Monday, October 15, 2018

New web platform helps users research meanings of words used in Constitution, Supreme Court opinions

A web platform that provides law-related historic linguistics information was announced recently:
Corpus linguistics involves the use of naturally occurring language in large collections of texts—called corpora—to help determine the meanings of words and phrases, according to a press release about the platform.

The unveiling of the Law and Corpus Linguistics Technology Platform, which is free to use, ties in with Constitution Day, the anniversary of the document’s ratification.

The Corpus of Founding Era American English, which allows users to examine how words from the Constitution were used from 1750 to 1799, is searchable on the platform; as is the Corpus of Early Modern English, which has more than 40,000 texts from 1485 to 1800; and the Corpus of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has more than 32,000 court documents. BYU Dean D. Gordon Smith said in the release that this is “the first corpora featuring all United States Supreme Court rulings (up to the most recent term).”

Georgetown University law professor Lawrence Solum said the new corpora will be helpful to those who want to research the meaning of the Constitution. “The method of corpus linguistics … provides an important tool for the recovery of the original public meaning of the constitutional text.”

The platform is available here. For more on the program, click here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

“Raise the Age” law takes effect: Schuyler County looks at consortium to address new state mandates for housing juvenile and adolescent criminal defendants.

In response to state mandates changing how teenagers charged with crimes can be tried and detained, the Schuyler County Legislature will consider voting Tuesday (October 9) to join a planned ten-county consortium looking at ways to comply with the new “Raise the Age” law and lessen the burden on local taxpayers.

On Wednesday (October 3) the county’s Legislative Resolution Review Committee tentatively approved authorizing Chair Dennis Fagan to sign an Intermunicipal Cooperation Agreement between the counties to create a not-for-profit local development corporation. That corporation, if formed, would develop and operate a joint detention facility pursuant to the “Raise the Age” law, eliminating the need for the county to create and operate its own facility. The full legislature will now take up the matter October 9.

Under “Raise the Age,” effective October 1, rather than be tried in criminal court, sixteen-year-olds charged with most crimes will have their cases heard in Family Court. In addition, they can no longer be held in local jails. The law will expand to seventeen-year-olds on October 1, 2019.

According to Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, who acts as the Family Court prosecutor, youth who are charged with misdemeanors (other than traffic offenses) and most felonies will have their cases heard in Family Court, except in “extraordinary circumstances.” Cases involving sex offenses, defendants who display a weapon while committing a crime or cause a significant physical injury can still be tried in criminal court, Getman said.

“The teenagers who have their cases heard in Family Court, will have their sentences capped at 18 months in a juvenile detention facility,” Getman noted. “They also will no longer be held in jails, regardless of the seriousness of the charges against them.”

According to Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, although the state certifies and regulates detention facilities, the state does not develop or administer the facilities, leaving that to the counties.

“This group of counties is working with a consultant to determine how to best meet the detention mandate by pooling our resources and needs,” O’Hearn explained. “It is our hope that this plan will allow Schuyler County to once again lessen the burden of state government through intermunicipal cooperation.”

O’Hearn added that the consortium should operate at no cost to the county because the state has promised reimbursement for all costs related to probation, youth detention and alternatives to detention, and allocated $100 million for “Raise the Age” in the 2018-19 budget.

Other counties who have joined—or are looking to join—the consortium are Allegany, Chemung, Cortland, Livingston, Cattaraugus, Wayne, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins and Yates. The counties have already contracted with John Treahy, of Treahy and Associates Consultation Services, an organization experienced in juvenile justice and child welfare issues, job coaching and staff training.

In addition to O’Hearn and Getman, Schuyler County officials working to comply with “Raise the Age” include District Attorney Joe Fazzary (whose office will continue to prosecute adult offenders), Social Services Commissioner JoAnn Fratarcangelo, Sheriff William Yessman and Probation Director Chris Rosno.

The “Raise the Age” law is intended as a shift from punishing to rehabilitating teens charged with crimes. While in custody, the suspects will be eligible for a variety of case services and programs to divert them from offending again and give them access to treatment for addiction or other problems.

The “Raise the Age NY Campaign” believes the law will be more effective in preventing re-offenses. They cite a U.S. Center for Disease Control study that found youth who are tried in the adult criminal justice system are 34 percent more likely to commit future crimes than those who remain in the youth justice system.

The legislature’s October 9 meeting will be held at the Schuyler County Courthouse, 105 Ninth Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891, beginning at 6:30 pm.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Schuyler County Presents: Planning for Peace of Mind

Schuyler County will present “Planning for Peace of Mind” on Saturday, October 6 at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls, New York.

Informational table topics will include Medicare Plans, Powers of Attorney, Wills, Volunteering and Community Programs and Services.

Presentations will be given on the following topics:

• Power of Attorney in Detail Workshop;
• Elder Law Survival Guide, Elder Abuse;
• Top Five Things You Need to Know about Medicare Open Enrollment;
• The Probate Process.
The event runs from 9:00 am to Noon at the 323 Owego Street, Conference Room 120, Montour Falls, New York.

Free breakfast snacks with coffee will be provided.

RSVP is required. To register to attend or for more information, please call the Schuyler County Office for the Aging at 607.535.7108.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Third National Prosecutors' Summit on Child Abuse

The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys' Child Abuse Prosecution Project will be holding its third National Prosecutors’ Summit on Child Abuse and Neglect.

The summit is being held in Montclair, New Jersey on September 25-27 and featurs instruction from leading experts in the field of child abuse and neglect on cutting edge topics employing the most current model practices for investigating and prosecuting cases of child abuse and neglect.

These three days will consist of multiple tracks being available for prosecutors, investigators, law enforcement, forensic interviewers, social workers, and other multi-disciplinary team members.

The conference is being co-sponsored by the Northeast Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, the New Jersey Children's Alliance, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, and Montclair State University.

For more information, click here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Schuyler County recognizes September 17 as Constitution and Citizenship Day

The Schuyler County Legislature has enacted a resolution recognizing September 17 as Constitution and Citizenship Day.

The resolution, drafted by County Attorney Steven Getman, urges civil and educational authorities of states, counties, cities and towns to make plans for the proper observance of the day and “for the complete instruction of citizens in their responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the United States and of the State and locality in which they reside.” It was passed by the legislature at its September 10 meeting.

September 17 marks the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution, which, the resolution notes, "is the supreme law of the land and the document by which the people of this country self-govern."

In remembrance of the signing of the Constitution and in recognition of the Americans who strive to uphold the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, the Congress, by joint resolution of February 29, 1952 (36 U.S.C. 106), designated September 17 as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day."

The complete text of the resolution appears below.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Schuyler County joins class action lawsuit against U.S. Department of Interior

Watkins Glen, NY—Schuyler County has successfully opted into a class action lawsuit against the federal government to recover payments in lieu of property taxes on federal lands within the county.

According to Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, the county was notified Friday (August 31) that its claim had been accepted in the Kane County, Utah v. United States class action lawsuit to recover federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) underpayments for fiscal years 2015 through 2017.

The County Legislature voted August 13 to authorize Getman to file papers joining the lawsuit.

The United States Court of Claims has held that underpayments by the Department of Interior on federal PILT programs in Kane County and other local governments may have occurred during 2015 to 2017, Getman explained.   The PILT Act is intended to compensate local governments for tax revenues lost from federal lands in their jurisdictions, and the costs of providing services to those lands, Getman said.

That could include the part of the Finger Lakes National Forest in the Town of Hector, Getman said.

“If court determines the county was underpaid under PILT agreements for lands in the National Forest, the county can recover additional money” Getman said.   “There is no cost to participate in the lawsuit and no disadvantage to the county to do so.”

According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, “any money collected would go to the county as direct revenue to offset the cost of services to the forest and lost tax revenue, in order to reduce the local tax burden.”

“Given the fiscal stresses placed on local governments by state and federal mandates, county officials have a duty to make sure that any funds due Schuyler County taxpayers come back to Schuyler County to pay for necessary services,” Getman noted.

County Treasurer Harriett Vickio has reported that the County received payments for the affected years as follows:  2015, $16,526.00; 2016, $17,244.00; 2017, $17,091.00.   

Any additional amounts for those years obtained from the lawsuit would be calculated by the court, Getman said.