By Heath Hardman, Albany Government Law Review
The fields of social science and psychology continue to make advances in human understanding, and courts sometimes make use of this information. But how can attorneys broaden their access to this information when representing victims of domestic violence? One way is by requesting that a court take judicial notice of certain legislative facts concerning domestic violence. While an attorney can support this request by citing scholarly sources, the court, in its discretion, need not grant the request. Citing legislative materials, such as sponsor’s memos, letters and statements of support, and bill jackets may increase an attorney’s chances of moving a court to take judicial notice of a legislative fact. After all, if the legislature cites the fact as part of its justification in enacting a law, and the court is required to enforce the law, surely the fact is compelling. Indeed, some courts have in fact cited the legislature’s reliance on certain facts when taking judicial notice of legislative facts or relying on them for decision making.
By Zachary Kansler, Albany Government Law Review
Natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale geologic formations have been a polarizing issue in New York State, spanning areas of concern including public health, environmental welfare, and municipal authority, among others. For some, Marcellus Shale is a symbol for a movement or point of view, and for others, the extraction of natural gas deposits in Marcellus Shale formations has had a more profound effect, including families alleging that their water supply has been tainted by drilling and extraction processes known as hydrofracking. Many believe the adverse effects of hydrofracking can be addressed, and hopefully mitigated through various means, including state regulation. In addition, it is also possible that local governments may have the authority to address natural gas extraction as well. However, until recently, it was not known whether such authority existed. Continue reading
By Benjamin Fox, Albany Government Law Review
The Segway was introduced to the public in December of 2001. At that time its creators and members of the public believed it would be the new mode of travel for the twenty first century. Few were purchased, and current estimates suggest only 80,000 units have been sold worldwide. Considering these statistics, the laws regarding (and in effect limiting) use of the Segway in New York City seem bizarre and unnecessary. For that reason, the statutory definition of “motor vehicle” should be amended to exclude all Segways from its reach. In doing so, it is crucial to understand how the Segway fits into the Vehicle and Traffic Law (hereinafter VTL). Continue reading
By Beth Ensell, Albany Government Law Review
On November 23, 2011, the New York Appellate Division, Third Department issued a decision that allows employers to investigate employee misconduct using Global Positioning System (“GPS”) devices without first obtaining permission from the employee or a court. The investigation at issue in the appeal centered on Michael Cunningham, the former Director of Staff and Organizational Development for the New York State Department of Labor. Mr. Cunningham’s employer suspected that he engaged in “a pattern of taking unauthorized absences from work as well as falsifying time records.” The New York Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), after receiving the case by referral, decided to use a GPS device to assist in gathering evidence against Mr. Cunningham. Continue reading