Pro Bono Barrister: BRLA President Helen Galette passes gavel to Pat Russo

Helen Galette

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Chuck Otey's Pro Bono Barrister column now appears in print on Mondays in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

• • •

It may not often gain wide notice, but the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association founded back in 1954 has long been the most successful neighborhood bar organization in New York City.

Many of its leaders have become officers of the BBA and the New York State Trial Lawyers and the New York City Bar Association.
Past presidents have included well-known figures such as late Justice Chris Mega, who was also the deputy minority of the state Senate. Before he became governor, the late Hugh Carey counted himself as a member of the BRLA during the years when he served in the U.S. Congress.

Past BRLA officers such as Lawrence DiGiovanna, Rose Ann C. Branda and Andrea Bonina have gone on to become Brooklyn Bar presidents.

As the group’s judiciary chairman, former trial lawyer Ray Ferrier, also a past president, is one of the borough’s top real estate specialists who can handle tough litigation when necessary.

Top jurists, regularly featured at the BRLA CLE sessions held these days at J.T.’s restaurant on Third Avenue, include Justices Arthur Schack, Jeffrey Sunshine (and County Clerk Nancy Sunshine), Mark Partnow, Lawrence Knipel, David Vaughan, former Justice Beth Boninak, retired Justice Gerard Rosenberg and Surrogate Margarita Lopez.

One of the finest leaders of this unique ‘local’ bar group is immediate Past President Helen Z. Galette, who maintains a law office on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge.

Attorney Galette is a cum lade graduate of Pace University Law School and also earned cum laude honors at Marist College. She has an excellent reputation for handling complex legal matters.

A gracious and very effective public speaker, she serves on the Brooklyn Bar’s Grievance Committee, its Elder Law and Decedents Estates committees.

Immediate Past President Galette follows a path established and refined by some of the county’s finest lawyers since its founding back in 1954 such as the late Harry English, Vinnie Rosato and Charlie Sorace, Charlie, by the way, was earlier on active with the then-brand-new Columbian Lawyers of Brooklyn, led today by the dapper Bruno Codispoti under the steady guidance of Justice Anthony Cutrona, Marc Longo, Dominic Famulari, among other past presidents.

A BRLA member for 15 years, Ms. Galette sees the membership as close and caring. She describes her Bay Ridge colleagues as ‘warm-hearted persons who care extremely of about their community of lawyers."

She praised her successor, new President Pasqualino (Pat) Russo, as a "first rate attorney, who... served as my trusted friend and advisor during my presidency."

Serving with President Russo will be Vice President Joann Monaco, Recording Secretary Lisa Becker, Treasurer Grace Borrino and Corresponding Secretary Stephen Spinelli.

New President Russo has quite an impressive list of accomplishments on his resume and we look forward to telling PBB readers more about him in future PBBs .

* * *

'Bike Lane' commish goes after some errant cyclists

Trial lawyers must be cheering an article in last Saturday's NY Times revealing that the NYPD is finally going to take effective action to protect the citizenry from out-of-control two wheelers who race our streets and sidewalks at breakneck speeds.

Barristers who handle negligence are only too-well aware that these victims of reckless bicyclists seldom make a recovery against the tort-feasors. The biker too often flees the scene of the accident and even when one stays to face the music they carry very little, if any, insurance.

Targeted initially will be the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where a team of six officers will visit all businesses that use bicyclists to deliver their goods.

Interestingly, leading the charge from City Hall will be Transportation Comm. Janet Sadik Khan, who is best known for over-zealously trying to create bike lanes on hundreds of miles of cluttered, often narrow and old city streets. 

A cynic might suspect that the controversial Ms. Khan, whose passion for more and more bike lanes caused headaches for Mayor Bloomberg, is going after small businesses delivery guys to deflect attention from her unpopular bike lane crusade. In doing so she takes a swipe at small businesses.

Logically, she told the Times, "businesses that depend on bike deliveries can't cut corners on safety" in their haste to serve their customers. Will this make the streets of the Upper West Side safer for all? Will this Sadik Khan initiative later move to places like Billyburg, where bicycling at will is regarded as a constitutional right?

Can this program work at all unless all bikers are ‘licensed’ and required to carry adequate insurance?

* * *

Insulting NAACP shows Mitt is no Gov. George Romney!
As one who was here to watch and be inspired by television news reports of the late Michigan Gov. George Romney marching with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. I found it distressing to see his son embarrassing himself at the annual gathering of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

With a degree of arrogance and insensitivity not seen for quite a while in any candidate for the presidency, Romney stuck his thumb clumsily into the collective eye of the NAACP when he promised to get rid of "OBAMACARE!"

He got booed for this nasty, tastless remark. Then, he pledged that as president he would do more for the African American community than Barack Obama! Hearing the boos (and some jeers) again, he ridiculously dared the already offended  audience to "Look at me! Look at me!", whatever that meant.

Later in the day he bragged to a Republican fund-raising audience that he had purposely baited the NAACP conference into booing him claiming that he had shown his black hosts that there will be no more "free stuff," regardless of race, creed or color.

Either way, Mitt Romney demonstrated, once and for all, that he’ll never live up to his father’s clear, American character.

Why many Democrats would have voted for George Romney

George Romney was a bold and honest man. I, like many other Democrats was fed up with the easy-going (weak-kneed, actually) Hubert Humphrey after he let the crooked Chicago Mayor Richard Daley abuse and bully opponents at the 1968 Democratic Convention.(Dan Rather gained instant fame when he was beaten in clear view of TV cameras.)

I was anxious to back Gov. Romney in his race for the GOP nomination against the already notorious "Tricky Dick" Nixon.

George Romney was the exemplar of the American success story who practically built his American Motors company from the ground up. His qualifications and fairness were so apparent and unquestioned that very few people even mentioned his Mormon background.

But where his son Mitt stammers and stutters relying on pre-digested sound bites to answer a tough question, George spoke his mind plainly and without prior approval of his campaign staff. He was the kind of real candidate we claim to prefer over the stuffed-shirt, structured, image-conscious office-seeker who would be all things to all people. (Yes, I’m describing Mitt Romney.)

Brainwashing comment sank George Romney’s Campaign

As a result, Gov. Romney candidly admitted to some reporters that when he visited Saigon (the capital of then South Vietnam) he was misled by proselytizing generals who had lied to him about the state of the Vietnam War which by then was generally regarded as unwinnable. In effect, the generals had "brainwashed me," Romney said.

Why was "brainwashing" such a bad word? Some background is in order especially to provide context for those who rely exclusively for their news analysis on the Internet.

That election-tide turning remark was uttered by George Romney during the roiling heat of the Cold War between this country and the USSR. Daily news was rife with reports that the Russians and their Chinese allies were capturing American soldiers, "brainwashing" them and sending them back here to do some kind of harm at home.

("The Manchurian Candidate" was the first movie to depict "brainwashing" of a captured American man who would ultimately seek the presidency.)

Romney had innocently stepped into a quagmire. Before he could clarify or explain his ambiguous remark, political leaks dripped then poured out of the Nixon campaign claiming Romney was mentally unstable. We later learned that Nixon's henchmen, an earlier version of the Watergate "Plumbers,” prepared and distributed phony medical documents with the Michigan governor’s "history of treatment.”

The extreme right-wing press seized upon this "red meat" and Romney finally had to withdraw, clearing the way for Nixon.

July 20, 2012 - 12:41pm



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