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