Friday, December 29, 2006

The CSI Effect, Redux

An article from Central NY on the continuing problem wherein certain fans of the CBS crime dramas (or that genre)believe themselves forensic experts.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Orders of Protection

For those of you with online subscriptions, The Watertown Daily Times ran an interesting series on orders of protection, problems with the system and the new Integrated Domestic Violence court in St. Lawrence County. Chautauqua County also has an IDV court, which consolidates cases from various courts (town/city, Family, Supreme, etc.) before a single judge. The official NY State IDV court site is here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A short break

Happy Holidays to all. Expect a break in regular posting over the next couple of weeks, due to holidays, travel and sheer slothfulness.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Justice Courts

Another article in the NY Times on the issues with Justice Courts, this time specifically looking at Keeseville, a village in Essex and Clinton counties at the northern tip of the state.

Aside from the content of the article, there were two nagging thoughts that occurred to me in reading. First, brought on by the last sentence of the article, was that I hope this doesn't devolve into a "boy, aren't those unsophisticated yokels dumb" sort of series. Secondly, and a larger issue, is that there seems to be a major gap in our legal system to deal with inappropriate behavior from judges. Numerous lawyers had been in this court and were aware of the practices, but yet the practices continued. Perhaps one of the changes in the court system ought to be an initial way to report issues other than the Commission on Judicial Conduct. I know and like many local judges and would never want to report them to "The Man", but it would be nice if someone in authority sat down and gave individualized training based on ongoing problems.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Adirondack News

Two bits out of the Adirondacks, having an effect on environmental law and policy. Gov. Pataki and Sen. Bruno, contrary to some initial post-election rumors, will reconvene the State Senate today for the purpose (among others) of filling some vacancies. Of note, two seats on the Adirondack Park Agency are set to be filled with Pataki appointees. These appointments are less controversial than some others, in part because APA commissioners are not salaried (like Public Service Comm. commissioners) and in part because the law creating the APA has membership criteria. Aside from the heads of various state departments (or their local designees), the Governor's appointees have to be a set mix of in- and out-of-Adirondack residents and a set mix of political registration.

On the APA theme, the largest and most controversial Adirondack environmental advocacy group has released a report critical of the APA's efforts to deal with a backlog of known violations. The Adirondack Council found, apparently, that many cited land use violations were ignored and the file closed in the interest of reducing backlog.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Porco sentencing

A while back, the blog followed the progress of the Porco murder trial, held in Orange County due to a change in venue following the Albany-area murder. As an end note to this chapter of the tale, Christopher Porco was sentenced to two back-to-back 25 year terms. One term is for the murder of his father and one (attempted murder conviction)is for the attack on his mother which resulted in severe injuries, although she survived. As reported in the story, his mother had apparently asked the sentences be served concurrently (at the same time) instead of consecutively (one after the other) but the headline seems to indicate the judge didn't agree.

Housing Court

The City of Jamestown Department of Development's Housing Inspectors recently had an article in the Post-Journal regarding housing court, mainly focused at homeowners with violations.

I think this is a good article and overview of the process. The main problem in housing code enforcement, from my perspective as an attorney, comes when landlords adn tenants point fingers at each other over who is responsible and nothing gets done while liability is argued.

Country vs. Big Radio

A number of legendary country music performers (can you remember when it was "country and western"?) gave testimony recently on the topic of the consolidation of radio into a few powerful corporations. The point of the testimony, which I've heard more in country circles than rock, is that consolidation leads to homogenization and a dearth of outlets for anyone except whoever is hot at the moment. Also factoring in is the use of automated and syndicated programming, so that a Clear Channel station in Jamestown probably sounds no different than a Clear Channel station in Boca Raton or San Francisco.

It is an intriguing legal situation, as previous regulation prohibited much of the mass ownership now practiced by a few large companies. It's capitalism vs. artistic expression, in some ways, as the stations are focused on what people (defined as whatever target demographic with disposible income is at hand) want to listen to currently versus what the artists are performing and writing. There's probably no answer about where the line should lie in controlling monopolies in the interest of preserving vague abstract artistic concepts, so I expect this to be an ongoing issue.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Power Plant and Plaza

Earlier today, I was wondering if the public outcry regarding the Fairmont Plaza redevelopment was actual outraged citizens or if it had corporate roots. When I worked at an unnamed law firm, we were dealing with a big box development proposal which was opposed by a citizen group bankrolled by a competing big box developer.

Then at lunch, I came across a tabloid-sized paper produced by the anti-new Jamestown power plant coalition. In tone, it reminded me something of the papers the Socialist Workers' Party used to leave at my college, with a bevy of rhetorical questions and stilted statements. However, I'm again left wondering where this came from--is there money backing this group or is it a genuine movement?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Jamestown Power Plant

Expect controversy, litigation and the like in the matter of the proposed new coal-fired power plant, as discussed in this Post-Journal article.

It's an interesting proposal, and one fraught with unanswerable questions. It pits environmental and commercial and quality of life issues against each other, sometimes including internal struggles within each faction of issues. Clean coal is certainly a more environmentally-acceptable choice than traditional coal, but while some may applaud that choice, others will be against any fossil fuel-based system. It's bound to be contentious, on economic, environmental and social fronts.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Smoking Gun: Boy arrested for opening gift early.

TSG reports, and has the paperwork, on a 12 year old arrested following a complaint by his mother than he opened a gift early.

Discussion of iffy parenting strategies aside, if this was the case in my house? I'd have been doing 25-life in Dannemora since age 8.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Some people don't want it, no matter what."

The above quote is from Pat Tyler, Supervisor of the Town of Ellicott, regarding the redevelopment of the Fairmount Plaza site. This caught my eye because my hometown is in the midst of a WalMart debate and related litigation, and I can see this heading the same way. One good thing about this debate, NIMBY or not, is that at least here in Chautauqua Co. the interested parties seem to be relying on facts to make a pro/con argument.

One interesting facet, for a land use lawyer, is to see exactly what is being discussed. The board is looking at rezoning an area to allow a different type of commercial than currently exists, which will also cause some non-commercial areas to be included/impacted. There is, allegedly, no plan on the table currently. On one hand, it's good incremental decisionmaking to consider whether the area can support such a store as a first step. On the more cynical hand, it's more difficult to fight a proposal once there's a general, blanket approval already on the table.