First Defendants Charged Under New York’s Strangulation Act

Stephanie Sciandra, Albany Government Law Review Editor

I.                   Introduction        

On December 4, 2010, Gregory Chinnery of Albany was accused of assaulting his girlfriend, pushing her against a wall, and choking her until she lost consciousness.[1]  Had Chinnery been accused prior to the enactment of the Strangulation Prevention Act of 2010[2] (hereinafter the “Act”), he would have been charged with a harassment violation, or assault in the third degree at best.[3]  Instead, Chinnery was charged under a new New York State law that makes strangulation leading to injury or unconsciousness a violent felony.[4]

Previously, victims of domestic violence who were strangled into unconsciousness had little recourse under the law. [5]  When the Act went into effect on November 11, 2010, it escalated penalties for strangulation, making it a felony to choke someone resulting in injury or unconsciousness (even if no other injury is present), and a misdemeanor to choke someone without resulting injury or unconsciousness.[6]   Previously, even a misdemeanor assault charge was not applicable against a potential defendant who strangled his victim into unconsciousness if no serious injury or pain resulted; the only applicable charge was harassment in the second degree, a noncriminal violation. [7]  The Act, which defines strangulation in the first, second and third degrees, [8] is already providing additional recourse for prosecutors of domestic violence, who frequently see strangulation used as a batterer’s weapon.

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A Bitter Cup of Coffee: Postscript

Special Guest Post by Doug Gladstone, author: A Bitter Cup of Coffee: How MLB & The Players Association Threw 874 Retirees A Curve, and panelist for The Albany Government Law Review Spring Symposium: Baseball & the Law: America’s National Pastime.

On Thursday, April 21, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced, with much fanfare, that they would be giving all those men who played in “The Show” from 1947-1979, who had more than one day of service credit but less than four years, and who were therefore unable to qualify for MLB pensions, payments of up to $10,000 each for the next two years, depending on their respective lengths of service. The issue of these inactive, non-vested retirees was why I was on the “Legal State of Our National Pastime” panel at  Baseball & The Law: America’s National Pastime symposium held on Monday, April 11 in the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom at Albany Law School.

As the author of the book widely credited with helping spur MLB to pay these men the monies they’re about to receive, I’ve naturally been asked what I thought about the announcement quite a bit over the last week or so. Admittedly, I have mixed emotions about it. Obviously, given the continuing national recession in this country, there are very few people nowadays who would turn up their noses at an extra $10,000 per year. But that pales in comparison to what some of these men could have received if they were just restored back into pension coverage.

Take Tom Bruno, for instance. A native of Chicago who pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays, Bruno finished his career having accrued three years and 161 days of service. He fell one game short of meeting the vesting requirement. One game. Based on a report which indicated that the average baseball retiree was making $30,000 in 2006, you know what a onetime retroactive check would be worth to a guy like Bruno?  If you answered, “$900,000,” you’ll realize why I’m not so impressed that he’s getting $10,000.

For the record, Major League Baseball is a $7 billion industry. Today’s player makes, on average, $3.3 million. You know what the most Tom Bruno ever made was? Only $65,000. These days, men like Ryan Howard ($125 million over five years), Matt Holiday ($120 million over seven years) and A-Rod ($27.5 million per year) are commanding what some would perceive are ridiculously obscene salaries. And part of the reason they’re able to earn that kind of money is due to men like Bruno, who frequently went without checks during work stoppages because he realized that a union is supposed to go to bat, not only for future players, but for past players as well.

Continue reading “A Bitter Cup of Coffee: Postscript”

Taking a Closer Look at New York’s Family Health Care Decisions Act

Alicia M. Dodge, Albany Government Law Review Member

I.  Introduction

On March 16, 2010, the former New York State Governor Paterson signed into law New York’s Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA), effective June 1, 2010.[1]  Through the enactment of the FHCDA, New York became the forty-ninth state to pass a “surrogate decision-making statute.”[2]  The FHCDA sets forth a list of persons who are deemed authorized to make health care decisions, including the decision to terminate life support for a patient without a health care proxy, who now lacks the capacity to make health care decisions.[3]  Prior to the enactment of the FHCDA, New York State law regarding end-of-life decision-making was well-established, and had been relatively uniform for the past twenty-five years.[4]  With the passage of the FHCDA, the precedent was greatly changed.

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Albany Government Law Review Introduces the First Annual Fireplace Blog Book

The Albany Government Law Review presents the first Fireplace Blog Book. Departing from the Albany Government Law Review’s tradition of publishing only theme- and symposia-based issues, this book focuses exclusively on the articles published on the Albany Government Law Review Fireplace. This is the first year we, as a journal, have decided to publish a blog book and have selected ten of our favorite and most viewed Fireplace articles from the 2010-2011 academic year. In keeping with our journal’s educational mission, our members write these posts to inform the lay reader, as well as local, state, and national policymakers on the possibilities within the law to improve government administration on all levels.

Our ultimate goal of the Fireplace and the Blog Book is to apply the traditional law review production model to collaborative internet publication in the hope of maximizing the potential of law review writing to be timely, relevant, and progressive.  Please be sure to check out some of this year’s best articles in an easy to download format:

AGLR Fireplace Blog Book