Tuesday, June 18, 2019

New York passes the SHIELD Act: law aims to strengthen data security and consumer privacy protections

The New York State legislature has passed The Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security (SHIELD) Act, related to enhanced protections against data breaches and identity theft.

According to the New York State Attorney General’s office, the bill:

• Expands the scope of information subject to the current data breach notification law to include biometric information, email addresses, and corresponding passwords or security questions and answers; • Broadens the definition of a data breach to include unauthorized “access” to private information from the current “acquired” standard;
• Applies the notification requirement to any person or entity with private information of a New York resident, not just to those that conduct business in New York State;
• Updates the notification procedures companies and state entities must follow when there has been a breach of private information; and
• Creates reasonable data security requirements tailored to the size of a business.
The SHIELD act now goes to Governor Cuomo for his review.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

Monday, June 10, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court has ruled: you can't restrict political yard signs

The New York Civil Liberties Union has stated that a unanimous 2015 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court "clearly called regulating yard signs based on content unconstitutional."

Based on such rulings, the New York Secretary of State has advised: “Some local governments have attempted to deal with the clutter of election campaign signs by limiting the period in which they may be posted. …such local regulations are likely to be struck down by the courts as an unlawful interference with the right of free expression as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

As James Madison once said, “Our First Amendment freedoms give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.”

Monday, June 3, 2019

New York enacts Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act

New York State has passed legislation to expand the situations in which judges can consider domestic violence survivors’ abuse when determining appropriate sentences for victims.

The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) will, according to one report, allow judges to impose an alternative sentence if he or she finds that:

1) the defendant, at the time of the offence, was a domestic violence victim subjected to substantial physical, sexual, or psychological abuse inflicted by a member of the same family or household;
2) the abuse was a significant contributing factor to the criminal behavior; and
3) a sentence under the general sentencing provisions would be ‘unduly harsh.’”

The provisions dealing with resentencing become effective August 12, 2019. For sentences imposed going forward, the law became effective immediately.

The complete text of the law can be found here.

Monday, May 27, 2019

New York State to hold hearings on eligibility for counsel in family court matters

The New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services (OILS) is seeking the views and experiences of public defense providers, litigants, judges, county officials, and others, related to criteria and procedures for determining whether someone qualifies for assigned counsel in family law matters.

Four hearings have been announced:

• May 31, 2019, First Department, New York, NY
• July 17, 2019, Second Department, Brooklyn, NY
• June 19, 2019, Third Department, Albany, NY
• August 14, 2019, Fourth Department, Rochester, NY

Hearings will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Requests to testify must be received at least fourteen days before the scheduled hearing. For information on applying to testify in person and/or submitting written testimony, click here.

For more information on OILS, click here.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Schuyler County gives tax-foreclosed property owners another chance

Schuyler County’s annual property tax auction is scheduled for Friday, June 28.   However, county officials are giving foreclosed property owners one last chance to avoid the loss of their land.

On Monday (May 13), the Schuyler County Legislature voted to allow former owners who lost their properties in this year’s foreclosure to submit offers to County Treasurer Holley Sokolowski to buy back the land.  If accepted, County Attorney Steven Getman is authorized to prepare a deed to the former owner, returning the property.

The offer must be accompanied by payment of “the full amount of taxes, penalties, interest and other county expenses involved with the property,” the legislature held. 
County Treasurer Holley Sokolowski and County Attorney Steven Getman
Offers can be accepted up to two weeks prior to the auction, or June 14, Sokolowski said.

“After the deadline, any remaining properties will be sold to the highest bidder at the county’s tax auction,” she explained.  

Prior to the deadline, the county provides written notice of the opportunity to the former owners, Getman noted.  

“The notice reminds them of the foreclosure and provides options to avoid the sale,” Getman said. “Notices are sent by mail and, in addition, copies of the court’s foreclosure judgment are served on the properties by the sheriff’s department.”

The foreclosure order transferring ownership of each property to Schuyler County was entered by County Court Judge Dennis Morris on March 29, Getman said.

The May 13 resolution is the latest step in the county’s efforts to collect overdue taxes while keeping people in their homes, Sokolowski said.

According to Sokolowski, each November, the county mails out Foreclosure Notices and Petitions to properties with back tax liens from the prior year.  Those notices go out by both regular and certified mail to property owners, mortgage holders and others with identified interests in the delinquent properties.  The notice warns that failure to pay the back taxes can result in a court order foreclosing on the property.

The county also publishes a list of the delinquent taxes in two local newspapers and, in certain cases, posts warnings on the properties that they could be sold for back taxes, she noted.

In addition, though not required by law, in February, Sokolowski and Getman sent letters, with handwritten notes on the envelopes, to property owners who still had not paid their back taxes, in an effort to prevent foreclosure.

“That cut the delinquent list by more than half,” Sokolowski said. “A lot of people came in and paid when they got the letters.”

Only after each of those steps occurs, Getman explained, does the court enter a judgment foreclosing on the property.  

“Under the law, after the foreclosure order, the county conducts a tax auction in order to satisfy delinquent property taxes,” Getman said.  “At the auction, the successful bidder must pay the taxes due together with any other lawful charges and fees and is given a quitclaim deed to the property.”

The properties to be auctioned will be posted on the county's website as well as in a binder in the treasurer's office, Sokolowski said.

As County Treasurer, Sokolowski is the chief fiscal officer of county government and enforcement officer for unpaid property tax liens. 

As County Attorney, Getman is the chief legal advisor for county government and responsible for the prosecution and defense of civil actions brought by and against the county, including tax matters.

The current chair of the Schuyler County Legislature is Dennis Fagan.   The resolution to allow the buy-back was introduced by the county’s “Management and Finance” committee, chaired by legislator Phil Barnes. The resolution passed unanimously among the members present.

For more details on the buyback program, the tax auction and other aspects of the foreclosure process, interested persons can contact the county treasurer (607-535-8181) or visit the county’s website (https://www.schuylercounty.us).

Monday, May 13, 2019

New York Court of Appeals rules Ohio gun seller not subject to injury lawsuit in New York

A gun dealer from Ohio who sold a firearm that was later trafficked into New York and used illegally in a shooting cannot be sued in state court by the victim of that crime, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled May 9.

The court held that Charles Brown, an Ohio gun dealer, couldn’t face the litigation in New York court because he sold the gun in Ohio and had no control over where it would end up after the sale, even if the buyer alluded that he may bring it to New York.

“Despite (the buyer’s) stated aspiration to open a gun shop in Buffalo, the record is devoid of evidence supporting plaintiffs’ theory that, merely by selling handguns to (the buyer) Brown intended to serve the New York market,” the court ruled.

Brown, in this case, was not part of a scheme to traffic guns into New York, the court held. The judges said there was no way for him to know what would happen to the firearms after they were sold so he did not purposefully enter into the New York market at the time.

The buyer later pleaded guilty to federal gun trafficking charges.

Brown's attorney said that "the case's main significance was that this was the lawful sale of a lawful product."

The complete decision can be found here.

Monday, May 6, 2019

New York expands Shock incarceration eligibility, effective May 12.

New York State lawmakers have expanded eligibility for the Shock incarceration program to include persons convicted of certain forms of second-degree burglary and second-degree robbery.

The Shock program provides selected inmates a special six-month program of shock incarceration, that stresses a highly structured routine of discipline, intensive regimentation, exercise and work therapy, combined with substance abuse treatment, education, pre-release counseling and life skills counseling.

A person becomes eligible for Shock when he or she is within 3 years of parole or conditional release, and eligibility is determined on a rolling basis (i.e., the initial sentence can be longer than 3 years).

The changes apply to judicial Shock orders (where the sentencing judge expressly directs that the defendant be enrolled in Shock) and discretionary Shock placement (where the Department of Corrections selects for participation). Judicial Shock orders are otherwise available only for drug and marijuana offenses.

These changes go into effect on May 12, 2019 and do not depend on the date of the offense.

For more information on New York State's shock incarceration program, click here.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Schuyler County Commemorates May 1 as “Law Day”: Law Day 2019 Will Focus on Free Speech, Free Press.

Watkins Glen, New York—The Schuyler County Legislature has recognized as the Law Day 2019 theme “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.”

The legislature passed a resolution at its April 8, 2019 meeting, recognizing “Law Day” as an occasion of public acknowledgement of our Nation’s heritage of justice, liberty, and equality under the law. The resolution was submitted to the legislature by Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman.

“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right to free speech and a free press, along with other rights that recognize the ability of persons to think and communicate how they wish without fear of punishment or oppression,” Getman wrote.

In passing the resolution, the legislature found that “promoting public understanding of the roots of our freedom are an important component in the civic education of the citizens of the United States, the State of New York and the County of Schuyler.”

The American Bar Association selects an annual theme for each Law Day. 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.

A copy of Schuyler County’s resolution “Recognizing and Commemorating May 1, 2019 as ‘Law Day’ in Schuyler County is available here.

Schuyler County Legislature: RECOGNIZING AND COMMEMORATING MAY 1, 2019 AS “LAW DAY” IN SCHUYLER COUNTY by Steven Getman on Scribd

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

$20 million federal fine against Rochester-area opioid distributor announced

One of the “big pharma” distributors of prescription opiates being sued by Schuyler County for fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates will pay a $20 million fine under an settlement unveiled in federal court on Tuesday (April 23).

Rochester Drug Cooperative, Inc. (RDC), one of the nation's largest pharmaceutical distributors, was charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy to distribute controlled narcotics — oxycodone and fentanyl — for non-medical reasons and conspiracy to defraud. Prosecutors allege that, from 2012 through March 2017, RDC knowingly and intentionally violated federal narcotics laws by distributing opioids to pharmacy customers that it knew were being sold and used illicitly.

According to court documents, the company has agreed to enter into a “consent decree,” under which it accepts responsibility for its conduct by making admissions and stipulating to an extensive "Statement of Facts," paying a $20 million penalty, reforming its controlled substances compliance program, and submitting to supervision by an independent monitor.

RDC is one of the big pharmaceutical companies being sued in state court by various New York municipalities, including Schuyler County. In May of last year, Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman filed a nearly 250-page Summons and Complaint in New York State Supreme Court for damages to the county arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in the county.

Getman said his office would be carefully reviewing the statement of facts for evidence that could be used to support the county’s lawsuit.

“Schuyler County’s complaint alleges increased opioid use has fueled an illegal secondary market for opioids and the criminals who support it,” Getman said. “It also alleges that the defendants flooded the county with suspiciously large amounts of opioids.”

“To date, county officials have expended significant resources to help its residents battle opioid addiction and prevent further deaths,” Getman said. “Schuyler County’s lawsuit is moving forward to seek reimbursement for expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as to provide the county with financial aid to fight addiction, overdoses, drug-related crimes and drug deaths.”

In 2017, the County Legislature voted to retain the firm of Napoli Shkolnik to work with Getman, as special counsel, to bring an action against the manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the county.

According to Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit was filed at no risk to the County, as Napoli Shkolnik will work on contingency basis that will cover all costs associated with the lawsuit.

“By going forward with litigation, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic,” O’Hearn said.

Schuyler County is one of several New York municipalities filing lawsuits against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers. At least 14 counties across New York are suing pharmaceutical companies for what they are claiming are deceptive marketing practices.

The consent decree is subject to final approval by the court. Any charges contained in complaints, indictments and other court documents are merely accusations, and any defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Odessa Mayor endorses Getman for Judge

Schuyler County Court Judge candidate Steven Getman has picked up another endorsement, this time from Odessa Village Mayor Gerry Messmer.

Messmer, who was returned by the voters as Mayor just last month, said "I've known Steve my whole life. I'm proud to call him my friend, and I hope to call him Judge Getman if he is elected as our new County Judge.”

“As our Schuyler County Attorney, Steve has shown a masterful knowledge of the law. I urge all residents of Odessa and throughout Schuyler County to join me in proudly supporting Steve in this year's election for Schuyler County Judge.”

Getman thanked Messmer for his endorsement, stating “Support from someone like Gerry, a public servant and honored veteran, is especially humbling. Prior to taking office, Gerry retired from the Army after 31 years of service so he knows how important it is to have effective and honest leadership from the top. I am extremely proud that a friend with his knowledge and abilities of organization and management, has endorsed my candidacy for Schuyler County Judge.”

Getman, a resident of Watkins Glen, has been the Schuyler County Attorney since 2015. Prior to that, he served as the assistant county attorney. He has practiced law since 1992, in areas including criminal law, family law, and municipal government. He is a graduate of Hofstra University, Ithaca College and Cornell University.

Beyond his service as an accomplished attorney, Getman has helped teach our next generation as an Adjunct Instructor at Keuka College for the past seven years. His courses have focused on criminal justice and constitutional law.

This year’s election is expected to feature this seat for County Court Judge based on the expected retirement of current Judge Dennis Morris. The General Election is slated for Tuesday, November 5.

Schuyler County joins fight against New York gun law

Elmira Star-Gazette:
Schuyler County has joined several other upstate New York counties, including Chemung and Steuben, in supporting a Supreme Court challenge to a New York City law that officials say could have statewide implications.

The county legislature unanimously authorized county attorney Steven Getman to assist in an upcoming case filed by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association against the city and state of New York.

At issue is a New York City law that prohibits licensed handgun owners from carrying their weapons outside the city, even if they are locked and unloaded....

Getman and the other litigants argue the law is unconstitutional in that it violates the right to travel, interstate commerce, and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Schuyler County officials recognize April as “Child Abuse Prevention Month.”

Members of the office of Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman assisted with the county’s “Pinwheels for Prevention” program to raise awareness of April 2019 as “Child Abuse Prevention Month.”

Under the campaign, officials promote preventing child abuse by distributing pinwheels and hosting educational events.

Schuyler County has set up a Pinwheels for Prevention garden outside the County Courthouse at 105 Ninth Street, Watkins Glen.

The county attorney’s office, which prosecutes civil cases of child abuse and neglect for the Department of Social Services, assisted DSS staff and Glove House employees in setting up the garden and distributing pinwheels.

Top photo: From left to right are: Secretary Maryann Friebis, County Attorney Steven Getman, Assistant County Attorney Vinton Stevens and Secretary Brandy Bower (absent: Deputy County Attorney Kristin Hazlitt).

Bottom photo: Steven Getman helps to set up the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign outside the courthouse.

For more on "Child Abuse Prevention Month," click here.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Judgment of Foreclosure with Notice of Entry: Schuyler County Real Property Tax Foreclosure Index No. 17-201

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that annexed hereto is a true and correct conformed copy of the Judgment of Foreclosure dated March 29, 2019 that was entered in the office of the Clerk of the County of Schuyler on March 29, 2019, in The Matter Of Foreclosure Of Tax Liens By Proceeding In Rem Pursuant To Article Eleven Of The Real Property Tax Law by the County of Schuyler.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Schuyler County considers joining U.S. Supreme Court challenge to New York gun law

The Schuyler County legislature will vote at its Monday (April 8) meeting whether to join a constitutional challenge to a New York City law that could have broad implications for the state’s gun control measures.

The proposed resolution, which has passed both the county’s management and finance committee and its legislative resolution review committee, authorizes County Attorney Steven Getman to “render aid, where possible and practicable, to the various states listed as Amicus Curiae in the pending United States Supreme Court case of the New York Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc. et. al. v. City of New York, State of New York et. al.

Those states have joined the New York Rifle and Pistol Association in arguing that New York City’s general prohibition on transporting even licensed, locked and unloaded handguns outside the city is unconstitutional, in that it violates the right to travel, interstate commerce, and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

They also argue that the Second Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, which covers New York, applied an incorrect standard in upholding the law. The appeals court, the plaintiffs argue, erred by failing to subject to the law to a “strict scrutiny” test.

“Strict scrutiny is the highest standard of review a court may use to evaluate the constitutionality of governmental action,” Getman explained. “It is often applied when a law infringes upon a fundamental right or involves a suspect classification.”

“Under that test, a law must further a compelling governmental interest, and must be narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.”

According to Getman, this is the first significant Second Amendment case the Supreme Court will hear since ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that the Constitution protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and further that this right applies against the states as well as the federal government, in McDonald v. Chicago (2010).

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association challenged the city’s ban on taking a licensed handgun out of the licensee’s home except to a gun range within the city. The Second Circuit upheld the ban based on “intermediate scrutiny,” even though that standard requires that a restriction actually works to achieve a legitimate goal. Under the law, a city resident licensed to possess a handgun cannot transport their handgun to a weekend second home (even for self-defense), to another county to participate in a shooting competition, or even to a neighboring city for target practice. This, opponents argue, amounts to requiring a handgun owner to leave a firearm in a vacant house in the city while traveling, where it is more susceptible to burglary. They further argue that the city was unable to explain how a legal gun owner inflicts any risk on society when transporting a firearm outside the city, but not when transporting the identical firearm under identical conditions by identical means within the city itself.

How the Supreme Court rules could have broad implications for Schuyler County residents in terms of what sort of gun control measures the state might impose going forward, Getman noted. In recent years, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a vocal advocate for increased firearm restrictions.

This is not the first time that the Schuyler County legislature has weighed in against Cuomo’s strict gun control laws. In 2013, the legislature passed several resolutions opposing the controversial SAFE act, arguing that the law violated the Second Amendment and created an unfunded mandate on the counties.

If the county joins the action, it would be at no cost to the county, the resolution notes.

Schuyler County is not the first county in New York to join the amicus filing. As of Wednesday (April 3), the following counties are known to have passed resolutions supporting the law’s challenge on Second Amendment grounds: Cortland, St. Lawrence, In addition, the following upstate counties are currently considering joining the action: Steuben, Montgomery, Lewis, Tioga, Chemung, Schenectady and Jefferson.

The states currently filing in support of the Amicus Curiae, and against the law, are: Louisiana, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. A brief in opposition to the New York law has also been filed by: The Western States Sheriffs’ Association, International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors, Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, Law Enforcement Action Network, Law Enforcement Alliance of America, and International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers.

The current resolution was sponsored at management and finance by legislator Phil Barnes (R), District VI, Town of Dix.

A copy of draft resolution, submitted to the legislature by Getman, can be found here.

Resolution (Draft): Adoptin... by on Scribd

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

LETTER: Getman endorsed for Schuyler County Judge

To the Editor and voting residents of Schuyler County:
Supporting Steven Getman for Schuyler County Court Judge is an easy endorsement. Why? I have known Steve since 2005, when he came on board as the legal adviser for the Route 414 Scenic Byway Designation Committee. He served on the Board of Directors until the Byway was designated in September 2012.
Steve’s expertise on how to cross all the “T’s” and dot all the “I’s” came in handy when the committee was putting together the nomination package. Working with the NYS Transportation Department’s NY Advisory Board for the Scenic Byways was not easy. After a couple of meetings with the state it was quite evident that the committee needed someone familiar in dealing with the State Advisory Board and the numerous rules and regulations that we had to deal with.
There were times when we felt a bit defeated by all the documents that were required by the Advisory Board. Many Scenic Byway committees hire a consultant to help them, but the Designation Committee agreed we could do this without adding the expense of a consultant. We were able to accomplish everything we needed because of Steve’s help and dedication to this project. Even dealing with designing a logo for the sign was a bit tricky. However, Steve was able to help us in that regard.
When the Board found out that Route 414 would be designated as a Byway, all of us were excited. It had been a long 10 years since the conception of the idea of the 18 miles of Route 414 becoming a designated Scenic Highway.
I personally know that this would not have happened without Steven Getman and the other members of the committee. His expertise in working with the state to help us achieve our goal was enormous.
I highly endorse Steven Getman and all residents should vote for him come November. You will not be disappointed!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Mobile Food Pantry coming to Schuyler County

Foodbank of the Southern Tier’s Mobile Food Pantry will be at the Schuyler County Human Services building every fourth Thursday of the month.

The event will be held “rain or shine” from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm at 323 Owego St, Montour Falls, NY 14865.

The Food Bank of the Southern Tier “is committed to creating a future without hunger where access to healthy food by all is recognized as fundamental to the well-being and success of individuals and the foundation of a strong, vibrant society.”

Their service area includes Broome, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, and Tompkins counties, covering nearly 4,000 square miles. Through partnerships with member agencies in 2016, the Food Bank distributed 11,553,304 pounds of food and grocery items.

For more information, click here.

Monday, March 25, 2019

New York State Court system’s annual report released

The New York State Unified Court system has issued its annual report for the previous year.

Among the issues addressed in the report for 2018 are:

• Reducing Backlogs and Delays
• Providing Access to Counsel
• Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility
• The New York State Justice Task Force
• Transforming Litigation with E-Filing
• Embracing Electronic Testing
• Ensuring Access for Persons with Disabilities

The New York State Unified Court System is administered by the Office of Court Administration (OCA) under the authority of the Chief Judge and Chief Administrative Judge. OCA provides financial management, automation, public safety, personnel management and other essential services to support day-to-day court operations throughout the state, including Schuyler County.

A complete copy of the report is available here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

$62.5 Million announced in settlement credits for Spectrum customers

New York State officials have announced that Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable) has begun to issue credits to New York consumers under Charter Communications, Inc.’s 2018 settlement agreement.

Under the terms of the settlement, Charter is required to issue monetary relief to qualified subscribers and offer certain video streaming services at no charge:

• Current subscribers who subscribe to both internet and cable television from Spectrum will have a choice of either three (3) months of HBO OR six (6) months of Showtime. (Note: This benefit is available to subscribers who do not already subscribe to both of the offered services through Spectrum.)

• Internet only subscribers will get one (1) month of Spectrum TV Choice streaming service—in which subscribers can (depending on their location) access broadcast television and a choice of 10 pay TV networks—as well as access to Showtime for one (1) month.

It is estimated that qualified subscribers will receive $62.5 million in bill credits. Subscribers will not have to fill out any documents to obtain the credit, but must contact Spectrum to receive the streaming services.

Consumers will have until May 30, 2019 to select the no extra charge premium services.

Charter delivers its TV, internet and voice services to residential and business customers through the Spectrum brand.

For more information, on this settlement and your rights thereunder, click here.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Appeals court upholds Schuyler severe abuse case; Schuyler man's parental rights terminated.

A New York State Appeals Court has upheld the termination of parental rights of a Schuyler County man who was found to have severely abused and/or permanently neglected his children.

In a decision dated February 21, and posted to Westlaw thereafter, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department agreed with the office of Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman that the children were permanently neglected and that a finding supported termination of the man's parental rights, thereby freeing the children for adoption.

“This Court found a sound and substantial basis in the record to support the findings of abuse and neglect,” the court held. “In 2015, the (man’s) daughter sustained severe injuries (including) a spiral fracture of her left tibia in March 2015 and a life-threatening subdural hematoma and bilateral retinal hemorrhages in May 2015.”

“(The) Family Court's determination to terminate respondent's parental rights was supported by a sound and substantial basis in the record,” the court held, noting that the father had failed to work with county agencies to rehabilitate himself.

“Despite the provision of numerous services, repeated reminders to engage in same, a court order requiring his cooperation and participation in such services and the passage of nearly three years from when respondent's children were removed from his care and the date of the dispositional hearing, (the father) had not completed parenting education and, more importantly, had only recently engaged in mental health treatment.”

The court’s decision, Getman said, means that the children can be adopted by fit and willing adoptive parents.

“We are happy that the court upheld the decision to terminate parental rights,” Getman said. “The injuries described in the original petition were horrific.”

“We want these kids to be safe and ready to have a loving and safe family take them in permanently,” Getman said. “The Commissioner of Social Services, JoAnn Fratarcangelo, is working to ensure that happens as soon as possible.”

The Schuyler County Department of Social Services is the lead civil investigative agency for cases of alleged child abuse and neglect. The Schuyler County Attorney is the prosecuting attorney for all county agencies involving civil cases, including family court matters involving abuse and neglect.

The names of the man and his children were withheld to protect the innocent.

The Office of Steven J. Getman, Schuyler County Attorney, represented the Department of Social Services. The father was represented by McGraw attorney Lisa K. Miller. Pamela Gee, of Big Flats, served as attorney for the subject children.

The complete decision can be found here

Matter of Logan C by on Scribd

Monday, March 11, 2019

Third National Domestic Violence Prosecution Conference announced

The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) is hosting its third National Domestic Violence Prosecution Conference on May 15-17, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.

The conference will focus on three domestic violence related themes:
• Staff Management;
• Practical Skills;
• Solutions & Innovations.

Faculty members will facilitate discussion and train participants on practical strategies and model practices.

The registration fee is $305 for APA members and $345 for non-members.

For more information, click here.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Schuyler County officials warn seniors of “grandparents scam,” other frauds

Schuyler County Office for the Aging Director Tamre Waite and Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman are warning area seniors that the “grandparents scam” and other frauds may be making the rounds of the area.

At least several local residents have reported being a victim of the grandparents scam, in which the scammer calls or emails the victim posing as a relative, usually a grandchild, in distress or someone claiming to represent the grandchild (such as a lawyer or police officer), they said.  

“The scammer tells the victim he or she is in trouble and needs the victim to wire them funds or send a prepaid debit card that will allegedly be used for bail money, lawyer’s fees, hospital bills or another expense,” Getman said.  “The caller adds enough details to make the story seem believable.  Sometimes, the caller begs the victim ‘please don’t tell my parents.’”

The scam resurfaces every few years in various communities throughout the country, he noted.  Scammers often mine emails, Facebook and other social media for the necessary information to pose as the grandchild, Getman explained.

Often, the scammer works with a partner, Waite said, who gets on the phone and pretends to be an authority figure, with instructions on where to send payment.

“Grandparents will do anything for grandchildren, so they’re a vulnerable target,” Waite said.  “These scammers are very good at playing on our emotions.”

Waite and Getman said the scam can avoided with a few simple steps:
·      Beware of any urgent solicitation of funds, especially if it is needed to pay for unexpected bills, such as bail money, lawyer’s fees, or doctor bills, especially if it comes late at night;
·      Beware of requests to send debit cards or wire money, as these are scam artists’ payment method of choice;
·      Verify the person’s identity by asking questions someone else couldn’t possibly answer, such as the name and species of the grandchild’s first pet;
·      Before sending funds, independently contact the grandchild or another relative at their regular phone number to verify the details of the story;
·      Check the privacy settings on your social media accounts and safeguard your email by using antivirus and anti-spyware software;

Seniors who have been victims of this scam, or who suspect a call is a scam should immediately report it to local law enforcement.

Other scams that may be targeting the area, Waite and Getman said, involve fraudulent Social Security  and Medicare calls.

“We are also receiving reports from individuals who have been the target of Social Security and Medicare scams,” Waite said.  

“Apparently callers are targeting Medicare recipients telling them that their Medicare card has been suspended and must be reactivated and in order to do so, they must pay a fee,” she explained.  

“They then tell the person they must provide their social security number and payment information. As another fear factor, they are telling people that their assets will be frozen until this is cleared up. People are complying out of fear they will lose their coverage.”

Getman warned seniors to be suspicious of any calls that seek personal information over the telephone.

“If you are a beneficiary of Social Security or Medicare, be aware these agencies do not call you to ask you to disclose financial information to get a new card,” he explained.  “Never give out your Medicare number or any other personal information to someone you don’t know.”

“When in doubt, hang up,” Getman said.  “Legitimate government agencies will usually follow up with a written request.”

Waite and Getman said Medicare consumers who provided information to these callers should review Medicare statements closely and call 1-800-MEDICARE or 877-272-8720 immediately if they see anything unusual or suspicious. They may also contact their local law enforcement agencies.

The Schuyler County Office for the Aging was established as a result of the Older Americans Act of 1965 with the core function being provision of information, referrals and services for county residents age 60 and over, as well as their caregivers.

The Schuyler County Attorney is the legal advisor for county government, including the Office for the Aging, Department of Social Services Adult Protective Unit and other county agencies serving the senior population.

For more information on avoiding tricks and scams, click here.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Schuyler County Attorney Getman to Run for County Court Judge

Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman has officially launched his campaign for County Court Judge. Getman is a lifelong Republican who resides in Watkins Glen and currently serves as the Schuyler County Attorney.

Since 2015, Getman has served as the County Attorney for Schuyler County. He previously served as Assistant County Attorney for three years before being promoted to the top job. In these roles, Getman has served as the chief legal advisor to approximately 250 county employees, including the County Administrator and County Legislature. He and his staff have handled thousands of cases, prosecuted and defended civil actions, appeared in numerous courts, and drafted legislation. In addition, his office prosecutes family court cases involving child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency and child support violations.

Prior to taking office as County Attorney, Getman was Assistant County Attorney from 2012 to 2015 and, before that, he served as an attorney for children in Schuyler County Family Court and as a member of the Schuyler County Assigned Counsel Panel, representing clients in both criminal court and family court.

An attorney since 1992, Getman has worked for several other government agencies over the years: the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (law school intern); the office of New York State Assemblyman Mike Nozzolio (college intern/volunteer); the Seneca County Public Defender, Department of Social Services, STOP-DWI, and County Attorney’s Office. In addition, Getman has served as an attorney for various towns in the Finger Lakes area, including as special co-counsel for the Town of Dix in certain real property tax certiorari matters. He has prosecuted violations of local laws and served as a special prosecutor in cases involving both misdemeanors and felonies in criminal court.

Beyond his service as an attorney, Getman has helped teach our next generation as an Adjunct Instructor at Keuka College for the past seven years. His courses have focused on criminal justice and constitutional law.

Getman, age 54, is a graduate of Hofstra University, Ithaca College and Cornell University. He is a life member of the NRA and a member of Schuyler County SCOPE (Shooters Committee On Political Education), the Millport Hunting and Fishing Club, Community Conservation Club, Schuyler County Arc Nominating Committee, Watkins Glen-Montour Falls Lions Club, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, New York State Bar Association, Schuyler County Bar Association, National District Attorneys Association, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and New York State Defenders Association.

This year’s election is expected to feature this seat for County Court Judge based on the expected retirement of current Judge Dennis Morris. The General Election is slated for Tuesday, November 5th.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Not-for-profits, others, criticize bill that would ban gun raffles in New York

Bill would ban gun raffles in New York
Gun raffles are major revenue sources for some nonprofit organizations and volunteer fire departments, but a bill introduced in the state Legislature could prohibit the events.

Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, a Brooklyn Democrat, introduced the measure that would ban gun raffles. Twenty-nine of Simon’s Assembly colleagues, all Democrats and nearly all of whom represent downstate districts, cosponsored the legislation.

Under New York state law, it is legal to hold gun raffles and to award firearms in a game of chance. Simon’s bill would end the practice....Many organizations, especially in upstate, hold gun raffles to generate revenue....

Kevin Foster, a captain with the Aurelius Volunteer Fire Department, explained that gun raffles and other fundraisers are necessary because of the property tax cap. The cap limits property tax levy growth to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less....

Other organizations have generated revenues from gun raffles. The Magee Fire Department in Seneca County collects roughly $15,000 from its annual gun raffle, according to Chief Craig Reynolds. Waterloo Rifle & Pistol Club raises $10,000 to $12,000 each year from its gun raffle.

Claiming a prize from a gun raffle.... isn't different than buying a firearm at a retailer.

A winner at a gun raffle must submit to a federal background check before being permitted to collect the firearm. Under New York law, you must be age 18 or older to purchase a long gun and at least 21 years old to buy a handgun.

(A)nyone with a criminal record wouldn't be allowed to receive a firearm won at a raffle.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

New Assistant Schuyler County Attorney Named

Watkins Glen, NY--Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman has announced his appointment of Vinton Bovier Stevens, an Elmira native, as an Assistant County Attorney.

The appointment was unanimously approved by the Schuyler County Legislature at its February 11 meeting.

As an Assistant County Attorney, Stevens will join Getman in representing Schuyler County in civil litigation, family court prosecutions and related matters.

Stevens has been an attorney since 1999. Prior to joining the County Attorney’s office, he practiced law in New York City, Chemung and Tompkins Counties.

Getman said, “I am honored to have an attorney with Vinton’s education and experience join our office. I am confident that he will represent Schuyler County government effectively and ethically.”

Stevens stated “I am proud to be joining County Attorney Getman’s office. Having known Mr. Getman and his staff for a number of years, I have been impressed with their integrity and commitment to the taxpayers, children and families of Schuyler County.

In addition to Getman and Stevens, the Schuyler County Attorney’s staff consists of attorney Kristin Hazlitt, of Hector, as well as secretaries Maryann Friebis and Brandy Bower.

Stevens is a graduate of Notre Dame High School, in Elmira, and attended college at the University of Rochester. He is a 1998 graduate of Temple University School of Law.

In addition to his attorney duties, Stevens serves as Vice Flotilla Commander of the USCG Auxiliary Flotilla, and as a member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Ithaca.

The County Attorney is the legal advisor to all county officials and prosecutes and defends civil actions by and against the county. In addition, the County Attorney prosecutes family court cases involving child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency and child support violations.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Monday, February 11, 2019

Zombies 2.0: $9 Million announced in grants for communities dealing with vacant and abandoned properties

New York State officials have announced “Zombies 2.0,” the expansion of a grant initiative to address the growing statewide issue of “zombie homes”-- vacant and abandoned homes that are not maintained during a prolonged foreclosure proceeding.

This program is intended to provide up to $9 million in grants to New York State municipalities to address housing vacancy and blight. The grants will provide funds to municipalities to increase housing code enforcement, track and monitor vacant properties, and bolster legal enforcement capacity to ensure property lenders comply with local and state law.

Grants are expected to be awarded in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 based on scale and severity.

Earlier grants under the Zombie Remediation and Prevention Initiative provided nearly $13 million in grants to local municipalities. The 2019 grant will allow previous recipients to continue their work or will give first-time grantees the opportunity to secure funding to support their property clean-up efforts.

Applications are due Friday, March 8, 2019. Awards are expected to be announced in April.

For more on the “Zombie property” initiative, click here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Schuyler officials taking extra steps to help property owners avoid tax foreclosure

Watkins Glen—Over the next few weeks, some tax delinquent Schuyler County residents will be getting a personal letter from County Treasurer Holley Sokolowski and County Attorney Steven Getman.

The letter is a personal plea: Please pay your back property taxes before February 20.

That’s the date after which, if taxes are not paid, a Schuyler County Court Judge may enter a judgment ordering the property seized and sold at public auction.

In an attempt to prevent that, Sokolowski and Getman are sending the letters, with handwritten notes on the envelopes, to approximately eighty property owners who still haven’t paid their back taxes.

“The letter reminds them of the deadline and provides options to avoid the foreclosure,” Sokolowski said. “Eligible property owners can pay the full amount due or arrange for an installment agreement.”

“It's the job of the county to collect taxes, but the main focus here is keeping people on their property and in their homes," Sokolowski said.

The letters also mention some of the services county tax dollars support, including law enforcement, public health, roads and bridges and social services.

The letters. Getman said, are based on research that found people are more likely to respond to personal letters and handwritten notes than to form documents.

“A form letter may look like junk mail and get tossed,” Getman explained. “Handwriting shows the letter deserves more attention and sends a message that this is important.”

The letters are only the latest step in the county’s efforts to collect overdue taxes while keeping people in their homes.

According to Sokolowski, each November, the county mails out Foreclosure Notices and Petitions to properties with back tax liens from the prior year. Those notices go out by both regular and certified mail to property owners, mortgage holders and others with identified interests in the delinquent properties.

“The county also publishes a list of the delinquent taxes in two local newspapers and, in certain cases, posts warnings on the properties that they could be sold for back taxes,” she noted.

Only after each of those steps occurs, Getman explained, does the court enter a judgment foreclosing on the property.

After the court issues the foreclosure, the properties, if unredeemed, are sold at a public auction.

“The law requires the county to take every step to enforce the property tax laws and ensure that everyone pays their fair share,” Getman said.

"This is really just another way to do that, above and beyond what the law requires, while making sure we're keeping people in their homes and businesses."

As County Treasurer, Sokolowski is the chief fiscal officer of county government and enforcement officer for unpaid property tax liens.

As County Attorney, Getman is the chief legal advisor for county government and responsible for the prosecution and defense of civil actions brought by and against the county, including tax matters.