Monday, December 14, 2009

New DWI Laws Take Effect Friday

From Gannett News:
Tougher laws on drunk drivers who have a child in the car are set to take effect Friday.

The new law, known as Leandra's Law, makes it a felony to drive with a blood-alcohol level greater than .08 and a passenger in the car under the age of 16. A first offense will carry a potential prison sentence of up to four years; up to 15 years if a child passenger is seriously injured; and up to 25 years if a child is killed....

The law also requires drivers charged with drunk driving with a child in the car to surrender their licenses pending prosecution. And if convicted, an ignition-interlock system must be installed in the car for at least six months. The system requires a clean Breathalyzer test to start the car. On Aug. 15, the law will expand to require the system for any driver convicted of misdemeanor or felony DWI.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Search for Unclaimed Cash

Many New Yorkers have unclaimed property. This property could include utility deposits, forgotten bank accounts and insurance benefits.

Click here for a useful site to find unclaimed property that belongs to you. Just click on your state and enter your name. You’ll get a list of unclaimed property that might be yours. You’ll also find information on claiming it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New York Law Puts Some Children Back in Booster Seats

The Post-Standard (Syracuse New York):
Just in time for Thanksgiving travels, a change in a state law will require all children under 8 years old to sit in a child safety seat or booster seat.

Under the current law, children were required to be in a child seat or booster seat until their 7th birthday. The new law takes effect Tuesday (November 24).

Parents can be fined anywhere between $25 and $100 and receive three points on their license for not following the law.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Town of Romulus Now Regulates Puppy Mills

Finger Lakes Times:
ROMULUS — The Town Board has banned so-called puppy mills.

Meeting Nov. 18, members voted unanimously to permanently regulate “inhumane’’ facilities whose purpose is to breed puppies for sale.

The law follows a nearly two-year moratorium on puppy mills.

It requires pet breeders to provide humane housing for dogs and cats and ensure that such animals are treated properly. It provides for periodic inspections and penalties for cruel treatment.

The law was drafted by the town Planning Board, headed by Barry Roach, and attorney Steven Getman.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New DWI Penalties Proposed

Gannett News reports:

The state Legislature is expected to pass legislation that would toughen drunken-driving laws, making it a felony for driving while impaired with a child as a passenger.

The measure would also require people convicted of a DWI in New York, and every person convicted of a DWI-related crime, to have an ignition interlock installed as a condition of their sentence.

Friday, October 30, 2009

NY texting while driving ban starts Sunday

The state-wide ban on texting while driving goes into effect on Sunday....Violators face fines up to $150 if caught using handheld devices or laptops to send or read text messages, images or data while a vehicle is moving.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ovid Attorneys Work to Preserve Historic Local Courthouse

Gannett News service:
Trustees of the Friends of the Three Bears, a nonprofit organization working to preserve and find new uses for the Seneca County courthouse complex in Ovid, have decided to create some new positions to lessen the workload on their president of the past six years, Dan Motill....

Ovid attorney Mark Sinkiewicz has been selected to serve in the newly created position of administrative president. The other duties of president will be spread among other people. Another attorney, Steven Getman ... former Seneca County attorney, has taken over the duties of secretary...

More information on the Friends of the Three Bears can be found here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

State ends first-time home buyer incentive program

As reported here:
A new incentive program offered by New York state to encourage first-time home ownership has halted its application process.

Less than two month after rolling out the Mortgage Credit Certificate program, the state asked its lenders this week to stop taking general applications....The program was meant to bridge a gap for first-time buyers who may have run out of time to qualify for the $8,000 federal tax credit

Monday, October 12, 2009

New York Troopers launch cell phone crackdown on Thruway

More here. As noted in the article, "drivers caught breaking the law face a maximum fine of $100, along with a mandatory $60 surcharge."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Presentation: Stopping Scam Artists Before They Strike

A representative from the New York State Attorney General's Office will be in Waterloo on Thursday, October 22 at 11:30 a.m. The purpose of the talk is to advise senior citizens on how to stop scam artists.

More details here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Village Refusal to Release Records to Child's Attorney Questioned

WATKINS GLEN (AUGUST 28)--The New York State Committee on Open Government has called into question a decision by Watkins Glen officials to deny a child’s attorney access to police reports involving that child's home.

According to attorney Steven Getman he requested the records June 12 as part of his preparation for a Family Court case involving the child’s home life. As part of that preparation, Getman said, he learned about a suspected break-in at the child’s residence and sought Village Police records about the incident to determine its relevance to the case.

At the time he made the request, Getman said, he presented the police with a copy of an order from the Schuyler County Family Court. That order, Getman noted, directed any agency having information about the child to provide him with copies. Getman also cited the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) in his request.

On June 29 police officials issued a decision refusing to release any records. According to the one-sentence decision the FOIL request was “Denied: Ongoing Investigation.” Later, in a July 16 letter, village officials again upheld the refusal, claiming that “no part of the records” Getman requested were available under FOIL.

Getman forwarded that letter, and his original applications, to the New York State Committee on Open Government and requested that it issue an advisory opinion on the Village’s refusal.

In a letter dated August 24, Robert Freeman, the committee’s Executive Director, encouraged the village to reconsider its actions. Noting that Getman, as attorney for the child, was acting as the child’s “law guardian,” Freeman opined that this appointment was “to ensure that the best interests of [the] child are … met.” He also noted that the Family Court order directing agencies to provide Getman with information about the child was “clear and unequivocal.”

“In an effort to encourage the Village to reconsider its blanket denial of your request, copies of this opinion will be forwarded to Village officials,” Freeman wrote.

As of August 28, Getman said he still hadn’t received any of the requested records. However, given the Committee’s advice, Getman hoped that the Village would respond and provide them shortly, or give a valid explanation as to why the records were withheld.

(UPDATE: On September 2, attorneys for the Village contacted Getman and stated that they were working with the Police Department to release the appropriate records.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

New Laws to Effect Divorcing Parties’ Rights

Attorney Steven Getman is reminding New Yorkers that three laws will take effect this fall that directly impact matrimonial actions in that state.

Effective September 1, the Domestic Relations Law will provide for automatic stays whenever a matrimonial action is filed. According to Getman, these automatic stays are designed to prevent parties from transferring, disposing of or borrowing against assets “except in the usual course of business or for customary or usual household expenses, or for reasonable attorney's fees in connection with [the] action.” They also prohibit a divorcing spouse from removing the other party or the children from any existing medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage.

“The intent of this legislation is to preserve the status quo during a matrimonial proceeding.” Getman explained.

In addition, Getman said, under the new laws, courts must take additional steps to insure that both parties are notified as to the possible effects of a divorce on the right of each spouse to be covered by the other’s health insurance plan. That provision takes effect October 9.

Finally, the law has been amended to add the loss of health insurance coverage to the statutory factors a court must consider in making an award of Equitable Distribution and/or spousal maintenance, Getman noted. This measure is effective Sept. 26, 2009.

“These significant changes, effective in September and October, will directly impact on the rights of couples divorcing in New York State,” Getman said.

“Therefore, anyone contemplating dissolving their marriage should make sure to discuss these changes, and other legal issues related to separation and divorce with a qualified matrimonial attorney of their own choosing.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Attorney Warns: Beware Of Asphalt Paving Scams

Attorney Steven Getman is warning area residents to beware of scams concerning asphalt paving and driveway sealing.

The scams crop up every summer and follow a similar pattern, Getman said.

“Homeowners or merchants will be approached by a paving company rep making a cold call to say he's got asphalt left over from another job, and offering patchwork repairs at a low price,” Getman explained.

However, once an oral agreement is struck the pavers will commence to refinish the entire driveway or parking lot, and then present the victim with an exorbitant bill.

Sometimes when victims balk at paying, they are intimidated and threatened, police said.

Other times, the scammers offer a lifetime guarantee, but often the quality of the material used and application is inferior, and the work begins to crack quickly.

“Unfortunately, the paving crew is long gone by the time you discover you have a problem,” Getman said. “It may cost you more to redo the driveway after that.”

According to Getman, methods used by disreputable paving contractors can include:
• Little or no preparation work.
• Using cheap material
• Not using enough material
• Using untrained or inexperienced employees
• No way to contact them for repairs or follow up
• Intimidation or threatening of clients

Getman suggests that consumers take the following steps to protect themselves against scam companies:
• Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for any complaints.
• Ask for local references and verify that the contractor is in compliance with local licensing, bonding and insuring requirements.
• Ask for identification and make note of the license plate number on the contractor vehicle.
• Solicit two or three bids for the work you are planning, but don't automatically accept the lowest.
• Make sure all bids are based on the same materials.
• Read all agreements and guarantees before signing.
• Make sure you understand all terms and conditions.
• Never sign a contract with sections left blank.
• Do not pay for work in advance. Pay by check when the work is completed to your satisfaction.

“There are plenty of quality local contractors in our area, so be wary of transient pavers,” commented Getman.

Getman recommends that anyone who's had contact with what they believe to be a fraudulent paving company to contact their local police department and/or a competent attorney to review their legal rights.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Seneca-Schuyler Scenic Byway Moving Forward

From the Ithaca Journal:
People working on the nomination packet proposing a scenic byway designation for a 19-mile sector of state Route 414 are hoping their goal is in sight.


The nomination packet, all 190 pages compiled over a period of nearly seven years, was forwarded to state Department of Transportation officials in Hornell in February for their consideration.

If the packet gets the green light, it will go to the state's Scenic Byway Advisory Committee for further consideration, possibly in September. Next in line, unless changes are recommended, is the state Legislature and finally the governor.


Scenic highways are those with unusual scenic, recreational, cultural or historic significance that are managed to encourage economic development through tourism and recreation.

There are more than 2,600 miles of scenic highways in New York state.

The section they are working on runs from Lodi in Seneca County south to Watkins Glen in Schuyler County.

Heading the local byway committee is chairman Barry O'Neill of Lodi.

[Chris] Kimball-Peterson of Hector is treasurer. Victoria Kelly, also of Hector, is secretary. A board of directors consist of Bruce Adams and George Kellogg, both of Hector, and attorney Steven Getman

I am happy to be involved in such a worthy cause. For anyone interested in more information, or to support this project, please click here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beware These Online Scams

Nine Nasty Online Scams You Need to Be Aware Of:
1. Asian Invasion: The "Asian Extortion Scam" targets business owners, mostly of Asian decent, with death threats and other violence. Scammers pluck personal information about their targets from online searches and use the sensitive data to make victims feel vulnerable. The extortionists, who appear to be calling from outside the U.S., generally demand between $10,000 and $30,000 — though the FBI says there have been no reports of actual violence stemming from the schemes.

2. Mystery Shopping Scam: Some companies pay "mystery shoppers" to act as sample customers and test out the service at stores, banks and restaurants. But scammers are now targeting stay-at-home moms with "opportunities" to be defrauded of thousands of dollars. Victims receive a letter in the mail from a company offering about $400 for shopping at a few stores, along with a check for thousands of dollars to fund the purchases. The victim deposits the check into their back account, stops by a few stores and is then asked to wire about $2,000 back to the company. But when the original check bounces, victims are out the $2,000 they wired back — plus all the money they spent to go shopping.

3. Hit Man Scam: In the Hit Man e-mail scheme, scammers send letters claiming that the boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse of the recipient has arranged for their death. Another version says a loved one will be kidnapped unless an advance ransom is paid out immediately, naming specific relatives (information found courtesy of ... more online searches). [S]ome recipients feel anxious when the sender names their loved ones, which can make them more apt to believe the threat is authentic.

4. Million Dollar Scam: If you're offered a shot on the "Oprah Millionaire Contest Show," you're not going to be the lucky winner of $1 million — you're the target of a new scam. In order to participate, recipients of the scam e-mail must first send their contact information and are required to buy airfare and a ticket to the show in advance. Victims are later asked to fill out questionnaires seeking detailed personal information, which can put them at risk for identity theft. Other scammers have been mailing counterfeit checks with a letter that claims recipients they have won the "Oprah Show Summer Sweepstakes" — a contest that ended in 2006.

5. Grandparents Scam: "Hi grandma, it's your favorite grandson," says a scammer on the line. "Tommy, is that you?" "Yes, grandma, it's Tommy. Listen, my wallet was just stolen and I've lost all of my money. Do you think you could send me some to make it through the end of the month?" Unsuspecting victims, momentarily confused or suffering from hearing loss, go along with the story and wire money out — up to $15,000 in the case of one giving grandmother who thought she was sending $15,000 to help cover an auto accident, according to the Better Business Bureau.

6. Military Wheels: People posing as U.S. troops have been posting to classifieds Web sites offering cars on the cheap that they have to sell quickly before being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq. The scams typically claim there is a third-party protection program to ensure a safe transaction, but when payments are sent to the "secure" service, victims either don't receive the car, or get stolen vehicles or ones with a salvaged title.

7. Jury Scam: Victims of the Jury Scam get an e-mail containing a fake subpoena ordering recipients to testify before a grand jury, complete with seemingly genuine details like your name, a case number and court seal. But the e-mails contain malware that can ruin a computer. Another version of the scam involves a phone call in which the caller claims to be a jury coordinator and intimidates victims into revealing personal information. Once the caller gets a victim's Social Security Number and birth date, it's all over.

8. Border Bust: Spam claiming to be from a former assistant commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol says a foreign diplomat has been stopped with a consignment of thousands or even millions of dollars, which was found to be an inheritance for the recipient. Victims who get drawn in receive more e-mails claiming it is a crime to carry the consignment into the U.S., and demands personal information and a $250 fee to prove the recipient was not involved in a terrorist act. If they fail to do so, the spammers tell their victims they are proving they intended to smuggle the money into the U.S., which is a federal offense. Victims never receive a dime but will continue to get e-mails demanding more money for fees in connection with getting their "inheritance."

9. FBI Scams: The FBI says there have been "tons of complaints" about e-mails from people claiming to be FBI agents. Some appear to be from the Internet Crime Complaint Center and say the recipient has extorted money and must refund the money or face prosecution. Others, from the non-existent Anti-Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division, inform recipients that they are the beneficiary of millions in inheritance. To claim the money, recipients must supply their full name, address and bank account number. Scammers even incorporate the names of top FBI executives into their e-mails by reading authentic FBI press releases, lending an air of credibility.

Don't fall for online tricks. These scams can cause you to lose large sums of money and result in "identity theft." If something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. If you see an email that looks like a scam, don't hesitate to contact local law enforcement or seek the advice of a competent attorney.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reminder: New Power of Attorney Law Takes Effect September 1

Effective September 1, new laws are in effect for powers of attorney. These requirements include:
• New rules for giving power of attorney and for serving as an agent or “attorney in fact.”
• Some power of attorney forms will no longer be valid after the effective date.
• Some of these changes affect existing powers of attorney.

More on the new laws can be found here. These changes may make obtaining or giving a power of attorney after September 1 more complicated--and expensive.

Please make sure that your power of attorney and your agent are in compliance with this new law. Speak to an attorney to protect your rights before the September 1 deadline.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Divorce packet forms updated

From the New York Daily Record:
The New York State court system recently updated the forms for its free “Divorce Packet” to reflect statutory changes that address medical insurance and domestic violence issues.

The revised forms and instructions can be found here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Town Board rules in SPCA’s favor

From the Finger Lakes Times:
The [Fayette] Town Board has overruled the town Planning Board, determining that the Seneca County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is not violating town zoning code.


The Town Board approved a motion 4-0 saying the SPCA was “grandfathered” in under the current town code and can continue operating.

“We are convinced that the rules were followed and were properly interpreted, so this is the best resolution,” said Edward Barto, town supervisor.

Jenny McWhorter and Stephen Webb have operated the SPCA for the past six years on Webb’s property.


“This is such a load off our minds,” McWhorter said of the Town Board’s decision. “We were worried that the outstanding zoning issue would hurt our mission and damage our fundraising.”

She said she was grateful to the board and Town Attorney Stephen Ricci for reviewing the matter with SPCA attorney Steven Getman of Ovid.

Getman, who did not charge for his services, was also pleased.

“It was always our position that the shelter was operating legally,” he said. “Not only was it there before the current town zoning code was adopted, but as a duly incorporated SPCA, [it] serves a valid, public purpose in promoting animal welfare.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NY court: Police need warrants for GPS trackers

From the Associated Press:
New York’s top court says police cannot place GPS trackers on suspects’ vehicles without first getting a court warrant showing probable cause the drivers are up to no good.

The Court of Appeals [held] the tracker state police planted on Scott Weaver’s van for 65 days in 2005 violated his constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.

Weaver was convicted of burglary based in part on GPS data that showed him in a suburban Albany department store parking lot before a break-in. He will get a new trial with that information excluded.

Read the whole decision here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Attorney Opposes Joint Trials as Prejudicial to His Client

From the Finger Lakes Times (May 6, 2009):
The Seneca County District Attorney’s Office wants to try siblings William, Stephanie, Justin and Brandon Meacham of Seneca Falls and Angela Wheeler of Waterloo together, along with Marvin Snyder of Seneca Falls, Stephanie Meacham’s boyfriend.

During Monday’s court session, lawyers for Brandon and Justin Meacham did not object to consolidating the trials.

But lawyers for the other defendants did, saying a consolidated trial would hurt their clients, whom they claim have different issues and defenses that merit separate trials.


Steven Getman, Wheeler’s lawyer, said his client has no prior criminal record. He said statements her brother, William, made to police are vague about her involvement and could be prejudicial.


Getman said the fact that some attorneys oppose consolidation and others don’t shows there are conflicting defenses.

“That itself seems to show why a joint trial could be unduly prejudicial,” he said.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Consumers Warned: Beware of Swine Flu Scams

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for fraudulent e-mails and Websites trying to take advantage of the current swine flu outbreak. The group is offering the following advice to avoid swine flu scams:

• Avoid opening e-mail from an unknown source and do not click on any links in the body of the e-mail or open any attachments. Instead, delete the email or report it to the Federal Trade Commission by forwarding the e-mail to

• Don't believe online offers for vaccinations against swine flu because a vaccine does not exist. For more information on swine flu and updates on progress in fighting the outbreak, go to

• Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up to date and all operating system security patches have been installed. If your computer becomes infected as the result of a spam e-mail about swine flu, you can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Passport Rules for Canadian Travel Coming Soon

OVID, NY--Attorney Steven Getman is reminding upstate New York residents that new federal laws regarding travel to Canada will take effect in slightly over a month.

Beginning June 1, all U.S. citizens ages 16 and older will need to show either a U.S. passport book, a passport card or an enhanced driver's license when traveling to and from Canada.

The changes are part of the Department of Homeland Security's 2008 Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, Getman explained.

Passports, which are valid for 10 years, cost $100 for those 16 and older and $85 for those younger than 16.

Passport cards cost $45 and are valid for 10 years, while an enhanced driver's license costs $30 on top of a normal driver's license fee, and is good for eight years.

For more information click here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Seneca County SPCA Zoning Defended

Excerpt from the Finger Lakes Times:
FAYETTE — For six years, Jenny McWhorter and Stephen Webb have operated the Seneca County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on their property at 4438 County Road 121.

And all that while, they thought they were in compliance with local zoning laws.

But the Town Board adopted a new land use plan in 2008.

McWhorter said Fayette Planning Board chairman and Town Highway Superintendent Roswell Parks told her in November that the shelter was not only in violation of the new zoning law but hadn’t been in compliance with the old codes, either.

According to McWhorter, Parks told her the Planning Board would most likely deny the SPCA a permit or variance if it requested one.


Then, on March 12, McWhorter was served with a violation notice by the Seneca County Building and Code Enforcement Office.

It claimed the not-for-profit shelter was in violation of the new Fayette land use plan as a commercial kennel.

McWhorter, though, said she believed her operation was “grandfathered” and legal.

“We have not had any complaints from our neighbors or incidents with our dogs from 2003 to the present time,” McWhorter said. “We take extreme measures to assure we do not bother anyone, and [we] keep dog waste picked up and disposed of properly daily.”

Former County Attorney Steven Getman of Ovid has agreed to assist the SCPA.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New York High Court to Review Warrantless GPS Use

From the New York Post:
New York's top court will consider Tuesday whether police violated the constitutional rights of a burglary suspect when they attached a global positioning tracker to his van without a court warrant.

Scott Weaver, convicted of burglary in part because of the Christmas Eve 2005 GPS data, said both his state and federal rights against an unreasonable search were violated. State police tracked his van to the parking lot of a suburban Albany department store that was later burglarized.


The trial judge refused to suppress the GPS evidence. A midlevel state court concluded 4-1 the device provided essentially the same information as constant visual surveillance, which requires no warrant. A dissenting justice said citizens have a reasonable expectation their every move won't be monitored by a technical device without their knowledge.

the legal test in previous federal case law turns on whether a device augments sensory perception, such as with a simple radio beeper as a tracking device, or actually goes beyond human senses, such as using thermal imaging devices to see what's happening indoors.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New York DWI crackdown under way statewide

From Gannett news:
The second of seven STOP-DWI crackdown periods across New York this year is under way and will continue through St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, the state Department of Motor Vehicles has announced.

During the enforcement wave, state, county and local law enforcement agencies will be out in force, using sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols to deter drunk driving and ensure road safety, according to a news release.

Motorists are reminded that driving with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher will put them over the limit and under arrest, the release says.

Obviously, the best way to avoid a DWI arrest or conviction is to not drink and drive.

However, anyone charged with, or questioned regarding, an alcohol-related motor vehicle offense should immediately contact an attorney to review their rights.

Monday, March 9, 2009

New York's New Power of Attorney Law

Ovid, NY--Attorney Steven Getman is reminding senior citizens and their families that major changes to the New York Power of Attorney Law will take effect this fall.

These changes include:
• The agent (the person getting power of attorney) must sign and date the power of attorney and the agent's signature must also be acknowledged (notarized). Previously, only the principal (person granting the power of attorney) was required to sign the document before a notary.
• If the principal wants the agent to have the authority to make gifts, additional requirements must be met. They include the principal initialing a separate provision granting gift-making authority and the execution of a "statutory major gifts rider" which must have two witnesses.
• Agents will now be subject to a “prudent person standard of care” with defined responsibilities. This includes keeping records (with receipts) on the agent’s transactions.
• The new power of attorney form has an optional provision that the principal can appoint a “monitor” to request and receive records of transactions by the agent.

“Most of the changes apply only to powers of attorney executed on or after the effective date. However, the provisions regarding fiduciary responsibilities apply to all powers of attorney including those executed before the effective date,” Getman noted.

The new power attorney law was originally scheduled to take effect March 1. However, on February 25, Governor Paterson signed legislation to delay the effective date until September 1, 2009.

“Anyone in New York state who plans to grant power of attorney, or accept the power of attorney, as well as those who currently have powers of attorney, should make sure to contact a competent attorney to discuss the new law, and make sure that they are in compliance with it,” Getman said.

More information on the new law can be found here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Can You Plea-Bargain in a Traffic Case? That Depends

The New York Times:
For years it was a normal routine in traffic courts in towns and villages across New York State: Drivers would negotiate at the courthouse with the state trooper... who cited them for moving violations to reduce the charge. The judge would then make it official.

But the State Police, citing ethical concerns, issued an order in 2006 banning the practice....Now, some lawyers have taken an unusual approach to challenge the ban: fighting tickets using a law established after the Civil War to protect the rights of former slaves.

The lawyers have cited the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which mandates that laws be applied equally to everyone, to argue that the State Police policy prevents drivers from receiving equal justice. Whether a driver can negotiate a lower fine, the lawyers say, depends on where they get a ticket and from whom.

Even routine traffic tickets can have serious impacts on a driver's insurance premiums and, in some cases, their license to operate a motor vehicle. Drivers who receive a ticket should always consider contacting a competent attorney of their own choosing before pleading guilty or attempting to plea bargain the ticket.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Beware Tax Scam Emails

From the Washington Post:
The Internal Revenue Service is warning U.S. taxpayers to be prepared for a steady increase in scams and virus attacks via e-mail, telephone and the Web as the April 15 tax-filing deadline approaches.

The most common type of scam arrives via e-mails claiming to come from the IRS or Treasury Department. They typically try to either scare consumers into thinking there is an error with their tax filing, or that they are eligible for a tax rebate or benefit from the government economic stimulus package that just passed on Capitol Hill.

These so-called "phishing" e-mails typically arrive in an e-mail that urges users to visit a site, which in turn prompts visitors to enter their personal and financial data, information that is then sent off to identity thieves.

"The Internal Revenue Service does not communicate with taxpayers via unsolicited e-mail," said J. Russell George, treasury inspector general for tax administration.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Company Held Liable for Unwanted Faxes

From the New York Law Journal:
Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise ship operator, faces damages of up to $2 million following a judge's finding that the company violated a federal statute by faxing a travel agent between 540 and 1,387 unsolicited advertisements over the course of about four years.

Eastern District of New York Judge I. Leo Glasser held that the faxes violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which bars the use of any "telephone facsimile machine ... to send an unsolicited advertisement."

Businesses which might be contemplating the use of a fax machine to send advertisements should take heed of this decision before doing so. At the same time, consumers or others who might be on the receiving end of such faxes may wish to contact an attorney to review their legal rights.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Attorney Warns Homeowners: Beware of Deed “Scam”

OVID, NEW YORK--Attorney Steven Getman is warning homeowners not to fall for mail solicitations offering certified copies of property deeds.

The mailings, Getman said, typically include proper names, addresses and accurate dates for when the property owners’ deed was filed. It also calls the document an important one to have on hand.

The notice then offers to provide the homeowner with certified copies for approximately $60.00 to $70.00. The fee, the letter states, includes postage and handling, location and retrieval of the data.

At best, Getman said, the offer is a grossly overpriced service.

“Your local county clerk's office provides certified copies of deeds for substantially less,” Getman said. “Usually they charge about sixty-five cents a page for the deed, which is typically a four or five page document, plus a $5.00 certification fee.”

In addition, Getman explained, may counties will allow residents to view their deeds on the county’s computer system at no cost.

According to Getman, a new law took effect in October that requires that these solicitations include that fact that customers can obtain a certified copy of their deed from their county clerk for less than $20.00. This law, Getman said, is in response to concerns raised last year when many New York State residents received these notices in the mail.

“A given offer may or may not be illegal, but it’s so unfair to charge that much more for something that you can get at your local county clerk’s office,” Getman noted.

Getman urged anyone who receives a solicitation of this nature to contact their local county clerk or an independent attorney of their own choosing to review their legal rights.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lawsuit against Zoning Board dismissed

From the Penn Yan Chronicle-Express:
PENN YAN — A Penn Yan couple’s lawsuit against the Town of Jerusalem’s Zoning Board of Appeals was dismissed on Thursday, January 8.

In a lawsuit filed in October 2008, petitioners R. Parker Reynolds and Brenda Reynolds claimed the board illegally denied them a variance to allow recreational vehicles or campers in their mobile home park, located on Route 54A.

However, at last Thursday’s hearing in Yates County Supreme Court, attorney Steven Getman, representing the town, argued that the board had followed state and local law in denying the variance. Getman noted that the Town Zoning Code treated campgrounds and campers differently than mobile homes and that state law set minimum requirements for mobile home parks that prevented the town from granting a variance. He also cited court cases that held a zoning board’s decision should not be disturbed “unless it was arbitrary, illegal or capricious.”

Finally, Getman told the court, the petitioners had not presented the board with any valid evidence of financial hardship that would justify a variance under state law.
Therefore, Getman argued, the lawsuit should be dismissed.

Appearing for the petitioners, attorney Derek Brocklebank told the court that the zoning board should have made more findings on the record before denying the variance. He also argued that the distinctions between mobile homes and recreational vehicles or campers were inadequate to justify rejecting the Parkers’ application.

After hearing from both attorneys, acting State Supreme Court Justice Dennis Bender tossed the lawsuit. Bender ruled that the Reynolds had failed to justify overturning the zoning board’s decision. Therefore, he held, their petition should be dismissed on the merits.