Sunday, February 21, 2010


360 Adams St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201 
Phone: (718) 675-7699


The courthouse located at 360 Adams Street is the ninth of Brooklyn's courthouses.  The first was erected in 1668,  four years after Brooklyn was seized from the Dutch.  It was in Gravesend, the only area where the British had a solid foot-hold, . The Gravesend courthouse lasted twenty years, and was followed by a series of small courthouses in Flatbush.  For one hundred and forty years, the Flatbush courthouse was continually rebuilt on the same site, with each version keeping the original stocks and whipping pole in front.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, "the Town of Brooklyn," now Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights, had seen significant growth.  This was attributable, in part, to the Fulton Ferry creating a reliable connection with Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge wasn't built for another 100 years.  As soon as Town of Brooklyn received permission from the State to build its own courthouse, the residents immediately rented space in a library.  Later, they rented space above a hardware store.

Finally, in 1846, Brooklyn's iconic Borough Hall was built. The statue of Justice, the building's most notable feature, however, was not added until a 1988 restoration.  After less than twenty years of use, Borough hall was too small for the growing county's needs.  As the civil war raged, a spectacular domed structure was built in downtown Brooklyn.  It opened in 1865, and -- despite being overshadowed in the press by the impending Union victory -- received tens of thousands of visitors in its first few days.  This courthouse served the County through the turn-of-the-century merger of New York City, but was demolished  in the 1950s and 1960s.  

The present courthouse, 360 Adams Street, adjacent to Borough Hall, was built in 1958.  It is a  "modern style" rectangular courthouse, with a limestone facade.  The planning began in the 1940's as part of a larger project to rebuild the then-delapitated downtown Brooklyn.  It was designed by the same architects as the empire state building, but was immediately criticized for its cold straight lines.

While the courthouse itself may place function over form, picturesque Cadman Plaza makes up the difference.  On the  east end of the park is Borough hall (which is nicely decorated for every holiday), and on the west end (near the federal courthouse) is a huge war memorial.  Frequently, there is a farmers market in front of the courthouse.

In 2005, a new courthouse was erected at 330 Jay Street.  It is a 32 story state-of-the-art skyscraper.  Although the courthouse has 82 courtrooms, most of the supreme court civil cases are still handled at the 360 Adams Street courthouse.


View Where To Eat Near the The Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court in a larger map

(The map above is public, if anyone has additional suggestions, they are welcome to add them, both to the map and in the comments section)

Chipotle - incredible burritos, and supposedly healthy.

La Traviata - A tasty casual italian restaurant.  I don't know if they still make them, but they used to have a terrific deep dish pizza. While you wait, you can snack on a bread basket and olive oil.

Five Guys Burgers - relatively new, but I liked it.

Clinton Market - There's no-where to sit, but they make a great sandwich.  During law school, I pretty much survived on roast beef with cheddar on a roll.

Sushi Garden- decent, inexpensive, sushi.

Starbucks - I'm a big fan of the coffee, and the sandwiches and baked goods are usually very good.   This particular Starbucks  is usually very efficient.  There may be seem to be a line, and it may seem crowded, but it tends to move quickly.    

MontyQ's - Good service, consistently good pizza and pasta, a lot of seating, and a nice clean restaurant with a good atmosphere.

Fast food: There's a Burger King, Wendy's, White Castle, and a Subway in the Fulton Mall. There's also a McDonald's on Court Street.  Burger Kings has the most seating, but tends to be crowded.  Subway is smaller, but you can usually find a place to sit.  Service at any of them is hit or miss.  

Other: Every courthouse in the City tends to have a cart in front of it, and Brooklyn's cart is actually one of the best.  Also, within the courthouse, on the main level (technically the second floor), there's a snack stand and soda machines.

A bit of a walk (Fulton Ferry, Historic Area, Brooklyn Bridge, etc.)

Grimaldi's - Frank Sinatra supposedly had pizzas from this place flown across the country.  It's a good walk from the courthouse, but if you have a little time to kill, it's worth the trip.  The pizza is unique: a thin fire-touched crust, with fresh mozzarella.  Be aware, the "small" calzone will feed a family of four.  (Alternate Website; Wikipedia; Citysearch; NY Magazine;

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory - There's an old lighthouse at Fulton Landing that's been converted to an ice cream shop (or maybe it was always an ice cream shop, I really don't know).  In addition to the best view of downtown Manhattan, the Ice Cream is fantastic.  (NY Magazine); (

The River Cafe - I haven't been here yet, but I've always wanted to go.  This restaurant sits under the Brooklyn bridge, jutting out into the water, and offers an incredible view of Manhattan.  


Note: court rules frequently change and these comments may be out of date.  Be sure to check the local rules.    Anyone reading this is free to add additional practice tips in the comments.  

Motions-  Substantive motions (not dealing with discovery) are made returnable to the assigned justice, each of whom has a set motion day (i.e. some judges only hear motions on Tuesdays, others on Thursdays, etc.).  You can make the motion returnable on any day, but it may be automatically rescheduled to the assigned judge's next motion day.  Motions for summary judgment in Brooklyn must be made within 60 days after the note of issue is filed (or 120 days, if the City is a party).

Discovery - Discovery is handled through relatively informal Preliminary Conference and Central Compliance Parts.  Discovery motions are also returnable in this part, and are expected to be stipped out.  If you can't agree to a stipulation, you'll be seen by a court attorney (all of whom really tend to know what they are talking about), and may have to wait.  

Trial -  Trials are bifrucated (i.e. split in two parts: liability and damages).  There is a central trial  assignment part, with the supervising judge rotating quarterly.  In the trial assignment part, the parties answer either application (meaning they want an adjournment); conference (meaning they want a settlement conference); "ready" (meaning you're ready to pick a jury); or "ready pass," meaning you're pretty much ready to pick a jury, but just need to come back in the afternoon or a day or two.  If you are ready to pick a jury, you have two options: first, pick and go, meaning you pick a jury and go immediately back the assigning judge, who then picks a judge to try the case in front of; or, second, "pick and pass," meaning you pick a jury and then they give you a date a week or two later to come back, get assigned a judge, and try the case.  


* Citizens Jury Project,
* New York Personal Injury Law Blog, Photo Essay of Chambers

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Personal Injury Attorney - Bar Fight Injury Triggers Dram Shop Claim Where Assailant's "Speech Was Slurred and His Eyes Were Red and Watery."

The Appellate Division, Second Department, recently released its decision in Morris v. Bianna. The case involved a bar assault, and the Appellate Division found that there was a question of fact as to whether the assailant had been sold alcohol in a "visibly intoxicated" state, thereby making the bar liable under the Dram Shop Act.  The strongest evidence in the plaintiff's favor was testimony from "the manager of the bar on the night of the occurrence ... that, when he observed [the assailant] shortly after he had stabbed the plaintiff, Penzo's speech was slurred and his eyes were red and watery." 

As many of you may be aware, courts tend to take the path of least resistance.  They won't, for example, address a Constitutional claim if they don't have to.  Similarly, where there are multiple legal issues, appellate courts will often decide the case based upon the simplest, most straight-forward, argument.  

In this case, there was another issue that the Appellate Division didn't comment on and, instead, left for the trial court.  The Dram Shop Act, N.Y. General Obligations Law § 11-101, creates a private right of action against a drinking establishment for injuries caused by the unlawful sale of alcohol.  Under Alcoholic Beverage Law § 65, unlawful selling includes sale to minors, to "any visibly intoxicated person," or to "any habitual drunkard known to be such."  

This case had a solid "visibly intoxicated person" argument, but I also threw in an argument that the assailant was a habitual drunkard.  There was plenty of evidence to support this but, to my knowledge, the particular issue had never been addressed in New York case law.  

Every State has a Dram Shop act, and many of them are similarly phrased.  They derive from an old English law.  A "dram" is a British word for a shot.  So, when the defendant made an issue of the fact that New York courts hadn't defined "habitual drunkard," I found a few courts that did.  

Colorado and Florida's highest courts have squarely addressed the issue.  The Colorado court found that "'known habitual drunkard' is a term of ordinary and common usage, and fact finders may apply its plain and ordinary meaning.... Whether a person is a habitual drunkard and whether the vendor of alcohol knew the patron was a habitual drunkard when served alcohol are factual inquiries based on the circumstances of each case.” K & S Corp. v. Greeley Liquor Licensing Auth., 183 P.3d 710, 713-714 (Colo. 2008).  Similarly, Florida's court found that knowledge of whether a person is a habitual drunkard “can properly be established by circumstantial evidence,” and “serving an individual a substantial number of drinks on multiple occasions would be circumstantial evidence to be considered by the jury in determining whether the vendor knew that the person was a habitual drunkard.” Ellis v. N.G.N. of Tampa, 586 So. 2d 1042, 1049 (Fla. 1991)

There were also a few old cases that defined the term in contexts other than the Dram Shop Act.   See  Kendall v. Ewert, 259 U.S. 139, 42 S. Ct. 444 (1922)(a “known drunkard” is someone who is “generally recognized in a community as a common drunkard,” having “sacrificed themselves, to the craving for strong drink”); Sawyer v. Sauer, 10 Kan. 466, 471 (Kan. 1872)(“Proof of drunkenness so habitual as to be generally known in the community is sufficient to raise a presumption of knowledge.” )

Needless to say, the Appellate Division declined my invitation to decide a question of first impression in a relatively straight-forward Dram Shop case.  


Establishments Serving Alcohol Can Be Held Liable For Injuries Caused By Intoxicated Patrons

* Drunk Driving Dunce Hat (Long Island Legal News)