelman School of Medicine; Joy Hirsch, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology, Yale School of Medicine; Michael L. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., FACR, Associate Professor, Department of Radiology (Neuroradiology), Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Associate Professor, Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience, Associate Director, Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center (MRRC), Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University; Susan K. Marcus, Esq., Law Offices of Susan K. Marcus; Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D., Director, Traumatic Stress Studies Division, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

10:15–10:30 a.m.

10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
The Challenge Neuroscience Poses to Embedded Principles and Longstanding Notions in the Law

Moderator and Speaker: Michael Flomenhaft, Esq.

Panelists: Michael D. Freeman, Med.Dr, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor, Forensic Research & Analysis, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine; Ruben Gur, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Director of Neuropsychology, and the Center for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Brain Behavior Laboratory, Perelman School of Medicine; Susan K. Marcus, Esq., Law Offices of Susan K. Marcus; Tor Wager, Ph.D., Director, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, University of Colorado at Boulder Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

12:00–1:30 p.m.
Lunch (on your own)

1:30–3:00 p.m.
The Admissibility of Neuroscientific Evidence under Frye and Daubert  

Moderator and Speaker: Benedene N. Cannata, Esq., Of Counsel, The Flomenhaft Law Firm, PLLC

Panelists: Deborah W. Denno, J.D., Ph.D., Arthur A. McGivney Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law; Michael Flomenhaft, Esq.; Honorable Paul G. Gardephe, U.S. District Judge, Southern District of New York; Honorable Joseph J. Maltese, Appellate Division, Second Department, Supreme Court of New York; Susan E. Rushing, M.D., J.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine; Dorothy Clay Sims, Esq., Partner, Sims & Stakenborg, P.A.

CLE CREDIT has been approved in accordance with the requirements of New York State CLE Board for a maximum of 4.5 transitional and non-transitional professional practice credits.

$400 attorneys ($200 alumni, government and public interest attorneys)
$50 non-attorneys
Free for all Fordham Law faculty and students

SAVE THE DATE: December 17, 2014 - RCBA Annual Holiday Party at Above.

posted Sep 17, 2014, 6:21 AM by Pete Weinman   [ updated Sep 17, 2014, 6:22 AM ]

Details to follow.

Back by Popular Demand: Gallo on NYC DOB, PART II.

posted Sep 16, 2014, 8:45 AM by Pete Weinman

The RCBA will be having a CLE seminar on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 (See attached flyer) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Staten Island University Hospital, Regina M. McGinn, MD Education Center, 475 Seaview Ave.
The topics will be: What every Attorney should know about the NYC Building Dept. Part II and A primer on the Federal and NYS Capital Gains Tax on residential real estate transactions.
The speakers will be: Vincent J. Gallo, Esq., LLM and Raymond L. Liebman, Esq., CPA
The cost will be: members (pre-registered) $75.00
                         members (pay at door) $90.00
                         non-members $125.00
This program will qualify for 3.00 CLE credits in Professional practice and is valid for all attorneys as this is a transitional course.
Please register as soon as possible.

NOTE: Networking Event for Accountants, Bankers, & Attorneys.

posted Sep 9, 2014, 7:27 AM by Pete Weinman

Dear Members:

There will be a networking event for Accountants, Attorneys and Bankers to be held on November 18, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at Investors Bank located on Page Avenue.  This is an open invitation for all attorneys. 

2015 David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship For CUNY and SUNY Community College Students.

posted Sep 4, 2014, 5:32 AM by Pete Weinman   [ updated Sep 4, 2014, 5:47 AM ]

Dear all,


I am pleased to share with you the call for submissions for the 2015 David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship! This is an opportunity for CUNY and SUNY community college students to receive cash prizes, improve their research/writing skills and highlight an academic achievement on their resumes. Your support is instrumental to spread the word about this opportunity. Please share the scholarship details below with your contacts, on your websites, social media networks and newsletters.


2015 David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship

For CUNY and SUNY Community College Students


Deadline:   Essays accepted starting December 1, 2014 through April 1, 2015



o   $1,500 - NYS Community College Grand Prize awarded to a student from either

educational system


o   $1,000 - CUNY Community College Prize


o   $1,000 - SUNY Community College Prize


Essay Topic:       LGBT: THE ROAD TO EQUALITY. How have the New York

Courts addressed equal human rights for the LGBT Community?


Resources &

Guidelines:        The Historical Society of the New York Courts has set up a website

with useful links at http://www.nycourts.gov/history/academic-center/garfinkel-essay-contest.html



Thank you for your support!




Andrea Garcia

New York State Unified Court System

Office of Public Affairs



For the flyer, click HERE.

Robert J. Renehan, Esq., has died.

posted Sep 4, 2014, 4:53 AM by Pete Weinman

Dear RCBA Members:

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you of the passing of a member of the RCBA, Robert J. Renehan, Esq., Court Attorney Referee, Surrogate's Court, Richmond County.

Respects will be received from Reddens Funeral Home, 325 W. 14th Street - between 8th & 9th, New York, NY 10014;(212) 242-1456 - today, Thursday, September 4th 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Internment - Friday, September 5, 2014 at 11:00 A.M. at the Gates of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester.

Condolences may be sent to:  Mr. John Renehan (Contact Elisa at 718 442 4500 for info).

Carl M. Erman, Esq. has died.

posted Sep 3, 2014, 1:53 PM by Pete Weinman   [ updated Sep 3, 2014, 1:54 PM ]

Dear Members:

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you of the death of one of the members of the RCBA: Carl M. Erman, Esq.

The funeral will be held at 11:00 a.m. tomorrowSeptember 4, 2014 at:
Bernheim Apter Kreitzman Funeral Chapel
68 Old Short Hills Road, Livingston, NJ

Shiva will be held at the Erman Residence - contact Elise at RCB A 718 442 4500 for the address.

George Chicolo, father of RCBA Member, Mary Ellen Sach, Esq. has passed away.

posted Aug 26, 2014, 7:34 AM by Pete Weinman   [ updated Aug 26, 2014, 7:34 AM ]

Dear Members:

The wake will be held tomorrowWednesday, August 27, 2014 at the Colonial Funeral Home located at 2819 Hylan Boulevard.  The wake will be from 2-4 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m.
The funeral service will be held on Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick's Church, 53 St. Patrick's Place

Philip Mattina is in the hospital.

posted Aug 25, 2014, 7:30 AM by Pete Weinman   [ updated Aug 25, 2014, 7:32 AM ]

Dear Members:

It was brought to my attention that Philip Mattina, Esq., a member of the RCBA, had a massive heart attack last week.  He is in Staten Island University Hospital North and had emergency open heart surgery.  

In case any of you have cases with him just notify the court to get the case adjourned and explain the situation.  I will keep all of you informed should there be any more news.

Please let's all pray for him to make a speedy recovery!

Elisa S. Lefkowitz, Executive Director
on behalf of: 

Christopher J. Fitzpatrick, President
Richmond County Bar Association
152 Stuyvesant Place, Ste. 203
Staten Island, NY  10301
Phone: 718-442-4500

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