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Fourth Department Recognizes Canadian Same-Sex Marriage An Appellate Division, Fourth Department, panel unanimously ruled Friday that a gay couple’s marriage in Canada should be recognized in New York. The ruling, the first appellate decision in the state to recognize a same-sex marriage from another jurisdiction, overturned a Monroe County judge’s decision that Monroe Community College did not have to extend health benefits to an employee’s lesbian partner. The appeals panel held that the college employee, Patricia Martinez, and her partner, Lisa Ann Golden, are entitled to health coverage because there is no legal impediment in New York to the recognition of a same-sex marriage contracted in jurisdictions where it is legal. The Court of Appeals has declined to accord such recognition to New York same-sex marriages. Until the state Legislature adopts legislation expressly “prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized abroad,” Justice Erin M. Peradotto wrote for the panel, “such marriages are entitled to recognition in New York.” Justices Robert G. Hurlbutt, Salvatore R. Martoche, Eugene M. Fahey and Samuel L. Green also sat on the panel. The decision reversed a ruling by Monroe County Justice Harold L. Galloway. Other lower court judges have split on the issue, with Albany and Westchester County justices supporting recognition and a Nassau County justice opposing it ( NYLJ, Sept. 13, 2007). The issue is pending in the Second and Third departments. Martinez v. County of Monroe , 1562, will be published Thursday. � Associated Press, Daniel Wise Panel Upholds Ruling Against Attorney Who Faxed Ads A $21,000 award against a lawyer who “knowingly” violated a prohibition against faxing unsolicited ads has been upheld by a divided appeals panel. In a 3-2 unsigned opinion, the Appellate Division, First Department, said the attorney’s argument that the faxed “attorney malpractice reports” were “purely informational … defies common-sense.” Between 2003 and 2005, solo attorney Andrew Lavoott Bluestone sent 14 faxes to solo Peter Marc Stern. Mr. Bluestone’s actions ran afoul of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which makes it illegal to fax an “unsolicited advertisement,” the court held. The faxes contained Mr. Bluestone’s contact information and directed readers to his Web site. Affirming Justice Jane S. Solomon’s grant of partial summary judgment as to liability against Mr. Bluestone, the majority wrote: “[I]t is clear that the faxes indirectly proposed a commercial transaction” and encouraged recipients to secure Mr. Bluestone’s services. Justice E. Michael Kavanagh ( See Profile), writing for the dissent, disagreed. He noted that none of the faxes contained language that could be understood to “promote” Mr. Bluestone’s practice. Scott H. Greenfield, Mr. Bluestone’s attorney, said his client intends to appeal the decision. Justices George D. Marlow ( See Profile), Milton L. Williams ( See Profile), and James M. Catterson ( See Profile) made up the majority. Justice Angela M. Mazzarelli ( See Profile) joined the dissent in Stern v. Bluestone , 1926, which appears on page 25. � Noeleen G. Walder Lawyer Suspended Over Escrow Fund, High Fee A Manhattan divorce lawyer who took nearly $41,000 in fees from an escrow fund that had been designated for other purposes must be suspended for 2 1/2 years, the Appellate Division, First Department, ruled last week. The panel also found that the lawyer, Leah Larsen, 68, violated ethical rules by demanding an “exorbitant” fee not backed by time records and by pressuring her client to withdraw a complaint about the fee he had made to the Dutchess County judge handling the divorce. One judge on the panel, Justice James M. McGuire ( See Profile), would have disbarred Ms. Larsen. But the majority, consisting of Justices Richard T. Andrias ( See Profile), David B. Saxe ( See Profile), Eugene Nardelli ( See Profile) and John W. Sweeny Jr. ( See Profile), found the suspension severe enough in view of Ms. Larsen’s previously unblemished 28-year career. According to the opinion, Ms. Larsen had told her client, Conrad Tebbetts, that he could pay her with $40,750 from the proceeds of the sale of the divorcing couple’s home. Justice James V. Brands had ordered the money be paid into Mr. Tebbetts’ 401(k). Mr. Tebbetts suggested Ms. Larsen take only about $30,000 for the fee. Ms. Larsen then sent her client a one-page bill for $168,400, claiming 852 hours of work at $200 an hour without detailing her work, the decision reported. When Mr. Tebbetts wrote to Justice Brands to complain about the bill, Ms. Larsen threatened to collect the entire $138,000 balance due at an arbitration unless he withdrew his letter to the judge. Matter of Larsen , M-5004, appears on page 9 of the print edition of today’s Law Journal. � Daniel Wise Couple Pleads Guilty to Attempted Kidnapping A man who was awarded a new trial on charges of kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and forcing her to board a flight to Puerto Rico has pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree attempted kidnapping, Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson announced Friday. Last month, in People v. Garcia , 1085, 1086, the Appellate Division, First Department, overturned the conviction of Pedro Garcia and his wife, Betzayda Melendez, finding that the prosecution “flagrant[ly] violated” their rights, by failing to turn over material favorable to the defense. The couple was initially found guilty of second-degree kidnapping and sentenced to 10 to 20 years ( NYLJ, Jan. 4). Ms. Melendez turned down the same plea offer and is awaiting retrial. Acting State Supreme Court Justice Steven L. Barrett ( See Profile) will sentence Mr. Garcia on April 4 to 2 1/4 to 4 1/2 years in prison. � Noeleen G. Walder

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