Soy Poached Chicken

by Soma Sengupta

aromatic soy poached chicken

For the aromatic soy poaching liquor;

1 cup of light soy

1/2 cup of dark soy

6 cups of water

1/2 cup of rock sugar

1 cup of Chinese cooking wine

2 inch knob of ginger, sliced into 1/8 inch batons

3 garlic cloves

1 spring onion (white part only)

1 cassia bark or cinnamon stick

2 star anise

1 tsp of Sichuan peppercorns

 

1 whole chicken (2 ½ to 3 lbs)

 

Sesame oil

Cooking oil

 

Marinate chicken with soy and aromatics for 20 minutes.

 

Remove the chicken.  Prepare the poaching liquor by simmering everything else in a pot for 30 minutes.  The pot should be large enough to subsequently hold the chicken.

 

Place chicken breast side down and bring the liquor back to a simmer.  Cover and simmer on the lowest heat for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over half way through the cooking.

 

Remove chicken and brush some sesame oil over the bird.  Cover loosely and let rest for at least 15 minute before carving. You can strain and keep the cooking liquor for other uses if you wish.

 

To serve, carve chicken in pieces and arrange on platter.  Ladle some cooking liquor over the pieces.  Scatter julienned spring onion.  Pour 1/3 cup heated cooking oil over the dish.

 

Enjoy!

aromatic soy poached chicken liquor  aromatic soy poached chicken whole

The On-Again, Off-Again Indictment of Devyani Khobragade by the US Attorney. Why?

by Soma Sengupta

3   4  5

The pillars of the Devyani Khobragade saga are by now well-known.  She was arrested by federal agents in New York in December 2013.  On January 9, a federal grand jury indicted her on one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements.  Ms. Khobragade filed a motion to dismiss the charges, claiming she was “cloaked in diplomatic immunity at the time of her arrest,” according to court documents.  On Monday March 10, 2013, Judge Shira Sheindlin dismissed the charges, finding that Ms. Khobragade was “appointed a Counselor to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, a position that cloaked her with full diplomatic immunity”.   Ms. Khobragade was appointed to that position on January 8, 2013, one day before her first indictment.  On Wednesday March 12, 2013, Ms. Khobragade was again indicted on the same charges and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

The indictment of Ms. Khobragade is replete with patronizing references towards Ms. Richard, who is referred to throughout as “Victim”.  According to the indictment, Ms. Richard went to Ms. Khobragade’s residence for an interview for a position of housekeeper and child-carer.  This was followed by a second interview, to which Ms. Richard was accompanied by her husband.  Negotiations for salary took place, and Ms. Richard successfully increased the initial offer of Rs. 20,000 per month to Rs. 30,000 per month.  A visa application was then submitted for Ms. Richard to the US Embassy in India.  Ms. Richard appeared for interview at the Embassy, but was told that an employment contract was required for the interview.  She was not accompanied by Ms. Khobragade to this interview.  Ms. Richard subsequently returned for another interview, this time with an employment contract.  Again, she was not accompanied by Ms. Khobragade.  According to the indictment, Ms. Richard and Ms. Khobragade prepared for the second interview together, after which Ms. Richard substantiated the terms of the employment contract at her interview.  The indictment goes on to state that Ms. Richard and Ms. Khobragade then executed a second employment contract reflecting their negotiated terms, which differed from the contract submitted in support of Ms. Richard’s visa application, or, as the indictment states,  “[u]pon arriving at the Khobragade India Residence, KHOBRAGADE told the Victim that the Victim needed to sign another employment contract (the “True Employment Contract”), which contained the terms that the Victim and KHOBRAGADE had verbally agreed to in October 2012.”  The “fake contract” provided for a 40-hour workweek at $9.75 per hour and paid sick leave, holidays and overtime.  The “true contract” contained none of these provisions.  Ms. Richard signed the “true contract” before leaving India, not while she was within the apparently hostile clutches of the Khobragade household.

According to the indictment, “[p]rior to the Victim’s commencement of her employment for KHOBRAGADE, the Victim had provided KHOBRAGADE with the Victim’s personal passport. KHOBRAGADE never returned the Victim’s passport.”  This assertion defies reason.  According to the indictment, Ms. Richard “provided KHOBRAGADE” with her passport while still in India, so that her visa application could be made.  It is difficult to see how she then managed to travel to the U.S. and pass border control if “KHOBRAGADE never returned the Victim’s passport”.

The indictment then dramatically asserts that “[o]n or about November 15, 2012, and as a direct result of KHOBRAGADE’s fraud, including her creation of the Fake Employment Contract, the Victim received an A-3 visa.”  The “Victim’s” participation in the fraud is not mentioned.

According to the indictment Ms. Khobragade “did not want to pay the Victim the required wages under U.S. law or provide the Victim with other protections against exploitative work conditions mandated by U.S. law”.  But apparently, Ms. Richard also freely accepted employment on these terms.  The “true contract” accurately reflected her negotiated terms, while she was on home turf, and fortified by the presence of her husband.  Obviously, the U.S. has its own laws which it can enforce.  But the characterization of Ms. Richard as “Victim” in the context of her salary or her interactions with the U.S. Embassy seems curiously strained.

The indictment continues, stating “[a]t KHOBRAGADE’s request and direction, this fraudulent employment agreement was submitted to the U.S. Embassy in India in connection with the Victim’s visa application on November  14, 2012.”  Another way to represent this might be that Ms. Richard executed a “fraudulent employment agreement” with Ms. Khobragade which she submitted in support of her visa application during an interview she attended without Ms. Khobragade.  As the indictment then notes, “[t]he Victim then obtained a visa on the basis of the fraudulent employment agreement.”

The indictment states that Ms. Richard was required to work long hours with limited time off and that “KHOBRAGADE denied her requests” to resign.  But Ms. Khobragade is not charged with violation of labor laws.  She is charged with visa fraud.

Eventually, Ms. Richard left the Khorbagade residence and sought assistance from Safe Horizon, which provides legal representation on immigration matters.  Ms. Richard has been granted “continued presence,” a legal status given to those co-operating with authorities.   Ms. Richard’s family, allegedly with the assistance of these authorities, has joined her in New York.  Subsequently, Ms. Khobragade filed charges of for fraud, willful deceit, harassment and extortion against Ms. Richard and her husband in India.

The tale of Ms. Richard and Ms. Khobragade illustrates the severely distasteful aspects of domestic employment in India, which continue despite the economic boom India has experienced in recent years.  Live-in “housekeepers” earn about Rs. 9,000 a month, while live-in cleaners earn Rs. 5,000-7,000.  They sleep on thin roll-out mattresses on the floor.  They are never off-duty, except for a sporadic hour or so.  Against this scenario, Ms. Richard negotiated a salary of Rs. 30,000 per month.  While the conditions that force the need that drives a person to accept employment for inhumanly long hours for ridiculously low pay is unspeakably deplorable, to Ms. Richard, the salary she negotiated might well have appeared princely.  She made the difficult decision to leave her home and family in order to obtain this salary.  It sits ill for the U.S. Attorney to belittle her efforts by denying her the dignity of her name and refer to her simply as “Victim”.  It sits ill for the U.S. Attorney to imply that she was incapable of making these choices in her best interests.  The conclusion that she fully and voluntarily participated in the conduct for which Ms. Khobragade now faces charges is almost inescapable.  It sits ill for the U.S. Attorney to characterize a woman capable of successfully negotiating an Embassy interview as a witless dupe.

India is a country of deal-makers.  Buying food involves negotiations, as does buying anything else.  Traffic tickets are often dismissed sua sponte by police officers after the expected haggling.  Obtaining housing, utilities, permits require the art of offer and counter-offer.  Deal-making is considered the necessary lubrication of the wheels of bureaucracy.  “Burdensome” laws are often considered merely obstacles to overcome.  The individual knows best, it is said with a shrug, and the agreement between individuals is given informal supremacy.  Against this cultural backdrop, Ms. Richard and Ms. Khorbagade struck a deal that suited both, and participated in the means to effectuate that deal.   Ms. Richard received a salary almost 400% higher than she could otherwise expect.  Ms. Khobragade received labor at a rate vastly lower than American rates.  When the deal ceased to work for Ms. Richard, she left, apparently without difficulty.  She apparently had the freedom to move in and out of the Khobragade residence.  Why, with so many egregious violations of labor laws in New York that go uninvestigated, with the many large-scale immigration frauds, is the U.S. Attorney expending its resources on two charges of “visa fraud” in which the “Victim” obviously freely participated?  And how is Ms. Richard the “Victim” of visa fraud?

“Real Housewives” stars plead guilty, lawyer reads statement of “mistakes”.

by Soma Sengupta

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“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” stars Teresa and Joe Giudice appeared in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, this morning to plead guilty to 4 charges including bankruptcy fraud and mail fraud in their respective cases.  Mr. Giudice also pled guilty to an additional charge of failure to file a tax return.

The couple had been charged with a 39-count indictment in July 2013.  Two more charges were added in November 2013.  The most serious count, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, would have carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Ms. Giudice faces a possible sentence of up to 27 months in prison and agreed to pay a fine of $200,000.  Mr. Giudice, who admitted avoiding income taxes on nearly $1 million between 2004 and 2008, faces a possible sentence of up to 46 months imprisonment.  The couple will also face forfeitures, to be imposed at sentencing.

At the conclusion of any prison term Mr. Giudice serves, he will face a deportation hearing that will “likely result in … your being removed from the United States,” said Federal Judge Esther Salas in accepting the pleas.  Mr. Giudice is an Italian citizen.

Today’s proceedings only focused on the federal charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Giudice still faces New Jersey state charges.

At a press conference after the hearing, the couple’s attorneys, Henry E. Klingeman said that the plea agreement was in the best interest of their four children.  He read a statement from Mrs. Giudice which said:  “Today, I took responsibility for a series of mistakes I made several years ago.  I have said throughout that I respect the legal process and thus I intend to address the court directly at sentencing.  I will describe the choices I made, continue to take responsibility for my decisions, and express my remorse to Judge Salas and the public.  I am heartbroken that this is affecting my family — especially my four young daughters, who mean more to me than anything in the world. Beyond this, I do not intend to speak specifically about the case outside of court, at the recommendation of my attorney and out of deference to the government and our legal system.”

“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” is currently filming its sixth season and the Giudices plan to continue their involvement with the show.

Judge Salas set sentencing for July 8, 2014.

Verdict in Florida Loud Music Killing Case-No Murder, Lawyer argued Self-Defense

By Soma Sengupta

basketball player

In a case that raised the specter of the George Zimmerman trial for killing Trayvon Martin, a jury in Jacksonville, Florida has found Michael David Dunn guilty on four charges, including three for attempted second-degree murder and one charge of shooting a deadly missile.  But after thirty-one hours after deliberations over two days, it could not agree on first-degree murder in the death of 17-year old Jordan Davis, or any lesser included offenses.  A mistrial was declared on that charge.

On November 23, 2012, Dunn pulled into a gas station in Jacksonville, parking next to a red SUV with 4 teenagers inside.  Dunn testified that he expressed his displeasure at the loud music to the teenagers and asked them to lower the volume.  Dunn claimed that he saw four inches of a gun barrel and subsequently opened fire in self-defense, killing Davis.  No weapon, other than Dunn’s, was found.  Dunn, who has a concealed weapons permit, fired 10 shots, hitting the vehicle nine times.

Dunn will be sentenced on March 24.

Shrimp Malai

by Soma Sengupta

shrimp malai

Is it time to warm up?  Snow everywhere, bitter winds, wet feet.  Don’t go out!  Make this awesome Shrimp Malai & stay in.  This dish was made for weather like this.  Its aromatic, complex, rich & if you want, spicy enough to warm you through.

As with almost all of my dishes, there are very few ingredients and its really quick & easy to prepare.

If you’ve never shopped at an Indian food store, this is your chance.  There are tons in Jersey City or Jackson Heights that are easily accessible by subway.  There are fruit & vegetables of amazing quality & price, as well as spices, lentils, Indian breads & snacks, etc. Fair warning: you might become addicted to these shops.

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons of oil

Five Cardamom pods

Six Cloves

Two or Three sticks of Cinnamon

1 ½ to 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled & de-veined

2 table spoon of ginger paste (puree ginger in a liquefier or blender, adding as little water by teasponfulls if necessary)

Seven or Eight Green Chili, 7 if medium, 8 if small

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

Chili powder to taste (you can make it as hot or mild as you want, but this dish is better with some heat. I suggest you add at least 1 tsp.  But if you cannot stand heat, you need not)

2 cans of coconut milk

1 tablespoon water

1 generous teaspoon sugar

Salt to taste

 

METHOD

Heat oil in a sauté pan.  The pan must be at least 3 inches deep.

When oil is starting to smoke, add the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and fry over medium heat, just until aromas are released.  This should take about 3-4 minutes.  Do not let the cardamom color.

Add shrimp. Allow to fry for 2 or 3 minutes, then turn the shrimp over and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add ginger paste, turmeric powder and chili powder and sauté for 1 minute.  Then add the green chilis, followed by the coconut milk and about a tablespoon of water. Add the teaspoon of sugar and salt to taste.

Boil hard for 4 to five minutes.

You’re done.  Serve with basmati rice & enjoy!

NY Appellate Division Holds That Claims for Breach of RMBS Representations and Warranties Acrue on Issuance.

by Soma Sengupta

law contract

In ACE Securities Corp. v. DB Structured Products, Inc., No.650980/12 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t Dec. 19, 2013), the First Department ruled that claims for breach of contract claims alleging breaches of representations and warranties made in connection with residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) accrue when the representations and warranties are made, instead of when a defendant refuses to comply with a plaintiff’s demand for a contractual remedy.  These representations and warranties are typically made when the securitization closes, which is when the Court held that the six-year contract statute of limitations begins to run.  The four-judge panel unanimously reversed a May decision by New York State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich, who had ruled that the six-year period began when DB failed to timely cure or repurchase defective loans in the pool.

DB Structured Products sold mortgage loans to an RMBS trust.  Contractual representations and warranties about the loans were made when the securitization closed.   Ace asserted that the representations and warranties as to certain of the loans were false, and that therefore, the defendant was required to repurchase those loans—the sole remedy under the contract.

Ace argued that the claims “did not accrue until defendant either failed to timely cure or repurchase a defective mortgage loan” under the remedy provisions of the contract.  Justice Kornreich, in her May ruling stated that if a six-year statute of limitations began to run at closing, the contracts, which included “specific deadlines for the demand and cure period and involve loans with a 30-year term,” could have specified that the repurchase demands could only be made within that time frame.  The First Department rejected this holding, stating that Kornreich “erred in finding that plaintiff’s claims did not accrue until defendant either failed to timely cure or repurchase a defective mortgage loan. To the contrary, the claims accrued on the closing date” of the loan purchase agreement, “March 28, 2006, when any breach of the representations and warranties contained therein occurred.”

The First Department also ruled that the trustee could not rely on the fact that individual RMBS certificate holders had sued before the limitations period expired.   First, the Court held that the investors’ suit was “a nullity” because the investors had sued before the contractual cure or repurchase period had elapsed, and the running of that period was a “condition precedent to commencing suit”.  Second, the Court held the investors were not authorized to file the suit on behalf of the trust under the contracts. The contracts required the investors to notify the trustee of defaults by the servicer or master servicer for the loans, not the sponsor and under the principle of Walnut Place LLC v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., the investors “lacked standing to commence the action on behalf of the trust”.

New York’s statute of limitations plays a vital role in allowing parties to order their affairs predictably through private contracts.  Justice Kornreich refused to read a condition regarding remedy into a contract silent on the issue and held for the investors.  The First Department also refused to read in an absent condition and held for Deutsche Bank.  In the silence, Justice Kornreich  found the breach occurred when DB refused to afford Ace the contractually agreed buy-back remedy.  In the silence, the First Department found that the breach occurred when DB made alleged misrepresentations.  Ace plans to appeal this ruling.  The desired predictability may be absent for some time.

9th Circuit extends heightened scrutiny to discrimination based on sexual orientation

by Soma Sengupta

law library2

The 9th Circuit became the first federal appeals court in the nation to rule that discrimination based on sexual orientation is subject to heightened scrutiny.   The ruling came in SmithKline Beecham Corp. v Abbott Laboratories  where the three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reversed and remanded the antitrust case, concluding that Abbott Laboratories had decided to strike a juror because he was gay.  The lawsuit was brought by SmithKline Beecham over a licensing agreement relating to HIV medication.  Abbott used a peremptory challenge during the 2011 trial to strike a man who had revealed that he had a male partner and friends with HIV.  Writing for the panel, Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote:

“This appeal’s central question is whether equal protection prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in jury selection. We must first decide whether classifications based on sexual orientation are subject to a standard higher than rational basis review. We hold that such classifications are subject to heightened scrutiny. We also hold that equal protection prohibits peremptory strikes based on sexual orientation and remand for a new trial.”

The ruling expanded the protections of a 1986 Supreme Court ruling, Batson v. KentuckyBatson barred peremptory challenges based on race. The prohibition was later extended to gender.

The decision has implications beyond jury selection.   Thus far, equal protection claims based on sexual orientation have been judged under the rational basis standard, the lowest level of review.  Under this holding, a higher standard now applies.  Judge Reinhardt wrote “[w]e must first decide whether classifications based on sexual orientation are subject to a standard higher than rational basis review.”  There is no language in the opinion limiting classification to the juror context.

A challenge to Nevada’s marriage law is already pending in the 9th Circuit, and marriage bans are being fought in trial courts in Oregon, Idaho and Arizona.  Those laws will now be reviewed with heightened scrutiny.

Abbott could ask a larger panel of the 9th Circuit to reconsider the case and even take it to the Supreme Court.  But for now, discrimination based on based on sexual orientation will be subject to heightened scrutiny in the 9th Circuit.

Two reversals in two months for prosecutorial misconduct during summations

By Soma Sengupta

4

On December 18, 2013, the Appellate Division, Second Department reversed and ordered a new trial  in People v Naasir Mehmood, “on the law and as a matter of discretion in the interest of justice”.  Mr. Mehmood was convicted of a course of sexual conduct against a child in the first and second degrees, criminal sexual act in the second degree, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.  Mr. Mehmood raised several grounds on appeal:  sufficiency of the evidence, improper bolstering, and ineffective assistance of counsel, among others.  These claims were found to be without merit, and with the exception of ineffective assistance, unpreserved.  However, reversal was granted because “the cumulative effect of the prosecutor’s improper comments during summation requires a new trial”.  Moreover, the Court reviewed this claim under its interest of justice jurisdiction, finding the claim unpreserved.

On November 8, 2013, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department dismissed two counts for insufficiency and granted a new trial on the remaining counts in People v Richard Morgan.  This was the second reversal in this case.  The first reversal was granted on Batson grounds, but the Court nevertheless noted “our strong disapproval of the misconduct of the prosecutor on summation in improperly shifting the burden of proof onto defendant and in improperly vouching for the credibility of the People’s witnesses”.  The new trial granted in November, 2013 was granted on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct during summation, with the Court noting that reversal was warranted “particularly in light of our previous admonition to the People in this matter”.

Defense counsel often make tactical decisions to eschew objections during the prosecution’s summations.  Some fear that such objections might alienate the fact-finder.  Perhaps these decisions suggest reconsideration of that tactic.

Pots de Chocolat

By Soma Sengupta

pots de chocoat

Pots de Chocolat!  Creamy, smooth, extra-rich!  Irresistible.

This is quick and easy to prepare.  But make it several hours before serving: it must be refrigerated for several hours. Yes, only 2 tablespoons of sugar is right.

Ingredients

2 cups light cream

4 ounces semisweet chocolate

6 egg yolks, large or extra-large

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whipping cream, for topping

Method

Adjust rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place 1 1/2 cups cream in small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Place remaining 1/2 cup cream and chocolate in top of a large double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. In a mixing bowl, stir yolks lightly just to mix — do not beat until foamy.

Scald the cream, stir in sugar and salt and remove from heat. Stir chocolate mixture with a small wire whisk until perfectly smooth. Off heat, add hot cream to chocolate very gradually, stirring constantly to keep smooth. Gradually stir chocolate mixture into yolks and stir in vanilla.

Return mixture to top of double boiler over hot water on low heat and cook, stirring constantly with rubber spatula for 3 minutes. Strain through a fine strainer into a pitcher.

Pour into individual cups (custard cups, heatproof coffee cups, etc,).  Do not fill all the way. Place in a shallow baking pan and pour hot water half the depth of the cups. Cover the cups, with aluminum foil if you don’t have covers.

Bake for 22 minutes. Don’t worry, its done.  Don’t poke it with anything, it will become firmer as it chills.

Cool on a wire rack with cover removed, then refrigerate a few hours. Serve with a spoonful of sweetened whipped cream on top.

Whole Roast Chicken with Pan-Roasted Vegetables

By Soma Sengupta

roast chicken

Mmmmm!!  Comfort food at its best.  This recipe takes very little effort.  A few chops of the knife, a few minutes of chicken-attention, and it cooks itself.  And you get a tasty and nourishing dinner that beats hell out of take-out dinners.  Try it.

If you plan to make quick, easy dinners at home, I suggest you prepare & store a few items that greatly enhance the experience.  I suggest one here that can be used with this recipe: herb butter.  To make this, chop any herbs finely.  I recommend rosemary & thyme for this recipe.  THE HERBS MUST BE FINE CHOPPED!!  Mix with softened butter.  Refrigerate & use as needed.

Warning: I don’t like chickens roasted until well-done.  The time I suggest makes a moist, juicy chicken.  If you want a more roasted chicken, this recipe is not for you, but there’s plenty of other recipes on the web.

Ingredients 1 whole chicken Carrots, as many as you want, chunked Potatoes, as many as you want, cut into serving size pieces 2 or 3 onions, or more if you want, peeled & cut into 8 pieces 1 head garlic Salt & pepper, if you wish.  I don’t add any.

Method Preheat oven to 375.

Remove chicken from refrigerator & remove any covering.  Cut head & tail of the head of garlic and cut the head in half.  Cut the carrots, potatoes & onions.  Strew them in the roasting pan.  This creates a natural rack & also flavors the pan juices.  If you wish, add a few sprigs of herbs.  Place 1 of the garlic head halves in roasting pan, cut side down.

If you wish to salt & pepper the chicken, do so.  If you have any herb butter, soften a little and place some under the chicken skin, manipulating both under the skin and on top of the skin to move the butter into place.  But this will be delicious with or without.  Place the other garlic half into the cavity of the chicken.

Place chicken on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.  Place pan in oven & roast for 12 minutes per pound.  Turn off the oven and remove chicken from oven.  DO NOT OVERCOOK !  Be ruthless.  Let the roast sit for at least 10-15 minutes.

If the vegetables, including the onions are not tender enough, microwave for a few minutes.  If you’ve never tried a roasted onion, try one now.  They’re delicious & nutritious.

Call the family to the table.   Serve chicken with the vegetables & pan juices.  The garlic is edible, & incredibly healthy.  You can serve with the chicken, or keep and eat later.

Enjoy.

If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer.

What was Ma’lik Richmond’s lawyer thinking?

By Soma Sengupta

1

Ma’lik Richmond, one of two teens convicted in August of 2012 of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio has been released from a juvenile detention facility in Ohio on Sunday.  Judge Thomas Lipps found Richmond delinquent of one count of rape and sentenced him to a minimum of one year in juvenile detention and ruled the sentence was contingent on behavior and rehabilitation progress while serving.

Richmond was given Ohio’s second-toughest sex-offender classification, requiring him to register as a sex offender every six months for 20 years after his release. Unlike adult sex offenders, his name will not be included on publicly accessible websites, and he can request to have the classification removed later based on his rehabilitation.

Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison released the following statement on his behalf:

“Ma’Lik Richmond recently completed his designated time at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Detention Facility. The past sixteen months have been extremely challenging for Ma’Lik and his extended family. At sixteen years old, Ma’Lik and his family endured hardness beyond imagination for any adult yet alone child. He has persevered the hardness and made the most of yet another unfortunate set of circumstances in his life. As with each other obstacle, Ma’Lik has met it squarely, lifted his chin, and set his shoulders; he is braced for the balance of his life.  While away, Ma’Lik has reflected, learned, matured, and grown in many ways.  He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family.  At this point, Ma’Lik wants most to be a high school teenager. In conjunction with his release, Ma’Lik, his family, and guardians ask that the media respect their privacy in this matter, as we all need to heal and move on with our lives. We will have you know that Ma’Lik will be taking all the time necessary to focus on his academic and personal goals. We ask for your support and prayers as we move forward, Thank you.”

In response, Robert Fitzsimmons, the attorney for the victim in the case, released this statement on her behalf:

“Although everyone hopes convicted criminals are rehabilitated, it is disheartening that this convicted rapist’s press release does not make a single reference to the victim and her family – whom he and his co-defendant scarred for life. One would expect to see the defendant publicly apologize for all the pain he caused rather than make statements about himself. Rape is about victims, not defendants. Obviously, the people writing his press release have yet to learn this important lesson.”

If an attorney accepts the responsibility to speak on behalf of his client, shouldn’t he do better than this?

Salt & Pepper Squid

salt & pepper squid

By Soma Sengupta

Okay, you’ve been bad over the holidays.  But in case you want a quick, easy, tasty dish to enjoy in front of the fireplace perhaps, here’s one I love.  And like all my recipes, a child could do this.  And by the way, it’s yummy.  I chop up some green & red chilis & sprinkle over the squid as soon as it’s fried, or scallions, or cilantro.  You can also straw some cucumber to serve with.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • Approximately 2 cups peanut oil (to come about      1/2-inch up in a frying pan)
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 18 ounces baby squid, cut into rings,      tentacles left unchopped

Directions

Put the oil in a frying pan over high heat. Roughly grind the salt and peppercorns.  If you have a mortar and pestle, fine.  If you don’t, don’t despair.  Put in a small bowl & press down several times with the handle of a wooden spoon until a bit more than bruised but not quite pulverized.  Combine this with the cornstarch in a freezer bag. Add the squid and tossing to coat well but not heavily.  You’re ready to fry.  Have some plates lined with paper towel ready to place the fried squid.

When the oil’s very hot – not quite smoking, but nearly – fry the squid. Shake off any excess cornstarch in the bag first. Fry in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan) and cook each batch for about 1 minute or so until just crisp on the outside and still sweet and tender inside. You probably won’t need to turn the squid since the oil should bubble up and cook both sides at once, but do if you feel better. Remove to the lined plates.  After the squid’s sat for about half a minute, remove the greasy towel if you want.  Sprinkle with your desired garnish and serve quickly.

An early Holiday gift from me to you.

by Soma Sengupta

Choc TorteIt’s that time of year!  Perhaps you’re hosting or perhaps you’re attending.  In any case, below I give you my favorite dessert recipe.  It’s so easy a child can do it to perfection.  Just melt, mix, pour, bake.  And out comes the most intense chocolate experience.  I accompany this with whipped cream (beat heavy cream with sugar and vanilla extract until semi stiff.  Use your senses, taste & smell & DO NOT overwhip.  If you raise your beater, cream should hold, but needn’t stand up & salute) and strawberry sauce (thaw a container of frozen strawberries or any berries and liquefy in a blender or by a hand-held).  Both are ridiculously easy to make too but are celestial accompaniments to this torte.

Soma’s Holiday Chocolate Torte     

Ingredients

  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate (Baker’s is fine, but go wild if you want);
  • 8 oz salted butter
  • I cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (this cannot be imitation.  Trust me!)
  • 4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter at 9″ round cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper cut to fit, butter the paper and dust the pan with cocoa powder, shake out excess.

Place broken up chocolate and melt with the butter in a heavy saucepan over lowest possible heat & cover.  Or, you can place the pan in another pan containing simmering water.  Remove cover when partially melted & stir.  When fully melted, remove from heat and stir in sugar, stirring until no sugar granules are visible.  Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition.  Pour into pan and place in a jelly roll pan, adding a small amount of hot water. Bake about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.  REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT.

Run a sharp knife around the rim, place a cake plate or cutting board over the top of the pan, and turn it over, bang several times if you need to dislodge the cake.

Let stand for 30-45 minutes until sides are soft enough to be smoothed with a knife. Remove parchment round.

You can serve the whipped cream on the side.  I spread all of it (I usually whip 2 cups) in a thick layer, as thick as the torte, on the torte. It looks spectacular!  If you do this, refrigerate the iced torte.

If you don’t ice, sprinkle the entire top with cocoa powder.  Sometimes, the top can look a little messy, but this makes it look beautiful.

Easy?  The best things are.

Good luck, enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my blog.  Here, I will discuss things that interest me and hopefully interest you.

While most of my posts will discuss topics in the law, nothing here is intended as legal advice.  I am not a lawyer.  If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer.

Please comment.  I welcome discussion.  I hope to hear from you.

Will the Supreme Court kill private securities fraud class-actions?

by Soma Sengupta

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On November 15, 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, Inc., No. 13-317.  This case presents the question of whether the Court should reconsider the fraud-on-the-market presumption of reliance that applies in class actions under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and SEC Rule 10b-5.  Should the Court hold for Halliburton, private securities litigation would be dramatically changed.

In 1988, the Supreme Court decided Basic, Inc. v. LevinsonBasic held that plaintiffs in private securities fraud class-action suits may invoke a rebuttable presumption of reliance based on the fraud-on-the-market doctrine.  Under that doctrine, “the market price of shares traded on well-developed markets reflects all publicly available information,” including “any public material misrepresentations,” and “[a]n investor who buys or sells stock at the price set by the market does so in reliance on the integrity of that price.”  Thus “an investor’s reliance on any public material misrepresentations * * * may be presumed for purposes of a Rule 10b-5 action.”  This presumption addressed the Court’s concern that ““[r]equiring proof of individualized reliance from each member of the proposed plaintiff class” often would “prevent [plaintiffs] from proceeding with a class action, since individual issues then would * * * overwhelm[ed] the common ones.”

By dispensing with proof of individualized reliance at the certification stage, Basic makes possible the certification of Section 10(b) class actions with large plaintiff classes.  Without the presumption, certification of these classes under FRCP 23(b)(3) would be difficult because individual reliance questions would predominate over common questions affecting the class as a whole.

The petition for certiorari that was granted in Halliburton presents the question of whether Basic should be “overruled or substantially modified.” Thus far, the Court has refused to stray from Basic.  Indeed, in reversing the Fifth Circuit’s denial of class certification on the basis that loss causation had not been proved by a preponderance of the evidence, the Court in an unanimous opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts stated that the Fifth Circuit requirement “is not justified by Basic or its logic.”

 

This post is not intended to be and is not legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer.