Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Oh Buffalo, everyone is connected to everyone else. The recently deceased Federal District Court Judge John Curtin was the model of what a judge should be: patient, knowledgeable, and fair. It was always a glad moment when you filed a new case and his name came up on the wheel-- for all concerned. It would be difficult to come up with the name of someone who did as much good in our community. Come to find out that before he was US Attorney, and well before he took the bench he served as confidential law clerk for New York State Supreme Court Justice William Lawless, the father of A's trial partner when she was at the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. Why, that's almost family!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Seriously? Our Lady of the Magic Dolphins won a Pulitzer?

Thursday, April 06, 2017

I respect Bob Dylan's excursion into the Great American Songbook, and even derive a mild pleasure from both Shadows in the Night and Fallen Angels but although I know I am going to buy a copy of Triplicate I can't say that I am rushing out to do so. Ol' Bob's affection for these songs is genuine, and I love them too. Anyone who has listened to Theme Time Radio understands that Dylan's roots in this music are as deep as his roots in American culture generally, which is why, truth to tell, Dylan himself-- a self-creation if there ever was one-- is a profoundly important contributor to that culture. Three albums worth of it might seem like a lot, but it must have seemed important to him to explore this territory thoroughly, and who am I to dismiss this effort. I guess the best way in for me will be to listen to the first two albums in the cycle, then delve back into the canon.

Monday, April 03, 2017

It was a while back, but one of the coolest Buffalo music things I've seen was the time Barry Harris came to the Art of Jazz, and asked for a volunteer from the audience to take over the piano bench while he sang a song. After a little prodding from her date a woman went up and absolutely crushed it. I mean, she laid it down, and everyone in the room-- including Mr. Harris-- was like, Where'd she come from? Come to find out she was Lisa Hasselback, known to the local cognoscenti. She is married to a trombone player, John Hasselback, Jr., and they both studied with Jackie McLean. Saw them both, together with the rest of the Blue Note Eight at the Pausa Art House Saturday a pretty terrific evening of music.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My friend Lisa Sommer Devlin represented one of these executed men, and shared a piece of bacon
from his last meal with him. The whole story is interesting, but it's hers, so I won't tell it here. Instead I will note that for all its frustrations our glamour profession sometimes offers us opportunities to confront our humanity that can be unique if we are open to them. I can't say if these opportunities make the practice of law worth it, but they are there. As I reflected on the shared piece of bacon this morning I was reminded of the times I've sat in on criminal proceedings and considered how extremely precarious our lives are, and how we are mostly oblivious to this. In my daily practice I am frequently reminded of the Flintcraft Parable, from The Maltese Falcon, a terse little diversion that isn't in the 1941movie, but may be my favorite part of the novel.
There are a number of different ways to understand Flintcraft. There is, first of all the question of why Spade tells the story to O’Shaughnessy in the first place; and of course there is the question of what the take-away is supposed to be. Is Spade telling us that life is uncertain? That people are chiefly creatures of habit who live inauthentically? ("I don’t think he even knew he had settled back naturally in the same groove he had jumped out of in Tacoma. But that’s the part of it I always liked. He adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling.”) I think about the things I've done that turned out one way and could have turned out differently just as easily; I think about friends who, by virtue of their race, or age, or sex ended up having their parents pick them up at the police station instead of spending the night in a holding cell, or being arraigned, or entering a guilty plea to something they didn't understand, and how their paths would have been different from where they ended up. We are all, always, a lot closer to sharing a piece of bacon with our lawyer-- maybe the last soul on the planet who recognizes our fundamental humanity than we ever care to think about. Every day is a close call, and if we pretend it isn't we are denying ourselves a view of our own humanity.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A puff of white smoke from a window at O'Brian Hall, and... UB Law has a new dean! This is very nice, because it took an ungodly amount of time during which all sorts of laundry was hung out, including the story which broke on Sunday about how one of the five finalists was just indicted for embezzlement. 

Here's my question: if you are the press contact for the University at Buffalo School of Law and the Buffalo News calls you to ask about the indictment that's just been handed down how do you not say, "Listen, we are about to announce our new dean. I'll tell you who it is now, if you'll sleep on the other story for a week."? In a week the indictment story becomes a non-story, and the reputation of the law school avoids another nick. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I understand why there are Hold Steady albums and Craig Finn solo albums-- what surprises me is that I really like both. The new Craig Finn is pretty great.

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