In honor of National Poem In Your Pocket Day

Law Like Love

W.H. Auden

Law, say the gardeners, is the sun,
Law is the one
All gardeners obey
Tomorrow, yesterday, today.

Law is the wisdom of the old
The impotent grandfathers shrilly scold;
The grandchildren put out a treble tongue,
Law is the senses of the young.

Law, says the priest with a priestly look,
Expounding to an unpriestly people,
Law is the words in my priestly book,
Law is my pulpit and my steeple.

Law, says the judge as he looks down his nose,
Speaking clearly and most severely,
Law is as I’ve told you before,
Law is as you know I suppose,
Law is but let me explain it once more,
Law is The Law.

Yet law-abiding scholars write;
Law is neither wrong nor right,
Law is only crimes
Punished by places and by times,
Law is the clothes men wear
Anytime, anywhere,
Law is Good-morning and Good-night.

Others say, Law is our Fate;
Others say, Law is our State;
Others say, others say
Law is no more
Law has gone away.

And always the loud angry crowd
Very angry and very loud
Law is We,
And always the soft idiot softly Me.

If we, dear, know we know no more
Than they about the law,
If I no more than you
Know what we should and should not do
Except that all agree
Gladly or miserably
That the law is
And that all know this,
If therefore thinking it absurd
To identify Law with some other word,
Unlike so many men
I cannot say Law is again,
No more than they can we suppress
The universal wish to guess
Or slip out of our own position
Into an unconcerned condition.
Although I can at least confine
Your vanity and mine
To stating timidly
A timid similarity,
We shall boast anyway:
Like love I say.

Like love we don’t know where or why
Like love we can’t compel or fly
Like love we often weep
Like love we seldom keep.

Fan v Sabin,

___ AD3d ___, 2015 NY Slip Op 01400 [1st Dept., 2015]

When a court grants an attorney leave to withdraw as attorney of record in an action, the action is stayed by operation of CPLR 321 (c) until 30 days after notice to retain new counsel is served upon the client. The circumstances in which a court may vacate the automatic stay and direct the action to proceed are rare, and were not present here. Therefore, the court had no power to decide a summary judgment motion against the now unrepresented client, and Supreme Court’s order granting the motion was reversed. Read More

Anonymous v Lerner,

___ AD3d ___, ___ NYS2d ___, 2015 NY Slip Op 00469 [1st Dept., 2015]

The anonymous plaintiff claimed that the defendant negligently and fraudulently gave her herpes. The defendant moved to compel her to be named in the action, which Supreme Court granted and the First Department here affirmed. Clearly, the allegations of a sexually transmitted disease implicate substantial privacy rights, but then the complaint implicates the defendant’s privacy rights to the same extent. The plaintiff didn’t help herself by giving interviews to the news media before serving the summons and complaint on the defendant. The court’s discretion is to be guided by balancing the plaintiff’s privacy claims against the presumption favoring open trials and prejudice to the defendant. The court noted that mere claims of public humiliation and embarrassment will not justify allowing a party to proceed anonymously.

Read More

There were no fewer than three significant cases this year concerning limitations in legal malpractice cases and the continuous representation toll. I’ll present discussions of them over the next two weeks. First up will be the Court of Appeals decision in Matter of Lawrence, where the question was whether the toll applied to an action to recover gifts given to the attorneys during a prolonged estate litigation. [Spoiler alert: it didn’t.] Next will be Farage v Eisenberg, a Second Department case where the question was where to fix the end of the representation and thus the end of the toll. Finally, the First Department case of Red Zone v Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, illustrating the underlying rationale for the rule and the actions that may justify applying it.