Saturday, April 30, 2011

Call in New York for Police to Videotape Interrogations

The New York District Attorneys' Association and other law enforcement agencies "have announced their support for video recording of interrogations and the adoption of statewide protocols to ensure the integrity of the practice."

Many defense attorneys have called for videotaped interviews for years now.

It may be time for New York to join several other states and mandate the practice, to insure that confessions are obtained legally. Doing so would both protect innocent suspects and avoid false claims of coercion by the police.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Social Networks Ban Sex Offenders

New York Daily Record:
The e-STOP law has resulted in the removal of more than 24,000 accounts and online profiles linked to registered sex offenders.

It requires sex offenders to register and keep up to date all current email accounts, screen names and any other Internet identifiers with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The list is then given to more than two dozen social networking companies on a weekly basis and those sites use it to purge offenders.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Public Forum: Juvenile Justice in New York State

The Fund for Modern Courts, together with the New York State Bar Association, will be holding a public forum on the topic "Juvenile Justice in New York State: The Criminal Age of Responsibility (Practice, Law and Reform)."

The forum will be held Thursday April 28, 2011 at the State Bar Center, in Albany, New York.

The panelists will discuss the present practice, relevant law and legislative reforms surrounding the issue of the age of criminal responsibility in New York. New York is one of only two states that sets the age of criminal responsibility as low as sixteen years old. What the present state of the law is, how it affects the defense and prosecution of children, what it requires of the court system and its impact on the criminal justice system will be presented by the panelists. Recently proposed legislation seeking to alter New York’s juvenile justice system treatment of juvenile and youth offenders, and the practical ways lawyers and the courts can address the laws and policy governing the juvenile justice system will also be discussed. The panelists will present the issues from the perspective of the judiciary, attorneys, policy makers, educators, and advocates.

The forum is free and open to the public.

For more information, or to register for the event, click here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Protecting Safe Deposit Boxes from Seizure

ABC News reports that some states, including California, are seizing the contents of safe deposit boxes without giving the owners proper notice. Some of these states are also seizing "unclaimed" property. This is being done by these states in a effort to balance their budgets.

Here are some tips to protect your property from improper seizure:
• Make contact with your bank, your brokerage firm, etc. at least once a year, in a way that creates a paper trail. Make sure they have your current address.

• If you own stock, occasionally vote your proxies or take other steps to keep your stock ownership active. Stay in touch with your broker.

• Write a list of all your accounts and keep it with your will, so your heirs will know where to look.

• Consider insuring valuables even if you keep them in your safe-deposit box. That way, you're covered financially if the bank or state makes a mistake and empties your box. Plus, safe-deposit contents have been known to be destroyed by fire or flooding.

You can also search for unclaimed property in your name for free, using the website given here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The 2011 "Dirty Dozen" Tax Scams

The Internal Revenue Service has released its annual report of swindles to dodge and scams to avoid when preparing your taxes:
“The Dirty Dozen represents the worst of the worst tax scams,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “Don’t fall prey to these tax scams. They may look tempting, but these fraudulent deals end up hurting people who participate in them.”

The IRS works with the Justice Department to pursue and shut down perpetrators of these and other illegal scams. Promoters frequently end up facing heavy fines and imprisonment. Meanwhile, taxpayers who wittingly or unwittingly get involved with these schemes must repay all taxes due plus interest and penalties.

Here are the scams and frauds to look out for this year:

• Hiding Income Offshore
• Identity Theft and Phishing
• Return Preparer Fraud
• Filing False or Misleading Forms
• Frivolous Arguments
• Nontaxable Social Security Benefits with Exaggerated Withholding Credit
• Abuse of Charitable Organizations and Deductions
• Abusive Retirement Plans
• Disguised Corporate Ownership
• Phony Zero Wages informational returns
• Misuse of Trusts
• Fuel Tax Credit Scams

For more information on how to avoid these scams, see the link above.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Latest New York Cell Phone Crackdown Begins Monday

‘Operation Hang Up’ starts Monday on Thruway:
An initiative aiming to increase enforcement of the state law banning cell phone use while driving will be in effect April 11-14.

It’s the fifth time that “Operation Hang Up” will be enforced by The New York State Thruway Authority and New York Police...

As noted here, new penalties for cell phone usage while driving were recently put in place by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. In addition to fines and surcharges, tickets for cell phone use can raise drivers' insurance rates.

Motorists should take care to avoid tickets and, if they receive a ticket, consider contacting an attorney.

Friday, April 8, 2011

New York's E-Waste Recycling Law Takes Effect

New York Times:
The new law mandates that manufacturers pay for the collection, handling and recycling of electronic products to keep materials that may contain toxic metals like lead and mercury from going into the trash, and later into incinerators and landfills. While some major companies already take items back through collections and trade-in programs, the new law requires the makers of electronics to set up a permanent system of collections throughout the state.

Part of the goal is to make it simpler for consumers to prepare for 2015, when it will be illegal to throw electronics into the regular trash.

More on the new law here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Changes to flexible spending accounts

Flexible Spending Accounts are employee benefits that allow you to set aside a portion of your earnings to pay for certain approved expenses, such as medical costs or dependent care. Money deducted from your pay into such an account is not subject to payroll taxes and can result in tax savings.

However, as YNN television reports, recent changes to flexible spending accounts may create new confusion, and new tax liabilities. For example:
As of January 1st, over-the-counter drugs were not supposed to be covered under flexible spending accounts, but things like contact solution and band-aids were still eligible. Even pharmacists say keeping it all straight is proving to be a challenge.

For more information on health care spending accounts and eligible expenses, check out the above link. In addition, make sure to obtain competent tax law and financial advice from a qualified attorney or accountant.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Congress Votes to Repeal Unpopular Reporting Law

Fox News:
The Senate voted overwhelmingly, 87-12, Tuesday to repeal an unpopular reporting requirement in the new health care reform bill that small business owners had said would impose a tsunami of paperwork had it gone into effect in 2012. The paperwork mandate would have required all businesses to report to the IRS each time they made payments and purchases totaling more than $600 in a calendar year, regardless of what the money was used to buy.

More the reporting requirements here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cornell Law School Society Holds Panels to Promote Environmental Law

Cornell Daily Sun:
In the hopes of promoting an environmental law program, The Cornell Law School’s Environmental Law Society gathered more than 60 panelists and speakers from around the country for a conference on gas drilling, sustainability and energy policy this weekend.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New York Creates New Penalties for Cell Phones While Driving

Attorney Steven Getman is reminding New York State drivers that new penalties are in place for people who talk on cell phones while driving.

“Until recently, drivers who used a cell phone without a hands free device were subject to nothing more than a fine.” Getman explained.

“However, on February 16, the state Department of Motor Vehicles changed the punishment. Violations are now subject to two ‘points’ on a driver's license. Those points can increase a driver’s insurance rates, much like a speeding ticket or auto accident.”

In addition, Getman noted some police agencies will place extra emphasis on their cell phone enforcement for extended periods of time. The police say they are doing so to deter distracted drivers.

“With increased penalties and stepped-up enforcement, motorists who receive a ticket for using a cell phone should consider consulting an attorney to discuss their legal rights before pleading guilty,” Getman said.

More information on the new cell phone rules can be found here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Proposed Law Would Criminalize Posting Crime Scene Photos

According to the Wall Street Journal, "bills introduced in the Senate and Assembly would make it a crime for public servants on duty to take unauthorized pictures or videos of crime scenes and circulate them."

The article states that the crime would be a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

According to the story, the law was proposed in response to an emergency worker "who photographed a woman found beaten and strangled and later posted the image on his Facebook page."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Law School Conference to Look at Cyberbullying

From Hofstra Law School:
In light of recent incidents of cyberbullying, it is more important than ever to ensure a safe environment for youth at schools, in their communities and online. This conference will bring together educators, lawyers, policymakers and mental health professionals to learn about cyberbullying, examine the current state of the law and consider issues regarding the first amendment, school liability and criminal justice.