On May 8th, a panel looked back on 20 years of mediation in New York State and the future of mediation in the state from the perspective of litigators, judges, in-house counsel, academics and mediators. Former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye received a commendation for her support of mediation from the City Bar's Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee. From left: Chris Stern Hyman, Chair of the City Bar's Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee; former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye; Carol Liebman, Clinical Professor at Columbia Law School, inaugural Chair of the City Bar's Special Committee on ADR.
On May 8th, a panel of experts provided guidance on how consumers can access free information and services from government agencies to protect themselves against consumer fraud, housing problems and employment discrimination. The program was sponsored by the Committee on Legal Services for Persons of Moderate Means and was
part of the annual Law Day public service events organized by the Committee and the Legal Referral Service. From left: Marla Tepper, General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Consumer Affairs; Tracy McNeil, Special Counsel, Program Initiatives, Help Center & DIY Outreach, NYS Access to Justice Program; Gary Connor, General Counsel, NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal.
Supporting the Diversity Pipeline to the Legal Profession
Following its program, Best Practices for Building and Supporting the Pipeline to the Legal Profession, the Committee on Diversity Pipeline Initiatives issued a report outlining the specific strategies that were discussed at the event. Discussion focused on two key areas of effective pipeline programs: 1) those that promote academic success in law school; and 2) programs that effectively prepare minority law students for entry into the profession. The report is meant to serve as a guide for law schools, law firms, corporations and other legal employers so they can be better equipped to generate opportunities whereby they can continue to support minority law school students.
Protection of Trafficking Victims
The purpose of the state Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (A.2240-D/S.5879-B) is to: 1) increase the criminal penalties for trafficking; 2) remove the requirement that prosecutors establish coercion when the victims are minors; 3) create an affirmative defense in prostitution prosecutions where the defendant's participation was a result of having been a victim of sex trafficking; 4) create a private right of action for trafficking victims; and 5) improve the delivery of services to trafficking victims. In its report, the Committee on Sex and Law expresses support for many of the bill's provisions but makes a number of suggested modifications, which include adding the right to counsel for trafficking victims, raising penalties of labor trafficking, and tabling the bill’s provision to expand the pool of sex offender registrants until further study can be undertaken.
Transport of Equines or Equine Products
The Committee on Animal Law expressed support for HR 1094/S.541, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would to prohibit the sale or transport of equines or equine products in interstate or foreign commerce by any person who knows or reasonably should have known that such equines or equine parts are to be slaughtered for human consumption. The legislation is intended to address the public health concerns arising from the human consumption of horsemeat and the animal welfare concerns associated with the transport and slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Civil Actions Filed Against the NYPD
The New York City Affairs Committee provided written testimony to the New York City Council in support of Int. 0119-2014, which would require the Inspector General of the NYPD to submit quarterly reports to the City Council, Comptroller, and Civilian Complaint Review Board detailing the number and disposition of civil actions filed against the NYPD. Tracking and monitoring claims against police officers would allow the NYPD to identify problem officers, discern patterns of misconduct, identify better training opportunities, and take corrective action accordingly. While supporting the proposed legislation, the testimony recommends that the bill be amended to require that a redacted version of these reports, with identification of individual officers removed, be made public.
Same-Sex Marriage Rights in Colombia
The Committee on Inter-American Affairs and the Vance Center for International Justice submitted an amicus brief for the Association before the Constitutional Court of Colombia in Rodas v. Notaria Cuarta del Circuito de Cali, et al. This matter concerns two individuals who sought to invoke the Court's decision that same-sex couples have the equal right to constitute families in a formal and solemn contract with the same legal effects as civil marriage. The Court gave Colombia's Congress a period of time to pass the requisite legislation, which it failed to do. The government is now opposing the granting of marriage to same-sex couples. The brief, filed in Spanish, described developments in U.S. law, the trend of which is to find barriers to such marriage unconstitutional, and analyzed the major relevant cases. The brief also detailed the expanding consensus in favor of and prevalence of marriage, particularly in the Americas (North, South, and Central).
New York Law Journal, May 5, 2014
Why ABA Opinion on Jurors and Social Media Falls Short
"This guideline [Guideline 5.B of the NYSBA Social Media Ethics Guidelines] is based on the well-reasoned New York County Lawyers' Association Formal Opinion No. 743 (May 18, 2011) and New York City Bar Association Formal Opinion 2012-02. Specifically, the city bar opinion provides: '[a] request or notification transmitted through a social media service may constitute a communication even if it is technically generated by the service rather than the attorney, is not accepted, is ignored, or consists of nothing more than an automated message of which the "sender" was unaware. In each case, at a minimum, the researcher imparted to the person being researched the knowledge that he or she is being investigated.'"