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Committee Reports

February 2010

AIDS   
Drugs and the Law

Letter to Congress supporting ending the federal funding ban for syringe exchange programs but opposing the amendment restricting funding to syringe exchange programs that operate with within 1000 feet of schools, universities, playgrounds, video arcades or youth centers or an event sponsored by these organizations.  Syringe exchange programs are effective means to reduce HIV transmissions and removing the ban on federal funding would enable communities to enhance the benefits such programs offer.  However, even if the ban is lifted the 1,000-foot restriction would make utilization of federal resources for SEPs nearly impossible for existing programs, and severely hamper efforts in communities to implement new programs, particularly in urban areas, where public health officials say they are needed most.

Civil Court
Consumer Affairs

Report in support of Int. No. 1037-A which would amend the laws governing process servers in New York City. The bill would help eliminate many problems inherent in the process serving industry in New York City by requiring 1) that in order to obtain a process server license from the Department of Consumer Affairs an individual must have to post a $10,000 surety bond and process serving agencies must post a $100,000 bond; 2) a private right of action against process servers, which would enable individuals to seek injunctive relief and damages from servers who abuse the legal system; 3) process servers to take an examination to obtain a license; 4) agencies to inform their employees of their rights under minimum wage, overtime, payroll deduction and other employment obligations of their employers; 5) the retention of employment records for three years and process serving records for seven years in electronic form; and 6) that the Department of Consumer Affairs produce educational materials governing the laws and regulations that pertain to service of process.

Corrections Law
Administrative Law
Criminal Law

Amicus Brief: Acosta  v. NYC Department of Education, filed with the New York State Court of Appeals.  The brief urges that the Court should clarify the obligations of agencies in making employment determinations pursuant to Article 23-A of the New York Correction Law.  Article 23-A is a landmark statute that articulates a broad and powerful public policy favoring employment opportunities for individuals who have previously been convicted of one or more criminal offenses.

Corporation Law
The Enforceability and Effectiveness of Typical Shareholders Agreement Provisions.  This report highlights many of the legal considerations to be taken into account when drafting shareholder agreements that will affect their enforceability and effectiveness. Shareholder agreements typically cover rights to those shareholders who are party to the agreement that are above and beyond the rights that are inherent in the shares that they own and are intended to ensure that those shareholders obtain the benefits of the additional rights that they bargained for when making their investments. The goal of the report is to provide guidance to practitioners drafting these agreements.

Criminal Justice Operations
Report Concerning Criminal Leave Application Procedures in the NYS Court of Appeals.  The report outlines concerns over the fairness, and perceived fairness, of the current criminal leave application process and makes recommendations that would address these concerns without being unduly burdensome on the Court and criminal litigants.  Some of the recommendations include: 1) assign each leave application to a panel of 3 judges, with leave to be granted if any of the 3 decides it should be; 2) make all judges aware what leave issues are pending so even if he or she is not one of the 3 designated leave panel judges, he or she would have the opportunity to give input; 3) rather than leave it to the individual judge’s discretion adopt a rule that routinely permits the party seeking leave to file a reply leave letter; and 4) make it clear to Appellate Division Justices that they should grant leave applications they believe have merit.

Family Court and Family Law
Survey of Family Law Curricula in New York City and Long Island Law Schools.  The report outlines the results of a survey of the area law schools and seeks to identify how the New York law schools should engage the discipline of family law and what schools are doing for law students to introduce them to family law and aid their ability to pursue it. Finally, the report makes specific recommendations of how New York schools can better introduce and expose students to become family law practitioners.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights
Report urging that public health insurance should provide full coverage for transgender health services and that New York State’s exclusion of state Medicaid insurance coverage for transgender health services should be repealed.  New York’s Medicaid exclusion for gender reassignment services denies health insurance on the basis of gender identity and is based on outdated interpretations of medical need. Transgender people without access to appropriate health care, the report argues, face crises in all aspects of their life and work; these problems are not limited to adverse health consequences.

Amicus Brief: H.M. v. E.K. filed in the New York State Court of Appeals.  The brief urges that the courts need to enforce the rights of children born through assisted reproductive technologies to the support of intended parents unrelated to them by biology or adoption. Where two people deliberately cause a child to be brought into the world, the brief argues, in reliance on mutual agreements that both will parent the child, they are both legally obligated to live up to these promises and responsibilities regardless of which parent is biologically related to the child, the sex of the partners or whether the parents are married or in some other legally recognized relationship.

National Security, Task Force on
Amicus Brief: Kiyemba v. Obama filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.  The brief argues that the court of appeals' ruling undermines the "judicial Power" conferred by Article III of the Constitution and the role of an independent judiciary in our constitutional system of separated powers.  The brief also argues that the recently-enacted restrictions on Appropriations Acts that purport to preclude the use of certain funds appropriated to the executive branch for the purpose of releasing Guantanamo detainees in the United States should not be construed to prevent a detainee’s release in the United States, given that alternative constructions of the Acts are available.

Pro Bono and Legal Services
Testimony at New York State Senate public hearing on IOLA and the future of civil legal services in New York State urging that the Legislature do all it can to assure sustained funding to pro bono and legal services programs in New York.

Securities Regulation
Letter to the SEC offering comments on the Commission’s proposed rulemaking regarding credit ratings disclosure and its concept release regarding the possible rescission of Rule 436(g) under the Securities Act.  The letter highlights serious concerns about those potential impacts, particularly as applied to the market for corporate fixed income securities of the proposed amendments. In particular the letter argues that rescinding Rule 436(g) would raise fundamental policy issues, without necessarily enhancing investor protection or otherwise achieving the results the Commission seeks to achieve.