To My Friends at WordPress:

A Lawyer's CasebookI’ve been blogging at WordPress now for eight years.  My location is  My first blog was on John Milton’s writing of the Areopagitica back in the 1640’s.  Milton’s tract, on freedom of the press, was as big a milestone in the development of journalism as the telegraph would be in the mid-1800’s.

Our most recent revolutionizing of journalism has been in the development of blogging.  Our blogging, in turn, is also changing the business of book publishing.

I have turned my hand to legal fiction.  In June, my work A Lawyer’s Casebook will go up sale on Amazon Kindle.  It comprises a novella, White Hats, and a number of short stories, all occurring in the fictional upstate New York city of Crotona.  A chapter from White Hats was posted on my blog about a month ago.

But before the book goes up for sale, I will provide free samples to fellow bloggers, writers, readers, followers and members of the WordPress community.  Simply e-mail me at, and I will e-mail you a copy of the book.  Reviews are welcome.

Thanks, and keep writing.

Charles Lupia

Note: The above blog appeared a few days ago under a different name.


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To my friends at WordPress:

I’ve been blogging at WordPress now for eight years.  My location is  My first blog was on John Milton’s writing of the Areopagitica back in the 1640’s.  Milton’s tract, on freedom of the press, was as big a milestone in the development of journalism as the telegraph would be in the mid-1800’s.

Our most recent revolutionizing of journalism has been in the development of blogging.  Our blogging, in turn, is also changing the business of book publishing.

I have turned my hand to legal fiction.  In June, my work A Lawyer’s Casebook will go up sale on Amazon Kindle.  It comprises a novella, White Hats, and a number of short stories, all occurring in the fictional upstate New York city of Crotona.  A chapter from White Hats was posted on my blog about a month ago.

But before the book goes up for sale, I will provide free samples to fellow bloggers, writers, readers, followers and members of the WordPress community.  Simply e-mail me at, and I will e-mail you a copy of the book.  Reviews are welcome.

Thanks, and keep writing.


Charles Lupia

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I don’t have the resources to make film or even a trailer out of this script, so I’m just posting the screenplay.



A Trailer Screenplay by Charles Lupia


Many of the faithful and unfaithful are gathered outside in the square.  They look upward as if expecting to see the Pope.


The Vatican.  An ancient faith.  Source of many secrets.


Fishing boats spot the coastline.  Fishermen, including Simon and Andrew, cast their nets out onto the water.


Some going back two thousand years.

Jesus stands on the shore watching Simon and Andrew.  We see Jesus only from the back.

To a time when Israel was under the yoke of Roman rule.

Roman soldiers march swiftly, knocking Jesus in their march.  Sinister music.

Andrew is exasperated with Simon.



But Simon has his own problems.  He looks in frustration at his net.


The net is broke!

Jesus calls to Simon from the shore.




That’s why I can’t catch any fish.


We can’t stay out here all day.





Would you go see what Jesus wants?

Yet Simon looks only at his net.


The net is broke.

INT.  A room located at an inn.  Jesus, whose face is still unseen by us, sits directly across the table from Simon.


And so He gathered his apostles.

Simon holds his hands out to signify the size of a fish.


But there were trials.


It was this big.


(to Simon, chastising him)


Quickly Simon gestures to signify a smaller fish.


All right… maybe like this.


Simon now is a bit older.  His beard is gray.  He has a small group of Romans gathered around him.  He holds his hands out to signify a large fish.


A myth was started….

A Roman soldier sees Simon.  Simon, too late, becomes aware of the soldier.  The Soldier approaches Simon.



Simon and the Romans take off running in various directions.


We hear the chanting of monks.  A Bishop walks in procession down the aisle.  A few monks walk behind him.  Parishioners stand watching him on both sides of the church.


…And continued…

Although holding his mitre, the Bishop, looking toward his congregation, gestures with his hands to signify a large fish.


Michaelangelo is up painting the Sistine ceiling.  Pope Julius II looks up toward his newest painting.


…Down through the ages…

Julius sees that Michaelangelo has painted the picture of Simon holding a small fish.  Julius frowns.  Michaelangelo quickly paints over the picture, blotting it out.



The Grand Inquisitor Torquemada interviews a Prisoner who is stretched out on a torture rack.


Protected ruthlessly.


(to the Prisoner)

How big?



The Prisoner’s limbs are further stretched out.  He screams in agony.


The Pope, whom we also see from behind, stands waiving at the large crowd in the square.


…Down to the present day.

Behind the Pope, Cardinal Ferrari looks with concern at Monsignor Falcone.

The Vatican’s dark secret.

The Pope holds his arms out to signify a large fish.  Cardinal Ferrari nods approvingly at Monsignor Falcone.



Bob stands surrounded by old books and other writings.  On the walls are pictures of ancient fishermen.

Near Bob is a young Italian Woman.


But there are skeptics.


I don’t believe it.

Bob goes to one ancient script, its pages yellowed and tattered, and looks again at it.

I have proof here…

The Italian Woman becomes nervous.  She looks quickly about to determine whether anyone is hearing them.

…that the fish Simon caught-


Don’t say it!


Bob and the Italian Woman are aboard a modern fishing ship.  Bob has been questioning a Palestinian Fisherman.


Some people seek the truth.

The Palestinian Fisherman gestures with his hands to signify a small fish.  This is seen by an Israeli Fisherman, who is also working on the ship.

No matter the consequences.

The Israeli Fisherman gestures to depict an even smaller fish.  The Palestinian Fisherman quickly responds, and the two fishermen argue with each other in Arabic and Hebrew, respectively.


Bob now stands with the Italian Woman outside St. Peter’s.


Facing danger.


Bob and the Italian Woman stand in front of Monsignor Falcone, who shakes his head.


Cardinal Ferrari!

Monsignor Falcone continues to shake his head.


To the secret’s center.


Bob and the Italian Woman stand questioning two nuns.  One nun shakes her head as the other one watches her.


Not taking no for an answer…


Bob and the Italian Woman stand in front of Cardinal Ferrari.  On each side of Ferrari is a Swiss Guard.


…until finally…


(to Ferrari)

We have proof here…

Ferrari looks at one Swiss Guard so as to give him a directive.  Both guards now approach Bob.

….that the fish your first pope caught…

The guards grab Bob, and pull him toward the exit.

…were not that big!  They were small fish!

Ferrari grins at Bob as he is taken out of the Rome.


The Swiss Guards are still pulling Bob away from the Papal Palace.  The Italian Woman follows behind them.


This will get out!


Bob drives an Italian sportscar.  Beside him is the Italian Woman.  They are stopped at a traffic light.

The Italian Woman turns nervously to look behind them.




We’re being followed.

The light turns.  Another car rams Bob’s car from behind.


A Small Old Nun, her face barely up to the steering wheel, sits behind the wheel.  Another nun sits beside her, and a third in the back seat.

The Small Old Nun yells at Bob.


Face bruta!

She rams Bob’s car again.

The nun in the back seat crosses herself.


Bob quickly puts his car into high gear.






The Small Old Nun’s car chases after Bob.


The secret may not get out.

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As a writer I’ve had success in a number of genres.  The one gaping exception is on the subject of mental illness, or our society’s neglect of it.  It’s one topic that people don’t want to deal with.

A number years ago I had an article published in a prominent journal.  When I submitted another article about two years later, one dealing with mental illness and the law, a new editor wrote to vehemently reject it.  He went on to say that he would have turned down the published article had he been editor at the time.

Interesting enough, the journal went into a substantial decline of quality with the new editor.  Nevertheless, he had taken issue with my statement to the effect that courts of law are the junkyards of our society.

Yet last year, I heard Judge Steve Leifman speak at Fordham University’s Law and Neuroscience Center.  Judge Leifman presides in Miami-Dade County, Florida.  He spoke of the huge problem he encountered in Miami-Dade County, where large numbers of mentally ill persons charged with crimes, often trivial ones, were housed in an antiquated jail for long periods of time.

Judge Leifman responded to this problem by developing a system whereby criminal suspects with mental illnesses are connected with services as early in a case as the time arrest usually occurs.  As police officers are necessarily involved at this stage, they had to be trained in recognizing and properly responding to persons with mental illnesses.  Judge Leifman therefore worked with the police chiefs in his jurisdiction to develop this program.

Interestingly enough, over twelve years ago, I was involved with a similar project in Onondaga, the New York county where I practice law.  A Family Court judge started a committee for the purpose of connecting parties having mental health issues with services.

We envisioned a screening process for these issues in both criminal and Family Court cases.  And as with the Miami-Dade County program, we recognized that police officers would need to be trained to recognize these issues at the initiation of criminal cases.

We were doomed for lack of funding from both the state and federal governments.  Andrew Cuomo, when he became governor, continued a long-standing tradition of making mental health the first place for budget cuts.

We also suffered from governmental opposition.  The district attorney and local police chiefs supported the program, but the county departments of Social Services and Mental Health opposed it on issues of who would be controlling the process.

In his presentation, Judge Leifman spoke further of the large section of our population that is incarcerated, and the huge costs of this massive incarceration.  In this he repeated the concerns of other close observers who note these costs are breaking our state and federal budgets.  Judge Leifman commented that money could be used for much-needed infrastructure instead being spent on incarceration.

This system has been built on the laziness of our prejudices.  Indiscriminately we hold that those accused of crimes should be locked up for long periods of time.  We don’t wish to realize that the realities of criminal justice are much more complex than TV shows and politicians would have us believe.  Often there are much more productive and cheaper alternatives to incarceration.

A large number of persons criminally accused have mental illnesses.  They often are not able to even make the intent needed for the commission of crimes under our Anglo-American law.

Mental health has been for decades a low governmental and societal priority.  As the mentally ill seem voiceless, often afraid to come forward due to the prejudices against them, they can be easily cast aside and exploited.

We heard decades ago of the horrors of mental institutions.  People would often be housed in such places for large chunks of their lives under inhumane conditions.

In New York during the 1970’s, Governor Hugh Carey closed most of the mental hospitals.  In other such as Alabama, following much litigation over the rights of patients, large numbers of mental institutions were also closed.

The problem lay that in the aftermath, state budgets remained drastically reduced.  No alternatives to institutionalization were set up or explored.  No aftercare or outpatient provisions were established.

Unlike their European counterparts, Americans with mental illnesses were given no reasonable access to medication or treatment.  The prejudices remained, the topic remained taboo and the mental health issues remained far removed from mainstream medicine.

As Judge Leifman observed, the issues left unaddressed by governors and legislatures ended up in the courts.  Our society has regressed in this area to standards that seemed barbaric and inhumane even to the Victorians.

Over the past four decades, the mentally ill have been criminally accused and incarcerated in massive numbers.  Jails providing minimal and often no treatment have become the mental institutions of the early twenty-first century.

Yet we can be educated.  Many of us who work in the criminal justice system have realized the need for mental health treatment for a large number of individuals facing criminal charges.  In February of this year, I heard the district attorney of New York City, Cyrus Vance, Jr., speak at the Fordham Center.  Vance has been successful in providing treatment to many people who would otherwise be imprisoned.

The time has come for our law courts to stop being used as society’s junkyards.  It’s time that we address mental health, and see legal and human realities with new eyes.  It’s time that the New York City’s new policies on mental health treatment be instituted on a statewide and national level.  The system must be revolutionized.

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About year and a half ago, I made a speech in response to the Orlando nightclub shooting.  In this speech, I made the very narrow legal point that guns should not be sold to terrorists.  Two people then got up and spoke against me.

The total lack of substance behind the speeches of these two individuals shows the extremism and downright silliness that the gun rights position has been reduced to.  Months after the Las Vegas shooting, our Congress lacks the backbone even to outlaw the device that converts semi-automatics into automatics.

Another example of this extremism happened a while back when a woman gun rights activist in Florida was accidentally shot in the back by her four year old child.  According to her position, even a very small child should have access to a gun.

But these gun rights activists should beware history’s pendulum.  There may come a time when the public majority will be angry enough that they will want all guns taken away, just the very thing that the extremists, in their mindless blathering, fear.

There is a third, middle, position that is currently being expounded.  Those holding this position would keep assault weapons kept out of the hands of everyone except the active military or specially trained police officers.  They would pass laws requiring background checks and licensing for those seeking to own guns.  After all, prospective gun owners should be held to safety standards and testing demanded of motor vehicle operators.

In rights are responsibilities.  We should be addressing the issue as rational and responsible adults.

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For my 200th blog with WordPress, I’m posting a sample chapter of my novella BUDDIES.  This novella will be featured in my upcoming book of legal fiction A LAWYER’S CASEBOOK.


Jason Crofts was considered a petty criminal.  He’d been to state prison on a burglary charge, but most of his run-ins with the law concerned petit larceny or marijuana possession.

One day in late October, the sheriff received a distress call.  Jason’s girlfriend said that he was “going crazy.”  In the background, the 9-1-1 operator heard Jason shouting and breaking objects.

A sheriff’s car pulled up outside a broken-down house bordering the woods.  A state police car was already parked outside.

The two deputies approached a heavyset trooper, who stood further back on the property.

“I’m getting too old for this crap,” the trooper said.  “I let him go back there.”  He pointed back into the woods, obviously referring to his partner.

A pregnant young woman came out of the house.  “I told him to stop. He just kept doing it,” she said.  “I’m gonna get evicted for this shit.”

A toddler came onto the porch, putting her hand on a broken screen.

“Go back into the house,” he mother told her.  “Did you hear what I said?”

The deputies were about to start questioning the woman when they heard a gunshot.  The deputies ran into the woods, the trooper trotting behind them.  They found a second trooper lying shot.  He was still breathing.

While one deputy scanned the woods for Jason, the second deputy tended to the shot trooper.  Through nodding his head and making minimal answers, the trooper indicated that Jason had grabbed his gun away from him, and shot him.

The deputy called for backup.  Within the next few minutes, three other police cars pulled up.  Deputies and troopers canvassed the woods. The shot trooper died before Crofts was shot and captured.

Henry Johnson was given the job of prosecuting Crofts on First Degree Murder charges.  Henry was only thirty years old at the time, but he was already a senior assistant in the Crotona D.A.’s office.

Tom Doyle was assigned to be Henry’s co-counsel.  Henry, up to this point, had not had much interaction with Doyle.  Doyle was also young, only two years out of law school.  But he was already gaining attention for his trial skills.

Henry devoted considerable time to the case.  He met with the police officers in off-hours to interview them.  He brought his growing file home to review it and take notes.  He went to the site, where Crofts’ girlfriend no longer lived, and walked through the woods in which the slain trooper had pursued the suspect.  He saw this case as an opportunity for gaining fame and political advancement.

But his excitement was ruined only three weeks after receiving the assignment.  His father was indicted.  State Senator Johnson had run afoul of New York’s governor, not supporting him in a matter that the governor considered crucial.  The governor called for an investigation, and Johnson was indicted with two others.

People around Crotona and Albany shouted that the indictment had been politically based.  The newspapers said as much.  But the lawyers that Johnson hired told him that his chances for getting the charges dropped were poor.

Henry went to his parents’ house, and asked to see his father’s legal papers.  He read through the multi-page indictment and the motion papers that his father’s attorneys had provided.

Henry told his father that he should fight the charges.  His voice became loud when he spoke, and his mother watched his face turn red.  His parents only hesitated when he persisted.  He became quite angry.  Finally, his mother told him that he was tiring his father.

“That’s enough, Henry,” she said.

Henry wondered how his father stayed calm.  He watched his father continue to go to his offices each day in Albany and Crotona.

But his father only seemed to remain calm.  While saying little about his situation with the governor, the senator experienced a significant rise in blood pressure.  He was diagnosed as being diabetic.  He started to see doctors much more frequently.

Henry did not suffer in silence.  His moods were now most often foul.  He frequently took to shouting at people, often with little provocation.

His girlfriend, Debbie Flynn, took none of this well.  He had met her two years earlier through friends.  Blonde and slim, Debbie was widely considered a catch.

Soon after they had started dating, Henry took to spending much of his free time with her.  He took her to basketball and football games.  They were seen together around the popular Crotona bars.  When friends would visit Henry at his apartment, they would usually find Debbie there, either fussing in the kitchen or engaging the friends in conversation.  It was generally expected that soon Henry and Debbie would become engaged.

But now, after the indictment, Debbie said she was getting the brunt of his outbursts.  She wondered how much longer she would stay with him.  When friends now stopped by to watch games or shoot pool, they no longer found Debbie there.

Henry also changed in less obvious ways.  He had spent his life accepting the legal system as a noble endeavor.  His only opinion had been that criminals were threats to society, and that they should be vigorously placed behind bars.

Yet now, with his father facing charges, Henry saw the system in new ways.  He paid more than passing notice to the lies that police officers often told, or the tactics of some of his fellow assistants to alter or conceal evidence.

Henry changed in how he handled his cases.  Some defendants he continued to rail against, but others, especially those who were poor, mentally ill or less culpable than their so-called victims, he showed surprising leniency toward.

Across the next few months, Henry came to know Tom Doyle.  Tom’s father had recently retired from the Crotona police department.  Tom had wanted to become an officer, but couldn’t pass the eye test.  His main interest remained in law enforcement.

Tom seemed to do as much work on the Crofts case as Henry.  Crofts insisted on going to trial, so the two assistant D.A.’s prepared.  It took the jury only an hour to come back with a verdict of guilty.


A few weeks later, after final motions had been made, Jason Crofts stood before the court for sentencing.  Tom and Henry stood together at the prosecution table.  Tom noticed the smile that Crofts faced the judge with.

The judge sentenced Crofts to life without parole.  Crofts continued to smile as the deputies led him out of the courtroom.  He smiled at Tom, who was staring at him, and then at his girlfriend, now holding a baby.

Henry shook Tom’s hand.  The two prosecutors went from the courtroom into the hallway.  Reporters surrounded them.  TV cameras glared their lights on them.  Tom stood by as Henry answered questions.

When their work day ended that afternoon, Henry suggested to Tom that they get some drinks.  They left the D.A.’s office.  A shabby homeless man watched them as they got into Henry’s Corvette.

As Henry sped and stopped through downtown Crotona, mud and filthy snow splattered on curbs and the sides of buildings.  Tom saw men grouped together.  Perhaps transacting drug deals.  Tom’s excitement turned to quick disgust that Crotona was still full of criminals.

Henry took him to a popular bar out on a wide suburban boulevard.  Tom and Henry sat at the bar, and Henry ordered beers.  Henry inferred that he would be buying the drinks that evening.

A trim blonde came up to Henry, and embraced him.  Henry kissed her lips, and they lingered for a long moment in each other’s arms.  Henry introduced her to Tom, patting her butt as he placed his arm around her waist.

When the woman left them, rejoining a female friend, Henry turned to Tom.  “You oughta go after her,” he said, still staring at the woman’s butt.  “If you don’t, I will.”

“You have a girlfriend,” Tom said.

“I don’t know.”  Henry gave Tom a self-pitying look that would become familiar to Tom.  “Do I?”

The six o’clock news came on the TVs of the bar.  People whooped and applauded as the screens showed Crofts being led out of the courtroom, and Henry and Tom stepping before the cameras.  Strangers patted Tom on the back.

Then, within minutes, the bar cleared out around them.  People drove off to other bars, or to their homes.  Others went to different parts of the room to eat dinner or play pool.

Henry sat resting, his head almost on the bar, in front of the beers he’d been unable to drink.  “Should I call Debbie?” he asked Tom.

Tom didn’t answer him.  His mind was racing.  The Crofts case was only the beginning.

“We have our program now,” he told Henry.  Henry didn’t look up.  “We could end crime in Crotona.”

Henry looked over at him now.

“Make Crotona a crime-free zone,” Tom continued.

Henry smiled at him, almost laughed.

“Start with the ringleaders.  Work down to the small operations.”

“Even the petty crimes?” Henry asked him.  “Traffic infractions?”

When Tom went silent, Henry laughed and slapped his shoulder.

“They’d know who’s in charge,” Tom told him.

“It isn’t that simple,” Henry replied.

“It is simple.  There are bad guys.  We have to bring ‘em down.  We have the ability.  We have the will.”

“But who are the good guys?” Henry asked him.

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Recently the pianist-singer-composer Gabriel Kahane has given concerts featuring Schumann’s 1840 song cycle Dichterliebe, or A Poet’s Love.  It makes for a revisit to a composer who, in recent years, has been seldom performed or considered.

In a long retrospect, we remember Schumann as a key mid-19th century contributor to the piano literature.  We think of him as mentor to the young Johannes Brahms.  We recognize him also as a tragic figure who suffered from mental illness, and ended his days in a sanitarium.

Yet for too many years, Schumann’s work has been neglected.  He came from a literary background.  His father was a bookseller.  He was strongly attracted to literature.  Like Berlioz and Wagner, two other literary musicians, he worked as a music critic.

It was Schumann’s background in literature that made him a key figure in the field of lieder, art songs that are the settings of poems.  While Schumann’s songs are less numerous than Schubert’s, they are almost as important to the development of this art form.

It has been argued that Schumann possessed better judgment than the earlier composer, although it Schubert, to his credit, often used the texts of Goethe and Schiller.  Nevertheless, where Schubert based such major song cycles as Winterreisse,  or A Winter’s Journey, on the poems of journeyman bards, Schumann went to Heinrich Heine, one of the greatest German poets, for his Dicterleibe.

Schumann’s prominent place in the piano literature is well deserved.  Recently I went back, after the absence of years, to play his Traumerei on the piano.  Schumann possesses a sensitivity to the shapeliness of melody that places him in the forefront of the Romantic movement.  He stands as an interface of sorts, connecting such early Romantics as Beethoven with such late ones as Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Mahler.

Finally, it’s time for his orchestral music to be given proper attention.  In the last years of his life, Schumann composed four symphonies and the Piano Concerto in A Minor.  These works were for a long time considered a minor part of his output.

For me, they show the influence of Beethoven.  They also resemble Brahms.  The reality is that they strongly influenced Brahms, who, as a young pianist-composer attached himself to Schumann and his household, becoming close friends with the older composer’s wife, the pianist Clara.

If for no other reasons, Schumann’s orchestral works would be important to musical history for their influence on Brahms.  But, despite long-held critical opinions, these pieces are major works in themselves, as rich in imagination and sensitivity as Schumann’s piano works.

To revisit, or initially visit Schumann’s work creates a rewarding experience.  I would strongly encourage the push for the performances of his piano, vocal and orchestral works.

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