Friday, December 28, 2012

New laws for the New Year

Nationwide, more than two hundred new laws will take effect January 1, according to Ovid Attorney Steven Getman.

In some states, the new laws include legalization of gay marriages and marijuana usage.

In New York State, the new laws include:

A new sales tax exemption designed to encourage solar energy use;

Laws to help craft brewers distribute their products;

A prohibition on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors;

New ways for colleges to provide health insurance for students.

According to Getman, residents with questions about their states' laws should contact a competent attorney of their own choosing in that state to make sure they understand their rights and responsibilities.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Town of Seneca Falls files petition against zoning board

Finger Lakes Times:
Attorney Steven Getman has served an order to show cause on the town Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Town Board objects to the ZBA’s decision to grant a use variance to the owner of the Arcade Building at 81-83 Fall St. that would allow the building to be converted to as many as eight apartments on its three levels, along with commercial uses in the street-level offices.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Seneca Falls Town Board retains Getman to file action against ZBA

Finger Lakes Times:
Following a 100-minute closed-door session Tuesday night, the Town Board voted to sue the town Zoning Board of Appeals over a recent decision regarding a downtown building.
The board takes issue with the ZBA’s decision to grant a variance to the owner of The Arcade Building at 81-83 Fall St., allowing it to have up to eight apartments.
Board member Emil Bove made a motion to direct Supervisor Donald Earle to hire attorney Steven Getman of the Franklin & Gabriel Law Firm in Ovid to take legal action challenging the ZBA’s Oct. 25 decision.
Town officials said the ZBA erred in granting the area variance to owner Jack Pross to convert the building, saying eight apartments is too many and there would not be sufficient parking for tenants.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New York law limits when businesses can demand your Social Security number

The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York):
On Dec. 12, a new state law limiting the rights of businesses to ask consumers for their Social Security number takes effect.

Companies, as well as individuals, will be barred from requiring individuals to disclose their Social Security account numbers except under certain circumstances. They also will be prohibited from refusing to provide any service based on a person’s refusal to disclose his Social Security number....

The exceptions include situations in which the use of a Social Security number is required by federal, state or local law or regulation, or the number is needed for internal verification, fraud investigations, banking and credit-related activities, or in connection with employment, insurance or tax purposes.
More on the new law can be found here.

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.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New York Increases Penalties for Repeat Domestic Abusers

New York State has enacted new penalties for repeat domestic abusers, including tougher standards for bail pending trial.

The law was signed on Thursday (October 25).  It creates the crime of “Aggravated Family Offense.”  Under the law defendants who commit certain offenses against family members and have a previous conviction for doing so within the past five years can be charged with a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.  The law also expands the definition of “Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree” to include when a defendant, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm, causes physical injury to an individual, or to a family or household member of that individual.

The new law also requires judges to consider various risk factors, including access to firearms and previous violations of orders of protection, when setting bail for people accused of a family offense.

For more on the new law and its requirements click here.