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JURIST FOUND GUILTY OF BREACHING DUTY NEW YORK — Brooklyn, N.Y., Justice Michael Garson breached a fiduciary duty because he failed to keep appropriate records while managing the financial affairs of his elderly aunt under a power of attorney, a Manhattan judge ruled Monday. Because of the breach, Justice Garson must repay his 91-year-old aunt $163,000, Acting Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub ruled. Justice Garson’s lawyer, Barry Elisofon, said Monday the decision would be appealed because it is “logically inconsistent.” The ruling was another blow for Justice Garson, who has been caught up in a media firestorm largely because of the indictment in April of his first cousin, Brooklyn Justice Gerald Garson, on charges that have since been upgraded to bribery. Numerous news articles have reported that the Brooklyn district attorney’s office has been examining how Justice Michael Garson handled the affairs of his elderly aunt, Sarah Gershenoff, who worked as a legal secretary for 50 years at Rosenman Colin before it merged to become a part of Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman. A prosecutor from the Brooklyn office was present in Justice Tolub’s courtroom throughout the hearing. News accounts have also asserted that Brooklyn prosecutors are examining whether a forgery was involved in the creation of the 1997 power of attorney that placed control of Sarah Gershenoff’s financial affairs in the hands of the two Garson judges. Though both judges were named in the power of attorney, Justice Michael Garson acknowledged that for the most part he was in charge of handling her finances. — The New York Law Journal MAD COW CRISIS COMES AT KEY TIME IN A CASE NEW YORK — The discovery of the first known case of mad cow disease in the United States last week came at a timely point in litigation over access to the courts by animal rights advocates who want to change the federal meat inspection regime. On Dec. 16, a divided Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a plaintiff does not have to allege that mad cow disease has been detected in the United States to claim a credible risk of harm, and, therefore, have standing in a suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Members of an animal protection group that brought the suit say that regardless of the discovery of mad cow in a single animal in Washington state, the court’s decision advances their cause on a practical level. The case of Baur v. Veneman, 02-6249, claimed current USDA regulations on downed livestock violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Writing for the Second Circuit, Judge Chester Straub said the “injury-in-fact” requirement of Article III standing requires that the plaintiff assert a “concrete and particularized” injury, and not one that is hypothetical in nature. But Judge Straub said that the appeals courts that have considered the issue “have generally recognized that threatened harm in the form of an increased risk of future injury may serve as injury-in-fact for Article III standing purposes.” — The New York Law Journal

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