Boyd and Gorak Recognized by Touro Law Center

November 16, 2020 | Trusts & Estates

UNIONDALE, NY – Rivkin Radler LLP is proud to announce that J’Naia L. Boyd and Jeffrey P. Gorak were named Public Interest/Pro-Bono Attorney of the Year by Touro College’s Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. They were recognized at the school’s virtual Goods & Services Auction held November 15-17, 2020.

Boyd, a Rockville Centre, NY, resident, is an associate in the firm’s Appeals, Business Dissolution and Commercial Litigation practice groups. She is a staunch proponent of pro bono service. She serves as pro bono counsel for indigent tenants facing eviction through Nassau-Suffolk Law Services, where she presents them in Nassau County District Court. She also negotiates favorable settlement agreements to prevent the entry of a money judgment or to allow the client to transition to better housing without a judgment of eviction. She also served as a volunteer lawyer in Amistad Black Bar Association’s annual pro bono legal F.A.I.R., where she provides free counseling on family law and employment issues. Boyd’s dedication to pro bono services extends back to her time as a law student where she was a student volunteer for two years with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, where she worked with other attorneys in providing pro bono legal services to artists in the state of Maryland. She also served as a student attorney with the Maryland Intellectual Property Resource Center, where she provided pro bono legal services to start-up companies and individual entrepreneurs on issues such as the requirements for obtaining a patent; requirements for trademark and copyright registration; and maintenance of trade secrets and assisted in the clearance, preparation, filing and prosecution of trademark and service mark applications.

Gorak, a resident of Roslyn Heights, NY, is an associate in the firm’s Trusts & Estates practice group. He is a very humble attorney who imposes upon himself a strong moral obligation to use his legal skills to help those suffering from a severe hardship. When he learned of a case where a husband, who was accused of murdering his wife, planned on using all of the couple’s joint assets to pay for his high-profile criminal attorney, thereby impoverishing their minor children, he leaped at the opportunity to fight for the children and do everything in his power to ensure that justice was served.

On November 4, 2016, Maria Crumb was brutally murdered by her husband Robert Crumb.  In the midst of an argument about their pending divorce, Robert Crumb stabbed his wife Maria with a knife, leaving her paralyzed, but able to see and hear what was taking place.  Their children jumped to their mother’s defense, although, sadly, they were unable to save her.  A jury later convicted Crumb of his wife’s murder and sentenced him to 47 years to life in prison.

In a concerted effort to obtain justice in the civil matter, Jeff and his team argued that, by virtue of his crime, Mr. Crumb forfeited any interest he had in the couple’s joint assets.  There is a long-standing legal doctrine which provides that a murderer cannot inherit by virtue of his or her crime.  However, it was unclear whether a murderer can inherit jointly held property because an analogous law provides that a criminal cannot forfeit property owned in their own right. Nonetheless, because of the tireless work of Jeff and our department, and the contributions of outside attorneys, a very favorable settlement was reached for the children. Although it deeply saddens him that this family needed his help in the first place, he is so proud to have been a part of the effort.

The Public Interest/Pro-Bono Attorney of the Year Program recognizes those attorneys who devote their time to people in need through their pro-bono efforts. Those who are recognized best exemplify public interest legal work performed in the areas of poverty law, civil rights law or public rights law, including representation of charitable organizations. For purposes of the award criteria, public interest legal service includes legal work affecting broad areas of public concern including the prosecution of crimes, the legal right of consumers, the elderly, the poor, and groups whose legal rights are not otherwise adequately represented and who traditionally lack access to the courts. Pro-bono work is defined as legal services to persons of limited means undertaken without expectation of fee.

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