Weekly Round-Up October 20th, 2014

Court of Appeals Nomination:

  • Governor Cuomo announced that he is nominating Justice Leslie Stein to the NY Court of Appeals. Justice Stein currently serves as Associate Justice of the Appellate Division (Third Department) of the New York State Supreme Court and has seventeen years experience on the bench in New York.
  • Justice Stein began her legal career in private practice as an attorney specializing in matrimonial and family law. In 2001, she served as acting Albany County Family Court Judge. She also served as Presiding Judge of the Rensselaer County Integrated Domestic Violence Part from 2006-2008. She has served on the New York State Association of Women Judges, the Capital District Women’s Bar Association, and the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, as well as, the co-chair of the New York State Unified Court System Family Violence Task Force.
  • On his nomination of Justice Stein, Governor Cuomo said “Justice Leslie Stein has extensive judicial experience and has worked throughout her career to help ensure that women, families, victims of domestic violence, and vulnerable New Yorkers have a voice in our legal system. She has also sought to advance the cause of women and diversity in the legal profession,” The next step is Senate approval after the November elections.


Flu Vaccines Mandated for Pre-Schoolers:

  • The Board of Health has approved mandatory flu vaccinations for children in city licensed day cares and preschools. This will affect children from six months to five years old, totaling around 150,000 children. The rule requires children to be vaccinated by December 31, 2014.
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Weekly Round-Up October 13th, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Legal in 5 More States:

  • The Supreme Court denied certiorari in seven cases from five states in the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuits in which courts had struck down state bans on same-sex marriage, meaning that same sex marriages will be recognized in those states and soon in others. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia will allow same-sex marriage. It is likely that this will affect the courts’ decisions in several other pending lawsuits in the Fourth and Tenth Circuits, which may pave the way for same-sex marriage in: West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas.  As of the date of the Supreme Court’s most recent decision, 19 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia allowed same-sex marriage. To read more about this decision, please read the article written by NYLS professor Arthur S. Leonard, by clicking here.  For more information, click here.

New Traffic Law: Civil Penalties For Hit and Run Drivers

  • New York State law requires an individual who knows or should know that they have been involved in a car accident involving property damage or injury to remain on the scene so that they may give their contact and insurance information to the injured party or police officer. The information that must be provided to the victim or the police officer includes the individual’s name, residence, license number, and insurance information.
  • Currently, if an individual flees the scene of an accident, there is a maximum fine of $5,000 under State law, but imposing this fine is difficult, due to the nature of a hit-and-run.
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Weekly Round-up September 29th, 2014

Pilot Program to Prevent Domestic Violence:

  • Brooklyn District Attorney, Kenneth Thompson has launched a program into domestic violence prevention. Prosecutors will examine all domestic violence cases to determine if there is a high risk that the offender will murder the victim. The District Attorney’s Office received a grant of $650,000 to run this program from the Department of Justice.
  • For each domestic violence case, the prosecutor will assess the defendant’s behavior against a tool called Danger Assessment, developed by Jacquelyn Campbell at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. The Danger Assessment uses factors such as whether the defendant owns a gun, if the defendant employed, and whether there have been incidents of violence in the past. If the defendant scores high on this assessment, the prosecutor will pass the case on to a special team consisting of representatives from the district attorney’s office, the police department, and Safe Horizon, a group providing assistance to domestic violence victims. This group will weigh the defendant’s threat level and recommend that the defendant stay in jail if they pose a high risk of repetitive, lethal violence.


  • From May to August, an estimated 40,000 migrants entering the U.S. in family units were apprehended at the border. However, because there was not enough space to keep individuals in detention, many of them were given the opportunity to stay with family members in the U.S. as they continued to go through deportation proceedings.
  • The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has stated that 70 percent of the people apprehended at the border and then released, have not reported to the agency, even though they were told to do so.
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Weekly Round-up September 22nd, 2014

It’s On Us – Campus Sexual Assault Prevention Campaign:

  • On Friday, President Obama launched the It’s On Us Campaign, a campaign aimed at including the public in preventing on-campus sexual assaults. It calls on bystanders to speak up if it appears that someone is the victim of a sexual assault or to step in if it appears that someone is unable to consent to sexual activity.  It calls on everyone to take responsibility in creating an atmosphere in which sexual assault will not be tolerated. This campaign is in addition to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, initiated by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in January to work with universities to combat sexual assaults on campuses. In 2011, The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights provided guidance to colleges and universities to illustrate the responsibilities of these institutions to promote educational environments for students that are free from sexual harassment and sexual assault in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
  • It’s On Us includes PSA videos featuring celebrities such as Jon Hamm, Kerry Washington, and Kevin Love. The NCAA, Big Ten, and Pac-12 have all joined in the movement pledging to spread awareness. The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women will award $6 million to 18 colleges to develop programs designed to prevent campus sexual assaults and to provide services for victims.


HeForShe and Gender Equality:

  • World leaders are gathering at the United Nations (UN) this week for the UN General Assembly meeting and one of the topics on the agenda is: gender equality.
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Weekly Round-up September 15th, 2014

Parents May Soon Find it Easier to Obtain College Loans Under New Plan:

  • In 2011, it became increasingly difficult to obtain a Parent Plus loan.  This has especially affected many poor families, who find it difficult for their children to attend undergrad and graduate school without loans.
  • For a parent with negative credit history, it is much more difficult to secure funding for their child to continue their education.
  • The Obama Administration has proposed a revision with respect to the current Parent Plus loan screening process. If the proposed plan goes into effect, when doing its standard credit check, instead of going back five years, the Education Department will only go back two years. Additionally, if there is a debt below $2,085, it will not be considered as a reason to reject a loan application. Under the current policy, delinquencies of any amount can be a bar to gaining access to student loans. The Administration projects that this change in policy will lead to at least an additional 370,000 individuals being approved for loans.
  • Proponents of this policy change see it as a way to increase low-income students enrollment in higher education. Currently, Stafford Loans, which are an option for undergraduate students are capped at $57,000 for life. Many times, this is not enough to meet education costs, and it is even more difficult to obtain private loans if a parent has negative credit history.
  • Critics are concerned that borrowing large sums of money will lock individuals into repayment for a lifetime, and they have compared it to the housing market crash that occurred when banks were approving mortgages that were unrealistically high compared to a person’s income.
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