James McManus files Amicus Brief defending DiCristina decision

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Apr 01, 2013 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

mcmanus big thinkIn 2012 a district court in New York dismissed a case against Lawrence DiCristina, who hosted a home poker tournament at his business. DiCristina was originally charged with violating the 1955 Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) but was found not guilty when judge Weinstein’s decision was rendered in a ruling many heralded as a major victory for poker. In his opinion, Judge Weinstein determined that poker was not covered under the IGBA due to its high-skill factor as well as the absence of any mention of the game in the IGBA.

However, this completely rational argument hasn’t stopped the government from appealing Judge Weinstein’s decision, and on Thursday author James McManus filed a preemptive strike against the appeal, filing an Amicus Brief with the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals, detailing why Judge Weinstein’s was correct.

An Amicus Brief (which is a type of Amicus curiae) is in essence an opinion offered to the court by a person(s) with no connection to the case, but someone who can offer expert opinion or testimony on the matter. An Amicus Brief is something along the lines of unsolicited expert testimony designed to explain the ramifications of the decision.

In the Brief, McManus lays out several arguments in favor of poker, and the right of US citizens to engage in the game. Among the headers in the brief are:

* Poker’s Intimate Connection to American Culture Sets It Apart From Activities Commonly Classified As Gambling

* Because of a Strong Connection to American Life and the Absence of Any Meaningful Association With Organized Crime, Poker Is Readily Distinguishable From Games Generally Classified As Gambling

The Brief stretches some 28 pages and is good primer for anyone trying to make the case FOR legalizing poker.

I reached out to James McManus to shed some light on how he became involved with the case and what his thoughts on the appellate court’s future ruling might be. McManus told me that, “DiCristina’s attorneys on the appeal asked me to file an amicus brief, probably because Weinstein cited Cowboys Full in his ruling that poker was a legal game of skill with a long and honored tradition in American society, and I’d written along those lines so often in The Times, Foreign Policy, Harper’s, Grantland, Card Player and elsewhere. I was happy to oblige them, of course.”

In terms of where he sees the DiCristina trial and poker legislation in general McManus stated, “Right now the endgame seems to be that the mostly failed prosecution of the big three sites on Black Friday, Weinstein’s ruling, the DoJ’s own ruling that poker is not proscribed by the Wire Act, the almost universal contempt for the UIGEA (not only because it’s a bad law but because of the sneaky way it was attached by nanny-state Republicans like John Kyl and Bill Frist to the SAFE Ports Act of 2006, happily signed by GW Bush), the desperate need for new tax revenues, etc., etc. will encourage more and more states to legalize online poker. Once enough dominoes fall, Congress will revise the law to enable the feds to regulate and tax it as well.”

You can check out James McManus’s Amazon author’s page here: http://www.amazon.com/James-McManus/e/B000APZYKG, and I highly recommend his poker works in Positively Fifth Street and Cowboys Full; both deserve a spot on every poker player’s bookshelf.


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