Friday, December 23, 2011

New York's expanded "move over" law takes effect January 1

Starting on January 1, New York's "Move Over" will expand to include tow trucks.

The current law fines drivers in New York if they don't move into another lane for police and ambulance vehicles on the road.

The new law will mean that anytime drivers see an emergency vehicle or tow truck with lights flashing, they must move to the other lane.

State officials say the expanded law will make it safer for people who respond and assist on accident scenes or for disabled vehicles.

Violators can receive two points on their license and up to a 150-dollar fine if they don't follow the new law.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Appeal: Mother Loses Support, Custody for Interfering With Father's Rights

From the New York Law Journal:
A mother who "deliberately and unjustifiably frustrated" a father's attempts to visit his child was appropriately stripped of child support and primary custody, an appellate panel in Albany has held.

The Appellate Division, Third Department, unanimously affirmed a Schuyler County Family Court judge in a case where the custodial mother had repeatedly hindered her estranged husband's efforts to establish relations with his daughter, even though the father made no attempt to enforce his visitation rights for six years....

The court said that while the father "lost contact with his daughter for several years and did not adequately explain why he took so long to re-establish a connection," by the time of the hearing he had been working for more than a year to connect with his daughter.

"The record supports the finding that the mother deliberately and unjustifiably frustrated the father's visitation, moving without notifying the father and attempting to informally transfer custody to another person…without informing the father," Justice McCarthy wrote in an opinion joined by Justices Karen K. Peters , John A. Lahtinen, Leslie E. Stein and Elizabeth A. Garry.

Appearing were Martha N. Hertzberg of Ithaca for Mr. Luke; Lisa K. Miller of McGraw for Ms. Luke; and Steven J. Getman of Ovid for the child.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New law bans dumping rechargeable batteries in the trash

Beginning Monday (December 5) it is illegal in New York to dispose of rechargeable batteries in the trash.

The New York State Rechargeable Battery Law prohibits the disposal of rechargeable batteries, including cell phone batteries, laptop batteries or camera batteries, in
non-recyclable containers.

Instead, the batteries must be returned to recycling bins at retail stores.

Almost every retailer that sells rechargeable batteries is now required to
provide recycling receptacles to consumers in their stores. Small-food stores that sell

Failure to provide or use the receptacles can lead to fines ranging from $50.00 for consumers and $5000.00 for the retailers.

More on the new law can be found here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New York State Court of Appeals to Decide Tompkins County School Harassment Case

From the Ithaca Journal:
ALBANY -- The state's highest court has agreed to hear the Ithaca City School District's appeal of a finding that it failed to adequately address racial harassment and threats of violence against a black middle-school student....

The state Division of Human Rights decided in May 2009 that the school district engaged in unlawful discriminatory practice by failing to protect the girl from a group of white students' harassment and threats in the 2005-06 school year....

Ithaca City schools have maintained that the Division of Human Rights does not have jurisdiction over public school districts. The state Supreme Court in Tompkins County agreed with the district in a 2009 decision.

The state Appellate Division, 3rd Department disagreed in a June 30, 2011, ruling. It reduced awards of $200,000 each for the mother and daughter to $200,000 for the daughter and $50,000 for Amelia Kearney.

But Ithaca City schools point to a case on Long Island that was dismissed by the mid-level state court, which said school districts don't come under the state human-rights law, which applies to education corporations and associations.

It has been reported that fewer than one out of ten applications for leave to appeal are granted.

The existence of conflicting rulings among the Appellate Divisions, as is apparently the case here, is one of the factors that will sometimes convince the state's high court to hear an appeal.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tompkins County: Attorneys to Discuss Hydrofracking Risks and Rewards

The Ithaca Journal:
Legal opportunities and risks for municipalities banning hydraulic fracturing will be discussed at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Enfield Elementary School...

A question-and-answer session will follow.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Technology in today's courtroom

From Gannett News:
The use of recordings and projected photos in courtrooms is not new. Overhead projectors and tape recorders have been used for decades....

But the ability to engage 21st-century jurors accustomed to computers, smart phones, and televisions by seamlessly weaving together evidence with a multimedia presentation is, experts say.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New York Town Extends Landfill Moratorium

Finger Lakes Times:
The [Ovid] Town Board has extended its moratorium on new landfills or monofills for another year.

The board imposed the initial, one-year moratorium in May 2010. At its September meeting, the board renewed the moratorium for another year.

Town officials said the moratorium is designed to allow the town and planning boards additional time to study the potential impact of landfills and monofills on groundwater and agriculture and other quality-of-life factors.

Town Attorney Steven Getman, the Seneca County Planning Department, the town Planning Board and Supervisor Walt Prouty, researched and drafted the town’s moratorium.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New York's Good Samaritan Law Takes Effect

New York State's Good Samaritan law is now in effect.

The law is designed to curb accidental deaths from overdoses. It encourages witnesses or victims of alcohol or drug overdoses to call 911 for emergency assistance. The law provides limitations on use of evidence obtained in connection with a person seeking or receiving health care for a drug overdose.

Supporters of the law say victims or callers will be protected from being charged or prosecuted for drug or alcohol possession. According to them, most overdose deaths are preventable if they get immediate help, and the primary reason people do not call for assistance is a fear of getting arrested.

More on the law can be found here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Schools are open. Drive safe. Avoid tickets.

New York State schools begin classes this week.

This means that many school speed limits are, again, in effect. Typically, these speed limits are fifteen miles per hour, effective from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm on school days.

In addition, school buses will be back on the roads in the early mornings and late afternoons, picking up or discharging children.

Many police agencies will be out in force this week, enforcing these laws. Penalties for violating these traffic rules can be stiff, ranging from fines, to points on your drivers’ license and, in some case, lose of driving privileges. If you receive a traffic ticket for violating any of these laws, it is recommended that you consult with a qualified attorney of your own choosing, to determine the penalties you face, and your legal rights.

However, the best way to avoid these penalties is to drive safely. Motorists are reminded to be on the lookout for schools, buses and pedestrians, to make sure each student has a safe and enjoyable school year.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Texas Man Kicked Off Jury For Trying To 'Friend' Defendant

AOL News:
A North Texas juror got an unfriendly reaction from a judge after he tried to 'friend' the defendant on Facebook....

Jonathan Hudson pled guilty to four counts of contempt of court as a result of his actions, which his lawyer described as a "silly mistake"....

In 2009, the New York Times wrote a piece about the ways in which the Internet has contributed to a several mistrials across the country.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Some New York State Courts Closed from Hurricane Irene

According to the New York State Office of Court Administration, a number of courts, including several in the Southern Tier of upstate New York, are closing and/or rescheduling Monday’s court cases, due to Hurricane Irene.

People with business before the courts on Monday are urged to check the state’s official website, or contact the court first thing in the morning, to make sure their case has not been adjourned to another date.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seneca County Group Targets Underage Drinking

The Seneca County Substance Abuse Coalition has received a grant to address the issue of underage drinking.

The first step is a survey of Seneca County adults. Youth in grades 9 through 12 will be surveyed in the Fall.

The purpose of the survey is to obtain input on Seneca County's
•Needs and Problems facing youth
•Attitudes, Beliefs and Practices toward underage drinking.

The information received will be confidential and will help the coalition develop a plan to reduce underage drinking in Seneca County.

Underage drinking may lead to both serious legal consequences and serious health and safety consequences. Seneca County residents: Please take 15 minutes and fill out this online community survey entitled “Prevention First-NY.” The deadline is September 30, 2011.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Federal courts again experiment with allowing cameras

From the Citizen Media Law Project:
The program, which was approved by the U.S. Judicial Conference last year and allows court-operated cameras to cover civil proceedings in 14 federal trial courts, is just the latest chapter in the long saga on the question of camera coverage of federal trial courts.

This is not the first time that the federal courts have experimented with camera coverage of their proceedings. From 1991 through 1994, the federal courts conducted a limited test of camera coverage of civil trials in eight federal district courts, which led to a recommendation that federal courts allow televised proceedings. But the Judicial Conference -- which sets policies for all federal courts except the U.S. Supreme Court, which sets its own rules -- rejected this recommendation, concluding in 1994 that “the intimidating effect of cameras on some witnesses and jurors was a cause for serious concern.”

The Judicial Conference then relented a bit, deciding in March 1996 to allow each federal Circuit to decide the issue for itself and the district courts in its geographic area, while strongly urging the Circuits to follow the Conference’s 1994 policy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Report: Affinity frauds increase in economic downturn

From the New York Post:
Maybe it's the bad economy. Maybe it's people's desire to look past Wall Street and invest with someone they believe they can trust.

But whatever the reason, swindles of friends by friends are on the rise -- so much so, that prosecutors have coined a separate name for it: Affinity frauds...Savvy people who would never dream of investing with a cold-call telephone huckster will hock their homes and ruin their credit for a "friend" with an honest face and a good idea....

Many “friendly” business offers are legitimate. However, even a legitimate business deal can go sour if one or both parties do not realize what they are getting into.

The best way to avoid fraud, or other legal complications, is to consult a qualified attorney of your own choosing before entering into any contract or making any sizeable investment, even with a friend or family member.

Monday, July 18, 2011

National Week Recognizes Probation, Parole Officers

From the Ithaca Journal:
The American Probation and Parole Association has declared July 17 as a week of recognition for the work done by probation and parole officers providing supervision to offenders in the community. And for very good reason: There are more than 120,000 people on probation alone in New York. This number is more than the combined total of parolees and individuals incarcerated in the prison system. Probation is the largest alternative-to-incarceration program available to the courts and provides a crucial service in the justice system….

Probation officers are agents of the court and are responsible for ensuring that court- ordered conditions are met. To do this, probation officers provide direction, guidance and mentoring in face-to-face supervision appointments.

More on the role of probation and correctional alternatives in the justice system can be found here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Indictment Dismissed in Ithaca Hospital Assault Case

From Fingerlakes1:
A Tompkins County Judge has dismissed the indictment against one of the men accused of participating in an attempted gang assault at Cayuga Medical Center in May 2010.

In a decision dated Wednesday (July 13, 2011) Judge John Rowley ruled that the assistant district attorney who presented the case against James Marshall to the grand jury failed to provide sufficient evidence of Marshall’s involvement and "violated his duty of ‘fair dealing to the accused."

Rowley’s decision came after Marshall’s attorney, Steven Getman, filed motions to dismiss the case for lack of evidence and due to defective grand jury proceedings. As part of that motion, Getman had argued that the prosecution did not provide the grand jury with evidence of Marshall’s repeated denials of guilt to the police.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New guide to New York's gay marriage law

With the passage of the Marriage Equality Act in New York, gay and lesbian couples will have the opportunity to get marriage licenses beginning July 24.

In anticipation of the many questions surrounding the new law, an online guide has been set up to address some of these concerns.

The guide offers legal advice from attorneys, and goes over the basic rules surrounding the same sex marriage law, including:
• applying for a marriage license;
• the rights and responsibilities conferred by marriage;
• the implications of the law’s religious exemptions; and
• limitations imposed by the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The guide is currently available here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Documents You Need Before You Die

The Wall Street Journal has printed a list of the 25 documents you need before you die. They include:
• An original will;
• Proof of ownership for major assets, such as real property and motor vehicles;
• A complete listing of all bank accounts;
• A durable health-care power-of-attorney form;
• Life insurance policies and retirement accounts;
• Marriage and/or divorce papers.

The Journal also gives some advice on where to store these items. However, the laws of each state vary and, in certain jurisdictions, the locations suggested could create legal problems for your heirs.

Therefore, while everyone is strongly encouraged to locate and/or prepare these documents, anyone reading this list should make sure to consult with a competent attorney of their own choosing before following all the advice in this article.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Failing Report Card: New York’s Civic Illiteracy

According to a new study, New Yorkers are seriously lacking in their knowledge of government, politics and the U.S. Constitution. Among the responses:

• Fewer than two in ten New Yorkers believe they are actually very familiar with the document.

• Sixty-two percent of respondents incorrectly believe that the president, not Congress, has the power to declare war.

• Two out of five New Yorkers could not identify which branch of government makes laws.

More on the study here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bar association to improve law school jobs data

According to the New York Daily Record:
[T]he American Bar Association’s Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar is requiring law schools to provide more detailed job and salary information on the questionnaire they provide to the ABA. The expanded information to be required is in the areas of employment status, employer type and employer location.

Two recent Vanderbilt law School graduates, Patrick Lynch and Kyle McEntee, started Law School Transparency in 2010 to obtain more accurate job information for prospective law students. The problem, they say, isn’t with falsified data, it’s with misleading information.

Regarding job status, information on the type of job obtained will include whether the job requires bar passage, is a job for which a law degree is preferred or just what type of job the graduate is in. More specific unemployment status will also be included as well as information regarding jobs funded by the law school. Information on where graduates find the most work will be included, as well as state-specific salary information.

The expanded information from the questionnaires will be published in the ABA’s LSAC Guide in June 2012.

Law students, like all consumers, deserve transparency and accuracy from providers of services. Educators, including law schools, should have a special duty to provide accurate information to their consumers/students. I applaud the American Bar Association for working towards greater accuracy in this area.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day: New York State Senate passes bills to assist active military

The New York State Senate has passed two new bills, aimed at protecting the parental rights of our military members:
Bill S.3228 prevents the courts from considering the potential for a military service deployment as a detrimental factor when determining parental custody of a child. So long as the parent provides a suitable child care plan for the period of deployment, under the bill, the courts would not be able to infringe upon that parent’s custodial rights, helping more families of service members to stay together.

Bill S.3192 allows a parent to designate a short-term military service guardian, when necessary, during the period in which a custodial parent will be on active military duty. This guardian would only be designated if there is not another parent who has joint custody of the child, a parent whose parental rights have not been terminated, whose whereabouts are known, and who is willing to make the day-to-day decisions for the child.

The bills have been forwarded to the State Assembly for approval. If passed by the Assembly, the bills would then be forwarded to the governor for further action.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorial Day: Drive Safely and Avoid Traffic Tickets

With Memorial Day weekend starting Friday, attorney Steven Getman is reminding motorists to practice safe driving habits on New York State roads.

“Memorial Day weekend is a heavily traveled period,” Getman said. “Not only does this increase the chances for accidents, but state and local police will be out in full force.”

Troopers are already are in the midst of the "Buckle Up New York: Click It or Ticket" campaign, Getman noted. In addition, he warned, "sobriety saturation patrols" will be on the roads this holiday weekend looking for drunken drivers.

Other police officers will be keeping an eye out drivers who are texting or talking on their cell phones, Getman said.

“The best way to avoid traffic tickets is to drive safely and obey the law,” Getman explained. “However, if a motorist does get a ticket—or worse, into an accident--he or she should make sure to contact a competent attorney to discuss his or her legal rights and responsibilities.”

For more information on this weekend's traffic safety initiatives, click here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Decisions from the N.Y. Court of Appeals

New York State’s highest court has issued a number of decisions this week on civil and criminal law.

The cases cover a number of issues, including the privacy of medical records, a criminal defendant's right to a public trial and whether the police are required to interview witnesses after overhearing potentially exculpatory statements.

Decisions of the New York State Court of Appeals are binding on all lower courts within the state. The decisions are available to the public and can be found at the court’s website.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Federal Law May Force Obama to Make Bin Laden Pics Public

A number of news organizations, including AP, Fox and NPR, are claiming a federal open government law requires the White House to make public the photographs of a deceased Osama Bin Laden.

According to the Atlantic Monthly:
"Pictures of Osama bin Laden and other images from that mission would have compelling news value and public interest," said Dick Meyer, executive editor for news at NPR. "I can foresee circumstances or arguments that would lead us to refrain from publishing the images if we were to get them, but NPR should be in a position to make that decision and not simply accept the government's action."

The National Law Journal notes that national security claims might make the news groups’ difficult, but cites experts who say that the government may, ultimately, have to release the pictures, under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):
"Theoretically, they could win," said Scott Hodes, who from 1998 to 2002 was the acting unit chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Section's litigation unit and is now a solo practitioner in Washington. "It will not be an easy decision. There are reasons on both sides."

The FOIA requires that all federal agency records be accessible to the public unless there exists a specific exemption....

In addition to news organizations, a number of groups have announces plans to file suit to obtain the materials, including the open government group Judicial Watch.
"President Obama's decision not to release the bin Laden photos is at odds with his promises to make his administration the most transparent in history," wrote the group. "Judicial Watch hopes its FOIA requests will provide a mechanism to release these records in an orderly fashion in compliance with the FOIA law. President Obama's reluctance to spike the football is not a lawful reason for withholding these historic public documents from the American people."

In recent history, from the Pentagon Papers to Wikileaks, the need to balance national security against the right of the citizens to open government is an ongoing, and important, public policy issue. Ultimately, as is so often the case, the issue will likely be decided in the courts.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Can a Facebook 'poke' be a threat?

A federal court is grabbling with the question whether a Facebook "poke" can constitute a threat. According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

Today, a federal prosecutor asked that bail be revoked for Richard "Eric" Riedman, who authorities allege is a member of the Hell's Angels. Riedman is awaiting trial on allegations that he and others stole scrap metal from a CSX railroad yard. An earlier trial on the charges ended up with a hung jury....

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Harvey contended that Riedman's bail should be revoked ...because he allegedly "poked" a cooperating witness -- Christopher Monfort -- through Facebook....

Authorities allege that Riedman was ordered not to have contact with Monfort, who testified for almost nine days in the earlier scrap metal trial. They also allege that the Facebook "poke" could be the basis of a criminal charge of tampering with a witness.

U.S. District Judge Charles Siragusa questioned today why prosecutors didn't criminally charge Riedman if they believed they had sufficient proof he had tried to intimidate a witness. Harvey said prosecutors might not have enough evidence to prove guilt because Riedman's computer is now being monitored after being seized.

Harvey acknowledged, "This isn't a straightforward ... threat."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Court of Appeals Issues New Decisions.

New York State’s highest court has issued a number of decisions this week on civil and criminal law.

The cases cover a number of issues, including what constitutes effective assistance of counsel, possible child neglect, the proper disposition of a juvenile delinquency case and time limits for lawsuits involving alleged negligence by a school board member.

The decisions are available to the public and can be found at the court’s website.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Are iPads Violating Federal Record Keeping Laws?

“Apple’s iPad tablet computer could allow White House staffers to circumvent a law aimed at preserving all official communications,” according to a report at the Hill website:
It is unclear how many White House staffers have iPads and to what extent they are used for official business, but the issue highlights the difficulties of the Presidential Records Act, which has failed to keep up with changes in the way people communicate digitally.

The law mandates that all communications related to official business must be archived, and the administration’s policy is that White House staffers who use personal email or social-networking accounts to conduct official business must forward the messages for archiving to official accounts.

But there are few safeguards to ensure they do so....David Ferriero, the archivist of the U.S., said he isn’t comfortable with White House staffers determining for themselves what is and isn’t relevant for presidential records.

The issue facing the White House in this case is not unique. Many other government entities grapple with how to allow staff to use personal technology while staying compliant with “freedom of information” and government record-keeping laws.

In addition, while no one is accusing the White House of breaking the law, there have been attempts by government employees to use personal email accounts in ways that might circumvent open government laws.

In New York State, an opinion has been issued advising that that records of official business emailed to a private or home address are subject to the Freedom of Information Law. It would seem that the federal government, if it has not already, should follow suit.

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.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Police plan DWI crackdown over Super Bowl weekend

Associated Press:
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee says the statewide crackdown on drunk driving began Thursday and will run until 5 a.m. Monday, the day after the Green Bay Packers play the Pittsburgh Steelers in Texas in Super Bowl XLV. Officials say state, county and local police are adding extra patrols and checkpoints during the period.