Cultivated Compendium is my periodic round-up of important, cutting-edge or interesting legal news as well as some of my original reporting and musings.


News and Reporting

December 14th, 2015
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have required government agencies to obey a 90-day limit to appeal court decisions in favor of people requesting information under New York's Freedom of Information Law, The New York Times' Jesse McKinley reports. However, the governor issued an executive order that essentially reversed his veto of the bill, setting a 60-day window for a legal response by government... Continue Reading
December 13th, 2015
Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn is close to issuing guidelines that would suggest that police interrogations--from start to finish-- be recorded, The News Journal's Jessica Masulli Reyes reports. The reason for the move is because advocates say recording interrogations helps avoid false confessions. Advocates also said the guidelines should be made mandatory by stating prosecutors wouldn't use statements obtained from non-... Continue Reading
December 13th, 2015
James Beck, a defense lawyer with Reed Smith, blogged on Friday about the first time that an appellate court has held that a claim that a brand-name manufacturer were negligent in the design of its drugs has been preempted because it would be impossible for the drug company to comply both with federal regulations and state tort law. It's the first appellate authority to recognize impossibility preemption of a design defect case against... Continue Reading
December 13th, 2015
Small-scale breaches of patients' medical privacy are going unpunished because officials at the federal office for Civil Rights focus on voluntary compliance as the remedy, ProPublica's Charles Ornstein reports. Many people also cannot turn to their own lawsuits for redress. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act doesn't allow for a private cause of action, and states vary on how much protection tort law... Continue Reading
December 13th, 2015
The historic climate change deal by 196 governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions almost wasn't because of one misplaced word, Politico's Andrew Restuccia reports. On Saturday, lawyers for President Barack Obama's administration found that the text of the agreement had been changed from saying that wealthier countries "should" set economy-wide targets for cutting greenhouse gases to "shall" set... Continue Reading
December 12th, 2015
South Dakota Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard and conservative Louisiana Democratic Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards have come out in favor of the expansion of Medicaid in their states. JR Ball, a columnist for Nola.com | The Times-Picayune, notes that Louisiana is on track to become the second state in the Deep South to adopt Medicaid expansion. Republican legislators, who control the Louisiana Legislature, have sharply... Continue Reading
December 11th, 2015
On a personal note, I'd like to share news of an event my family has organized in honor of our mother, Laura Elliott-Engel. I was always so proud of Mom for getting sober at the age of 28 and then spending the rest of her career helping people recover from addictions herself. We are holding a showing of It's A Wonderful Life in the Olean, New York, community where she was the executive director of the Council on Addiction Recovery... Continue Reading
December 10th, 2015
The hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide Corp. has settled data breach charges with the Federal Trade Commission, Reuters' Jonathan Stempel reports. The case was precedent setting because it was a test of the FTC's power to regulate data breaches as unfair or deceptive trade practices. In the settlement, Wyndham must "establish a comprehensive information security program designed to protect cardholder data including... Continue Reading
December 9th, 2015
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin is facing misconduct charges because he exchanged emails with images of nude women and jokes that were demeaning to religious groups, women and minorities, The Inquirer's Angela Couloumbis, Craig R. McCoy and Mark Fazlollah report. The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board said those emails had the appearance of impropriety and brought the court into disrepute. Attorney General... Continue Reading
December 7th, 2015
Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, opines in the Huffington Post today that achieving an international agreement to halt climate change is a public health issue: "Climate change degrades air quality, reduces food security and compromises water supplies and sanitation. WHO estimates that, each year, more than 7 million deaths worldwide can be attributed to air pollution. Climate change is also causing... Continue Reading
December 6th, 2015
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Corday says that new disclosure rules for mortgage lenders have not turned out to be a problem, HousingWire's Ben Lane reports. In a speech last week, Cordary compared the panic about the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures rule to the panic about Y2K. The disclosure rule did not paralyze the market when it came into effect in October, Corday added. Continue Reading
December 6th, 2015
Last month, the Second Circuit clarified when the statute of limitations begins to run under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, The New York Law Journal's Mark Hamblett reports. It is when the bank freezes a debtor's account, not when the notice of debt is served. The plaintiff in the underlying case is suing attorney Todd Houslanger of Houslanger & Associates for freezing his account when it was allegedly another man with... Continue Reading
December 6th, 2015
The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that minimum-wage protections apply to public assistance receipients. New York state is entitled to seize lottery winnings from people who have received public assistance. Courthouse News' Rose Bouboushian reports that the court reasoned that a Vietnam veteran, who received public assistance, was entitled to keep his $10,000 lottery winnings. Taking those benefits would have... Continue Reading
November 29th, 2015
The ABA Journal's Mark Hansen has a cover story about how two decades of research into the cause of fires has shown that many criminal defendants have been wrongfully convicted of arson-related crimes because of faulty evidence admitted against them. Arson expert John Lentini estimates that there may be a few hundred innocent people in prison for arson. Arson cases are "particularly difficult to undo," Hansen... Continue Reading
November 17th, 2015
I wrote a piece for the Connecticut Law Tribune about how telecommuting and taking conference calls from home can make lawyers run afoul of the unauthorized practice of law rules: There are probably hundreds of lawyers who are licensed in New York and living in Fairfield County in Connecticut. It's become commonplace for these attorneys to log onto their home computers to work on legal documents on behalf of New York clients, to... Continue Reading


Subscribe to Cultivated Compendium