Thursday, November 29, 2012

State appellate court upholds permanent neglect by incarcerated father

Albany—An upstate appellate court has upheld a Tompkins County Family Court ruling that terminated the parental rights of a convicted felon and freed his children for adoption.
 In a decision released Thursday (November 29, 2012), the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division held that the Tompkins County Department of Social Services (“DSS) had made “diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen [the father’s] relationship with his children,” and affirmed the decision of the local Family Court that held the father had permanently neglected his children.

According to the decision, the father is in state prison for “attempted assault in the first degree,” and will not be eligible for parole until October 2013.  In January 2010, the decision notes, the children (born in 2002 and 2003) were removed from their mother's home on neglect allegations and placed in DSS custody.

After the children were placed, the court held, the children’s caseworker provided the father with permanency reports and information about his rights and responsibilities, facilitated written correspondence between him and the children, and sent him photographs and sought his recommendations for a home for the children while he was in jail.  However, the father’s recommendations proved unsuitable, the court said.

“[W]hen his relatives were rejected, the only alternative he was able to propose was his homeless
girlfriend, who apparently had no relationship with the children,” the court wrote.

In addition, the court rejected the father’s argument that the DSS should have brought the children to his prison for visits, given their ages, emotional concerns, and the distance between the prison and their foster homes.

DSS “proved by clear and convincing evidence that it made affirmative, repeated and meaningful
efforts” on behalf of the father and the children, the court ruled.  Therefore, it upheld the Family Court’s ruling.

The real names of the father and the children were not released in the court order, to protect their privacy.

The father was represented in the appeal by Ithaca attorney Pamela B. Bleiwas.  The DSS was represented by Joseph Cassidy.  Ovid attorney Steven J. Getman was attorney for the children.

The complete court decision can be found here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Legal links of interest: week ending November 16, 2012

Some of the stories about the law and lawyers in the news this past week:

District Attorney acted in porn movies: Mark Suben, the Cortland County district attorney, admitted he acted in pornographic movies in the 1970s after denying it during his campaign.

Ranchers, farmers brace for 'death tax' impact: When the Bush-era tax rates expire in January, rates increase to 55 percent on estates of $1 million or more, impacting family farms.

Eight guilty pleas in$1 Million identity theft scheme: The identity theft ring used the stolen identities of hundreds of innocent victims, produced fake driver’s licenses, and stole over $1 million in merchandise, gift cards and store credits at Home Depot, Sears, Kmart, Kohl’s and other retail stores. 

Judge weighs delay in Penn St. whistleblower suit: A judge plans to rule within two weeks on Penn State's request to delay the whistleblower and defamation case filed by former assistant football coach Mike McQueary.

Supreme Court grantsreview in important Voting Rights Act case: Critics charge the provision at issue is used to create racially gerrymandered, segregated voting districts.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Legal guide for New York property owners: recovery and rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy

The New York State Attorney General’s office  has issued a guide to New Yorkers recovering from Hurricane Sandy.  The guide includes tips on “how to avoid scams as they restore and rebuild their homes and businesses.”

The tips offered in the guide include information on hiring a reputable contractor for property clean-up and repair, as well as how to avoid and report illegal price gouging.

For more information, click here.