Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cy Vance, Manhattan District Attorney, Protects Those Who Pay Him To Overlook Their Wrong-doing

Pay to play in New York City fascinates us all. We love to hear about how the rich and powerful do unethical things and are caught. Movie mogul is the latest to rightfully fall from his pedestal.

The ugly side of this tale of woe is who knew what, and when, and why wasn't something done about this before now?

Cy Vance, the Manhattan District Attorney,  seems to be the bad guy who refused to look into Weinstein and the complaints against him. Vance must go. He should resign. Immediately.

Betsy Combier
betsy@advocatz.com
Editor, Advocatz
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Money and the scales of justice
NY Daily News, "Do you feel like it’s necessary to make large contributions (to politicians) in the cost of doing business?”

“I personally don’t,” replied the developer who’d given a fortune to various New York politicians in the course of doing business here. “I think the perception is in a way worse when I make a large contribution . . . where I was asking for something proper and even good, and a candidate really was under pressure to reject it because I made contributions to his campaign.”

That word-salad — which I stumbled over in the files Donald Trump biographer and indefatigable money-trail follower Wayne Barrett generously shared at the end of his life — came in 1988, as the august members of a special State Commission on Government Integrity came to 725 Fifth Ave., better known as Trump Tower, to question The Donald.

The exchange jumped out at me because of the questioner, listed in the transcript as MR. VANCE. That was the former secretary of state under President Carter, whose namesake son, Cyrus Vance Jr., is running unopposed for a third term as Manhattan district attorney amidst a brutal wave of stories about his decisions not to prosecute powerful people that came too late for anyone else to get on the ballot.

Start with Vance’s 2015 call not to charge Harvey Weinstein with forcible touching and sexual abuse after the NYPD provided an appalling tape, recorded by the victim, of him vowing “I won’t do it again” even as he cajoles her to enter his hotel room while threatening her career.

That old news was revisited, in a harsh new light, after the New Yorker published the recording in its blockbuster story last week in which several women accused the movie mogul of rape.

That came less than a week after the magazine reported that the DA’s Major Economic Crimes Bureau had spent two years building a fraud case, including smoking-gun emails, against Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump for lying to prospective buyers about sales at the Trump SoHo.

Then in 2012, Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, gave Vance $25,000, only to have the money returned when it quickly became apparent he had business with the DA's office, namely a sitdown with Vance himself to discuss the Trump SoHo case.

Months after that, Vance overruled his own prosecutors and told them to drop the case. Months after that, Kasowitz gave another $31,000, which Vance is now returning, while also revising his donor policies.

“Contributions have never influenced Cy Vance’s work and they never will,” a campaign spokesman said, stressing the “rigorous process” that led them to return the money years after collecting it and days after the New Yorker story.

Which is awfully little, awfully late, even if campaign cash had nothing to do with the DA’s decisions.

After a first term marked by the collapse of the rape charges he’d brought against powerful French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Vance’s office seems to have an aversion to sex-crime cases against famous people with very expensive lawyers.

And the Trumps are legendary for dragging out legal battles, which makes the Trump SoHo case — where the supposed victims themselves told the DA that they’d suffered no real harm, and the reported victimizers seemed far less politically relevant back in 2015 — a sensible one, politically speaking at least, to walk away from.

“If I like somebody or I think they are doing a good job in the city, I have a big stake in the city, and if I think somebody is better than somebody else, I generally support that person,” Trump said back in 1988 about why he gave so much to so many politicians here despite his disgust with city government.

Decades after Cyrus Sr. questioned Donald Sr. about doing business with local politicians, there was Donald Sr.’s attorney doing business with local politician Vance Jr. while he had Donald Jr. and Ivanka on the legal hook.

Kasowitz says he donated to the Manhattan DA because he is “a person of impeccable integrity,” and “a brilliant lawyer,” and that “I have never made a contribution to anyone’s campaign, including Cy Vance’s, as a ‘quid pro quo’ for anything.”

I take Kasowitz and Vance at their words, about there being no quid pro quo.

But what Trump said back then about his gifts pressuring politicians to act against his interests didn’t play out this time.

The final question the Commission on Government Integrity posed to Trump was whether it made a difference “to you in that meeting (with a city official) that you may have given that person $150,000 over the past three years?”

“It doesn’t make any difference to me. Your question is does it make any difference to them, and you’ll have to ask them.”

harrysiegel@gmail.com
Cy Vance

Cy Vance Defends Decision Not to Pursue Case Against Harvey Weinstein

The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., on Wednesday defended his decision not to pursue sexual abuse charges against the movie producer Harvey Weinstein in 2015.

Mr. Vance said his office did not have enough evidence to prosecute Mr. Weinstein, despite an audio tape an Italian model made for the police on which the producer apologized when the woman asked him why he had touched her breasts.

“Our best lawyers looked at the case,” Mr. Vance said, speaking to reporters after an event at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. “I, like they, was very disturbed by the contents of the tape. It’s obviously sickening. But at the end of the day we operate in a courtroom of law, not the court of public opinion, and our sex crime prosecutors made a determination that this was not going to be a provable case.”

Mr. Vance, who is running unopposed for a third term, has come under withering criticism this week from some quarters for his decision, after revelations in The New York Times and The New Yorker about Mr. Weinstein’s sexual harassment of women he worked with over the last three decades and the payments he made to female accusers to keep their complaints out of the public eye.

One of the women who accused Mr. Weinstein of sexual misconduct was Ambra Battilana, a model from Italy. In March 2015, Mr. Weinstein met Ms. Battilana at a party and invited her to his TriBeCa office on a Friday evening to discuss her career, according to a police report

Within hours, she walked into a police station, telling officers Mr. Weinstein had grabbed her breasts after asking if they were real, then put his hand up her skirt, according to the police report.

Detectives from the special victims unit had her set up a meeting with Mr. Weinstein the following night at the bar of the Tribeca Grand Hotel. She recorded the conversation for the police.

During the meeting, Mr. Weinstein invited Ms. Battilana up to his room to wait while he showered, according to the tape, first published on The New Yorker’s website on Tuesday. She balked at entering the room, however, and said she wanted to leave. In a tense exchange in the hallway, she asked him why he had touched her breasts the day before.

“I’m used to that,” he answered. “You’re used to that?” she asked. “Yes,” he said, adding: “I won’t do it again.”

Detectives thought the tape corroborated Ms. Battilana’s account and would be enough evidence to arrest Mr. Weinstein, police officials said.

But the chief of Mr. Vance’s sex crimes bureau, Martha Bashford, determined after two weeks of investigation that she could not prove a crime had been committed.

Prosecutors said the police did not have enough proof to show beyond a reasonable doubt every element of the two charges they could bring: forcible touching or third-degree sexual abuse. To prove either crime, the state must show the accused person touched someone to degrade them or for sexual gratification, not some other purpose.

Ms. Battilana had told the police she and Mr. Weinstein were discussing the possibility of her becoming a lingerie model when he asked if her breasts were natural or augmented and then touched her, two law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation said.

Mr. Weinstein was represented in talks with the district attorney’s office by two defense lawyers with ties to Mr. Vance: Daniel S. Connolly, a former Manhattan prosecutor, and Elkan Abramowitz, who is Mr. Vance’s former law partner and a donor to his campaign.

Mr. Vance said on Wednesday the donations had not influenced him. He noted contributions from defense lawyers were legal and were “unfortunately part of running for office.”

“No contribution ever in my seven years as district attorney has ever had any influence on my decision-making in a case,” he said.

“Obviously, he has some serious issues, and the tape is terrible,” Mr. Vance said. “But I, as D.A., have to be guided by the evidence and the element of the crime and by experts in the office, and if I stop being guided by any of those things and start being guided by outside influences, whether it’s money or it’s public opinion, then I’m not doing my job.”

Correction: October 11, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated the circumstances under which Mr. Weinstein made payments to women who accused him of sexual harassment. He did so to keep the accusations out of the public eye, not to settle civil cases. No civil cases accusing Mr. Weinstein of sexual harassment were filed.


NYPD, prosecutors point fingers over Harvey Weinstein investigation

By Eric Levenson, CNN, NEW YORK —

The explosive sexual harassment and sexual assault accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein aren't just roiling Hollywood. They're also shaking up the New York City criminal justice system.

The New York Police Department and the Manhattan District Attorney's office traded public finger-pointing on Tuesday in response to questions about why Weinstein was not charged with a crime after a 2015 sting operation recorded him making potentially incriminating comments to a young woman.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. accused the NYPD of providing "insufficient" evidence to prove a crime, while the police department defended its techniques and investigation.

Weinstein, the studio executive and political power broker, is facing allegations of rape, unwanted touching and assault by a number of women, including accusations of sexual harassment by actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, in recent stories published in The New York Times and The New Yorker.

The sting operation

A story Tuesday in The New Yorker accuses Weinstein of rape by multiple women and includes an audio recording of Weinstein speaking with Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a young model, as part of a sting operation. The NYPD set up the sting after Gutierrez told authorities that Weinstein groped her the day before.

Gutierrez, wearing a recording device, met up with Weinstein at a hotel in Manhattan. On the tape, Weinstein can be heard repeatedly telling Gutierrez to come inside his hotel room. She repeatedly rebuffs his requests and says she is not comfortable doing so.

At one point, Gutierrez asks him, "Why yesterday (did) you touch my breast?"

"Oh please, I'm sorry, just come on in. I'm used to that," he responds.

"You're used to that?" she says.

"Yes, come in," he says.

"No, but I'm not used to that," she says.

"I won't do it again," he says.

Weinstein's representatives said they have no comment on the tape.

Despite the tape, Weinstein was not arrested or charged with any wrongdoing at the time.

"After analyzing the available evidence, including multiple interviews with both parties, a criminal charge is not supported," the District Attorney's Office said at the time, according to The New Yorker.

NYPD sources told CNN the department has no open investigations into Weinstein's actions and no additional victims have come forward with accusations against him.

The sources also said there are a number of reasons why the case will not be reopened, one being that the statute of limitations for what could have been a misdemeanor offense has expired.

A representative for Weinstein released a statement denying any accusations of rape.

"Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances," the statement said.

"Mr. Weinstein obviously can't speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance."

Why no criminal charges?

So why did Weinstein not face charges?

On Tuesday, after The New Yorker published that audio, the Manhattan District Attorney's office released a statement implying that the NYPD had dropped the ball in its investigation.

The NYPD arranged the sting "without our knowledge or input" and did not give prosecutors "the opportunity before the meeting to counsel investigators" on what was needed to prove a misdemeanor sex crime, according to Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman Agnifilo.

"While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent," Friedman Agnifilo said in the statement.

"Subsequent investigative steps undertaken in order to establish intent were not successful. This, coupled with other proof issues, meant that there was no choice but to conclude the investigation without criminal charges."

Friedman Agnifilo said Weinstein's reported pattern of mistreating women is "disgraceful and shocks the conscience."

"If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have," she said.

NYPD defends its actions

But the NYPD took issue with that characterization of their investigation, saying in a statement that the case was carried out by experienced detectives and supervisors from the department's Special Victims Unit.

"The detectives used well-established investigative techniques. The recorded conversation with the subject corroborates the acts that were the basis for the victim's complaint to the police a day earlier," the NYPD said.

"This follow-up recorded conversation was just one aspect of the case against the subject. This evidence, along with other statements and timeline information, was presented to the office of the Manhattan District Attorney."

In addition, Vance's office has faced criticism for accepting a $10,000 donation from David Boies, an attorney for Weinstein, in August 2015 -- four months after the decision not to press charges, according to campaign financial disclosure forms from the New York State Board of Elections.

However, Vance campaign spokesperson Stephen Sigmund said in a statement that Boies was not Weinstein's lawyer in that criminal case.

"Mr. Boies has been a longtime supporter of Cy Vance, both well before 2015 and well after. His contributions, like those of any other contributor, do not and never will influence the work of the DA s office," the statement said.

The disclosure form also shows that Boies donated $15,000 to Vance's campaign in 2013, $10,000 in 2011 and $20,000 in 2008.

Boies' office did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

Vance told reporters Wednesday that his office's decision not to press charges was guided by a recommendation from the head of the Sex Crimes Unit and had nothing to do with any donations.

"No contribution ever in my seven years of (being) District Attorney has ever had any impact on my decision making in a case," Vance said.

In his decades at Miramax and the Weinstein Company, Weinstein produced such Oscar-winning movies as "Pulp Fiction," "Shakespeare in Love" and "The English Patient." He was fired from the film company he co-founded on Sunday.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Kidnapping of Andy Ostrowski: Where is He? How Can This Happen In America?

Andy Ostrowski
Many people are aware of the use of medical agencies and/or doctors to declare people  who are challenging the policies of an agency or exposing corruption and fraud,  as "crazy" in order to remove these people from the workplace, terminate their job, or harass these individuals so badly that they go away, get sick, or die.

If you are not aware, you should be.

There are many news articles on how whistleblowers - Snowden, Ellsberg, Manning - or anyone who speaks out about public (or private) corruption is in danger of retaliation in America.

See how the MTA Police are failing their psych exam in large numbers. Is this because so many are 'crazy'? Or, is there some policy at work to reduce the workforce in the MTA?

See "Retaliation Against All Whistleblowers is the Name of the Illegal Game in New York City";
David Pakter, a NYC Teacher and Whistleblower of the NYC Board of Education's Corrupt Practices, Sues in Federal Court
and,
Stuyvesant High School Parents' Association is Cited For Financial Fraud and Discrimination

It is extremely rare for someone to stand up and complain about the Big Boss and not have any retaliation thrown at him/her.

And then there are the doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists who are hired by School Districts to falsely report that an employee is "crazy", in order to get the employee removed from the workplace or terminated.

"Not in this country"? you say? Sadly, using medical reports to retaliate against an employee or anyone who challenges the 'System' is used all the time, especially against teachers and other tenured employees at the New York City Department of Education or in the many school districts throughout the State. One such doctor, Dr. Randall A. Solomon, whom I had the experience of meeting at a 3020-a arbitration in Massapequa, has been hired to terminate educators and public employees in Long Island at 913 examinations.

But kidnapping remains one of the most extreme weapons of attacks on whistleblowers, along with death (see Salvation, when a Pentagon employee is shot after he accesses information on his computer about a weapon which the US is supposedly developing to deter an asteroid on a path to wipe out all of earth's population).

This is why the story of the disappearance of Andy Ostrowski is so disturbing. What happened to him could easily happen to anyone.

Betsy Combier
betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, Advocatz
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials


Andy Ostrowski

Pennsylvania Civil Rights Attorney Medically Kidnapped for “Mental Health” Evaluation – Whereabouts Unknown

by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
Andy Ostrowski was kidnapped by law enforcement from his home in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania this week while live-streaming on Facebook.
Police entered his home without knocking, carrying tasers and clubs, claimed they had a warrant (which they apparently never showed to him) to take him in for a “mental health evaluation,” and proceeded to turn off his computer and remove him from his home by force.
His current whereabouts is unknown at the time of publication.

Mr. Ostrowski is a former Civil Rights attorneypast candidate for U.S. Congress, author, radio show host, and judicial reform activist.

How To Disappear An Activist (Or, Where IS Andy Ostrowski?)

As reported here, activist attorney Andy Ostrowski was taken into custody by the Wilkes-Barre, PA police department on September 19, for a forced mental health evaluation.  Ostrowski was reached later that afternoon at General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre, where he asserted he was being held as a political prisoner.
Ostrowski, a radio talk show host and civil rights advocate, also made a run for Congress in 2014.
Per hospital protocol, Ostrowski was subsequently transferred to another facility. And now, no one can say where he is.
HIPAA—Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—disallows hospitals from confirming if a person is at their facility, if he is on a psych unit. In the conversation on Tuesday, Ostrowski asserted he was most likely to be transferred to First Hospital, in Kingston.
First Hospital, however, will not confirm or deny his presence. As Ostrowski had expressed not only appreciation to this reporter for reaching him at General Hospital, but also asserted the necessity to follow up on his forced incarceration, the failure to reveal his whereabouts  becomes a central issue vis-√†-vis his right to freedom of association.
However, the hospitals in question do not seem to honor this historical right. The behaviors by staff at both General and First Hospitals couldn’t be more alarming. Yesterday, in an effort to ascertain where he was transferred, I called General Hospital and spoke with a woman who initially identified herself at “Joanne.” Joanne refused to give information as to where Ostrowski was transferred and when asked her full name, she replied “Julia.” According to Joanne/Julia, to disclose where Ostrowski is would violate HIPAA.
When it was suggested that Ostrowski’s right to association trumped HIPAA, Joanne/Julia turned nasty, demanding my data, which I supplied her. She then trounced further on any perception that Ostrowski still has rights, telling me I was “so wrong” about his right to association overriding the hospital’s right to privacy—which is really what HIPAA is protecting here.
Well, it didn’t get much better at First Hospital. This reporter spoke with the media relations director,  who not only declined any information as to Ostrowski’s presence, but shot back, “You’ll never know if he is here or not!”
And that may be true and how scary is it….
In an effort to get assistance in determining his whereabouts, contact was made with the Luzerne County District Attorney’s office. The call was transferred to a “Marilyn,” who, after hearing that a request was being made to locate Andy Ostrowski, promised to look into this. When no call back was received, the DA’s office was repeatedly called, at which point they repeatedly hung up the phone on me. An initial request for an email contact was also refused. “We don’t give out our email addresses,” the receptionist stated.
These are public servants, folks….
Recently, yet another radio show host was psychiatrically detained. Speaking on conditions of anonymity, she told me that she was picked up this July in front of a library in a Colorado county, where she had just emerged after speaking with the librarian and others about connections between the local government and a for-profit foster care facility, which may be  self enriching through unnecessarily removing children from homes. This radio host was assaulted by a person on leaving the library and when she called 911, the deputy came, slammed her into the wall, cuffed her and brought her to a psych hospital.
She was let go four and a half hours later, and subsequently received a bill for $7300 for her unwanted detention.
Andy Ostrowski, however, may not be so fortunate. He is now “desaparecido”—missing in the gulag.
Several years back, this reporter covered the plight of a man who was under a mental health conservatorship in California. The guardian kept moving Charlie Castle from place to place, as those who were trying to help him assert his rights in fixed proceedings kept discovering his new location. When Castle died under suspicious circumstances, a request for a coroner’s inquiry was made. All that we ever discovered was that the toxicology report—which would have contained the  information concerning the suspected cause of his death—had been somehow removed from the file.
The mental health laws tilt against the rights of those under “evaluation” or “care.” They protect the privacy of the institutions which may, in fact, be abusing the individual and the matter of Andy Ostrowski well exemplifies this. When we spoke on Tuesday, he was overpouring with gratitude that I had reached him. He wanted to make sure his story was told. Until those who have a vise grip on his life and his rights decide to honor the latter, he is just one more who is missing in the system and nowhere to be found.
Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist and author of the groundbreaking expos√©EXILE. Her articles previously appeared in such mainstream venues as the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, Long Beach Press Telegram, etc. In 2004, Janet “jumped ship” and now exclusively writes for independent media. She is also the author of two collections of poetry—The Hitler Poems and Held Captive. She resides abroad.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Attorneys Jay B. Zucker and Steven J. Kwestel Are Suspended From Practicing Law For Six Months


Matter of Zucker
2017 NY Slip Op 06149
Decided on August 15, 2017
Appellate Division, First Department
Per Curiam.
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.


Decided on August 15, 2017 SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION First Judicial Department 
John W. Sweeny, Jr.,Justice Presiding, 
Dianne T. Renwick 
Richard T. Andrias 
Ellen Gesmer 
Marcy L. Kahn,Justices.

M-1940 M-1941 

[*1]In the Matter of Jay B. Zucker, an attorney and counselor-at-law: and In the Matter of Steven J. Kwestel (admitted as Steven Jeffrey Kwestel), an attorney and counselor-at-law:


Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Jay B. Zucker and Steven J. Kwestel, Respondents.
Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent Jay B. Zucker was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the First Judicial Department on January 22, 1990. Respondent Steven J. Kwestel was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Second Judicial Department on June 19, 1996.



Jorge Dopico, Chief Attorney,
Attorney Grievance Committee, New York
(Orlando Reyes, of counsel), for petitioner.
Michael S. Ross, for respondents.
Motion No. 1940 (April 25, 2017)

PER CURIAM
Respondent Jay B. Zucker was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on January 22, 1990. Respondent Steven J. Kwestel was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the Second Judicial Department on June 19, 1996, under the name Steven Jeffrey Kwestel. At all times relevant to this proceeding, both respondents maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Department as partners in a law firm.
In 2016, the Attorney Grievance Committee (Committee) served the respondents with separate petitions containing essentially similar charges of professional misconduct. In their respective answers, respondents admitted the material facts and all the charges. The charges against respondents stem from their admitted failure to properly supervise a former non attorney employee who served as their law firm's bookkeeper, as a result of which the employee misappropriated approximately $2 million from the firm's bank accounts which included client and/or third-party funds.
By joint motions dated March 30, 2017, pursuant to the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) § 1240.8(a)(5), both the Committee and respondents ask this Court to impose discipline based upon the stipulated facts and upon the consent of the parties and that respondents be suspended from the practice of law in New York for six months and until further order of this Court.
22 NYCRR § 1240.8(a)(5) provides that, at any time after the Committee files a petition alleging professional misconduct against an attorney, the parties may file a joint motion requesting the imposition of discipline by consent, which must include a stipulation of facts, the respondent's conditional admission of acts of professional misconduct and specific rules or standards of conduct violated, any relevant aggravating and mitigating factors, and an agreed-upon disciplinary sanction (see 22 NYCRR § 1240.8[a][5][i], [ii]). If the motion is granted, the Court must issue a decision imposing discipline upon the respondent based on the stipulated facts and as agreed upon in the joint motion. If the motion is denied, however, the conditional admissions are deemed withdrawn and may not be used in the pending proceeding (see 22 NYCRR 1240.8 [a][5][iii]).
In this case, both respondents conditionally admit that, at all times relevant herein, they practiced law as partners in a two-partner law firm, Zucker & Kwestel, LLC, which maintained two attorney special accounts, as well as other bank accounts incident to the practice of law. In or about June 2003, respondents hired MT, a non attorney, as the firm's full-time bookkeeper/controller, prior to which respondent Kwestel had primary responsibility for such duties.
After an initial period of training, during which respondents consistently reviewed MT's work, respondents gradually began delegating certain responsibilities to MT which included expediting and/or coordinating the deposit of client and/or third-party funds into the firm's bank accounts and maintaining bank and bookkeeping records for the transactions in the firm's bank accounts. Respondents authorized MT to be a signatory on the firm's escrow accounts out of ignorance of the pertinent disciplinary rules and to execute online transfers of funds from the firm's escrow accounts provided that respondents approved it. MT frequently worked out of the firm's New Jersey office where respondents infrequently conducted business.
Respondents did not, as required, regularly review, audit, and reconcile the firm's escrow accounts, nor did they properly supervise MT's work as bookkeeper/controller which included the work he performed in connection with the firm's escrow accounts. As a result, between 2009 and 2013, MT misappropriated more than $2 million from the firm's bank accounts, including escrow accounts. His defalcations involved approximately 200 client matters, were done without the permission or authority of the rightful owners of the funds at issue, and his actions were carried out without respondents' knowledge or consent.
By letter dated June 21, 2013, the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) notified [*2]respondents that a check drawn on one of their escrow accounts for $274.47 was dishonored due to insufficient funds. MT intercepted the OAE's letter, did not inform respondents of the dishonored check, and replied to the OAE's letter without respondents' knowledge. In June 2013, the OAE forwarded the overdraft notice and MT's response to the New York Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection which, in turn, forwarded them to the Committee and respondents.
Respondents addressed the matter with MT who informed them that the check had purportedly been dishonored because the funds in the escrow account it was drawn against had been transferred to an escrow account at another bank, but MT purportedly overlooked the fact that the check at issue had not yet been presented for payment when the transfer was made. Prior to receiving any correspondence from the Committee, respondent Zucker, on behalf of the firm, sent a letter to the Committee explaining the purported reason for the dishonored check and that a replacement check had been issued. The Committee notified respondents that they were the subject of a sua sponte investigation and requested that they submit bank and bookkeeping records for the escrow accounts.
In August 2013, MT's criminal attorney contacted respondents and advised them that MT had misappropriated approximately $3 million from the firm's bank accounts, including its escrow accounts, but that MT had arranged for full restitution to be made provided that certain conditions were satisfied. Upon learning of the defalcations, respondents retained their current ethics counsel to assist them in addressing MT's thefts. They also began the process of attempting to reconstruct the ledgers for the firm's escrow accounts based upon the ledgers maintained by MT on the firm's computers via the computer program QuickBooks, account statements and records ordered from the banks, and their client files. MT's employment with the firm reportedly ended in or about August 2013.
In September 2013, respondents' ethics counsel advised the Committee of the theft of funds and that he was communicating with MT's criminal attorney regarding, among other things, restitution of the stolen funds. Respondents subsequently retained civil counsel to negotiate repayment of the misappropriated funds. A forensic accountant ultimately determined the total amount of stolen funds to be $2,761,267 (of which $2,187,445.02 belonged to clients and/or third parties and $573,821.98 belonged to respondents).
In April 2014, MT made full restitution to respondents' firm which was funded by benefactors on his behalf. As a condition of restitution, respondents were required to enter into a non reporting agreement regarding MT's defalcations; however, the agreement did not prohibit them from answering questions from law enforcement should they be contacted.
As required, each respondent has submitted an affidavit in which he conditionally admits the foregoing facts, and that those facts establish that he has engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, which conduct also adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer, in violation of rule 8.4(d) and (h) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), respectively. Specifically, respondents admit that they failed to regularly supervise MT, review or audit the firm's bank account records, and thereby failed to take reasonable steps to safeguard client and/or third-party funds in violation of rule 1.15(a); failed to exercise reasonable management or supervisory authority adequate to try to prevent MT's theft of client and/or third-party funds, which if committed by a lawyer would have constituted misappropriation and/or intentional conversion (rules 1.15[a] and 8.4[c]), and, thus, they violated rule 5.3(b)(2); allowed MT to execute online transfers of funds from the firm's escrow accounts, which violated rule 1.15(e) in that such transfers were not disbursements to named payees, and, thus, they violated Rule 5.3(b)(1); designated a non attorney as a signatory on an attorney special account in violation of rule 1.15(e); and based on their overall conduct violated rule 8.4(h).
In addition, respondent Kwestel admitted that, between 2005 and 2009, he deposited approximately between $15,000 and $50,000 in personal funds into one of the firm's two escrow accounts out of ignorance as to the pertinent disciplinary rules and not for any improper purpose (e.g., to avoid tax obligations or creditors) in violation of rule 1.15(b)). Further, each respondent consents to the agreed discipline of a six-month suspension, which consent is given freely and [*3]voluntarily without coercion or duress. Lastly, each respondent states that he is fully aware of the consequences of consenting to such discipline, as he has discussed such consequences with his attorney.
The parties stipulated as to the following mitigation: since the events at issue respondents instituted proper account management and oversight practices; there was every reason to believe that MT would be an honest and capable employee based on professional recommendations, including one from respondent Zucker's sister, a retired attorney; there were no early warning signs of MT's defalcations; respondents came to implicitly trust MT over the years based on, inter alia, his diligence and personal friendship with respondent Zucker; designating MT as a signatory on the firm's escrow accounts was done out of ignorance as to the pertinent disciplinary rules, and respondents mistakenly believed that his disbursement of escrow funds in certain circumstances was administrative in nature; there was some degree of supervision over MT's work and oversight of the firm's escrow accounts, albeit both were admittedly inadequate; in 2009, respondent Zucker's wife became ill which required him to reduce his daily involvement with the firm in order to focus on caring for his wife and their four children, as a result of which respondent Kwestel took on increased responsibilities and supervisory duties; upon learning of MT's thefts respondents took immediate action which included spending hundreds of hours reconstructing and reconciling escrow account records and obtaining reimbursement as a result of which no clients or third-parties were harmed; respondents were also victims of MT's thefts; following discovery of MT's thefts respondents began to wind down the firm's practice which remains in operation only for purposes of completing a small number of pending transactions; and respondents fully cooperated with the Committee, took full responsibility and expressed remorse for their misconduct, had no prior disciplinary history, have an excellent reputation for honesty and integrity, and have been active in their communities by, among other things, doing pro bono legal work.
The parties have also stipulated that respondents' failure to report MT's thefts to law enforcement is an aggravating factor but note that restitution was conditioned upon respondents entering into a non reporting agreement, which did not prohibit them from answering questions from law enforcement if contacted about the thefts. Further, this aggravation is tempered by the mitigating factor that no client or third-party suffered monetary loss.
Since liability has been established via respondents' individual and conditional admissions, the only issue before this Court is the sanction to be imposed. In determining an appropriate measure of discipline to impose, we note that whether, and to what extent, attorneys are subject to discipline for defalcations occasioned by someone under their supervision depends on a number of factors, as follows:
"(1) the subject attorney's partnership status and/or level of experience; (2) the presence (or absence) of 'early warning signs' of financial improprieties, whether such signs were ignored and, if so, for how long; (3) whether the proper authorities were notified of defalcations upon their discovery; (4) the presence (or absence) of monetary loss to clients and the magnitude thereof; and (5) whether the attorney attempted to reimburse client losses caused by another" (Matter of Galasso, 105 AD3d 103, 105 [2d Dept 2013]).
Applying these factors, we find that a six-month suspension stipulated by the parties is an appropriate sanction in view of respondents' admitted misconduct as well as the mitigating factors presented herein. Respondents' misconduct was non-venal and the result of ignorance regarding the pertinent disciplinary rules. While the parties acknowledge respondents' failure to report MT to law enforcement as an aggravating factor, the restitution agreement by which they agreed not to do so, which was negotiated by their civil counsel, did not prohibit them from answering questions from law enforcement regarding the thefts if contacted. Moreover, full restitution was obtained through the agreement and no client suffered monetary loss. Finally, respondents have no prior disciplinary history, have freely admitted their misconduct, and [*4]expressed remorse.
Significantly, a six-month suspension stipulated to by the parties is also supported by prior precedent (see e.g. Matter of Langione (131 AD3d 199 [2d Dept 2015]; Matter of Laudonio (75 AD3d 144 [2d Dept 2010]). For instance, in Matter of Langione, the Court suspended a former law partner of the respondent (Matter of Galassa, 105 AD3d at 103) for six months for failing to properly supervise his firm's bookkeeper and admittedly failing to review the actual bank records for the firm's special accounts which allowed the bookkeeper to steal more than $5 million in client funds. The Court found that the respondent fulfilled his fiduciary obligations he would have been alerted to irregularities in the firm's bank accounts at a time when the ongoing thefts by the bookkeeper could have been prevented or ameliorated (Langone, at 212). The Curt found the attorney's misconduct was mitigated by his attempts to make restitution to his aggrieved clients from his personal funds, independent of, and in addition to, settlement funds obtained and disbursed as the result of litigation.
Accordingly, the parties' joint motions for discipline by consent should be granted, and respondents Jay B. Zucker and Steven J. Kwestel should be suspended from the practice of law in the State of New York for a period of six months and until further order of this Court.
All concur.
Order filed.
[August 15, 2017]
Sweeny, J.P., Renwick, Andrias, Gesmer, Kahn, JJ.
Respondents suspended from the practice of law in the State of New York for a period of six months, effective the date hereof, and until further order of this Court.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

DOJ Urges Court To Block Rights For LGBT Employees

Unsolicited Opinion: The Department of Justice Files Brief Urging Court to Block Rights for LGBT Employees



Thanks to the Twitter habit of Donald Trump and those on his White House team, the public has been treated to a number of disturbing exchanges in which they spew accusations, threats, and other attacks against one another, as well as on members of the other two branches of government. (After you’ve ensured that no children are looking over your shoulder, you can view the most recent example of this infighting.) But below the radar, the Executive Branch is engaging in the same type of infighting—on issues that matter and have the potential to harm LGB people across the country.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed an unsolicited brief in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., a case pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which raises the question whether Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination encompasses a ban on sexual orientation discrimination. By arguing that Title VII permits employers to discriminate against employees because they love or enter sexual relationships with people of the same sex, the Department of Justice broke with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the attorneys general of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, and dozens of major corporations.

As we argue, here, the DOJ’s position in Zarda is not only morally repugnant but also analytically weak. Moreover, by filing a brief that urges the opposite conclusion of that urged in a separate brief by the EEOC, a federal agency charged with enforcing federal anti-discrimination, the federal government is bizarrely at war with itself, a fight that undermines the authority of the Executive Branch to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws, a harm that will outlast this attorney general.
Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc.

This case was brought by Donald Zarda, who alleges he was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor because he is gay, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the nation’s main federal anti-discrimination law.

The firing seems to have arisen from a customer complaint. Rosanna Orellana and her boyfriend David Kengle purchased tandem skydives, in which a customer is tied to an instructor who takes responsibility for deploying the parachute. Zarda was the instructor assigned to help with Rosanna’s jump. He informed her that he was gay and had recently broken up with a boyfriend; he said that he would often reveal his sexual orientation to clients, particularly to women who were accompanied by a husband or boyfriend who might be jealous when another man was tightly strapped to her for the jump.

Kengle only learned later about Zarda’s disclosure to his girlfriend, but, when he did, he called the company to complain about Zarda’s behavior. Zarda was then fired. The parties make different claims about what motivated Zarda’s firing—facts that would get hashed out only if summary judgment is reversed and the case is sent back for trial. The employer claims that summary judgment is appropriate because even if Zarda was fired because of his sexual orientation, that does not violate Title VII.

The trial court granted summary judgment to the employer, Skydive Long Island, on Zarda’s Title VII claim on the theory that the statute does not protect against sexual orientation discrimination. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit was sympathetic to Zarda’s Title VII claim, but held that it was bound by prior opinions in the circuit that could only be overturned by an en banc panel. The Second Circuit did agree to rehear the case en banc, and that is the stage at which both the EEOC and the DOJ filed friend-of-the-court briefs—urging opposite conclusions.
A Recurring Question: Is Sexual Orientation Discrimination Sex Discrimination?

Zarda is certainly not the first case to raise this question. It has been raised periodically for decades, but as the understanding of sex and gender has evolved, many courts have taken a fresh look in recent years.

Title VII prohibits employers with at least fifteen employees from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Sexual orientation is not on the list—nor would one to expect it to be specifically identified in a statute drafted when that term was not routinely used. But courts early on were asked to treat claims of sexual orientation discrimination as a form of sex discrimination.

Even in the earliest cases, the argument being made was logical and straightforward: Men should not be discriminated against for being attracted to men, when women are not punished for the same thing, and vice versa. But courts engaged in only the most superficial analysis in these cases and rejected the claim. Sex discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates “against women because they are women and men because they are men,” the Seventh Circuit wrote, simplistically, in Ulane v. Eastern Airlines, Inc. (1984).

Other courts rely on the lack of congressional intent to protect gays and lesbians from employment discrimination at the time Title VII was enacted. That is probably a correct understanding, but Congress probably did not contemplate many of the things we have come to understand as clear examples of sex discrimination, such as charging women more for employer-provided retirement benefits because they are actuarially likely to outlive men or discriminating only against women with preschool age children. Our understanding of sex discrimination has evolved incrementally as courts, especially the Supreme Court, have considered different theories and manifestations of discrimination.

During the decades when federal courts were simply unwilling to interpret Title VII in a way that protected LGBT employees, some stop-gap measures were put in place, including Bill Clinton’s executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination in the civilian federal workforce and Barack Obama’s revocation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that kept gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Meanwhile, bills to amend Title VII to add express protection against sexual orientation discrimination were introduced in one congressional session after another, never to become law.

But while Congress was busily not amending Title VII on this point, the Supreme Court was issuing opinions that radically transformed our understanding of sex discrimination. First, in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins (1989), the Supreme Court ruled that reliance on sex-role stereotyping can be an actionable form of employment discrimination. A woman who was denied partnership in an accounting firm for being insufficiently feminine in her dress and manner of communication suffered sex discrimination. This launched sex stereotyping as an actionable type of sex discrimination. This case was used by effeminate gay men and masculine lesbian women who claimed, often successfully, that the hostility and adversity they experienced was sex, rather than sexual orientation, discrimination.

Second, in Oncale v. Sundowner Services (1998), the Court held that same-sex harassment could be actionable under Title VII as long as the plaintiff had some proof that the conduct was undertaken “because of sex.” Among other ways of satisfying this requirement, a plaintiff can show that the harassment was designed to police gender roles or that it was motivated by homosexual desire. This ruling reinforced the emphasis on stereotyping and supported claims for gender-targeted bullying.

Armed with these instructive precedents, lower federal courts have begun to reconsider their initial reactions to sexual orientation discrimination claims. The re-examination was also propelled by a 2015 EEOC ruling, in which it held, as a matter of agency interpretation, that discrimination against a man because he was gay constituted a form of actionable sex discrimination. The EEOC’s ruling depended on its view that “[d]iscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is premised on sex-based preferences, assumptions, expectations, stereotypes, or norms.” There is no way to understand this type of discrimination, the ruling reasons, without reference to a person’s sex.

After the EEOC ruling, several federal district courts reached the same conclusion. (Discussion of some of those cases can be found here and here.) Even more notably, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently issued an en banc ruling, in which it held that sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII. Chief Judge Diane Wood began with the observation that while a court cannot add a word to a statute (i.e., it cannot make the words “sexual orientation” magically appear in Title VII), it can interpret the words already there, including “sex.” The court also avoided the red-herring arguments that Congress’s attempt to amend the statute proves that it did not already cover sexual orientation discrimination—or that Congress clearly did not want the statute to cover such discrimination. A legislative body’s failure to adopt a law could mean any number of things—including two things that are diametrically opposed. Congress might not have amended Title VII because it thought the coverage already existed, or it might not have amended because it did not want that coverage. There is no way to know which, if either, of these explanations is correct.

Rather than reading tea leaves, a notoriously unsound method of statutory interpretation, the Seventh Circuit focused on the Supreme Court’s rulings in Oncale and Price Waterhouse. In Oncale, Justice Scalia explained that courts are charged with interpreting words in the statute and prohibiting any type of discrimination “that meets the statutory criteria.”

The meaning of “sex” discrimination, the Hively court concluded, clearly applies to sexual orientation discrimination. First, sexual orientation discrimination, at its core, punishes a woman for being attracted to another woman, when it would not punish a man for being attracted to a woman. This “tried-and-true comparative method” shows the significance of the plaintiff’s sex to the employer’s decision. Second, the court drew on Loving v. Virginia, in which the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s interracial marriage ban and rejected the state’s “equal application” theory of neutrality. Relevant to the question of sexual orientation discrimination, the Hively court cited Loving for the proposition that “[i]t is now accepted that a person who is discriminated against because of the protected characteristic of one with whom she associates is actually being disadvantaged because of her own traits.”
DOJ’s Brief in Zarda v. Atlantic Express

The opinions discussed above should make clear that discrimination against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination. Yet, the Department of Justice took the position that an employee’s sexual orientation is unrelated to his sex. And it did so in a routine case, in which its views were not solicited, and in which the EEOC had already filed a brief arguing to the contrary.

The simple fact that DOJ filed this brief, under these circumstances, is remarkable. Not only does DOJ urge a different conclusion than the EEOC, it argues that the EEOC’s opinion should be ignored and given no deference. This, too, is remarkable in that the EEOC is the agency charged with enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws and has far greater expertise in employment discrimination law than DOJ, which deals only with a narrow slice of such cases. This attack on the EEOC can only undermine its power in future cases. In other words, Attorney General Sessions’s commitment to throwing LGBT individuals under the bus is so strong that he is willing to undermine his own branch’s power in future cases. DOJ’s brief warns that the “EEOC is not speaking for the United States.” If this is how Executive Branch officials treat sister agencies in writing, just imagine what conversations must be like behind closed doors.

Beyond the odd circumstances of the filing, though, is the odd substance of the brief. It recycles a series of bad arguments might have been persuasive to a court in the 1970s, hearing for the first time a claim of “gay rights.” But in 2017, more sophistication is required.

The DOJ brief first argues that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination is not violated unless an employer treats men and women unequally. This is not untrue, but it doesn’t prove the result for which DOJ argues. A simple hypothetical reveals the Trump Administration’s error. If an employer fires a female worker because she has relationships with other women, that employee is mistreated because of her sex. She would not have been wronged by her employer if her intimate partners were solely men. In other words, sex was the dispositive factor when her employer decided to unjustifiably terminate her employment.

The DOJ brief also argues that Title VII should be read to exclude sexual orientation discrimination because “until recently” that is what courts had held. But given the significance of the recent, game-changing U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the opposite is probably a better argument. The early cases, as discussed above, were uniform in their superficial treatment of the question before them—and their unwillingness to engage with argument about the nature of sexual orientation discrimination. More recent cases dug deeper, took a more nuanced view of sex and gender, took account of highly relevant Supreme Court precedents and drew a well-supported conclusion that sexual orientation discrimination is, by its nature, sex discrimination. DOJ should not be persuaded by those thin, early opinions any more than it should cite the early sexual harassment cases in which courts said that the only way to avoid sexual harassment would be to hire only asexual employees or that rape did not become actionable discrimination just because it occurred in an office rather than a back alley.

The DOJ brief then makes two spectacularly bad arguments about the meaning of congressional action. First, it argues that because Congress has amended Title VII since courts decided that sexual orientation discrimination was not covered, Congress is presumed to have ratified that understanding of the statute. The brief points to the amendments contained in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 and those contained in the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1991. This argument makes no sense given that neither of these acts would reasonably have addressed the issue of sexual orientation discrimination; it is thus inappropriate to draw any inference about Congress’s state of mind. This is especially so when the only rulings were from lower federal courts rather than the Supreme Court. Moreover, when the PDA was enacted, no court had issued a ruling on sexual orientation discrimination yet, a temporal problem that the DOJ brief just glosses over. The 1991 amendments did not touch the provision in which the protected traits are listed.

Second, it argues that Congress’s failure to approve the proposed amendments to add express protection for sexual orientation discrimination proves that Congress did not want to extend such protection. As explained above, though, legislative silence tells us nothing.

Third, it lists the usual arguments about the nature of sex and sexual orientation discrimination. They are just not convincing.
The EEOC and the Seventh Circuit are Right

While the plain reading of Title VII should readily resolve this case, there are other reasons that federal employment anti-discrimination law prohibits sexual orientation bias in the workplace.

In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court rejected Virginia’s argument that anti-miscegenation laws did not discriminate on the basis of race because white and black Virginians were punished equally if they married outside their race. The Supreme Court held that each partner in an interracial relationship was denied the fundamental right to marry solely on the basis of their race. While that was a constitutional case, courts used the same logic to safeguard workers’ rights who were in interracial relationships.

In 1988, a federal appellate court in Atlanta decided that Title VII protects interracial associations. Don Parr, who was white, applied for an insurance salesman position but was rejected after white hiring managers learned about his interracial marriage. Don Parr was not discriminated against because management held animosity towards whites, but the court ruled that just like in Loving he was nevertheless denied employment because of his race.

It is nonsensical to deny these associational employment protections in federal law after the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held the right to marry extends to same-sex couples. As Chief Judge Wood explained in Hively, “if it is race discrimination to discriminate against interracial couples, it is sex discrimination to discriminate against same‐sex couples.”

A second theory also supports the position that sexual orientation discrimination is banned under the Civil Rights Act. The sex stereotyping theory recognized in Price Waterhouse means that “gender must be irrelevant to employment decisions” and that “in the specific context of sex stereotyping, an employer who acts on the basis of a belief that a woman cannot be aggressive, or that she must not be, has acted on the basis of gender.” Simply put, this stands for the proposition that Title VII doesn’t permit an employee to be treated adversely because their appearance or conduct fails to conform to stereotypical gender roles.

The animus aimed at gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans stems from an outmoded societal belief that men should be exclusively attracted to women and women should be exclusively attracted to men. This is a quintessential stereotype—no different from antiquated expectations that women should be feminine and men should be masculine.

The Trump Administration woefully misunderstands the nature of anti-gay animus. The DOJ brief claims that employers’ “moral beliefs” about sexuality could “not be based on views about gender at all” and thus not a form of sex-based discrimination. This claim made on behalf of the United States is disingenuous. Individuals’ beliefs about homosexuality are inherently based on stereotypes and the “proper role” of how men and women should behave. You cannot harbor ill will towards gays, lesbians, and bisexuals unless you also take into account the sex of their intimate partners.
Conclusion: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The Department of Justice’s position will have dangerous consequences if it prevails. In a small Georgia town, one man faced an excruciatingly painful choice: remain in an unhealthy, corrosive marriage or risk losing his employment. Despite loving his job and coworkers, the man feared his managers deeply disliked gay men and would fire him if they knew his true identity. Because Georgia has no protections against employment discrimination, he stayed in his marriage fearing that if he filed for a divorce and his husband subpoenaed his employment records, he’d lose everything.

There are far too many Americans like that Georgia man who are torn over living their authentic lives at the office or who wonder if they’ll have a job on Monday after getting married the weekend before. The Trump Administration has shamefully asked federal judges to dilute of one of this nation’s greatest civil rights achievements for the sole purpose of keeping LGB persons second class. Judges must reject the invitation.

President Trump made repeated assertions on the campaign trail that his administration would support the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. If President Trump’s knee-jerk action banning transgender persons from military service (by tweet, no less) was not sufficient to prove otherwise, the Department of Justice has made clear it was a farce.


Joanna L. Grossman, a Justia columnist, is the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and Law at SMU Dedman School of Law. Her most recent book is Nine to Five: How Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Continue to Define the American Workplace (Cambridge University Press 2016). She is the coauthor of Inside the Castle: Law and the Family in 20th Century America (Princeton University Press 2011), co-winner of the 2011 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize for Best Book in American Legal History, and coeditor of several other books. Her columns focus on sex discrimination and family law.

Anthony Michael Kreis is a law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law where he teaches employment discrimination and researches issues LGBT civil rights law.