The statewide coalition, New Yorkers for Responsible Lending (NYRL), released the results from its survey of New York’s court-mediated foreclosure settlement conferences’ practices and procedures. The study found that there is such variation in conferences between the different counties in New York, that outcomes are as much dependent on geographical location as they are on merit. Although foreclosure settlement conferences are intended to aid homeowners in preventing the loss of their home, homeowners are not given the same opportunities because policies are not uniform across the board.
Continue reading New Yorkers for Responsible Lending Releases Report Showing the Need for Uniform Foreclosure Settlement Conferences
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Customs and Border Protection Agency are working together to combat a new trend of drug traffickers who fool seniors into becoming international drug mules. Traffickers either forge a relationship with seniors or promise inheritance or other monetary incentives. In targeting the elderly, traffickers hope that the drugs pass through security undetected. This scheme has worked to some degree because eighty-three U.S. citizens who fell victim to drug trafficking tricks have been arrested in foreign countries since 2013.
Continue reading Operation Cocoon
There are approximately 3,000 lawsuits filed each year against the New York City Police Department claiming violations of civil rights or use of excessive force, especially against minorities. Police Commissioner William J. Bratton has created a new legal unit that will investigate these claims. The 40-member legal unit searches through evidence such as surveillance footage to see if the claims have merit. Approximately 30 attorneys have been hired as well to take on the trial caseload the city deals with.
Continue reading NYPD Seeks to Reduce Claims of Civil Rights Violations
Caitrin Kennedy filed a lawsuit against the New York State Assembly, the former New York State Assembly Member Dennis Gabryszak, former chief of staff Adam Locher, and former State Assembly Member and Speaker Sheldon Silver. The claims of a hostile work environment and sexual harassment were filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and under New York State Human Rights Law. On March 3, 2016, U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny dismissed the Title VII claims against the former New York Assembly Speaker by holding that Title VII actions by staff members are barred when against the elected officials they work for. The remaining state claims against the former Assembly Member, though, were not dismissed.
Continue reading U.S. District Court Judge Dismisses Civil Rights Action based on Employee Status
Recently, Governor Cuomo announced that he will be pardoning New Yorkers who were convicted of non-violent crimes when they were minors and have not committed another crime in a ten year period. Currently, 48 states in the nation have adopted the “Raise the Age Campaign,” a movement that purports 16 and 17 year olds should not be tried as adults. Governor Cuomo’s clemency action adopts the principles from the campaign to allow young people who have made mistakes in their youth move ahead with their lives and gain employment and other opportunities. New York’s clemency program is the first of its kind in the nation.
Continue reading New York State to Pardon Those Convicted at 16 and 17
As many of us know, criminal law and the justice system is often depicted in popular television and movies. Viewers know what they will see: forensic experts and a bit of drama. Although it seems glamorous, real life is not as straightforward and trustworthy. In a criminal case, the expert’s knowledge must be examined. Attorneys who are well-versed in criminal law will know which expert to rely on for proper information, which are diligent, and how forensic science really fits into a trial.
Continue reading Criminal Law Experts: Don’t Let Your Defense Go Up In Smoke
Recently, more citizens are shooting video footage on their cell phones of police misconduct, showing use of excessive force when police interact with minorities. The police often claim that the use of unprovoked excessive force is an isolated incident caused by a few police officers. Currently, police data on use of excessive force is based on voluntary disclosure, leading many to believe that not all information is being reported, information is modified, and therefore the data is unreliable.
Continue reading Focus on Gathering Data in Civil Rights Cases Increasing
The criminal justice system aims to be fair and protect citizens’ rights, but sometimes at the cost of violating their civil liberties. The criminal justice system starts with the police—the frontrunners in protecting the accused individual’s rights. These include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney derived from the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution, as well as general criminal law constructs, including the probable cause requirement and search warrants in certain situations.
Continue reading How Do My Civil Rights Intersect with Criminal Law?
In criminal prosecutions, it is the defendant’s choice whether he or she wishes to waive the right to a jury trial. This is a right constitutionally protected in both state and federal courts during criminal prosecutions. If a criminal defendant waives the right to a trial by jury, the trial will be conducted by a judge alone- this is called a bench trial. As a matter of strategy, there may be several reasons why a defendant would wish to have a case heard by a jury instead of by the bench, or vice versa.
Continue reading Should I Waive My Right to a Jury Trial?
In order for the police to effect a valid arrest, they must first have what is referred to as “probable cause.” This means that a police officer has an actual reason to arrest a person. A mere “hunch” that the suspect committed a crime does not suffice. Instead, a police officer must conclude, given the totality of the circumstances and their professional training, observations, and experience, that the suspect actually committed the crime.
Continue reading What is Probable Cause?