Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Einstein Philosophy: DWI, Numbers, & Life

I love Albert Einstein. His teachings, his understanding, and his words are truly words to live by. Keeping perspective or in Einstein's terms relativity is a life quest for me. So how does all this relate to who I am and what I do?

First, a favorite Einstein quote: "What can be measured is not always important and what is important can not always be measured."

Numbers and DWI Defense (what I do)

In the game of criminal defense where people like to keep score it is often true that numbers can lie. Is the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) an "accurate" number? Does it reflect "the behavior" on the night of the arrest? Did the car really travel over the center line three times or was it merely making normal (typical) lane corrections? Criminal defense and DWI defense do have a quantitative component but more importantly they have a qualitative component as well.

Does it ALL Add Up? 

Coherency (mental cognition, function, understanding) is something that is not quantifiable. You don't score a level of it on a graph or a meter. It is highly subjective, and yet can be a crucial element in a DWI case. Mental state analysis and opinion about that state are a touchy-feely, and qualitative perception. Measuring it in a laboratory is the stuff of science fiction or scientific research but not roadside police testing. If there is a difference between the measured and the immeasurable then why? Is it that the numbers are wrong? Is it that the client has a high tolerance? Is it that the police officer's report is biased? Attorneys must consider more than numbers when defending a client. Cases are often won by the immeasurable.

Numbers and Reviews (Who I am)

I was recently asked by an attorney to give them an endorsement (recommendation). I didn't know them so I declined. His attitude was kinda like you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. You help me and I'll help you. Come on Larry, no harm no foul, no one has to know. BUT I'll know.

In my younger years numbers meant more to me. I would measure a great many things, from how big my biceps were, to how much I weighed, to how much I earned, to how much I earned on a given day, week, month, or year. Statistics became the barometer (the dashboard) of my life and happiness.

I am at a stage in my life where principles and numbers may often collide. Mind you I still believe numbers are important just not as important. Einstein's perspective now dominates my conscious. How can it not after my witnessing so much life transformation. After the burying of family and friends, watching them go through long battles with cancer, and the ravages of divorce I am mindful of what can not be measured daily.

TripAdvisor Top Contributor

How can I in good conscious recommend something, or someone, or someplace without having been there or ever having met them or know them? I post dozens of reviews of restaurants, hotels, and blog about my opinions/my views/my philosophy but not without basis. Tripadvisor makes their reviewers attest to the veracity of the contact for each and every review posted. I love to travel. I have been blessed with an abundant life. I have been all over the world from the mountains of Peru, to the Pyramids, to the Great Wall, and many places in between. My two professional careers have allowed me to experience not just life but a grand universe.

The Internet is NOT a TV

I depend and rely upon that honesty (from others) when I decide on a doctor to operate on the eyes of my wife or to trust a guide to lead me through a foreign (and hostile) country. I do not want my internet to be a reflection of lies or opinions without base. I tell people it is not a TV set. It is not just for the companies and people with the largest bank accounts to dominate. A place to be pounded over the head into submission and told what we want to hear. I say no to that. The wonderful paradigm of the internet at it's inception was and is to me a medium of sharing. Where people can come to learn. Who would desire false relationships built upon BS and deception?

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ithaca Lawyer Student Guide to Renting an Apartment or House

Recently I was reminded of a bad experience I had with an Ithaca landlord in 2007. I think that by sharing it some of the lessons I have learned will prove helpful.

I have been an attorney now for 14 years and have rented, bought, and sold a number of homes and apartments. We moved to Ithaca in 2006, with our four kids. Cornell has an excellent online house (apartment) hunting relocation software program. You can punch in all your parameters, and get a list of available properties. That is how we found our house rental. It is tough to find a suitable home with a large family since most properties (for non-students) are designed/set up for the college crowd with shared cooking/eating facilities.

First lesson before embarking on the process of relocating to Ithaca or any other College/University town is don't feel pressured to rent the first place you see. Keep all your options open. The more options the better for you as the renter. Just like shopping for a car, don't get attached, or emotional about a particular property or as I like to say don't fall in love with what can't love you back. Every place has it's share of positives and negatives.

We rented our home from Lucente Homes. I had heard they had a reputation (from local lawyers) in town for being "stern" or "tough" with people. The large house was located at 13 Pinewood in the North East area of Ithaca. It is a great neighborhood with mature trees, big spaces, and sits within walking distance to the Dewitt middle school. Our children would be in all three school divisions (elementary, middle, & high school). I chose Ithaca for a number of reasons, one of them being the public schools.

The home was neat, clean, and had enough bathrooms and bedrooms (for us). The Lucente Rental Agreement was very long and specific. It stated detailed money damages for many house items (if damaged), and conditions which I had never seen before in all my years as an attorney. This put me and my wife on Notice of what was to come. Forewarned means be forearmed.

Take Pictures and Document Damages Before Possession

My number one suggestion before taking possession (moving in) of ANY rental property is take pictures (or even a video) of the property. Date these with your camera. Then do a walk through with their agent, and document ALL damages. You MUST do this so at the end of the rental (lease) period they do not accuse (make allegations) you and state that YOU destroyed, damaged, or altered the home. They (the landlord) can then try to charge you (hold or keep your security deposit) for things you never broke or harmed. Even the smallest things should be noted. Things like stains on the carpet, burns or marks on the kitchen counter, broken door jams, locks, wood scrapes, etc. must be noted. These can be very costly (in the landlord's agreement/contract) to repair.

You may think that a little glue or paint could remedy something, do not make that mistake. If the agreement has a cost attached to cleaning, repair, replacement, or anything else you are liable for that $ Dollar number. It pays to be detailed at the beginning of this relationship or you will suffer the consequences at the end of it.

Memorialize Any Damages or Conditions

I think it is important to make a list of anything that seems amiss with the property from a broken driveway stone to a discoloration of a kitchen cabinet. Have the agent note (see/beware of) the damages (or condition) with you and the have them SIGN YOUR LIST of these.

Being Proactive is Being Protective

You don't want to be charged at the end of your lease for a number of things that were in horrible condition when you first took possession of the property. The landlord is entitled under their agreement to make repairs, fix, and replace all things that they feel you damaged or destroyed. They will then assess you for their costs to fix these. Their costs maybe much greater than true market value or what you could have gotten them repaired for.

Professional Can be a Lease Term 

Just to note in the Lucente Agreement we had to have all the carpets in the home "professionally" cleaned before handing back possession. They gave us the name of the company they thought was a "professional" cleaner. The definition of "professional" does not include you, your spouse, your friends, renting a machine and cleaning, or using a reputable company of your own choosing. Bottom line, their "professional" company charged us $600 to do the job they would be satisfied with. This was with no damages, no stains, and our OCD based documentation.

Onerous Beginnings Make for Onerous Extensions

We bought a new old home (circa 1889) in Fall Creek half way into our rental agreement period. We needed a one month rental extension of our lease. Lucente offered us two options: re-new for another complete lease term (What? and Why? would that be appealing) or pay double the rent for this extra month?

Nice options to ponder. My wife and I begged, pleaded, and tried to elicit some compassion or understanding but to no avail. We did not understand this because no one was waiting (or scheduled) to move in after our lease term ended.

Even though we were excellent tenants (clean, neat, non-smoking, and paid our rent early every month), and Lucente had noone moving in anytime soon, they still demanded ($4200 for one month). Out of curiosity we checked on the house many months following our move, and it remained vacant, and un-rented.

It seemed silly to us that they would be that way. On principle (it sometimes is hard to be principled) we moved to another home during this one month period. It was a pain in the butt with four kids in tow, and a ton of stuff that had to be put in storage but Lucente's behavior was not right on multiple levels.

Rent Before You Commit

In closing, I think it is wise when relocating to a new area to rent first. I have done this in New Jersey, New York, and Florida. I believe you don't really know an area fully till you live, eat, walk, breathe, and sleep in it for a period of time. I would not understand all the subtle differences in Tompkins County Real Estate had I not lived in the Northeast (the suburbs), and then Fall Creek (the City/Commons) areas.

Even the Weather Can Vary within a 10 Mile Zone

If someone had told me I would never have believed it but the weather is dramatically different between living up on the NE hill in Ithaca versus being in the City basin. I have gone from 6 inches of snow at our rental house, and a blizzard up on the hill to a 5 minute drive and a sun shiny day in the City (with no snow). It seems that downtown Ithaca is generally warmer, and gets less snow.

Ithaca City Versus Suburban Country

I think you must gauge and look at your lifestyle, and what you may want out of an area as an important consideration before buying a home. Living close to Gimme Coffee, restaurants in the Commons, and downtown parks needs to be balanced against the costs (and pains) of living downtown.

Costs are more than Financial

Living on top of your neighbors in a cityscape, where space is at a premium can be daunting at times. Yes, their hours of life and the living of it may vary greatly from your hours of life. They may be cooking, playing, partying, or singing at unusual hours while you are trying to sleep or vice versa. Although my wife would take our current neighbors over any we have had at any place we have lived in the past 25 years.

So all of the challenges of living in close quarters need to be weighed against all the wonderful festivals, gorges, falls, and walk-ability of the city.

My Disclaimer

All thoughts, opinions, and ideas in this blog post are purely my own, feel free to make your own assessments and decisions. I own no real estate companies in Ithaca or Tompkins County, have no rental properties, have no related interests, have no rental interests, and I do not practice real estate law. This was only my rental experience, and that of my family.

I caution anyone renting anytime or anyplace from anyone in doing their due diligence before signing any agreement. It is probably wise to review any rental agreement with a neutral party (your own counsel) to determine, and understand all of it's terms, clauses, and conditions.

Remember that a contract is merely a piece of paper. The true relationship is with the people signing it, and how they deal (and treat) with one another. Their conduct before, during, and after signing it will speak more to their character than to anything else.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cortland Lawyer Application of the Law of Reciprocity

Everyone has heard the expression "you can't have it both ways." Or "you can't have your cake and eat it too," (I never really got that one). I guess if I had my cake I would naturally want to eat it?

Suffice it to say you don't ever get "something for nothing." My dad used to say, "You want to play, you gotta pay." Very easy to understand but not so easy to live with. People naturally want to get something for nothing. I have been guilty of this.

The Truth

A gift or a favor can be very expensive proposition (to YOU). I have learned that when someone gives me a gift or does me a favor it usually has a string or strings attached. Some are very apparent and some are unspoken rules of convention. Say you accept a dinner then you are "obligated" to reciprocate. If you accept a favor, even a small one, like a ride to the airport, then a phone call requesting your presence at a birthday or any occasion is hard to turn down. This party will likely obligate a gift as well and your time and maybe the time of your spouse for hours.

You may think me cold but I am a realist. Life is short. I want to spend mine (my time and attention) on things that are important to me not to you (unless you are my client/my family).

Reciprocity and Law

How does the law of reciprocity apply to man made law?

You will always have to pay for something one way or another. You want the best legal defense or case outcome, it will not be free or cheap. Inexpensive, low cost, and free may apply to something but it does not feel right when referring to any type of professional services. If you want an inexpensive or free doctor, lawyer, financial advisor, or accountant be my guest. It is after all your prerogative.

TIME is Money

People call me and some want free legal advice. This is not always a consultation, they want me to specifically tell them what to do (act as their attorney) or they want me to tell them if their current lawyer is doing their job properly (not a good sign). Everyone has a limited (finite) amount of time. If I spend my time with 100 clients or patients, what level of care can I give them versus spending my time with 50 or with 25? The easy answer is less time with more people or more time and attention to fewer people.

The Rule of the "One and the Many"

At some point in everyone's practices (as professionals) they will make a decision which type of provider of service they want to be. The big question: Do they want to be: One for the masses or one for the few?

This may be a gradual transition or a pivotal moment in their careers. The same mentality decides whether they wish to be with one person for the rest of their lives or with a great many partners. Neither is better just different. The person who can give 100% of themselves to one person is going to have a different relationship with that person than someone who divides their attention, time, and energy amongst a dozen people.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

Ithaca Lawyer and The Law of Reciprocity (Quid Pro Quo)

Universal Lawyer

I consider myself a lawyer not just of man-made but also Universal laws. Before you think me out of my mind or just another wacky Ithacan let me assure you that Universal laws are real and unerring. Before being a lawyer I was a Chiropractor. I am forever a student of how natural law affects us on the mental, physical, and spiritual levels.

I shall devote a number of blogs to discussing some of these laws in the hopes that people may use them to their benefit. If you fail to recognize them, or you choose to ignore them you will stay remain subject to them nevertheless. It is unavoidable.

First, some people like to refer to the law of reciprocity by other names. The law of "what comes around goes around" or "Karma." It has many identities but don't ever think you can put stuff out and not get stuff back. You will eventually attract what you have sown. So we shall begin there.

Planting: Seeds Sown

Day by day in our thoughts and acts (merely the physicality of our thinking) we are planting. You have heard of the seeds of discontent, well there are seeds of loving relationships and in contrast the seeds of divorce. Words and actions can lift people up, can put them down, can inspire them, and can hurt immeasurably.


How do we demonstrate that we care about people? By discovering what is important to them and then assisting them (supporting) in the achievement of their priorities (their values). Their values are what they consider valuable. What is most valuable to one person may hold little value to another. It is not universal. The people you care most for will likely be closest to you because of this. They have proven by their words and deeds that they support your values time and again.

The Law of Reciprocity

It is not always direct and it is not always contemporaneous but it is just. You will get what you give. No more and no less. Yes, there are those who win lotteries, prizes, jobs, and people who they don't "deserve." However, you may classify or define deserve. See how long that lasts. See how long the money remains, or the position, or the relationship. Undeserved, unearned, luck, or whatever you may call it does not endure. It does not have legs so to speak. It is unfounded, it is ungrounded, and therefore it is easily taken, lost, or flittered away.

Earned things, even earned health, is generally more appreciated, respected, and treasured. The guy or girl with a perfect natural body usually doesn't have the same respect for it as a person who has spent years and thousands of hours building one. The same with a fortune. A person who has spent decades building wealth will likely not blow it on a super car while the suddenly mega millionaire athlete or pop star will spend it all plus more on depreciating expensive toys.

Fast in and fast out is not good or bad. It just is. Just as the law is not good or bad it just is.

The Lesson

If you want to USE the law to your advantage then appreciate what you have. Be grateful for your job, your family, your relationships, your standing, your privileges, etc. Show them or pay them attention.
Paying attention means just that. Give them your focus, give them your time, give them your energy, and give them your money. What have you done for me lately is more than a song lyric. Doing for them lately means giving attention regularly. If you are sporadic with your attention then you may be guilted into having to do something "big" and "imbalanced" and "out of character" to set things back into balance.

This is where the person that cheats then buys an expensive piece of jewelry or takes his spouse on a long needed vacation in the hopes of winning them back. It is hard to right the scales with sudden and large moves. The small, consistent, focused, and caring words and acts work best to ensure longevity and healthy lives. Healthy relationships come from this type of nurturing.  

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Reflection Post DWI: Rebirth, Renewal, and Review

On this Easter Sunday and Passover week I am reminded that we get second chances. Sometimes we get a third. I thank G-d for this for I have made my share of mistakes. I have gone off the path, have taken a few too many detours, and have beaten myself (in my head) more than anyone else could or should have.

Criminal charges are daunting. When I practiced as a Chiropractor I treated many people who were in horrific accidents. They were twisted, and physically damaged. They saw and felt little hope that they would surmount their pains, and their suffering. Time heals all wounds is trite but true. People bounce back. They learn and they grow in spite of themselves.

I believe that Life offers these humbling moments to reflect, renew, review, and then resurrect ourselves. I have been brought to my knees by many things outside of my control. I am a control freak at heart. It is difficult to understand a wisdom greater than my current situation.

I truly believe that problems can be a gift of sorts. You may not want to hear this but there are truly no accidents. Challenges are part and parcel of a well lived life. The real question is what do we do with these? Do we shrink? Do we cower? Do we allow them to destroy us? Do we lose hope?

I say no to all of those options. I say embrace change. I say adapt to the future. I say make something and take something good from what otherwise seems horrible. Review, self reflect, and then make a comeback. Contact with the courts and the justice system is not always pleasant but it can be an experience of sorts.

1. Write out all the "good" things that came as result of your going through the process.
The support and love of true friends and family. Your awareness of your coping abilities. Your gratitude that things were not far worse. Your appreciation for your privileges and rights. Your privilege to drive. Your privilege to be free to make choices of your own accord. Keep writing until you see that there are just as many "positives" as "negatives" to this experience.

2. Do not beat yourself up. Grow from this friction. Surmount the challenge. Love yourself warts and all. Afterall no one is perfect. Trying to be perfect or always clean and neat is a losing battle.

3. Do not hide from it or try to bury it. I have found that the things I am most afraid of and really a self induced fiction. People will actually see you as a real person if you share real pains and real problems. Trying to maintain a position on a pedestal of sorts only sets you up for a great fall. People who sit in judgment are merely judging themselves. We all have our skeletons.

Healthy people embrace change, adapt to it, and grow from it. They are called leaders.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., Esq.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850


Sunday, April 1, 2012

What Should Your New York DWI Lawyer Do for You?

I was waiting my turn at bat in Horseheads Court (Chemung County/near Elmira) the other day when the attorney in front of the judge suddenly turned around. He looked around the room for a friendly lawyer face who could answer the Judge's question because he was perplexed.

The question: Your DWI client is from New Jersey, have you explained to him all of the license ramifications and fees and fines and other assorted punishments that will come with his guilty plea in NYS even though he has a NJ license?

The attorney was unsure of whether the NYS DMV driver responsibility assessment DWI surcharge for three years ($750) would apply to his out-of-state client. BTW It does of course in addition to NJ fines. Anytime any state can lay out another fine or fee it generally does. NYS doesn't care if you are here for 5 minutes or 50 years, everyone pays!

What was bothering me that day was not that this attorney didn't know it was what else he had not told or explained to his client? Ah the mystery of not knowing.

So What Should an Attorney do for YOU?

There are three basic things an attorney should do for YOU:

1. Protection: Protection from all of the "potential" punishments, or maybe mitigation (lessening) of them. Explaining the ranges of consequences, and the likelihood of any of them now and in the future.
Your attorney should always stand both literally and figuratively between you and the Judge, and you and the Prosecutor, and you and the government (police).

2. Options: What are the (YOUR) options? Is Trial (Bench or Jury) a good option? How about "Challenging" any of the evidence in the case? What is the "Likelihood" of success (the odds) with each option? What are the benefits and detriments of each option?

What are the potential costs with each option? What are the "Costs" in time, in money, in exposure to jail or prison or probation terms?

3. Explanation: The attorney should educate, communicate, and explain how any of this can, will, or may impact YOU (specifically) either now or in the future. With your past record, your present circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams how will this affect any of it? Predictions are not always accurate or easy to make but they must be assessed, and discussed. Does any of this need to be discussed with your loved ones? Will they have burdens associated with your decisions or the decisions of the Court?

No one can predict the future but we hire professionals based upon their knowledge, experience, and their ability to place things in perspective based upon our specific and unique situations. The true value of a professional man or woman goes beyond their schooling. Books are merely the beginning of any real world education. Remember it is always a combination of both Art and Science in any successful endeavor and this includes the practice of law.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850