On Thursday, February 14, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law one of the most important pieces of Civil Rights legislation in years, the Child Victims Act, ensuring that child abusers are held accountable in a civil court of law. Finally, those survivors who have endured unimaginable pain and abuse have a path not only to justice, but perhaps also healing and closure. As Governor Cuomo himself succinctly stated on that date: “This bill brings justice to people who were abused, and rights the wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished for too long. By signing this bill, we are saying nobody is above the law, that the cloak of authority is not impenetrable, and that if you violate the law, we will find out and you will be punished and justice will be done”. In short, the Child Victims Act provides long-awaited relief to child victims of sexual abuse by amending New York State’s antiquated laws to ensure that perpetrators of sexual abuse offenses on children are held accountable for their actions, regardless of when the crime occurred. Under the former law, victims of sexual abuse as children had to bring a lawsuit within three year’s of the victim’s 18th birthday, an injustice that led to many victims finding the strength to come forward only learning too late that they were time barred from bringing a civil action against the heinous perpetrators of these crimes. No more says the New York legislature! A one-time window has opened for victims to file civil lawsuits for the immense emotional fallout associated with cases involving the sexual abuse of a child.
Here is what you need to know NOW about this important legislation and how it affects a victim’s exercise of their rights in a court of law. The Child Victims Act:
- Allows victims of these crimes to commence a civil lawsuit any time before they reach 55 years of age;
- Provides victims whose claims have been time-barred with a new opportunity for their day in Court by opening a one-time one-year window for them to finally commence a lawsuit;
- Increases the amount of time during which perpetrators of these crimes may be held criminally accountable by extending New York’s statue of limitations to allow for criminal charges to be filed until a victim turns 28;
- Eliminates the need to file a Notice of Claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor;
- Requires judicial training with respect to crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors; and
- Authorizes the Office of Court Administration to promulgate rules and regulations for the timely adjudication of these revived actions in a Court of Law.
The one-time one-year look back period opens during the summer of 2019, so it is very important for victims of child abuse to consult with a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible to discuss their rights and develop a plan for your vigorous representation. Stay tuned for more from the Courts on the promised procedural rules and regulations, which will be integral in successfully litigating these cases and will likely be tailored toward early resolution and settlement.
Author: Christopher L. Van De Water
Let’s face it, the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in New York State appears a foregone conclusion. Both the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are negotiating whether to include the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state budget for the fiscal year that starts April 1st. However, keep in mind that license to fire up that joint would not go into effect, at the earliest, until the following year in April of 2020, when New York would officially join the 10 other states that have already legalized recreational marijuana use.
Governor Andres Cuomo’s proposal for the legalization of recreational marijuana use essentially condenses into the following agenda:
- Ban marijuana sales to anyone under the age of 21
- Establish separate licensing programs for marijuana growers, distributors and retailers, with a corresponding ban on growers also opening retail locations
- Create a new state office, The Office of Cannabis Management, to regulate the drug and create a program to review and seal past marijuana convictions
- Allow counties and large cities in New York to ban marijuana sales within their boundaries
- Impose a 20 percent state tax and 2 percent local tax on the sale of marijuana from wholesalers and retailers, plus a per-gram tax to be imposed solely on growers
- Provide preferences and incentives to minorities and women who intend to establish retail sales locations.
Nevertheless, the debate rages on about how far reaching the effects will be within the school environment, impaired driving and ultimately, the workplace.
Along that vein, it is important for all New Yorkers to be aware of the risks of showing up to work under the influence of marijuana. As you know, if you show up to work under the influence of alcohol, and your employer has a substance abuse policy in their handbook, then you risk a disciplinary write-up at best, and termination at worst. The same rules apply to employee’s use of recreational marijuana. If you show up to work high, or light up outside your employer’s premises, employees run the same risks as with alcohol use. Certainly, it is a fine line to tread as there are no uniformly established THC levels that your employer can test to determine an employee’s level of impairment. Employers would therefore be given free license to make subjective judgments as to an employee’s level of impairment based upon smell, speech patterns, eye movement and dilation, delayed reactions, emotional state, short-term memory problems, among other physical symptomology.
It is a slippery slope at best, but an employer is within their rights to terminate employees with substance abuse violations. This is especially so in occupations involving physical labor and the use of a motor vehicle including drivers, delivery companies, waiters, warehouse workers, trades and any employees in the service industry.
The Van De Water Law Firm stands ready to serve you with respect to any employment issue, and our initial consultation is always free.