Article

ECBA Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Veterans Opposed to Trump’s Immigration Ban

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady filed an amicus brief on behalf of four veterans organizations, Vets for American Ideals, Vote Vets, Common Defense, and No One Left Behind. The brief was filed in the pending case Darweesh, et al. v. Trump, et al. (E.D.N.Y.), which challenges President Trump’s Executive Order banning immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations. Based on their experience fighting on the front lines against ISIS and other U.S. enemies, these veterans  argue that the ban is contrary to the American ideals they fought for, will make it more difficult for their fellow American soldiers to recruit essential local allies in Iraq and in other Muslim countries, and will be a powerful propaganda tool for our enemies that will make the work of deployed American soldiers more difficult and more dangerous.  The brief was written by ECBA partners Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, Elizabeth S. Saylor, and Zoe Salzman.

 

Click here to read the full brief.

Article

Class Action Leads to End of Tampon Tax in New York State

Five months after five women filed a groundbreaking class action suit to end the Tampon Tax in New York, Governor Cuomo has signed legislation ending the illegal tax.

“We are thrilled New York State is finally repealing this discriminatory tax on all ‘menstruators’ and hope the nation will swiftly follow suit. It’s about time we all recognize the necessity of menstruation products and the obsolescence of their taxation,” said Plaintiff Margo Seibert, an actress in New York.

“Albany has finally seen the light! There’s more work to be done to ease access to these vital products, particularly for low income women, but repealing the tax was a great first step,” said Plaintiff Jennifer Moore, a children’s program coordinator.

“One state down, thirty-nine to go,” said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “This is a tremendous victory for women and for all New Yorkers. It will save women tens of millions of dollars. This lawsuit jumpstarted Albany into action. It’s the beginning of the end of the Tampon Tax in this country.”

“New York has finally stopped taxing women for being women. Now the governor should make sure that New York women who paid this sexist tax for years—especially those women who could least afford it—are compensated and reimbursed,” said Zoe Salzman, another lawyer for the women.

“From the time I entered law school 25 years ago, I’ve known that the tampon tax violated state and federal law. It’s a remnant of a time when all-male legislatures made decisions that devalued women’s interests. That New York State has finally ended this injustice is great cause for celebration,” said Laura Strausfeld, a lawyer who developed a critical theory of the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.

The five women who brought the case are an actor/co-founder of Racket., a mathematician/data scientist, a programs coordinator for children’s programs, a photographer, and a professor.

The plaintiffs congratulate Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal for her leadership on this issue.

Follow the latest developments HERE. Read an interview with Zoe Salzman on the case and legislation here.

Article

Tamir Rice Settlement in the News

On April 25, 2016, the City of Cleveland agreed to a $6 million payment to settle the federal civil rights lawsuit that arose from the tragic death of Tamir Rice. This settlement has received extensive coverage in the national and local press.

Read coverage of the settlement in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and the Amsterdam News. Read a full profile of the case in GQ.

Listen to an interview with Jonathan Abady on NPR’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

Watch an interview with Zoe Salzman on Democracy Now!.

Article

City of Cleveland Settles Tamir Rice Lawsuit for $6 Million

The City of Cleveland has agreed to payment of $6 million to settle the federal civil rights lawsuit involving the tragic death of Tamir Rice. Although historic in financial terms, no amount of money can adequately compensate for the loss of a life. Tamir was 12 years old when he was shot and killed by police — a young boy with his entire life ahead of him, full of potential and promise.

In a situation such as this, there is no such thing as closure or justice. Nothing will bring Tamir back. His unnecessary and premature death leaves a gaping hole for those who  knew and loved him that can never be filled.

Regrettably, Tamir’s death is not an isolated event. The problem of police violence, especially in communities of  color, is a crisis plaguing our nation. It is the sincere  hope of  the Rice family that Tamir’s death will stimulate a movement for genuine change in our society and our nation’s policing so that no family ever has to suffer a tragedy such as this again.

Tamir’s family was represented by ECBA attorneys Jonathan Abady, Earl Ward, and Zoe Salzman, and local counsel Subodh Chandra. The New York Times and the New York Daily News, among many other outlets, covered the settlement.

 

Article

Pressure Mounts to End the Tampon Tax in New York

In response to a class action lawsuit filed last week by ECBA, pressure is mounting to end the Tampon Tax in New York State. The lawsuit has received extensive international, national and local press coverage, including articles in The GuardianCNN, Reuters,  Newsweek, The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, New York Daily News, abc7NY, CBS News and Vogue.com.

The five women who brought the lawsuit are represented by Ilann M. Maazel, Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, and Zoe Salzman.

Article

ECBA Files Class Action to End Tampon Tax in New York

This morning, five women filed a groundbreaking class action suit to end the Tampon Tax in New York.  The suit also seeks refunds for millions of women targeted by the illegal sales tax.

The five women are an actor/co-founder of Racket., a mathematician/data scientist, a programs coordinator for children’s programs, a photographer, and a professor.

New York exempts medical items from sales tax.  But taxing authorities impose a double standard when defining medical items for women and men.  Rogaine, foot powder, dandruff shampoo, chapstick, facial wash, adult diapers, and incontinence pads are not taxed.  Tampons and sanitary pads are.

“It’s time for New York to stop taxing women for being women,” said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel, and a lawyer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady.  “We hope this case will be the beginning of the end of the Tampon Tax in this country.”

“Tampons and sanitary pads are a necessity for women, not a luxury.  There is no way these products would be taxed if men had to use them,” said Zoe Salzman, another lawyer for the women.

 

Article

Rice Family Disappointed that Officers Will Not Face Criminal Charges

Today, more than a year after Cleveland police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a grand jury voted not to indict the shooter.  Tamir’s family is saddened and disappointed by this outcome–but not surprised.

It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment.  Even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second, Prosecutor McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses to try to exonerate the officers and tell the grand jury their conduct was reasonable and justified.  It is unheard of, and highly improper, for a prosecutor to hire “experts” to try to exonerate the targets of a grand jury investigation.  These are the sort of “experts” we would expect the officer’s criminal defense attorney to hire—not the prosecutor.

Then, Prosecutor McGinty allowed the police officers to take the oath and read prepared statements to the grand jury without answering any questions on cross-examination.  Even though it is black letter law that taking the stand waives the Fifth Amendment right to be silent, the prosecutor did not seek a court order compelling the officers to answer questions or holding the officers in contempt if they continued to refuse.  This special treatment would never be given to non-police suspects.

The way Prosecutor McGinty has mishandled the grand jury process has compounded the grief of this family.

The Rice family is grateful for all the community support they have received and urges people who want to express their disappointment with how Prosecutor McGinty has handled this process to do so peacefully and democratically.  We renew our request that the Department of Justice step in to conduct a real investigation into this tragic shooting of a 12-year-old child.

Article

Court Approves Settlement in Cooper Union Case

Justice Nancy Bannon of the New York Supreme Court approved the settlement in ECBA’s case challenging the decision to charge tuition at The Cooper Union. ECBA represents the Committee to Save Cooper Union (CSCU), a group of alumni, faculty, and students which filed suit in May 2014, arguing that charging tuition violated the trust established by Peter Cooper and seeking to reinstitute free tuition.  After the CSCU filed suit, the New York Attorney General launched an investigation into the mismanagement of the school finances.   The settlement, which includes CSCU, the Attorney General, and the school, requires the college to commit to exploring the return to free tuition; establish a free education committee on the board of trustees; increase student, alumni, and faculty representation on the board; establish  the Associates of Cooper Union; and accept the oversight of an independent financial monitor.

In approving the settlement agreement, Justice Bannon wrote that the plan agreed upon “will most effectively accomplish the general purposes of Peter Cooper’s trust in the context of the present financial position of The Cooper Union.”  ECBA lead attorney Richard D. Emery said: “We are extremely optimistic that within a matter of years, the vision of Peter Cooper can be once again in place.”

Read coverage of the settlement approval in The New York Times here.

ECBA attorneys Richard D. Emery, O. Andrew F. Wilson, and Zoe Salzman represented the Committee to Save Cooper Union.

Article

Tamir Rice Family Petitions Department of Justice to Intervene in Police-Shooting Death

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Representatives of the mother, sister, and estate administrator of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy whom Cleveland police officers shot and killed in November 2014, wrote to the Department of Justice today formally requesting that the federal government intervene to investigate both the boy’s death and local prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s handling of the case.

For months, the Rice family and their representatives have expressed growing concern about unfairness and bias in the grand-jury process.  Evidence of that bias and unfairness became so extreme that the family in October 2015 called for recusal of Mr. McGinty and appointment of an independent prosecutor.

Last week, on December 7, 2015, the prosecutor’s misconduct intensified even further.

Because it was apparent that the presentation to the grand jury was so unfair, the family was forced to retain its own experts in an attempt to have the grand jury consider accurate information on what actually happened the day Tamir Rice was killed.  Although local prosecutors promised they would present those experts to the grand jury in a fair manner, in a remarkable turn of events, they sabotaged testimony of the family’s experts through a series of highly unprofessional and inappropriate tactics before the grand jury.

The family’s two experts, Jeff Noble and Roger Clark, nationally recognized figures in the fields of law enforcement and excessive-force policy, left the grand jury last week stating that in their many decades of experience in state and federal courts across the country, they had never encountered such unfair, biased, unprofessional, and hostile treatment by a prosecutor’s office.

This duplicitous mistreatment of the family’s experts stands in stark contrast to the favorable treatment afforded the officers who killed Tamir Rice when they were allowed to read self-serving, prepared statements to the grand jury, without ever being cross-examined, even though the law is clear that by taking the stand to read their statements, the officers waived their Fifth Amendment privilege to be silent.

This latest act of prosecutorial misconduct provides further evidence that the grand-jury process has been irreparably harmed in this very important case.  It is clear local prosecutors are doing everything in their power to exonerate the officers, no matter what the evidence shows.  They are not engaged in the transparent, fair, and thorough investigation of the truth that they promised Tamir Rice’s family, the citizens of Cleveland, and the nation, ensuring that the officers will never face justice

 

Contact:
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP—Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S.Ward, and Zoe Salzman—(212) 763-5000
The Chandra Law Firm LLC—Subodh Chandra—(216) 965-6463
FirmEquity—William Mills—(847) 207-9064

Article

ECBA’s Letter to Prosecutor McGinty Regarding Disclosure of Recommendation to Grand Jury

Read ECBA’s December 7 letter to Prosecutor McGinty here:

December 7, 2015

Re:       Disclosure of Recommendation to the Grand Jury

Dear Mr. McGinty:

As you know, this firm, The Chandra Law Firm LLC, and FirmEquity represent Samaria Rice; her daughter T.R.; and Tamir Rice’s estate.  This letter follows our recent meeting with you on November 24, 2015 at your offices.

During that meeting, you confirmed that it is normal practice for, and you intend to, make a recommendation to the grand jury about whether to indict Officers Loehmann and Garmback on criminal charges.  In our meeting, Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, respectfully asked just one thing of you—to tell her and the public in advance what your intended recommendation to the grand jury will be. You did not commit at that time to following in this case what you recognized was standard procedure.

There are countless examples of prosecutors and your office stating to the public the intention to seek charges from grand juries. Just one notable example is the case of serial rapist and kidnapper Ariel Castro, in which you were quoted publicly as saying: “I fully intend to seek charges for each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, and each act of aggravated murder for terminating pregnancies that the offender perpetrated,” and “We are presenting additional evidence to the grand jury next week and the week after. We expect we are going to request further indictments.”  Of course, such statements, whether announced publicly or promised privately to crime victims, are your office’s (and every prosecutor’s) regular practice.

There is no basis to depart from this normal practice here, and it would be disturbing if you did.  There is no statute, case, or ethics rule that prevents you from announcing your intention to seek criminal charges (or not) against the officers responsible for killing this 12-year-old boy.  You have already taken the position in this case that Ohio Criminal Rule of Procedure 6(E), which protects the secrecy of grand-jury information, does not apply to intended future conduct.  That was ostensibly, in part, your justification for releasing what we believe to be highly prejudicial, unsupported, and unjustified “expert” reports and unsworn written officer “statements.”

If you truly intend to be “transparent,” you must disclose to the public and the crime victim’s family whether you intend to seek criminal charges (and if so, which charges), just as you did in the Ariel Castro case and others.  Your failure to do so would be inconsistent with your stated commitment to be fair and impartial.  Please confirm you will not create a special exception to the normal practice and will disclose your recommendation to the grand jury in advance of making it.

Sincerely,

Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, Zoe Salzman

.