Glad to be an American lawyer & journalist

As much as I love my Italian heritage and being in Italy, two things happened in the last 24 hours which make me happy to practice law and journalism in the good ole USA.

1.  Upon affiliating with an Italian law firm to add some international flair to my practice, I learned that Italian lawyers add a whopping 21% VAT to their hourly rate, which is pretty comparable to that of New York lawyers.  Can you just see a New York lawyer charging $400/hr and then charging the client an extra $84 for tax?  There would be anarchy in the streets.  How does anything get done in that country and it is shocking Italy has not gone bankrupt before now.

2.  The story of an Italian editor who felt compelled to air his views on teen abortion under a pseudonym is now going to jail for stating as much.Alessandro Sallusti will spend the

Alessandro Sallusti/AP-Luca Bruno

next 14 months in jail because he dared to criticize the judge who allowed a 13-year-old to have an abortion.  Views on abortion aside, this journalist feared the consequences of expression so greatly that he disguised himself with a pseudonym and has now been convicted of criminal defamation.  The outcome would be greatly different here where the judge would likely be deemed a public figure and therefore the standard would have to be actual malice.

I love Italy, truly, but when will they come out of the cave they have lived in since the empire fell?  Say what you will about the “liberal media” in the US but at least you have the absolute right to state your mind and not be sent off to jail with killers and other assorted felons.  God bless the good ole USA.

Westchester attorney sees abortion issue driving toward U.S. Supreme Court

There are license plates for alumni and sport team support, animal rights, veterans rights, everyone has rights and in New York, many even have vanity plates for their cars to display those rights…….consider it “road bling” with an edge. Well, finally, life rights have stepped to the forefront of vanity plates in New York and are likely headed down the road to Washington and the nation’s high court.



Can you imagine it – the pillars of this country’s jurisprudence deciding what you can and cannot place on a license plate, as if they had nothing else more important to decide?

Strangely, however, this federal lawsuit is not about license plates but focuses on that decades old argument over abortion rights. A so-called adoption organization in Eastchester, New York called the Children First Foundation, is suing the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles because the DMV refused to issue license plates bearing the slogan “choose life.” The group’s president told the Journal News that a portion of the fee for these plates would go toward her non-profit organization, which funds pregnancy and adoption centers that do not receive government funding………….oh, and by the way, her group is pro-life and does not perform or refer for abortions. Hmmmm, sounds an awful lot like an anti-abortion organization more than an adoption organization.

Well, it turns out that the so-called “choose life” plates are available in 23 states, including Connecticut.

I can almost guarantee that if this was a pro-choice group calling for a special license plate, these “choose life” people would still be filing lawsuits. It’s not about choosing life or using your auto as a soap-box for a very personal decision. It’s about protecting a woman’s right to choose what happens with her future. The U.S. Supreme Court has already decided the abortion issue in Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and may soon get the chance to address it once again, through a back-door, in a suit framed as one of First Amendment “free speech” rights.

President Obama has just appointed a moderate to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and with another 15 vacancies to fill on the federal bench, he could reshape the future of SCOTUS. Just recently, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is suffering from cancer, told a group of law students that there may soon be an opening on the nation’s high court.

Hints of a Supreme retirement

Hints of a Supreme retirement

She didn’t hint at who would be leaving but it’s pretty obvious that the new Democrat in the White House is going to be reshaping the federal bench very soon.

In the meantime, in this down economy, they’re suing over license plates. Really? Well, here’s a revolutionary idea – maybe we should just use license plates to tag vehicles and put the brakes on vanity plates with political bite……and dare I say it, frivolous lawsuits as well.