Friday, May 28, 2010

In Honor of Memorial Day: A Real Judge's Words

In the words of this Judge, in the Richard Reid case, the meaning of the sacrifice of so many, for us and our country is evident.

I want to acknowledge and thank Robert Armstrong of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys for sending me this transcript.

Here are the Judge's remarks fromthe transcript of the sentencing remarks by the Federal District Judge in the Richard Reid case:

Ruling by Judge William Young, U.S. District Court

Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant if he had anything to say. His response: After admitting his guilt to the court for the record, Reid also admitted his "allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah," defiantly stating, "I think I will not apologize for my actions," and told the court, "I am at war with your country."

Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below:

January 30, 2009, United States vs. Reid.

Judge Young: "Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you.

On counts 1, 5 and 6, the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count; the sentence on each count to run consecutively. (That's 80 years.)

On count 8, the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years again, to be served consecutively to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you, for each of the eight counts, a fine of $250,000; that's an aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines.

The Court imposes upon you an $800 special assessment. The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences, so I need go no further.

This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier, you are not--you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said, 'You're no big deal.'

You are no big deal.

What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have, as honestly as I know, tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today?

I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing? And, I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us, is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom, so that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges.

We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. The day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure.

Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States, through his officers, will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down."

Thank you Judge Young, and all the others who, every day, prove why we remember those who sacrificed everything for us this Memorial Day weekend.

Bernie Greenberg

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day is Here & Still No Congressional Action on Estate Taxes

Memorial Day is Here & Still No Congressional Action on Estate Taxes

After five months now we still await Congressional action on the estate tax mess they created in opposition to President Obama's promise the $3.5 million estate tax exemption would be extended.

In even in the face of withering criticism from every quarter nationally, Congress has yet to act. President Obama's proposal to extend the 2009 estate tax rules has broad national support from taxpayers, estate planning professionals, tax accountants, and commentators.

The mess that Congress has created is immeasurable. Increased cases of assisted suicide, matricide and fratricide have been reported. An episode of Law & Order even addressed the motivation to murder a rich relative in 2010 due to the one year repeal of the federal estate tax.

Senator Bennet has refused to respond to my open letter on this crucial issue. Other members of Congress also refused to respond to the open letter published by world famous attorney and charitable expert, Conrad Teitell.

We will continue to keep you apprised of any developments, however the time for Congress to act in 2010 is narrowing.

Thank you as always for your interest and support.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Michael Bennet Why Have You Forsaken Us?

An Open Letter to Michael Bennet: Has Michael Bennet forsaken us? Does he say one thing in his political ads here in Colorado but do something different in Washington? You be the judge.

Michael Bennet has been telling us (ad nauseum due to his war chest)that he supports small business and that small business will "drag us out of this great recession". Aside from whether this is a "great" recession, I happen to agree with Mr. Bennet. I agree, and all the statistics suggest, that most, if not all, job growth and job creation comes from small business.

The curious thing is though, if Mr. Bennet believes in small business, why does he vote every time against small business and the owners and founders of small businesses? I don't know the answer, but I would like Mr. Bennet to tell us.

Skeptical of whether Michael Bennet's positions? Me too. So let's look at a few examples.

1. Card Check. This is generally accepted as the worst jobs killing bill ever considered in the U.S. Congress. If Mr. Bennet is a champion of small business, why would he support a bill that eliminates jobs by the thousands, especially jobs for minorities and women?

2. 2010-2011 Estate Tax Changes. Nothing destroys small businesses faster than when the business has to be closed and liquidated to pay federal death taxes. Starting on January 1, 2011, the largest estate tax increase in American history goes into effect. Now when an owner of a small business dies, if her estate exceeds $1 million, counting everything, including life insurance, home, savings and the business, the business is gone just to pay this onerous tax. Mr. Bennet's position? He seems to favor this result because he has done nothing to prevent this from occurring. This is one of the more racist and sexist laws we have because it penalizes people on the lower end of the wealth spectrum. Shouldn't Mr. Bennet favor an estate tax structure that makes it easier for people to keep their small businesses? I think so.

There are numerous other examples that I won't go into here. So I ask the question that I started with. Shouldn't we expect our politicians to do in Washington what they promise us here? Michael Bennet, why have you forsaken us?

Bernie Greenberg

The 75 or the 25: Which Group Are You In? If You Are Not In the Good Group, You Have Work To Do!

Yes, the 25 or the 75, an interesting look at two groups that have been studied by experts for decades. Which group are you in?

Of course, I'm speaking about which groups have done their estate plans, because, of course, I write about estate planning. All reliable studies show that around 25% or less of adults have done their estate plans and far fewer keep the plan current.

The purpose of this article is not to explore why so few people have done their estate plan. That has been studied and debated for so long now, rehashing all the theories is not very useful. The purpose of this article is simply to point out that these two groups exist and to encourage more of you in the 75% group to get your estate plan done.

So let me offer this encouragement in this article. Estate planning is about protecting your family. It is one important and tangible way you demonstrate how much you care about your family.

Please consider this thought: estate planning is not about how much money you have, but all about how much you care for those people you do care for and about. Estate plans come in all shapes and sizes and are not very expensive for what they do for your family.

Let me know your thoughts and if you have questions about starting or completing your estate plan. Let's work to reverse those numbers.

Thanks, as always, for your interest and support.

Bernie Greenberg

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Have You Addressed Potential Long Term Care Needs?

What to do about long term care and potential long term care needs, that is the question. Have you addressed this potential need for yourself and family?

If not, this is a good time to sit down with a long term care specialist and review your options.

Long term care expenses increase every year with no end in sight. While we all hope we will never face this need, the cost if you do is alarming.

The average annual expense of long term care in the Rocky Mountain Region is approximately $80,000 and growing. That's for every year of long term care! Medicare does not cover long term care needs and Medicaid is only available for people with little money and hardly any assets.

If you would like to visit with the specialist we recommend to discuss these potential needs, please give me a call and we will be happy to refer you.

As always, thank you for your ongoing interest and support.

Bernie Greenberg