Thursday, March 31, 2016

Recommendations for financial institutions on preventing and responding to elder financial exploitation

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued recommendations for banks and credit unions on how they can help protect senior citizens from financial abuse.

These include:

• Develop, implement and maintain internal protocols and procedures for protecting account holders from financial exploitation (FE);
• Train management and staff to prevent, detect and respond to FE;
• Detect FE by harnessing technology such as predictive analytics to detect possible FE;
• Report all cases of suspected exploitation to relevant federal, state and local authorities- including APS. : understand that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is not a barrier to reporting suspected FE; understand the role of APS; expedite response to documentation requests of APS, law enforcement and other government entities investigating reports of FE;
• Protect older account holders: including offering “convenience accounts” in place of joint accounts so trusted family/friends can write bills on behalf of senior but not legally use money for their own purposes;
• Collaborate with other stakeholders, including APS and law enforcement: help educate older account olders, caregivers and the public, participate in local multidisciplinary initiatives

For more information on how to implement the recommendations, click here.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Youthful Offender Domestic Violence Court: A Collaborative Approach to Teen Dating Violence within the Criminal Justice System

New York State prosecutors and other groups will be hosting a webinar discussing the Youthful Offender Domestic Violence Court (YODVC), a collaborative court that approaches teen dating violence cases from a teen-specific and youth development-informed perspective.

The webinar will highlight the prevalence of teen dating violence, address the unique needs of teen complainants and defendants, discuss the history and goals of the YODVC, and provide transferable lessons that prosecutors can integrate into their practice when working on teen dating violence matters.

While this webinar is focused on domestic violence/dating abuse, it is applicable to all prosecutors working with young witnesses.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Department of Justice issues guidance to courts on jail for nonpayment of fines or fees.

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a guidance letter on practices around the country related to the assessment and enforcement of fines and fees in state and local courts. This letter has been sent to state chief justices and state court administrators.

The agency alleges that, "[t]he letter addresses some of the most common practices that run afoul of the U.S. Constitution and/or other federal laws, such as incarcerating individuals for nonpayment without determining their ability to pay. The letter also discusses the importance of due process protections such as notice and, in appropriate cases, the right to counsel; the need to avoid unconstitutional bail practices; and due process concerns raised by certain private probation arrangements."

The Department has also developed a resource guide on reforming the assessment and enforcement of fines and fees.

For more information, click here.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Faith-Based Perspectives on Advancing Women's Equality: From Oppression to Empowerment

Cornell Law School’s Christian Legal Society, the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice, and the Jewish Law Students Association
are presenting this program Wednesday (March 23) at 4:30 pm in Myron Taylor Hall.

Christian, Jewish, and Muslim women's equality advocates will give their perspectives on how they use their respective faiths to empower women and promote gender equality.

For more information, click here.

Friday, March 18, 2016

March 18 is National Public Defense Day

Friday (March 18) is the first national Public Defense Day and the 53rd anniversary of Gideon v Wainwright.

Public Defense Day highlights the work public defense attorneys, investigators, social workers, and other members of the public defense community do every day.

For more information, check out the New York State Defender’s Association’s social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Reminder: Residential brush burning is prohibited in NY through May 14

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminds New Yorkers that with warming temperatures and dry conditions, residential brush burning in towns with less than 20,000 residents is prohibited from March 16 through May 14. With the lack of snow cover over much of the state and unseasonably warm temperatures forecasted, experts believe conditions for wild fires will be heightened in the coming weeks.

DEC posts a fire danger rating forecast map on a daily basis on its website.

Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in the state. When temperatures are warmer and the past fall’s debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.

New York enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce emissions. The regulations allow residential brush fires in towns during most of the year, but prohibit such burning in spring when most wildfires occur. In the five-year period since the ban was enacted, the average number of spring fires per year decreased by 33.4 percent, from 3,297 in 2009 to 1,649 to 2015.

The DEC also urges citizens to employ alternatives to burning brush, like chipping wood and downed branches for use as mulch and composting yard waste, leaves and plant clippings for use in gardens.

Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave fires unattended and must completely extinguish them before leaving the area. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round.

Some towns, primarily in and around the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park, are designated “fire towns,” and open burning is prohibited year-round in these municipalities unless an individual or group has a written permit from DEC. To find out whether a municipality is designated a “fire town” or to obtain a permit, contact the appropriate DEC regional office. A list of regional offices is available here.

Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

2016 Public Utility Law Institute | April 7, 2016

The New York State Bar Association will be sponsoring this full-day institute to stay up to date on current topics in public utility law.

Diane X. Burman, Department of Public Service Commissioner, is scheduled as keynote luncheon speaker.

The program will take place at the State Bar Center, One Elk Street, Albany, NY 12207. It is scheduled to run from 9:15am-4:05pm.

For more information, click here.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Be Alert to Tax Season Cyber Scams

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has reported a surge of scams including phishing emails and vishing (voice phishing) calls.

Examples include:

• Fake emails purporting to be from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including software companies that seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, and verifying personal identification numbers. Variation of the scams also come through text messages.
• Phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents and threatening you with police arrest, deportation, license revocation, and other penalties if you don't pay a bogus tax bill.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for personal identification numbers, passwords, or similar access information for credit cards, banks, or other financial accounts. The IRS will never call to demand an immediate payment or threaten to involve law enforcement.

If you receive an unsolicited communication from the IRS — do not act on it. Suspected phishing emails should be forwarded directly to the IRS at and then deleted. For instructions about how to report phishing calls and other IRS scams, visit the Reporting Phishing and Online Scams page on the IRS website.

Scams occur all year round, remain alert and as a reminder:

• DO NOT reply to an email with any personal information or passwords; call the organization directly to verify that the email is legitimate
• DO NOT click a link in an unsolicited email; type the organization’s web address into your web browser to verify legitimacy.

For more information click here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New York releases top ten consumer frauds of 2015

New York State officials have released a list of the top ten consumer fraud complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office in 2015 to mark National Consumer Protection Week.

The following is the 2015 list of the top ten consumer complaints by category:

1. Internet (privacy issues; spyware; consumer frauds)
2. Automobile (buying, leasing, repair, service contracts, rentals)
3. Consumer-Related Services (security systems; restaurant/catering services; tech repairs)
4. Landlord/Tenant Disputes (Security deposit releases, tenant-harassment)
5. Credit(debt collection; credit card billing; debt settlement; payday loans; credit repair; credit reporting agencies; identity theft)
6. Utilities (Wireless and Residential Phones; Energy Servicers & Suppliers; Cable and Satellite)
7. Home Repair/Construction (home improvement services not delivered or done poorly)
8. Retail Sales (any sale of goods: food, clothing, rent-to-own)
9. Mortgage (mortgage modifications; mortgage and loan broker fraud (foreclosures)
10. Mail Order (purchases made online or from a catalog).

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam, you can file complaints by completing and submitting a Consumer Bureau Online Complaint Form or calling the New York State consumer frauds line at 1-800-771-7755.

For more on the top ten scams and a list of tips consumers should use to protect themselves and their families, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Supreme Court Justice Nomination Process: Frequently Asked Questions

With the unfortunate passing of Hon. Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court Justice nomination process has again become a widely discussed subject.

The American Bar Association has posted FAQ's and other resources that shed some light on this process, including:

*Justice Scalia and his legacy
*Nomination Process Activity and Resources
*How long does it take to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court?
*7 Things To Know About Presidential Appointments To The Supreme Court

Thursday, March 3, 2016

NYS Judicial Conduct Commission releases annual report

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has released its 2016 Annual Report, covering activities throughout the calendar year 2015.

The Commission is the disciplinary agency constitutionally designated to review complaints of judicial misconduct in New York State. The Commission's objective is to enforce the obligation of judges to observe high standards of conduct while safeguarding their right to decide cases independently.

The Report is available at here. An accompanying press release is available here.