Recent Committee Activity
National Defense Authorization Act
In a letter to Congress, the Task Force on National Security and the Rule of Law expressed concern with a number of provisions of S.1253, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The three provisions of the Senate bill that the Task Force found most troubling concern mandatory military detention of certain terrorism suspects, the restriction of the use of funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees to a foreign country, and the U.S. military’s detention authority under the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
Justifiable Reliance for Victims of Domestic Violence
The Committee on Domestic Violence filed an amicus brief with the New York State Court of Appeals in Valdez v. The City of New York. The brief states that New York’s system of protecting domestic violence survivors is built on interdependent protections for victims that are designed to foster greater victim confidence in police and to provide an effective law enforcement response to domestic violence. The brief argues that as a matter of law, a victim of domestic violence with an order of protection, and who has reported a serious violation of the order, should be able to establish justifiable reliance on the City’s promise to act on her behalf.
Luring a Minor on the Internet
As currently drafted, New York’s child luring statute may not be sufficiently broad to include luring via the internet. Proposed legislation A.2483/S.1096 would end this uncertainty by creating a new law covering the crime of luring or enticing a child on the internet. In its report on the proposed legislation, the Committee on Criminal Justice Operations argues that rather than creating a new law, the same goal can be achieved by simply modifying the existing penal law to expressly include luring via the internet.
In a report on A.624/S.3762, the Committee on State Courts of Superior Jurisdiction expressed support for legislation that would prohibit a third-party defendant from asserting an objection or defense that the summons and complaint, summons with notice or notice of petition and petition was not properly served. Allowing third-party defendants to raise service objections relating to complaints in the underlying action long after commencement of the action, the report notes, serves little purpose, if any, and creates needless litigation.
Volunteer for Monday Night Law
The Committee on Legal Services for Persons of Moderate Means is seeking volunteer attorneys to staff the Monday Night Legal Advisory Workshop, which begins its 21st year this fall. New volunteers are needed for the Monday Night Law program year, which will run from October through August 2012. Volunteers are needed to staff MNL one Monday per month during that period. A two-part training will be held in September.
Monday Night Law addresses the need for affordable and accessible legal assistance in a clinic setting each week. During 30-minute appointments, clients and volunteer attorneys discuss problems in the areas of housing, employment, family/divorce, consumer, and personal bankruptcy, as well as small business. The volunteer attorneys do not take cases, but provide clinic-based advice. They distribute materials, explain procedures, and offer suggestions to help clients understand and find solutions to their legal problems. MNL volunteers make referrals, where appropriate, to the City Bar’s Legal Referral Service, City Bar Justice Center, or other legal services providers.
Volunteer attorneys must commit to attending the program one Monday evening per month from October 2011 through the end of August 2012, at the New York City Bar Association. Volunteers also must attend both training sessions, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., on Monday, Sept. 12, and Monday, Sept. 26, also at the City Bar. Attendees are eligible for continuing legal education for the live trainings, as well as pro bono CLE credits for their clinic work. Volunteers may take the training via CD audio recordings that will be available in late October, but the audio does not carry CLE credit.
No prior experience in the topics covered is necessary; however, volunteers must have been admitted to practice for a minimum of two years. For more information and an application to participate, please provide full contacts including an e-mail address that accepts attachments to MondayNightLaw@gmail.com. The application form and background information will begin to be sent by e-mail in late July. All training course materials will be sent by e-mail attachment in advance of the programs.
City Bar in the News
Downtown Express, July 27, 2011
The Zadroga Question: To Pay or Not To Pay
For many years, free medical treatment has been available to residents, students and Lower Manhattan workers who were exposed to the Sept. 11, 2001 attack and its aftermath. But the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act that Pres. Barack Obama signed into law in January 2011 opened the Victim Compensation Fund to this group for the first time. Sheila Birnbaum, who was appointed special master of the V.C.F., has held many public meetings to explain eligibility and how to apply for benefits as well as to solicit feedback on the ground rules. Birnbaum will be arbitrating the September 11th V.C.F. cases for free, and expects other attorneys to do the same.…The New York City Bar Association is also proposing to organize group “clinics” starting in the fall for claimants wishing to represent themselves. Victims will be instructed on the application process and then meet individually with a staff of approximately 50 attorneys to discuss their personal legal options, according to Lynn Kelly, executive director of the City Bar Justice Center. “This is a service for people so they can readily fill this out and submit it with quick consultation,” Kelly said. The goal, she said, “is really to have people seen quickly and easily, and answer questions they might have.”
Albany Times-Union, July 25, 2011
For New Districts, a New Panel
It’s been six months since Cuomo proposed an independent, nonpartisan commission to set new district lines for Assembly, Senate and congressional seats, reflecting population changes in the last census. That bill, lauded by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and several good government types, predictably has stalled.…There are models out there to consider for such a commission. Anyone intrigued by how complicated redistricting is should take a look at the New York City Bar Association’s 2007 proposal, “A proposed New York State Constitutional Amendment to emancipate redistricting from partisan gerrymanders: partisanship channeled for fair line-drawing.” Don't let the title fool you. It is a brilliant, lucid and thoroughly readable primer of about 50 pages on everything you need to know on the subject, and not just the law – whether or not you agree with the final form recommended.
New York Law Journal, July 22, 2011
N.Y. Court Dissolves Civil Union in Ruling Grounded on 'Equity'
A New York judge has the power to dissolve a civil union that a woman entered into in Vermont, even though the Legislature has not expressly authorized the termination of such unions involving New York residents, a state appeals panel decided yesterday.…Civil unions have been legalized by eight other states. Most advocates of same-sex marriage in New York, including the New York State Bar and New York City Bar associations, opposed the adoption of civil unions by the state. They argued that the only way to guarantee equal treatment for same- and opposite-sex couples was to allow gays and lesbians to marry.
New York Law Journal, July 21, 2011
Cuomo Aide: Time Is Not Right to Raise Judges' Pay
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo”¦s top budget adviser said yesterday that New York state cannot afford raises for judges in the short term. “I think the issue as we see it right now…is that the spending is not affordable,” Robert Megna told the seven members of a judicial compensation commission established to consider whether state judges should get their first raises since Jan. 1, 1999. Mr. Megna was one of 33 speakers at the commission’s first and only hearing. Virtually all of them advocated for an immediate and large pay raise for the state’s 1,200 judges.…Advocates for a significant raise up front included the New York State Bar Association (Read Testimony), the New York City Bar (Read Submission), the New York County Lawyers’ Association (Read Submission), the Fund for Modern Courts and New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo (Read Testimony).