New York Loses a Tireless Judicial Advocate for Children and Families

Submitted by Guest Blogger:  Joseph N. Schneiderman

Presiding Justice Anthony V. Cardona of the Appellate Division, Third Department lost a valiant yearlong battle with cancer on December 4. He was 70.

Justice Cardona had served as Presiding Justice of the Third Department for sixteen years (1994-2010), having been appointed originally by Governors Mario Cuomo and reappointed by Governor George Pataki. Governor Cuomo originally named Justice Cardona to serve as an Associate Justice of the Third Department in 1993, two years after his election to Supreme Court. Before then, Justice Cardona served as Family Court Judge Cardona of Albany County for six years, beyond serving as a Law Guardian and Public Defender in Albany County while maintaining a private practice in Albany.

In 1997, Justice Cardona received the Howard A. Levine award from the New York State Bar Association for his efforts to spur progress and reform in child welfare and juvenile justice. Justice Cardona also co-chaired the Family Violence Task Force under renown Chief Judge Judith Kaye for eleven years, training judges and court personnel in all the intricacies of domestic violence and child abuse. Justice Cardona also served on the New York State Task Force on Permanency Planning and spurred development of Court Appointed Special Assistants for Children program, where an award in his name was created in Albany. Finally beyond authoring more than 1000 decisions in the realm of Family Law, Acting Presiding Justice Thomas Mercure has noted that Justice Cardona has insisted that “[family court appeals] be handed down within four to six weeks after they argued, recognizing both the sensitivity of the issues and their importance to the participants.”… <Read More>

Justin Bieber and Child Support

Submitted by Guest Blogger:  Joseph N. Schneiderman

Much has been in the news lately about teen phenomenon Justin Bieber purportedly fathering a child as a result of an illicit sexual encounter in the bathroom of the Staples Center. There have also been revelations that Mariah Yeater, the putative mother, is apparently perpetrating a scam. We are still waiting on the results of the DNA test.
Yet a question persists. Justin Bieber is not of the age of majority and Mariah Yeater is 20 years old. The crime of statutory rape has apparently occurred (see Cal. Penal Code §261.5-criminalizing sexual encounters between an adult and “a minor who is not more than three years older or three years younger than the perpetrator” as a misdemeanor.) California’s courts have likewise interpreted Section 261.5 as criminalizing all minor-on-minor sex as a misdemeanor, see Matter of T.A.J., 62 Cal. App. 4th 1350 [1st Dist. 1998]).

So how can Justin Bieber be compelled to pay child support?… <Read More>

Alimony, a Vestige of the Bad Old Days?

Is alimony the last vestige of our paternalistic past?

It just might be.  For the last century, Men made more money and had many more choices when it came to work than women. When men left their wives, they left them in a state of probable poverty and lowered their standing in polite society.

With the increase in same sex marriage and the changing economic climate, can alimony be saved?

Probably not anytime soon, but with the playing field between men and women at least becoming more or less equal the possibility looms.… <Read More>

A Grave Issue

In many smaller countries, cemeteries are an unrealistic extravagance.  They take up space, and people seem to keep to continue to die!  Especially in Christian countries where the body is considered sacred even after death, there are worrying social implications when graves need to be dug up.

In Greece, the new practice is to rent your grave. This is a worrying prospect for the country’s Orthodox Christians.  You can rent your grave for up to 3 years, then the body is either sent to another country to be cremated or it is dumped into a mass grave.

This brings interesting questions of what do we do in a world with limited resources and deeply held beliefs?

As a side note, NY law on the matter is that no graves are allowed to be dug up until 100 years after the last plot in that cemetery is filled.  And most cemeteries never fill the last plot so that the clock never starts ticking.… <Read More>

Coming to America! A Learning Experience in Alternative U.S. History

Immigration into the United States is undoubtedly one of the most difficult and stressful undertakings that many people and families can undergo.   In order to become a US citizen, immigrants must pass a citizenship test, among other things, but recently one author questioned the validity of the questions that were being asked.

What are we teaching our newest citizens in the 100 questions they are asked to learn to become a US citizen?  Is this just a memorization exercise?

Maybe INS should take a page from the SAT, and require an essay!… <Read More>