Monday, December 26, 2016

Audit Finds NYS made $6.8 Million in Medicaid Overpayments

New York State’s Medicaid system made approximately $6.8 million in inappropriate payments, including $3.5 million for separately billed medical services that should have been covered by managed care plans, according to an audit released by the State Comptroller. By the end of audit fieldwork, about $2.4 million of the overpayments were recovered.

New York’s Medicaid program, administered by the state Department of Health (DOH), is a federal, state, and locally funded program that provides a wide range of medical services to those who are economically disadvantaged or have special health care needs.

Read the full report here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

NYS Police Chiefs want ride-sharing services in upstate to help reduce drunk driving

New York Daily News:
The head of the state Association of Chiefs of Police is calling on Gov. Cuomo to expand ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to upstate to curb drunk driving.

In a letter to Cuomo, Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack wrote that upstate accounts for 51% of all licensed drivers in New York, but 65% of alcohol- and drug-impaired arrests and 59% of all fatal and personal injury crashes.

The percentages are significantly lower in New York City, which offers an array of ridesharing and mass transit options that upstate does not, Zack wrote.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Upcoming Family Court Event: Transforming Child Welfare and Children's Lives.

On December 13, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy Policy Forum will present Transforming Child Welfare and Children's Lives:Proven Strategies that Strengthen Families.

The event is billed as "a conversation about 'What Works' with individuals touched by child welfare systems."

Participants will include: Anni Keane and Rose Williams from You Gotta Believe - a NYC organization that seeks to find permanent homes for older children in the foster care system; Sheila J. Poole, the Acting Commissioner from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services; Linda S. Spears, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families; Molly McGrath Tierney, the Director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services; and Jeanette Vega from Rise - a parent support organization in NYC.

The event will run from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the Dora Maxwell Auditorium, 700 Patroon Creek Blvd, Albany, NY 12206.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Conservative Party joins fight for New York indigent defense funding

New York Daily News:
It isn't often that the state Conservative Party is in agreement with liberal groups, but that is the case when it comes to urging Gov. Cuomo to sign a bill that would gradually shift the funding of legal services for the poor from the localities on to the state.

The Conservative Party... said that a requirement that the state's counties, including the five boroughs, fund legal defense programs for the poor amounts to an unfunded mandate that is choking the finances of the localities.....

The bill has won the support across the political spectrum....The New York Civil Liberties Union, the state Catholic Conference, NAACP, Lambda Legal Defense Fund, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Innocence Project and the Brennan Center for Justice have also urged Cuomo to sign the bill.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Warning: Email Phishing Scam

The New York State Bar Association is aware of an email phishing scam that is targeted at attorneys.
The current email subject line says: "The Office of The State Attorney Complaint." No such office exists in New York.

If you received the email, please delete it immediately. Do not follow any links or open any attachments. If you do, your computer or cell phone could be exposed to a virus.

The Office of the New York State Attorney General has issued a press release about the scam. Link:

For more information about how the AG's office handles complaints against businesses, go to:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Catholic, Civil Rights, leaders urge Cuomo to sign indigent defense bill

New York Law Journal:
New York state's Roman Catholic church leaders and a coalition of civil rights and legal groups are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve state takeover of local government costs of legal representation for indigent criminal defendants.

"The Catholic Conference believes a well-resourced indigent legal defense program is firmly in keeping with our long-standing advocacy of criminal justice reform and must be supported," the executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, Richard Barnes, said in a letter to the governor Nov. 23.


In a separate letter earlier this month, national NAACP President Cornell William Brooks told Cuomo that the faults of "New York's underfunded patchwork system are well-documented."

Brooks was joined by leaders of the Brennan Center for Justice, the Fund for Modern Courts, the Innocence Project, the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and 16 other groups.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Town of Ovid, Seneca County, New York: Planning Board Vacancy

The Ovid Town Board is undertaking a renewal of the Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Ovid.

The Town is accepting letters of interest with qualifications from town residents interested in being appointed to two positions on the Ovid Town Planning Board.

Letters of interest should be sent to Town Clerk James Vangalio at PO Box 452, Ovid, NY 14521. Letters should be received before December 12, 2016.

For more information, contract Supervisor Walt Prouty at 607.279.7170

Monday, November 21, 2016

Travel advisory issued for Seneca County

Seneca County Sheriff Tim Luce has issued a travel advisory for Seneca County.

deputies are currently responding to many calls of vehicles off the road. Sheriff Luce reports most roads are snow covered and slippery, and that many roads have not been plowed.

Sheriff Luce urges no unnecessary travel until further notice.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Schuyler County Passes 2017 Budget with 5% Tax Rate Reduction

WENY News:
Residents living in Schuyler County have something to look forward to for 2017. On Monday, Schuyler County officials held a public hearing on next year's budget.

The 2017 budget is just over $46 million, and calls for a tax rate reduction of %5. This means, for every $1,000 assessed property value, homeowners will see about $50 a year in savings.

During the public hearing, one audience member asked if there would be any staff cuts. County Administrator and Budget Office Tim O'Hearn said no. Legislators then passed the budget, unanimously.

The department of largest growth is public safety - something O'Hearn explains is due to increased trends of higher drug activity and arrests.

This is the fifth straight year Schuyler County had a reduction in the tax rate.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Finger Lakes election results to be available online

Typically, many of the local boards of election will post their unofficial results online.

The websites for some local boards of election can be found below:
Cayuga County
Chemung County
Ontario County
Seneca County
Schuyler County
Steuben County
Tompkins County
Wayne County
Yates County

Results usually start coming in shortly after the polls close at 9:00 pm and they are updated as new totals are calculated.

These sites are often a good way to keep track of local election results (village, town, county) that otherwise might not be available in the media until the next day.

Monday, November 7, 2016

New Program to Promote Access to Justice for Domestic Violence Victims

New York State court officials have announced an initiative to allow domestic violence victims to obtain a temporary order of protection (TOP) via video-conference where traveling to or appearing in court would pose an undue hardship or risk of harm to victims.
As authorized by a recent amendment of New York’s Judiciary Law and Family Court Act, the Remote Access Temporary Order of Protection (TOP) Project will permit eligible applicants, with the assistance of a trained advocate, to e-file their TOP petition and appear before a judge via video-conference from a secure, remote site such as a local Family Justice Center, senior center, shelter, hospital or domestic violence advocacy agency.

The nation’s first remote TOP initiative to be implemented on a statewide scale, the program is being introduced in selected family courts in Broome, Chautauqua, Columbia, Erie, Monroe, New York (Manhattan), Suffolk and Westchester (White Plains and Yonkers) counties.

For more on this groundbreaking initiative, click here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

History in the Making: Cornell Perspectives on Election 2016

This evening at 7:00 p.m., Cornell University will broadcast History in the Making: Cornell Perspectives on Election 2016, an exclusive live panel discussion about the 2016 presidential election, available online to 1865 Society members only.

Gretchen Ritter, Harold Tanner Dean of Arts & Sciences, and members of the faculty will share insights and analysis, as well as respond to your questions.

Panelists are: Adam Seth Levine, Assistant Professor of Government, Bruce Lewenstein, Chair, Science & Technology Studies, Professor of Science Communication, Departments of Science & Technology Studies and Communication, Jamila Michener, Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Sergio Garcia-Rios, Assistant Professor Department of Government and Latina/o Studies.

This event is in collaboration with the College of Arts & Sciences and Cornell Annual Giving Programs.

The link to Livestream is here.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

New York’s Highest Court Rejects Challenge To Schuyler County’s Local Hotel Tax

ALBANY—The New York State Court of Appeals has denied a motion for leave to appeal an order upholding Schuyler County’s local hotel tax on vacation rentals and other tourist facilities.

The court issued the order on Thursday (October 27). It rejected the appeal filed by Thomas Schneider, owner of “Seneca Lake Vacation Rentals” and let stand a June holding from the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, that the Schuyler County Treasurer properly applied the four percent local tax to these properties.

In 2014, the Schuyler County Treasurer found that Schneider owed $6,100.00 in back taxes under the "Schuyler County Hotel or Motel Room Occupancy Tax Law.” Under that local law, Schuyler County imposes a four percent (4%) local tax upon the rent for every occupancy of a room or rooms in a hotel, motel, bed and breakfast or tourist facility having one or more rooms in the county. The purpose of the tax is to promote local tourism and to enhance the local economy.

Schneider, a resident of New Jersey, had argued that his properties were exempt from the tax as “bungalows” under regulations of the State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance. He sued in state court to overturn the treasurer’s findings, but his lawsuit was dismissed. He then filed an appeal to the Third Judicial Department, Supreme Court, Appellate Division.

In the previous appeal, Schneider’s attorneys, Schlather, Stumbar, Parks & Salk argued that the properties could not be taxed because they are furnished and do not provide housekeeping, food or other common hotel services.

Representing the County Treasurer, Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman argued on appeal that the state exemption was specifically limited to state administered taxes, not locally administered hotel or room taxes. The local tax, Getman said, more broadly defined hotels and motels to include “bed and breakfasts” and “tourist’ facilities,” such as bungalows.

In its decision, the Appellate Division ruled that the State Commissioner's interpretation does not apply to the locally administered tax. The court noted that other local taxes, including the City of New York’s, did not exempt bungalows and that the definition of "hotel" in the enabling statute was expansive enough to include bungalows such as the properties owned by Schneider. Therefore, the Appellate Division stated, the prior decision upholding the treasurer should be affirmed.

In addition, the Appellate Division rejected Schneider’s argument that the retroactive imposition of the tax against his property was unjust. Schneider had been operating his vacation rental business for approximately five years, but had never filed a tax return with the county treasurer’s office, due to his theory that the “bungalow exception” excused his doing so.

In July 2016, after the Appellate Division ruled against him, Schneider’s attorneys moved the Court of Appeals for leave to appeal to that court. The county attorney opposed.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeals issued an order denying Schneider’s request to appeal. It also imposed $100.00 costs.

The Court of Appeals decision means that the prior decisions upholding the county’s tax become final and binding.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

NY Court website offers information on criminal court cases

The New York State Office of Court Administration has added criminal case content to its CourtHelp website. The site provides basic information for defendants facing criminal charges, victims of crime, or people who have completed their criminal sentence, including:
Criminal Case Basics: Charged with a violation, misdemeanor or felony? Learn about the basic steps in New York State criminal cases from arraignment to sentencing. This section is for defendants with active criminal cases.

Crime Victims: If you are the victim of a crime, read about your rights in the court case, like having a say about what happens to the defendant and recovering losses.

Collateral Consequences: Find out about the different consequences of a criminal conviction beyond sentencing and the additional impact the conviction may have on your housing, education, job, immigration status and more.

Sentencing: If you are found guilty or plead guilty, you will be sentenced. There are many different types of punishment that the Judge can choose. Read about the sentencing process and common punishments, like restitution, fines and Ignition Interlock Devices.

Getting Rights Back: Read about ways to get your rights back with a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities and a Certificate of Good Conduct.

Criminal Records: Find out how to get your criminal record. Learn about sealing court records.

Note: The website gives legal information, not legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice should consult with a competent attorney of their own choosing.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Judicial Politics and the Presidential Election

Judicial Politics and the Presidential Election Topic of Oct. 25 Lecture at Keuka College:
Keuka College will host a presentation by Dr. Thomas M. Keck, the Michael O. Sawyer Chair of Constitutional Law and Politics and professor of political science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs professor of political science at Syracuse University, Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Dr. Keck will discuss “From the White House to the Supreme Court: Judicial Politics and the Presidential Election” from 1- 2:25 p.m. in Hegeman Hall 109. It is free and open to the public.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Seneca County to Hold Drug Take Back Day

Ithaca Times:
On Saturday, October 22nd, 2016, the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office, partnering with the DEA, will conduct another drug take back day at two Seneca County locations. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., deputies will collect potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction.

This service is free and anonymous with no questions asked and no paperwork to complete. Citizens may drop off these drugs at the Seneca County Law Enforcement Center, 6150, Route 96, Romulus, N.Y. or at the Sheriff’s sub-station at 44 West William Street, Waterloo, N.Y. Deputies will be on hand to answer any questions or concerns.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

N.Y. State Bar launches

The New York State Bar Association will soon be participating in the ABA Free Legal Answers project.

This project will provide an online platform for New York attorneys to provide limited scope legal advice to low income New Yorkers.

All low income persons who meet the project’s eligibility standards may utilize this service in New York.

For more on this resource, click here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Beware of Scammers Posing as National Grid

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York has issued a warning about a utility scam:
National Grid reports that scammers are targeting its customers, demanding payment over the phone and telling people that they will shut off service if they do not comply.

Because utility companies do sometimes contact their customers by phone, it can be difficult to tell a scammer from a real employee. BBB offers the following tips: Prepaid debit cards are a red flag. If a caller specifically asks you to pay by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, this is a huge warning sign. Your utility company will accept a check or credit card and will usually direct you to one of their payment locations.

The BBB cautions the people should never give their credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers to anyone who comes to your home, calls or sends an email requesting information.

More here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: New York State “Know Your Rights” brochure

New York State has released an updated “Victims of Domestic Violence: Know Your Rights!” brochure to mark the 29th annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The brochure describes key legal protections and services available to victims of domestic violence, particularly in the areas of housing and employment, under New York law and the 1994 federal Violence Against Women Act.

The brochure also includes information about new protections stemming from New York State’s recently-enacted Women’s Equality Agenda. This new legislation protects victims of domestic violence from discrimination when they attempt to rent or lease housing, and provides them with an affirmative defense in eviction proceedings and a private right of action. It also creates a pilot program to allow domestic violence victims to seek temporary orders of protection electronically rather than having to appear in person.

October was first proclaimed National Domestic Violence Awareness month in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.

New York's updated pamphlet is available here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Seneca County Driver Safety Class - October 2016

The National Safety Council and the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce are offering a six (6) hour New York State Defensive Driving Course. The Safety Council or the Chamber reserve the right to cancel any class. Take up to 4 points off of your license every 18 months and reduce your insurance every 3 years.

The dates are October 12, 2016 - October 13, 2016 (both classes must be attended).

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Register to vote in New York by October 14

Are you registered to vote? Are your family members? Any citizen who is 18 by November 8, 2016 can vote.

Checking registration is easy: Use this link.

Not registered? Use this link to register.

The last day to register to vote in NY for the upcoming presidential election is October 14th.

Please register and vote.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Governor urged to act on indigent defense bill

In an Op Ed published by, New York State Bar Association president Claire P. Gutekunst urges Gov. Cuomo to sign the indigent criminal legal defense bill, noting that full funding is "consistent with a mandate imposed more than 50 years ago."

The bill passed by both houses would provide for state funding of public-defense services in all of New York's counties, phased in over seven years.

This would...(u)ltimately ensure that eligible defendants represented through the public-defense system receive the quality legal representation to which they are constitutionally entitled, regardless of where they were prosecuted.

For more on this bill, click here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

NY Court rules non-adoptive, non-biological parent can seek visitation/custody

In a decision handed down August 30, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that when an unmarried couple who decide to conceive children together separate, a non-adoptive, non-biological parent has the right to seek visitation or custody.

The ruling reverses a 25-year-old precedent that had barred non-adoptive, non-biological parents from claiming parenting rights.

The decision focused on changing social and legal definitions of family and parenting.

The Court limited its ruling to instances where two parents together decided to conceive and raise a child.

The Court did not rule on whether non-biological, non-adoptive parents have parenting rights in situations where a couple did not choose to conceive a child, but did choose to raise the child after conception.

In addition, it was noted that that Family Court retains power to make custody and visitation decisions in individual cases based on its discretion.

Click here to read the decision.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Defense attorney group offers Second Amendment challenges to NY Penal Law 265.01(1).

The Center for Appellate Litigation (CAL) has released an article on legal challenges to prosecutions under NY Penal Law 265.01(1) (fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon) on sufficiency and constitutional grounds.

The article looks at the United States Supreme Court decisions in District of Columbia v Heller and Caetano v Massachusetts and presents ideas for making Second Amendment challenges to the per se nature of the statute, including:
· Move pretrial (in writing) to dismiss charges of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon under Penal Law § 265.01(1), on Second Amendment grounds (citing District of Columbia v. Heller and Caetano v. Massachusetts). [F]ocus your arguments on the lawful, protected purposes of the weapon (including, but not limited to, self-defense). It can be argued that some of the more obscure items in PL § 265.01(1) are collectible items, or used for recreation.
· Also consider sufficiency challenges based on the statutory and/or common law definitions of certain per se weapons. Argue that the weapon doesn’t fit the definition.
The CAL newsletter offers litigation strategies to challenge the use of such evidence and preserve the record in a way that may lead to a resolution that protects the Constitutional Rights of gun owner defendants.
The newsletter is available here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Schuyler County Recognizes September 17 as Constitution and Citizenship Day

At its regular meeting on Monday (September 12), the Schuyler County Legislature joined in communities across the nation by honoring September 17 as Constitution and Citizenship Day. The resolution, prepared by County Attorney Steven Getman, appears below:
WHEREAS, the American Revolution secured the independence of the United States and made possible the vibrant system of self-government of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the supporters of the American Revolution, through their vision and determination, enhanced the lives of countless individuals and made possible the system of equal justice, limited government, and rule of law as aspired to in these United States; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution of the United States, a revered document, provides important rights to every citizen of the United States, secures “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,“ and sets the standard of democracy for the world; and

WHEREAS, the United States Constitution, and its amendments, outline the freedoms and the principles of representative government that are as strong today as they were on that momentous occasion in 1787; and

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

WHEREAS, 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,” and

WHEREAS, this joint resolution 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.”

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Schuyler County Legislature hereby commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution as “Constitution and Citizenship Day” and recognizes the sacrifices made by the people who founded our great nation.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Schuyler County helps residents save on prescription drugs

Schuyler County officials are offering residents two possible ways to save on prescription drug costs.

On Monday (September 12), the County Legislature approved an agreement with ProAct, Inc. to renew the county discount prescription drug card program.

This agreement has no cost to county taxpayers. Under this agreement, since 2010 Schuyler County has saved residents more than $905,000 with the ProAct Rx Discount Cards. When residents utilize the discount card they can expect to see savings ranging from 10 to 20% on brand name prescriptions drug costs and a 20 to 70% discount on generic prescription drug costs. This discount card program also offers residents of Schuyler County the opportunity to save on vision, hearing, and LASIK services as well as access to a low cost dental coverage plan. The approved agreement will be forwarded to County Attorney Steven Getman and Legislature Chair Dennis Fagan for final approvals and execution.

In addition, on Thursday (September 22), the county is sponsoring the “Med Check” event at the Silver Spoon CafĂ©, in Montour Falls. Residents can bring their medications to this event for a free evaluation. A local pharmacist will check prescriptions and the county’s Insurance Counseling Coordinator can review your insurance coverage and look for ways to save you money on your prescription co-pays.

Med Check is free and runs from 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm. Reservations are recommended, but not required.

For more information on these and other ways to save money on prescription drug costs, click here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Schuyler County Legislature vs. Walmart

The Schuyler County Legislature passed more than 30 resolutions tonight, including one that involved a fight with a corporate giant.

The county will now work with the Town of Dix, Watkins Glen School District and the Village of Watkins Glen to fight Walmart's request for a 30 percent reduction in their property assessment.

The county defends their current property assessment of the Wal-Mart on East fourth street.

"We had five towns reassessed this year, and a good number of residents saw their assessed values increase. Overall we're not seeing a significant reduction in assessed values throughout the county, and certainly not to the extent of 30%," said Chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature, Dennis Fagan.

The legislature also authorized a hazmat grant program and a grant of 10 thousand dollars for the Sheriff's office to be used for investigator technology.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New York law to encourage contact between siblings separated because of abuse and neglect cases.

New York State has enacted a law that confers standing to a child and others to petition the court to order visitation with siblings, including half-siblings, when a child is removed from the home pursuant to a Family Court Act article 10 (allegations of abuse or neglect) proceeding.

The law amends several sections in Family Court Act article 10 and Social Services Law 384-b. It addresses the statutory silence on the rights of siblings to have contact with one another if they are removed from the home and not placed together.

The law goes into effect Nov. 16, 2016. A copy of the law is available here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Citizenship in the 21st Century: a free online course

Whether you're with her or planning to make America great again, we hope to see you at the polls on November 8th. Before that though, exercise your passion for politics by joining Citizenship in the 21st Century, an online course offered by Keuka College this fall.

This course is open to community members, alumni, and friends of Keuka College at no cost.

Throughout the class, you will:

• Engage in discussions with Keuka College professors and students, as well as academic and political guests.
• Explore themes including the relationship between citizens and government, voting behavior, and current issues such as race, gender, and immigration.
• Debate with students for an intergenerational look at political discourse.
• Examine how candidates connect with voters through social media.
• Analyze the influence of money on elections and politics.
• Understand how campaigns are built and adapt throughout the election cycle.

As the 2016 presidential election nears, take this opportunity to share your perspective. For more information, click here or email

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Law Day 2017 Theme Announced

The American Bar Association has announced the theme for Law Day 2017, which is “The Fourteenth Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.”

As our nation approaches the 150th anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment, the theme explores how the Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of this amendment served as the cornerstone of civil rights legislation, the foundation for court decisions protecting fundamental rights, and a source of inspiration for those who advocate for equal justice under law.

Click here to learn more about the 14th Amendment.

Law Day is held on May 1st every year to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession. Learn more about the history of Law Day and past themes here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Happy birthday, 19th Amendment

Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle, which began in Seneca County, New York.

The Seneca Falls Convention was the first women's rights convention. It advertised itself as "a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman." Held in Seneca Falls, New York, it spanned two days over July 19–20, 1848.

Several generations of woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered a radical change of the Constitution. Finally, when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, it passed its final hurdle of obtaining the agreement of three-fourths of the states.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

New Advisory Committee on Evidence

New York State Office of Court Administration:
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore today designated the members of the new Judicial Advisory Committee on Evidence, a panel of experts charged with compiling a guide to New York’s existing law of evidence that will be readily available to judges, lawyers and the public.

With its evidence law broadly dispersed among myriad cases and statutory provisions, New York is unique in lacking a consolidated source of the law of evidence, whether by statute or guide. The guide to be produced under the careful supervision of the Advisory Committee will state – in an organized, easy-to-use format − what the rules are. It will be divided into sections, and the rules will be accompanied by notes that include sources of authority and additional information, where appropriate. Once released, the guide will be updated annually to reflect any changes in the law of evidence.

The aim of the guide is to provide judges, lawyers and others with an easily accessible, important reference tool they can look to in discerning New York’s evidentiary rules.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Task Force on the New York State Constitution

New York State Office of Court Administration:
In anticipation of Election Day 2017 − when for the first time in two decades New Yorkers will have the opportunity to vote on whether there should be a convention held to amend the New York State Constitution − Chief Judge Janet DiFiore [has] announced her appointment of the Judicial Task Force on the New York State Constitution.

A group of leading judges, attorneys and academics from around the state, the Task Force will conduct a thorough review of Article VI of the New York State Constitution, which establishes the structure, organization and jurisdiction of New York’s Judiciary, and propose for Chief Judge DiFiore’s consideration possible revisions that may advance the work of New York’s state court system, making it more modern, efficient and accessible.

The State Constitution requires that the question of whether to call for its amendment be put on the ballot every 20 years. Should New York’s electorate in 2017 approve the holding of a constitutional convention, the process would then call for delegates to be elected to the convention in the next general election (November 6, 2018), with the convention to commence on the first Tuesday in April following the election of delegates (April 2, 2019.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Calling all superheroes: the CASA fun run for abused children

The 4th Annual CASA SuperHero 5K and 1K Fun Run will be held on Sunday, September 18th at Kinsella Park in Painted Post, NY

The 5K Race starts @ 9AM and the 1K Fun Run starts @ 9:45AM.

Pre-register by September 14 to save $5.00 and reserve CAPES for kids. RACE T-SHIRTS for ages 12 and over for first 100 participants.

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ovid Town Board to hold public hearing on emergency signage law

The Ovid Town Board hold a public hearing at the Ovid Firehouse, 2136 Brown St Ovid, NY 14521, at 7:00 p.m. on the 10 day of August, 2016 on Proposed Local Law No. A of the year 2016: “A local law amending Local Law No. 1 of the Year 2015, the Town of Ovid Building, Structure, Property Emergency Numbering Ordinance.

The purpose of this ordinance is to promote public safety through the provision of a uniform system of road signage for residences and other buildings in the Town of Ovid, outside the Village of Ovid, in order to increase the speed in which firefighting, law enforcement, and emergency medical services are able to effectively and efficiently locate properties.

The complete text of the proposed local law can be found here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

New York wins big victory in locking up sex offenders
New York's top court this month delivered a big victory to state prosecutors who want to remove some of the worst sex offenders from society -- possibly forever.

The court allowed the combination of two non-sex-related mental illnesses -- anti-social personality disorder and borderline personality disorder -- to form the basis for locking up sex offenders after their release from prison. The court had ruled previously that anti-social personality disorder (ASPD) could not be used alone to keep a sex offender confined.

The ruling strengthens the legal grounds to remove the worst sex offenders from the streets.

The complete decision can be found here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The American Bar Association: Engaging Future Lawyers

The ABA Young Lawyers Division has partnered with the Texas Young Lawyers Association to expand the What Do Lawyers Do program into a national resource.

What Do Lawyers Do? is an interactive web-based is designed to educate high school and college students about how to become a lawyer.

The project focuses on preparation for law school, the law school experience, and different career paths for law school graduates.

Among its many goals, the project seeks to encourage a discussion about the different aspects of a legal education and the seemingly endless options open to those interested in pursuing a legal education.

Students will have a newfound understanding of the important roles that lawyers play in society, and that a legal education and a legal career are well within the reach of anyone willing to put in the time and effort to succeed

More information here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

2016 Annual Supreme Court Round Up

The Washington, DC Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society presents its Annual Supreme Court Round Up at the Mayflower Hotel on Friday July 22.

The event features, Miguel A. Estrada, partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Mr. Estrada joined Gibson Dunn in 1997, after serving for five years as Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. He previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section, U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York. In those capacities, Mr. Estrada represented the government in numerous jury trials and in many appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Mr. Estrada has represented clients before federal and state courts throughout the country in a broad range of matters. He has argued 22 cases before the United States Supreme Court, and briefed many others. He has also argued dozens of appeals in the lower federal courts.

The cost for this event is $50.00 for members, $75.00 for non-members. Lunch will be served.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Town of Ovid to Host Comprehensive Plan "Kick-off" July 13

Ovid town officials invite residents to attend the next scheduled meeting of the Town Board, July 13, at 7:00 pm at the Town Offices on Brown Street, to learn more about the recently initiated Comprehensive Plan process.

Guided by a team of planning professionals from MRB Group and EDR, a town-appointed Steering Committee will meet monthly and follow a timeline which will be outlined at the Board meeting.

Public participation is the most important element. The Town Board wants input and feedback from as many residents as possible.

Scheduled for the beginning of the 7 pm Board meeting, the presentation will also include a look at a new website created to support the planning project.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New York State's Sparkler Law: What's legal, what's not.

While most fireworks remain illegal in New York State, a recent law has authorized counties and cities outside of New York City to legalize sparklers and certain sparkling devices for those who are over 18 years of age.

A list of legal fireworks, and the counties that allow them, can be found here.

It is a crime to provide a sparkler to a person less than 18 years of age, even in the jurisdictions where sparkling devices have been legalized.

For additional information about this law, including information on sales, please visit the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) web page.

This Fourth of July, be safe, celebrate America and have fun.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

New York enacts law to combat the blight of “zombie homes"

New York State officials have enacted legislation to prevent foreclosures and curb the threat posed to communities by “zombie properties.”

The bill was passed as part of the 2016 Legislative Session and signed into law Thursday (June 23).

The new law imposes a pre-foreclosure duty on the banks to maintain vacant and abandoned properties.

Previously, a bank or mortgagee had the responsibility of maintaining a vacant property once a judgment of foreclosure and sale was obtained, creating zombie properties and blight in communities. Reports indicate that these blighted homes have cost millions of dollars in lost property values.

The new legislation places the maintenance obligation on a mortgagee when the mortgagee becomes or should have become aware of the vacancy. Under the law, a bank has a duty to maintain and secure a residential real property where there is a reasonable basis to believe it is vacant and abandoned, and faces civil penalties up to $500 per violation, per property, per day for failing to do so.

The law also requires a foreclosing party to move to auction within 90 days of obtaining a foreclosure judgment. In addition, a foreclosing party would be required to take action to ensure that the property is reoccupied within 180 days of taking title.

Finally, the law will promote communication between local governments and mortgagees responsible for property maintenance.

The legislation takes effect immediately.

For more on the new law click here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New York's high court approves extended jail for willful failure to pay child support

Syracuse Post Standard:
People who deliberately refuse to pay court-ordered child support can go to jail for consecutive six-month sentences for repeat violations, New York's highest court ruled Tuesday...

The Court of Appeals, with six judges ruling unanimously, said Family Court can revisit jail sentences for willful violations that were previously suspended and order an offender jailed on all of them. Those sentences can run consecutively, extending the time an offender can be locked up....

Federal data show that unpaid child support has risen over the past 30 years from nearly $3 billion to more than $115 billion nationally

The complete decision can be found here.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

New York passes bill pass bill requiring state pay for legal services for poor defendants
The New York State Senate on Thursday passed a bill that requires the state to pay the full cost of providing lawyers to poor defendants accused of crimes, a burden that largely falls to counties now.

The counties paid $372 million of the $521 million spent in 2014 to provide attorneys to indigent defendants.

Under Sen. John DeFrancisco's bill, the full cost of providing legal counsel to indigent defendants would gradually shift from the counties to the state over seven years, beginning in 2017. New York only partially reimburses counties for this cost now....

The bill would save counties huge amounts of money....

In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, ruled that states are required under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to provide legal counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys.

[Until this] New York is one of the few states where the counties shoulder the bulk of complying with the Supreme Court's ruling

More here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Elder Investment Fraud And Financial Exploitation Prevention Program

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is on the June 15.

In an effort to prevent financial exploitation of our senior citizens, New York State officials have announced the launch of the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation (EIFFE).

The program educates doctors who frequently treat older patients about the risks that investment fraud poses to their patients and provides doctors with tools to recognize and report suspected fraud.

Studies show that approximately 20% of older Americans have been financially exploited, and that about 35% are afflicted by some form of cognitive impairment, which can make senior citizens particularly vulnerable to financial fraud.

The State Office of Children and Family Services’ Bureau of Adult Services, which plays a key role in recognizing and responding to financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, will also take part in the program.

For more information on Protective Services for Adults and other adult services provided through the local departments of social services click here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Schuyler County local hotel tax on vacation rentals upheld on appeal.

Schuyler County’s local hotel tax on vacation rentals and other tourist facilities was upheld by a New York State appeals court Thursday (June 9). The tax is used to promote tourism and the local economy.

The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, ruled that the Schuyler County Treasurer properly applied the four percent local tax to these properties, rejecting an appeal filed by Thomas Schneider, owner of “Seneca Lake Vacation Rentals.”

Schneider had argued that his properties were exempt from the tax as “bungalows” under regulations of the State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance because they are furnished and do not provide housekeeping, food or other common hotel services.

On appeal, the court agreed with the county’s argument that state regulations only applied to state- administered taxes, not locally-administered taxes such as Schuyler County’s.

Schneider was represented by Ithaca attorneys Schlather, Stumbar, Parks & Salk.

Schuyler County was represented by county attorney Steven Getman.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Annual National Animal Abuse Prosecution Conference to be held in September

In partnership with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys have announced the the 6th Annual National Animal Abuse Prosecution Conference.

The conference’s goal is to provide prosecutors and law enforcement with the requisite skills to strengthen links between the criminal justice system and the community by protecting our most vulnerable victims and to enhance prosecutors’ ability to successfully identify and prosecute animal cruelty and animal fighting cases.

This year's conference focuses not only basics of animal abuse prosecution, but tackles new and emerging issues facing criminal justice stakeholders today.

The Conference will be held in Austin, Texas on the dates of September 14-16th, 2016.

Registration is now open. All attendees are required to register.

Friday, June 3, 2016

New York Assembly passes bill requiring state pay full cost of lawyers for poor defendants
New York would have to pay the $372 million a year that counties are now spending to provide lawyers to poor defendants accused of crimes under a bill unanimously approved Thursday by the state Assembly.

The bill now goes to the state Senate, where Sen. John DeFrancisco, the deputy majority leader, has said its passage is one of his top priorities this year.

Under the Assembly bill, the full cost of providing legal counsel to indigent defendants would gradually shift from the counties to the state over seven years, beginning in 2017. New York only partially reimburses counties for this cost now...

The bill would save counties huge amounts of money. Small counties like Cayuga County, in Central New York, are paying about $835,000 a year for indigent legal services. In Erie County, surrounding Buffalo, taxpayers are paying $11 million a year.

More here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New national protocol for pediatric sexual abuse examinations

The U.S. Department of Justice has released a national protocol for Sexual Abuse Medical Forensic Examinations-Pediatric (Pediatric SAFE Protocol).

The protocol is designed for health care providers who conduct sexual abuse medical forensic examinations of prepubescent children and other professionals involved in an initial response to child sexual abuse. It has three main goals: "address the health care needs of prepubescent children who disclose sexual abuse or for whom sexual abuse is suspected; promote their healing; and gather forensic evidence for potential use within the criminal justice and/or child protection systems."

The protocol notes that "in the case of prepubescent children who display problem sexualized behaviors, examinations should be done by health care providers as these children may also be victims of sexual abuse."

More information about SAFE examinations is available here and here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

U.S. Department of Labor announces new overtime rules

The United States Department of Labor has finalized its overtime rule amending the “white collar” exemptions to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

This rule is expected to cause 4.2 million employees nationwide, including some 380,000 in New York State, to become eligible for overtime pay.

The Department estimates that the new rule will cost employers approximately $12 billion over the next ten years.

For more on the new rules click here.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Schuyler County to offer Medicare 101

These classes are open to anyone and provide participants with basic knowledge of Medicare. If you are caregiver, social worker, Medicare recipient or just planning for retirement this is an excellent opportunity.

Monday, May 2, 2016

New York State Domestic Incident Report Revised

The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) has redesigned the Domestic Incident Report (DIR) form "to improve its format and enhance its effectiveness and usability by law enforcement professionals.

These improvements make it easier to complete the form accurately and allow law enforcement to capture additional information, making the form more useful to law enforcement and enhancing the data included in the state's Domestic Incident Report Repository."

The DIR instructions also include "a list of some frequently seen offenses in domestic violence incidents." DCJS has produced an online training program about using the new DIR, which takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Additional documents provided with the training include an overview of the DIR Repository, a community action toolkit for addressing intimate partner violence against transgender people, and information about strangulation, including symptoms, visible signs, and interview questions

Thursday, April 28, 2016

May 1 is Law Day: Commitment to the rule of law

Law Day is held on May 1st every year to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession.

This year’s Law Day theme is “Miranda: More than Words.” In 2016, the nation marks the 50th anniversary of perhaps the nation’s best-known U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The Miranda Warning, which was developed in response to this landmark ruling, apprises suspects being interrogated by police of their right to remain silent and their right to legal representation. This year’s theme provides an opportunity to explore our criminal justice system and the importance of procedural fairness and equal justice under the law.

Law Day is an annual commemoration first held in 1957 when the American Bar Association envisioned a special national day to mark our nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Law Day Proclamation. Law Day was made official in 1961 when Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Schuyler County will participate in drug take-back

Elmira Star-Gazette:
Several area law enforcement agencies will take part in an April 30 prescription drug take-back initiative sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. All events will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day.

The Schuyler County Sheriff's Office will hold a drug take-back at the Odessa Fire Station, 300 E. Main St., and the Tyrone Fire Station, 3600 State Route 226.

The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked. The purpose of the national drug take-back is to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Medications (preferably in original containers with labels intact), ointments and sprays will be accepted. Needles cannot be accepted.