Legal Milestones

I have had great successes with cases that have established legal precedents that stand to this day.  The cases cited below are appeals or trial court cases that I have handled that set important legal precedent.  I truly believe that I have had the great fortune to be involved in a large number of litigations that will have a long lasting impact.  I was also trial attorney on each of those cases unless indicated otherwise.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

U.S. v. Reyes, 116 F.3d 67 (2nd Cir. 1997)

I succeeded on appeal in gaining a new sentencing for a client.  The principal was a sentencing court’s obligation to explain why it is imposing a particular term of imprisonment. Because the district court’s oral statement of reasons inadequately addressed the circumstances that influenced its choice of a prison term, the sentence was vacated and the matter remanded for resentencing.

McClellan v. Smith, 439 F.3D 137 (2nd Cir. 2006)

I succeeded on appeal in reinstating civil rights false arrest lawsuit.  This case adds to the body of law standing for the proposition that one claiming false arrest should not be denied a trial simply because the police claim to have had probable cause to arrest.

New York State Court of Appeals

People v. Dokes, 79 N.Y.2d 656 (1992)

This appeal established the principal that a defendant must be present at all significant stages of the trial.  As a result a practice has been instituted in trial courts around the state wherein judges discuss with defendants when it is acceptable for their attorney to approach the bench and discuss matters with the court without their being present (trial counsel only).

People v. Outley, 80 N.Y.2d 702 (1993)

I succeed on appeal in establishing that a sentencing court could not give a defendant a higher sentence just because of an arrest between the plea and sentence.  Judges would forever be required to follow rules to enhance sentence that insured that a defendant knew of the consequences of a new arrest, and that the new arrest had to have some merit.

Appellate Division

Marpe v. Dolmetch, 246 A.D.2d 723 (3d Dept 1998)

I succeeded on appeal in fighting off insurance company’s effort to prevent my client from adding a valid cause of action that her previous attorney had overlooked.

People v. Roberts, 165 A.D.2d 598 (1st Dept 1991)

I succeeded on appeal in overturning conviction and dismissing indictment where the defendant was convicted when the only proof was the identification by the 80-year old victim who experienced amnesia after the incident.  This case is often cited as precedent in matters where the issue is the sufficiency of the evidence (appellate counsel only).

People (Greenstein) v. Schenectady County Sherriff, 220 A.D.2d 190 (3d Dept 1996)

I brought an appeal on behalf of an unjustly incarcerated client because the Schenectady County Courts routinely misinterpreted the speedy trial rule requiring one’s release if the prosecutor was “not ready” within 90 days.

Leavy v. Nationwide Insurance, 268 A.D.2d 661 (3d Dept 2000)

On appeal I thwarted the insurance company’s efforts to deny no-fault coverage to my client because of their claim that the no-fault application was days late.  The appeals court put the insurance companies on notice that benefits cannot be denied because of a minor issue that does not affect their ability to investigate the claim.

Doe v. Community Health Plan, 268 A.D.2d 183 (3d Dept 2000)

I succeeded on appeal in establishing that a managed care health plan is responsible for breaches of confidentiality committed by its employees, including clerical staff that dealt with patient files.  This remains a seminal privacy case in New York.

Albany City Court

People v. Burciaga, Albany City Court 2007 (Keefe, J.)

Succeeded in having trial court dismiss Endangering the Welfare of a Child criminal complaint against a single mother whose four-year old son fell out of an 11-story window when he awoke in his bed.  Miraculously the boy received only a few broken bones when he bounced off of the building’s awning and landed in bushes.  My client was charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child because she had left her apartment to see her friend while her son was sleeping.

I argued in papers that it is common for parents to leave there homes while their children are sleeping in the second story of their house – to sit on their porch, to go across the street to a neighbors, or to go outside to do chores – and that act should not be criminalized simply because Elizabeth lived in an apartment building.

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