Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ithaca Cortland Lawyer What is the Price of Liberty in New York?



I live and practice law in Ithaca, NY. Ithaca has many reminders around town about how this area feels about civil rights, and the freedoms we hold near and dear.
Ithaca Parking Garage
Tioga Street, Ithaca, NY
The quote on this mural is from famed lawyer, advocate for Indian rights, and abolitionist Wendell Phillips. He was noted for "plain speaking" and strong oratory. This mural lies less than 50 feet away from Ithaca Town Court, and a block from the Tompkins County Courthouse. How apropos?

My favorites of his many quotes:

"Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty"
"One on God's Side is a Majority"


What is the real price or cost of anything?

A lawyer must be an advocate for his client's position. Defense lawyer's are not in the business of justice. Justice is supposedly the job of the Judge and the Prosecutor (District Attorney).

Unfortunately, these days we have as we have in the past a system (of government) that can be overly oppressive and punitive. Often I am up against policies and positions. People can get lumped into categories. Is this justice? The road to hell is paved with the best of intentions.

Their (government) intentions are to keep us safe but at what cost? Where is the realization that we are dealing with people, with human lives and faces that can fall victim to a cold and sometimes harsh rule of law.

It has always rung true that the government and all people with positions of great authority must be kept in check. We are supposed to have a government of "checks and balances." The legislature makes the law, the executive branch executes the law, and finally the judiciary interprets the law.

Lawyers help people navigate through the system of checks and balances. Assist them in understanding their rights, their options, and their obligations within the process. Informed decisions are "fully" formed (understood) decisions. Three things the lawyer must do:

1. Provide Information (knowledge of the law). This is a corner stone.

I believe I must help my client understand the law "as it relates" to them and their situation.

2. Help them understand what the Burden of Proof are for different things?

  • In the criminal case (misdemeanor and felony level offenses) the government has to prove everthing to a "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" standard.
  • In the license case (DMV and/or state board license) the government has to prove to a "substantial" evidence standard. This is abit higher than the civil standard of "preponderance" of the evidence or 51% vs. 49% on the scales of justice.
3. Review their case for factual and/or legal defenses. What are the strengths and weaknesses?

Cases can have a combination of factors that need analysis. I begin with the venue, where the case is? Then move to the facts beyond change, what happened? Then to the applicable law, and legal process.

So Eternal Vigilance to me:

Eternal is taking (accepting) "Responsibility" as an attorney. My response to the call, the threat, and the power. Constant guarding of those I take on as clients. Protecting them to the best of my ability.

Vigilance is taking action. Proactivity includes review, assessment, and a plan. Like chess I must anticipate the moves of my opponent. I must be where they are going before them. I must anticipate, and then prepare for that.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law
504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
607-229-5184