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November 21, 2001

2001.11.21: Anthrax Scare Prompts Request For Protocol on Court Response (NYLJ)

Filed under: Uncategorized — nyclaw01 @ 8:24 pm

Anthrax Scare Prompts Request For Protocol on Court Response

By Daniel Wise
New York Law Journal
November 14, 2001

The arrest of a man in Brooklyn on Oct. 30 on suspicion that he had dumped a couple of handfuls of anthrax into a mailbox has brought demands from the Legal Aid Society and others for the development of a protocol to insure that courthouse employees are kept out of harm’s way.

But court and city officials said that there is no need to develop a written protocol because each threat must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, using common sense.

Ultimately, the officials pointed out, test results confirmed the arresting officers’ instincts that the yellow powder retrieved from the mailbox was not anthrax.

The suspect, Kamal Dawood, was charged with reckless endangerment, a Class D felony that could have brought him a prison term of 2 1/3 to 7 years. After his arraignment, Mr. Dawood was transferred to the custody of U.S. Postal Service officials for prosecution in federal court.

The prosecution took the threat seriously enough to charge a crime that required a showing of depraved indifference to human life, Mr. Dawood’s Legal Aid Society lawyer pointed out. Susan Hendricks, the deputy attorney in charge of Legal Aid’s Criminal Division, said that the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office had told the defense that it was having the yellow powder tested to determine whether it was anthrax.

That notification occurred on Wednesday, Oct. 31, the afternoon Mr. Dawood was arraigned. The test results finding no anthrax in the powder came back on an expedited basis on Friday morning, Nov. 2.

Between Wednesday and Friday, there was quite a bit of fear in the courthouse, particularly among the court’s non-judicial employees, one judge said. Legal Aid’s union and management agreed that any Legal Aid staff member who was fearful of being infected did not have to appear at the courthouse at 120 Schermerhorn Street until the situation was resolved. A court stenographer reportedly refused initially to work the evening shift on Wednesday night, but relented after workers from the city’s Department of Health and police officers with expertise in hazardous substances offered reassurance.

Ms. Hendricks said Legal Aid had not kept track of how many of its lawyers did not go to court, but said that all matters were covered by Legal Aid attorneys, and there was no disruption of court proceedings. Court officials and others confirmed that the court handled its calendars smoothly.

Because arrests continue to remain light, the court’s supervising judge, William Miller, was able to close down the courtroom where Mr. Dawood was arraigned, and proceed with just one arraignment part, instead of two, until the test results came back.

However, until Friday morning, Ms. Hendricks said, Legal Aid attorneys were under a reasonable apprehension that the substance that a school crossing guard claimed Mr. Dawood had twice reached into his pocket to put in the mailbox might be anthrax.

“The District Attorney was saying that this was a credible threat, not a hoax. Additionally the prosecution was asking for high bail,” she said.

Under those circumstances, it was reasonable to fear that Mr. Dawood might have loose anthrax on his person that could have contaminated areas he passed through, Ms. Hendricks noted. Legal Aid had phone calls from a number of judges who were “upset that they had no information in an official way,” she added.

“We need a protocol for how these cases are handled,” Ms. Hendricks said. “We were very lucky on this one, but the experience showed a lot of weaknesses in the communication of the potential dangers.”

Protocol Established

Ms. Hendricks added that city and court officials have established a protocol to determine when suspects have active tuberculosis. Suspects who have a contagious form of tuberculosis are isolated and taken to a hospital, where they are arraigned. Court personnel and lawyers involved in hospital arraignments use high quality masks, or other safeguards, to insure their safety, she said.

New York City Criminal Justice Coordinator Steven M. Fishner said that there is no need to have a written protocol because each situation needs to be assessed “on a case-by-case basis.” In the Schermerhorn Street incident, he added, the arresting officers used “common sense,” and their judgment was born out by the test results. A one-rule-fits-all protocol, he suggested, would result in a waste of limited resources.

Court system spokesman David Bookstaver responded to the call for a protocol by saying: “[I]t’s a fluid situation – we’re learning and evolving every day.”

Date Received: November 13, 2001

November 14, 2001


Filed under: Collective Bargaining,Union Democracy and Structure — nyclaw01 @ 11:56 am

From: MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST [mailto:MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST]
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2001 8:41 PM
Importance: High

Attached is the executed Memorandum of Agreement for the collective bargaining agreement ratified on September 6.  Please note that meal reimbursement became effective that date.

This and the prior MOA (98-00) will be incorporated into a new, integrated, ALAA contract.

2001.11.14: Text of New Federal Rules Violating Atty-Client Privilege

Filed under: Civil Liberties — nyclaw01 @ 11:54 am

From: MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST [mailto:MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST]
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2001 3:56 PM
To: Everyone At The Legal Aid Society@HQWEST.WEST
Subject: Text of New Federal Rules Violating Atty-Client Privilege
Importance: High

Following is the full text of an announcement in the Oct. 31 Federal Register, describing Prevention of Acts of Violence and Terrorism, describing a new rule that would allow the Justice Department to start listening in on the conversations of lawyers with clients in federal custody, including witnesses and detainees, whenever that is deemed necessary to prevent future acts of violence or terrorism.

2001.11.14: Memorandum of Agreement ALAA Collective Bargaining Agreement 2000-2002

Filed under: Collective Bargaining,Union Democracy and Structure — nyclaw01 @ 12:00 am

[Original format: MOA 00-02 Final]

Memorandum of Agreement
ALAA Collective Bargaining Agreement

It is hereby agreed by and between the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325 (AFL-CIO) and The Legal Aid Society that the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that expired on September 30, 2000 is hereby renewed and extended, as modified herein.

1. Length.  The term of the CBA will be October 1, 2000 through September 30, 2002, inclusive.

2. Compensation.

2.1.  Basic Salary Schedule.  The Salary Schedule will be set as provided for in Appendix 1 of this MOA.

2.2.  Supplemental Salary Increases.  Both ALAA and the LAS recognize and support a goal that staff attorneys receive total compensation which is comparable to that received by ADAs in Bronx, Brooklyn, New York and Queens Counties and that, due to the lack of sufficient funding, the economic terms contained herein narrows, but does not close, the comparability gap between the two groups. It is also recognized that LAS may receive funding increase(s) during the term of this contract which would allow it to narrow or close this gap.  To that end, the parties agree that should the LAS receive, during the term of this contract, a funding increase sufficient to further narrow or close the comparability gap, the parties will, immediately upon learning of such increase, undertake to ascertain the four-boro average of total compensation received by non-managerial ADAs at yearly levels of service.  After ascertaining such ADA compensation, the LAS agrees to pay staff attorneys as close to comparable total compensation as such additional funding allows.

2.3.  TransitCheks.  Effective July 1, 2001, TransitCheks in the amount of $180 per quarter will be provided to all active full-time Staff Attorneys (part-time staff will receive a pro-rated share).  In addition, effective January 1, 2002, each Staff Attorney will have the individual option to use pre-tax compensation to purchase additional TransitCheks as administratively practical within the maximum amount allowed by law.

2.3.  Vacation Buy-Back.  Each Staff Attorney in the Capital Division, Civil Division, Criminal Appeals Bureau, Federal Defender Division, Juvenile Rights Division, Volunteer Division, and Special Litigation Unit of the Criminal Defense Division will have the option of selling back five [5] vacation days per contract year, to be paid at the rate in effect on June 30.

2.4.  Pension.  The Society will, no later than seven [7] months from the close of the respective semiannual evaluation period, contribute 6.5% of covered salary, as defined in the Pension Trust Agreement and Pension Plan, to the Legal Aid Society Staff Attorney Pension Plan.  Actual out-of-pocket expenses for legal counsel (not to exceed $50,000 per Plan year), consultants, accountants or others retained by the Plan will be payable from the Society’s contributions.

2.5.  Travel Reimbursement.  Staff Attorneys in all divisions leaving evening and/or night institutional assignments will be fully reimbursed for taxi fare within the five NYC boroughs.  Managers will approve taxi fare beyond NYC limits on a case-by-case basis.

2.6.  Meal Allowance.  Staff Attorneys in all divisions will receive a meal allowance of $8.75 for performing mandatory work assignments that extend five [5] or more hours beyond the scheduled workday.

2.7.  Foreign Language Classes.  The Society will maintain a $25,000 fund to reimburse individual Staff Attorneys a maximum of $500 annually for the cost of foreign language classes relevant to Legal Aid work.

2.8.  Health Benefits.

2.8.1.   Retirees.  Effective July 1, 2002, a Medicare supplement with prescription drug rider will be provided to Staff Attorneys who:  (1) retire on or after July 1, 2002; (2) have been employed by The Legal Aid Society for 25 years or more[1]; and (3) who will at retirement have reached age 65.

2.8.2.   Oral Contraceptives.  Effective January 1, 2002, Staff Attorney health coverage will include oral contraceptives.

2.8.3.   Dental.  Effective January 1, 2002, maximum dental benefits will be increased to $1500 per year.

2.8.4.   Vision.  Effective January 1, 2002, vision benefits will be increased as detailed in Appendix 2.

2.9.  Long-Term Disability.  The maximum annual benefit for Staff Attorneys who go on long-term disability on or after January 1, 2002 will be increased to 60% of $80,000.

2.10.    Supplemental Life Insurance.  On or before January 1, 2002, Staff Attorneys will have the individual option to purchase the supplemental life insurance described in Appendix 3.

3. Time-Off.

3.1.  Parental Leave.  Section 6.3 of the Memorandum of Agreement 1998-2000, which pertains to Article III(4)(d)(2) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement 1994-1998, shall be amended as follows: Subject to approval as to its legality, any parent of a newborn or newly-adopted child/children or a new step parent of a child/children who resides with the Staff Attorney-parent more than fifty [50] percent of the time, may take up to eight [8] weeks (40 days, exclusive of paid holidays) of paid parental leave in order to care for and establish a relationship with the child/children.  In concept, this leave is provided to assure paid time off during the period immediately following the birth, adoption, etc.  Paid parental leave would therefore precede any vacation, comp. time or unpaid leave that the new parent/step-parent may wish to take in connection with the birth, or adoption, etc., and would run concurrently with any disability leave—maternity-related or otherwise—that may be appropriate for either parent during the initial eight [8] week period after the triggering event, exclusive of paid holidays.  However, recognizing that individual circumstances may vary, the employee(s) may, in consultation with supervisor(s) involved, use the paid parental leave on a different schedule, provided that (1) it cannot extend beyond the first year after the triggering event; and (2) the total amount of paid time off associated with the commencement of the particular parenting relationship is not increased by the rescheduling.

3.2.  Part-time Work Schedules.

3.2.1.   Salary.  Effective September 1, 2001, part‑time employees will advance annually on the salary schedule.

3.2.2.   Job Sharing.  Staff Attorneys who job share will have the individual option to work more than 50% paid time, subject to prior Management approval.

3.3.  Private Practice.  Staff Attorneys on sabbatical leave may engage in the practice of law when it does not present a legal or funding conflict with the Society, subject to case-specific prior Management approval.

4. Quality of Representation.

4.1.  Workload Standards.  Within six [6] months of this agreement, standing joint Union-Management workload committees in each division will set provisional guidelines, subject to ongoing revision and refinement, for maximum individual attorney workload consistent with high-quality representation for each LAS client.  Where that guideline is exceeded, the attorney will be relieved through such steps as reduced intake, case transfer, and/or other appropriate measures.

4.2.  Felony Certification.  [Add to end of existing language (Article IV(7)(D), at 23)]:  Felony-certification will not be revoked because of an attorney’s transfer to another office or borough.  [Add new subdivision (2) to Article IV(7)(D), at page 23.]: A joint Union-Management Committee in the Criminal Defense Division will develop felony certification standards.

4.3.  Oversight Committee Reports.  Whenever feasible, Management will solicit the Union’s views regarding submission of narrative reports for funders or other oversight bodies concerning Legal Aid performance under its contracts.

* * *

This agreement is subject to ALAA membership ratification. 


BY: /s/___________________________DA:  November 14, 2001

Michael Letwin, President


BY: /s/____________________________  DA:  November 14, 2001

Daniel L. Greenberg, President

Appendix 1:  Salary Chart

(New Steps in Bold)

Step # Attys[2] Current Y1:  10/1/00 Y2:  10/1/01 Over 3% in Y2 by
LG 15 36,750 37,853 41,200 2,211
1 17 37,500 38,625 41,973 2,189
2 39 39,000 40,170 43,260 1,885
3 75 42,100 43,363 45,320 656
4 46 46,500 47,895 49,332
5 42 50,200 51,706 53,257
6 33 53,900 55,517 57,183
7 29 56,250 57,938 59,676
8 36 58,350 60,101 61,904
9 30 60,250 62,058 63,920
10 29 64,500 66,435 68,428
11 37 68,500 70,555 72,672
12 45 71,500 73,645 75,854
13 69 75,000 77,250 80,000 432
14 80,500 932
15 60 76,000 78,280 81,000 372
16 81,500 872
17 46 77,000 79,310 82,000 311
18 82,500 811
19 83,000 1,311
20 12 78,000 80,340 83,500 750
21 84,000 1,250
22 5 79,000 81,370 84,500 689
23 85,000 1,189
24 85,500 1,689
25 57 80,000 82,400 86,000 1,128

Appendix 2: Vision

The Legal Aid Society

Vision Care Benefits

Carrier: Spectera

Effective Date: January 1, 2002

Frequency of Services: Exam every 12 months

Lenses every 12 months

Frames every 24 months

12- or 24-month benefit is measured from last date of service


In-Network Benefits:

Co-payments:   $10 toward examination

$20 toward materials (lenses and/or frame)

After the material co-payment, lenses are 100% covered every 12 months.  After the material co-payment, frames within the Spectera selection or allowance are 100% covered every 24 months.

In lieu of lenses and a frame, you may select contact lenses.  Four boxes (12 pairs) of covered disposables are included in the materials co-payment when obtained from a network provider.

Should you choose patient options not covered by the Spectera program, such as tints, progressive lenses, scratch, UV, and anti-reflective coating, you will be able to purchase these options at a significant discount.

Spectera participants receive access to discounted refractive eye surgery procedures from numerous provider locations throughout the United States.

Out-of-Network Reimbursements:

Examination: $35

Single Vision Lenses:   $25

Bifocal Lenses: $40

Trifocal Lenses: $55

Lenticular Lenses: $120


Elective Contact Lenses:   $105 (in lieu of spectacle lenses and a frame)

Necessary Lenses:   $220

Appendix 3: Supplemental Life

The Legal Aid Society

Supplemental Life Insurance

Carrier: MetLife

Effective Date: January 1, 2002

Plan Design: Increments of $25,000

Plan Maximum: $375,000

MEOI (Medical Evidence of Insurability) Level: $200,000

Rates for calendar year based on age at January 1

Rates and plan design contingent on 25% enrollment

Plan is fully portable upon termination of employement

Monthly Rate

Monthly Rate    per $25,000

Age at Jan 1 per $1,000___   (rate per $1,000 x 25)

<25   $.06  $1.50

25-29    $.06  $1.50

30-34    $.09  $2.25

35-39    $.11  $2.75

40-44    $.13  $3.25

45-49    $.20  $5.00

50-54    $.34  $8.50

55-59    $.62  $15.50

60-64    $.78  $19.50

65-69    $1.30    $32.50

70-74    $2.11    $52.75

[1]Time spent on long-term disability will be included in determining this period.

[2]Head count at 6/22/01 (excludes FDD).

November 6, 2001

2001.11.06: 911 Health & Safety Update

Filed under: Collective Bargaining — nyclaw01 @ 8:01 pm


To:    ALAA Members
Fr:    Michael Letwin (Pres.), Charlotte Hitchcock (Rec. Sec’y), Daniella Korotzer (H&S Rep.)
Re:    911 Health & Safety Update
Da:    November 6, 2001

1.    90 Church Street

1.1.        Alternative Work Space.  Nearly 500 staff members previously located at 90 Church Street have been provided with alternative work space, computers and telephones.

1.2.    Retrieval of Case Files.  Shortly after September 11, ALAA sought, at the urgent request from members, attorney access to case files located at 90 Church.  In response, the Society arranged for a limited number of staff to enter the building during the week of October 8 to pack essential files. These 1400 packed boxes were supposed to be moved from 90 Church on October 13. Just prior to the scheduled move, ALAA was advised by federal EPA, by Mount Sinai Hospital Occupational Health Clinic and by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), a nonprofit organization sponsored by many unions, that the boxes should not be removed until they were properly cleaned and tested.  For this reason, ALAA and the Society agreed to delay file removal pending development of an agreed-upon cleaning protocol.  ALAA asked NYCOSH to provide technical expertise regarding these issues. On October 14, aggressive bulk sample testing was conducted by Ambient Group, the Society’s consultant, on all three floors at 90 Church.  The air sample results, which were reviewed by NYCOSH, revealed the presence of 2% asbestos in the southwest corner of the 13th floor. The sample constituents of the dust, on all three floors, contained fiber glass, cement dust, gravel road dust, carbon particles and cellulose. On October 17, ALAA and the Society, along with their respective consultants, agreed on an asbestos abatement protocol to clean and remove the 90 Church files, as a result of which all boxes have been delivered to their designated locations.  Subsequent to their delivery, the Union has received reports that two of these boxes contained dust.  ALAA has arranged, through the Society, for those boxes to be cleaned by Ambient Group.  NYCOSH has informed the Union that the potential health hazard from this dust exposure is minimal.  Nonetheless, please contact ALAA if your boxes contain dust.

1.3.    Reoccupation.  Although there is no short-term plan to reoccupy 90 Church, the Society, ALAA and 1199 are beginning the protracted process of arranging thorough and proper cleaning, which will be performed by Structure Tone, a union shop.  While a timetable is premature, ALAA will ensure that all testing and cleaning are properly conducted before 90 Church is re-occupied.  Updates will be given as this process continues.

2.    Indoor Air Quality Testing at Other Sites On October 23, air testing for contaminants at 166 Montague Street (Civil Division) was conducted by the Society’s consultant, AirTek Environmental Corp., which has reported that the results were within recommended guidelines issued by OSHA and by the America Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).  ALAA has also been informed that testing at 49 Thomas Street (CDD-Manhattan) is within accepted standards.  This week, air quality testing is scheduled for 111 Livingston (CDD-Brooklyn, JRD-Brooklyn, Civil-Aging, CAB), for 48 Wall Street (LAS Central Administration), and for 60 Lafayette (JRD-Manhattan), results of which will be reported following receipt.

3.    General Air Quality in Lower Manhattan There are sharply different views about air quality in Lower Manhattan.  Regulatory agencies assert that the air is safe; there are contrary reports of adverse reactions near the site, particularly in regard to workers engaged in ground-zero rescue and cleanup.  Experts generally agree, however, that those who are feeling unwell—particularly those with prior respiratory conditions (e.g., asthma)— should seek prompt medical advice about such exposure.  Please also notify ALAA HQ of such conditions.

4.    Anthrax On October 31, a criminal defendant was arranged in Brooklyn Criminal Court, 120 Schermerhorn Street, on charges of having deposited a powdery substance alleged to be anthrax in a mailbox.  Although the powder at issued had not yet been tested, the defendant, who had not been quarantined, was represented by a CDD attorney. In response to these events, CDD attorneys scheduled for arraignments that evening contacted ALAA HQ about their right to await test results before entering the courthouse.  ALAA immediately secured the prompt agreement of CDD and Central administration that no LAS staff member would be required to enter the building pending receipt of test results; most Staff Attorneys did not return to the affected courthouse until negative test results became known on November 2. In light of this experience, NYCOSH has agreed to ALAA’s request of anthrax training for LAS staff, and the Union will pursue development of a proper anthrax protocol in the courts.

5.    Further Information Extensive information regarding health and safety following 911 is available at: <;.  Please also contact us regarding these issues.

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