Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Appointment of Justice Stein

Defying History and Changing the Court of Appeals

Joseph O’Rourke is a third year law student at Albany Law School. He graduated magna cum laude from Siena College in 2012, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Philosophy. Joseph currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Albany Law Review, and has previously interned with Young/Sommer LLC and the Honorable Thomas J. McAvoy of the Northern District of New York.
This paper, comparing New York Court of Appeals nominee Justice Leslie Stein with former associate judge Victoria Graffeo, was prepared for the Judicial Process Seminar, Fall 2014.

[Following graduation, Mr. O'Rourke will serve as a law clerk on the Court of Appeals’ Central Legal Research Staff. Of course, the views expressed in his paper are his alone and in no way reflect those of the Court.  vmb]   

On October 17, 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made his third nomination to New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals. The decision came just weeks before the election that determined whether Governor Cuomo would continue as governor for a second term, and it is proving to be the most controversial of Governor Cuomo’s first three selections for the Court. Controversial not because of whom the Governor selected, but rather who was passed over.

Governor Cuomo choose Appellate Division, Third Department Justice Leslie E. Stein, over Judge Victoria A. Graffeo, a sitting member of the Court of Appeals whose fourteen year term expired on November 29, 2014. The addition of Justice Stein, a Democrat, would shift control of the Court to Democrats for the first time in many years. Most notably, Stein's nomination by Cuomo marks only the second time in the thirty-five year history of the appointment system for the Court of Appeals where a governor failed to choose an eligible incumbent for reappointment.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New York’s Court of Appeals: The Internal Operating Procedures

By Sarah Engster
Sarah Engster, a third-year student at Albany Law School, graduated from American University in 2008 with an interdisciplinary studies degree in communications, law, economics, and government.
Prior to law school, Sarah worked as a Litigation Clerk for an intellectual property law firm in Washington, D.C.  While in law school, Sarah has interned with the Albany County Public Defender’s Office, and continues to intern at the Supreme Court, Appellate Division 3rd Department.
Sarah is currently an Associate Editor for the Albany Law Review, a student editor for the NYSBA Government, Law & Policy Journal, and a research assistant for Professor Patrick M. Connors.
Sarah prepared this paper for Prof. Bonventre's Court of Appeals Intensive Seminar, after which she was selected as this year's Editor-in-Chief for the Center.

New York’s court of last resort, the Court of Appeals, has been held throughout history as one of the most influential appellate judiciaries in the country. Since its creation by the Judiciary Article of the 1846 constitutional convention, the Court’s purpose has been to “unify, clarify, and pronounce the law” of New York.

In any appellate court, the study of judicial decision-making requires a thorough understanding of the substantive jurisdictional, statutory, and constitutional issues that may arise. It is at least as important to understand the personal and collegial dynamics among the justices and the internal procedures that guide them. Attorneys who hope to practice before the Court of Appeals would do well to inform themselves of the basic happenings within the red room and around the Court’s famed round conference table.

This paper focuses on the internal operating procedures that serve as the framework within which decision-making at the Court takes place. The paper also looks at the internal operating procedures implemented by other state high courts across the country.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Posner’s Pragmatism: A Viable Method of Judicial Interpretation

By Joshua Greenfield
Josh Greenfield, a 2014 graduate of Albany Law, did his undergraduate work at Syracuse University studying Art History. Josh has interned at CBS's legal division and the New York Public Employment Relations Board. He has been a contributing member of the Center for Art Law website, writing on various issues in the field of art law. Currently, he is a Legal Fellow with the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at CUNY’s Hunter College.
Josh has been published by the Center previously (See Ginsburg (and sometimes Scalia) on Search and Seizure, Jan.19, 2014.
This paper was prepared for Prof. Bonventre’s Judicial Process Seminar.

How can one argue with a pragmatic approach to judicial interpretation? A pragmatist is, by definition, sensible and reasonable. However, what does this really mean? What makes a decision “pragmatic”? How can pragmatic decisions be “right” or “wrong”?

This paper explores the concept of judicial pragmatism, and how judges like Richard Posner approach the concept. It also examines how judicial pragmatism is defined and how it compares to other methods of judicial interpretation, such as originalism and why it is a viable method of interpretation.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Center Staff for the 2014 - 2015 Academic Year

Vincent Martin Bonventre

Student Editorial Board
Sarah Engster, a third-year student at Albany Law School, graduated from American University in 2008 with an interdisciplinary studies degree in communications, law, economics, and government.
Prior to law school, Sarah worked as a Litigation Clerk for an intellectual property law firm in Washington, D.C.  While in law school, Sarah has interned with the Albany County Public Defender’s Office, and continues to intern at the Supreme Court, Appellate Division 3rd Department.
Sarah is currently an Associate Editor for the Albany Law Review and student editor for the NYSBA Government, Law & Policy Journal. Sarah is also a research assistant for Professor Patrick M. Connors.

Executive Editor
Davinder Sahota, a third year student at Albany Law School, studied Criminal Justice as an undergraduate and holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Davinder has enjoyed her internship at the Albany County District Attorney in the Appeals Unit. Last year, she was a year-long intern with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
She is currently a research assistant for Dean P. Andrews and Professor D. Pratt.  During the Summer in 2014, she interned with the Queen’s County District Attorney’s Office in Special Victims’ Unit.

Executive Editor
Kimberly Waldin is a third year student. She holds a B.A. from Russell Sage College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1998.
Prior to law school, Kimberly was a visual and performing arts instructor for several nonprofits, working primarily as an Education Consultant for the New York State Theatre Institute for fifteen years. Currently, Kimberly is a Student Assistant for the Office of Children and Family Service, Office of the Ombudsman.
During her time at Albany Law School, Kimberly has been the recipient of the New York Bar Foundation's 2014 Judge Bernard S. Meyer Scholarship for her essay entitled, "Trash: Getting Rid of Unwanted Children through "Private Re-Homing,'" as well as the 2013 and the 2014 Hon. Robert G. Main, Sr. and Robert G. Main, Jr. Legal Scholarship.  Kimberly is also a Senior Editor for the Albany Government Law Review.

Editors: John Daley, Beau Melita, Calee Oas, Ryan Rennaker, Jessica Sorrendino, Peter Stroe

For previous years' staffs, click HERE,

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Judicial Selection: Accepting the Inherent Nature of Transactional Politics

By Patrick Kennedy
Patrick Kennedy, a third year law student at Albany Law School, graduated from the College of Saint Rose in 2011 with a Bachelor's Degree in History and Political Science and a minor in Philosophy. Patrick is interested in New York State politics and government, having interned with the New York State Executive Chamber while in law school. Previously, Patrick interned with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, in the Offices of Assemblyman Phil Boyle and Congressman Paul Tonko, and with the New York City Office of State Legislative Affairs.
Mr. Kennedy has been published by the Center previously. (See Breyer on Religious Freedoms, Feb. 2, 2014.)
This paper and presentation were prepared for Prof. Bonventre's Judicial Process seminar, Fall 2013.

If you were to stop and ask someone on the street whether judges should be qualified, independent, and impartial, virtually everyone would answer in the affirmative.  It seems like common sense; such factors are touted as the cornerstones of a functioning judiciary.

However, if you were to dig a little deeper and ask what actually makes courts independent and impartial or what “qualified” actually means, you would get a plethora of different answers. If you narrowed the inquiry even further by asking specifically whether appointing judges or electing judges is more beneficial to judicial independence and impartiality, you would find advocates on both sides.

Should the judiciary be the “least democratic” of the three branches of government in not only the decisions judges issue from the bench, but when the judge assumes office from the get-go?
(click to enlarge)

To read the paper, open HERE.
To view the complete slide presentation, open HERE.
(Then, for the best view, click File + Download, and Open the download.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

The New York Court of Appeals: Recent Search and Seizure Jurisprudence

By Mackenzie Keane Plaske
Mackenzie is currently a first-year associate at the law firm of Iseman, Cunningham, Riester & Hyde, LLP in Albany, New York, practicing primarily in the field of health care. She graduated magna cum laude from Albany Law School in May 2013.
While at Albany Law, Mackenzie participated in the Health Law Clinic and was a teaching assistant for Civil Procedure, Torts and Criminal Law.  Additionally, she was a Finalist in the Domenick L. Gabrielli Appellate Advocacy Competition.  As a member of the Albany Law Review, she also served as Executive Editor for New York Appeals during her third year.
This paper was prepared for the State Constitutional Adjudication Seminar, Spring 2013. It is Mackenzie's second publication for the Center. (See The New York State Court of Appeals and the Exclusionary Rule: From the Kaye Court to the Lippman Court, March 5, 2012.)

The line between reasonable and unreasonable searches and seizures has proven difficult to delineate. Courts are unable to dictate with particularity when a search or seizure would be permissible or impermissible, because each situation calling for such an analysis presents unique facts and circumstances.

When interpreting and rendering decisions on search and seizure, the Court of Appeals may ground its opinions upon independent state constitutional grounds. Unlike other states, such as Florida, New York has not adopted a lockstep approach to constitutional analysis. Therefore, the Court of Appeals is free to provide more constitutional protection than that provided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that is exactly what the Court of Appeals has done.

Sometimes, but not always, the Court’s decisions align with those of the U.S. Supreme Court. But, whichever way the decisions fall, the Court of Appeals cites its substantial interest in protecting the rights of the citizens of New York State.

This paper will explore some of the recent Court of Appeals decisions involving search and seizure rights that fall within the ambit of New York State Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Justice Ginsburg’s Opinions on Race: Her Past is Prologue

By Christopher R. Scoville
Christopher Scoville is a third-year law student at Albany Law School. He received his B.A. in History with a minor in American Studies from New York University.
In law school, Christopher is pursuing a concentration in Labor and Employment Law, and he is currently employed as a Law Clerk with New York State United Teachers. Additionally, he currently serves as the Director of the Immigration Assistance Pro Bono Project and as Vice-President of the Labor and Employment Law Society.
He prepared this paper (as well as a presentation on the same subject which will be published subsequently), for Professor Bonventre’s Judicial Process Seminar.

This paper examines the life and times of Justice Ginsburg that shaped her into an advocate and set her on a trajectory that would lead to the United States Supreme Court.  The paper then follows that path to opinions Justice Ginsburg issued in cases dealing with race.

From her work in academia to her time with the American Civil Liberties Union, and her opinions since being on the Court, there is no denying Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is ideologically liberal. It is clear that Justice Ginsburg has a long history of arguing and deciding cases impacting many issues, including race based upon her arguments in front of the Supreme Court, her time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and her time as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While on the United States Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg’s most high profile opinions on race have been her dissents. Whether they are on affirmative action (Fisher), Title VII (Ricci), or most recently the Voting Rights Act (Shelby County), her dissents are well thought out and founded on facts and precedent. Her opinions also exhibit something beyond the mere “application of the law.” They seem clearly to be shaped by what Justice Holmes referred to as an “inarticulate and unconscious judgment.”
To read the paper, open HERE.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Future of Juvenile Offenders: Evolving Standards of Decency

By Kristin Keehan
Kristin Keehan is a 3L at Albany Law School. She is currently a Senior Editor for the Albany Government Law Review and a Senior Editor for the Center for Judicial Process. She has worked as a research assistant for both Professor Lytton and Hirokawa, and has been a teaching assistant for both Professor Lytton's Torts class and Profess Hirokawa's Property class.
After graduation she will start as an Associate at Martin, Clearwater and Bell working in the field of medical malpractice.
This paper, prepared to satisfy the Albany Government Law Review's Note and Comment requirement, was written under the great advisement of Professor Mary Lynch.

Two recent United States Supreme Court decisions, Roper v. Simmons  and Miller v. Alabama, are drastically changing the sentencing schemes of juveniles. These monumental decisions from the country’s highest court determined that the sentencing of juveniles to death or mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole is barred by the 8th Amendment because evolving standards of decency indicate that such punishments are no longer accepted by society. These decisions, and others which are similar, indicate a positive shift away from the sentencing of juvenile offenders as adults to a focus on the rehabilitation of these youthful offenders.

This paper will discuss psychological studies of juveniles, which indicate that juveniles are underdeveloped. Accordingly, these studies advocate for sentencing schemes which allow for the rehabilitation of such juveniles. Next, the paper will discuss the case law surrounding “evolving standards of decency” leading up to the recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court regarding the sentencing schemes of juvenile offenders. Finally, the sentencing scheme of juveniles in the United States will be compared with that of other countries, with a focus on what the “evolving standards of decency” reflect on an international scale.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Erosion of 1st Amendment Religious Liberty as a Fundamental Right [presentation]

U.S. Supreme Court & New York Court of Appeals

By Chelsy Jones
Chelsy Jones, a May 2013 graduate of Albany Law School, is a Law Clerk for the West Firm, PLLC in Albany.  Chelsy is a magna cum laude graduate of Siena College with a degree in Political Science.  While in law school, she was a Senior Editor at the Center, a legal intern for the Domestic Violence Hybrid Prosecution Clinic, and a Research Assistant for the Albany Law School Clinic and Justice Center.  Chelsy also worked year round as a legal intern at the Schenectady County District Attorney's Office, and acted as the student ambassador for the Center for Excellence in Law Teaching and a member of the Teaching Enhancement Committee.
Chelsy's essay, "Judge Victoria Graffeo’s Approach to Constitutional Criminal Procedure" [Oct. 19, 2013], and paper, "Getting Justice Ginsburg's Goat: An Examination of Her Dissenting Opinions" [Dec. 5, 2012], were previously published by the Center.
Chelsy prepared this presentation for Prof. Bonventre's State Constitutional Adjudication Seminar, Spring 2013.
(click to enlarge)

To view the complete slide presentation, open HERE.
(Then, for the best view, click File + Download, and Open the download.)