Monday, January 16, 2017

Can a nonlawyer judge send you to jail? U.S. Supreme Court is asked to decide

ABA Journal:
A cert petition pending before the U.S. Supreme Court shines a light on the power of some nonlawyer judges in the United States.

The cert petition asks whether a defendant’s due process rights are violated when he is tried by a nonlawyer judge with the power to send him to jail, and there is no opportunity for a new trial before a judge who is a lawyer.

The petition was filed on behalf of defendants Kelly Davis and Shane Sherman. They were tried before a nonlawyer judge in Montana who was previously a prevention specialist in a dependency program, and a cashier and meat wrapper at a grocery store.

A decision by the Supreme Court requiring judges to be lawyers in these cases could have broad fiscal and legal ramifications for New York State. In New York, judges of the town and village justice courts are not required to be attorneys. Such courts "have jurisdiction over a broad range of matters, including vehicle and traffic matters, small claims, evictions, civil matters and criminal offenses."

Friday, January 13, 2017

Family Court judge orders birth control in neglect case

A New York State Judge has ordered a woman not to get pregnant again until after she regains custody of her youngest child.

In Matter of Steven D. (Brandy F.), Monroe County Family Court Judge Patricia E. Gallaher made the order after finding the respondent was "a drug-addicted admitted prostitute, mother of 4 children, none of whom are in her care [and] having removed the fourth child from the mother who does not know who the father is." The judge also discussed the mother's "history of drug usage, her failure to get substance abuse and mental health treatment as previously ordered, by her failure to have suitable housing for herself and the newborn infant, and ...the failure to plan for the baby and have baby supplies."

Noting, "(s)ociety and its problems are changing, especially with the incredible rise in the use of heroin, and this court needs to adjust in response, instead of doing the same tired routine which does not solve the obvious problems in so many cases," Gallaher held:
To that end, this Court is directing DHS to include provisions in the final dispositional order that (1) requires DHS to comply with SSL § 131-e, (2)directs respondent to listen to the birth control counseling the county is required to provide pursuant to Social Services Law, section 131-e, (3) directs respondent to see her ob-gyn doctor for whatever confidential advice that doctor may give her regarding birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, and anything else, (4) directs respondent see her regular medical doctor regarding her health generally, including her addiction, and (5) directs respondent to take whatever steps she chooses (at no financial cost to her but at the expense of the Department if there is any expense) to prevent her from conceiving another child, fathered by anyone, until she gets baby Steven safely out of foster care and back in her care.

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In the instant case, it is the intent of this Court to require, not that the mother refrain from ever getting pregnant in the future, but to put in place a way for this young woman to get the help she needs before she gets pregnant again, to put in place safeguards and knowledge for the mother to avoid pregnancy, and to enable some measure of compliance, so that if this mother does again become pregnant, any future unborn fetus may get the significant intervention necessary to ensure the positive health and development of the unborn child. There has been ample evidence admitted in this case to show the pattern and history of drug abuse by this mother, the pattern and history of giving birth to drug-addicted infants, and the pattern and history displayed by this mother who essentially leaves the young drug-addicted infants with others who can care for the babies, while never really engaging in services to help herself, despite the repeated and numerous offerings. An intervention in this cycle is needed here, and that is what this Court is doing.

In addition, Gallaher cited the constitutional issues raised by her decision and urged the Appellate Courts to review same.

The complete decision can be found here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Second Chance for $3 Million in E-Waste Recycling Grants

DEC Announces Second Chance for $3 Million in E-Waste Recycling Grants:
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that a second round of grant funding from the Environmental
Protection Fund (EPF) is being made available to help municipalities across the state address costs associated with the collection and recycling of eligible electronic wastes (e-waste). The recently completed application period in October generated $1.2 million in grant requests, leaving almost $1.8 million available for a second chance opportunity that will be held in January 2017 for municipalities that missed the initial application period. DEC will accept applications for second chance opportunity funding from January 2 through January 31, 2017.
Municipalities may receive reimbursement of up to 50 percent of eligible expenses incurred for recycling of e-waste between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017. Application materials, guidance documents, and important information for Electronic Waste Assistance Grants are available on the DEC's website.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New York's new laws for the New Year

Here’s a round up of some new laws coming to New York in 2017, including:
An increase in minimum wage;
The cost of naloxone, the drug used to treat drug opiate overdoses, will be covered by insurance companies;
Expanded breast cancer screening and treatment for some;
Teens ages 16 and 17 applying for a learner’s permit can now become an organ donor;
Traffic control devices at rail grade crossings will be inspected more often;
A tax credit extension for some parents;
Measuring window tints during vehicle inspections;
Other new laws include:
Starting Jan. 17, funeral homes statewide will be allowed to serve light fare — such as baked goods, sandwiches, snacks and food platters — and nonalcoholic beverages [to] "provide nourishment to sustain the family of the deceased at their time of need."
A measure, taking effect Jan. 7, that will prohibit the sale under any other name of the fish known to marine taxonomy as escolar. The fish, sometimes marketed as "white tuna," has a unique metabolism that makes it difficult for some diners to digest, often leading to what the bill's authors term "purgative effects that are not associated with eating tuna."
A provision that takes effect Feb. 26 that cracks down on the use of so-called "ticket bots" to unscrupulously scoop up event tickets for resale.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Audit Finds NYS made $6.8 Million in Medicaid Overpayments

New York State’s Medicaid system made approximately $6.8 million in inappropriate payments, including $3.5 million for separately billed medical services that should have been covered by managed care plans, according to an audit released by the State Comptroller. By the end of audit fieldwork, about $2.4 million of the overpayments were recovered.

New York’s Medicaid program, administered by the state Department of Health (DOH), is a federal, state, and locally funded program that provides a wide range of medical services to those who are economically disadvantaged or have special health care needs.

Read the full report here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

NYS Police Chiefs want ride-sharing services in upstate to help reduce drunk driving

New York Daily News:
The head of the state Association of Chiefs of Police is calling on Gov. Cuomo to expand ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to upstate to curb drunk driving.

In a letter to Cuomo, Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack wrote that upstate accounts for 51% of all licensed drivers in New York, but 65% of alcohol- and drug-impaired arrests and 59% of all fatal and personal injury crashes.

The percentages are significantly lower in New York City, which offers an array of ridesharing and mass transit options that upstate does not, Zack wrote.