The Alfonse D’Amato United States Courthouse is located in Central Islip, in the same building development that houses the John P. Cohalan Court Complex. The official address of the court is 290 Federal Plaza, Central Islip.
The Courthouse is named for former United States Senator Alphonse D’Amato, who sponsored the legislation authorizing its construction. The building, which was designed by Richard Meier, opened in 2000. The 12 story building’s 870,00 square feet makes it the largest non- New York City building on Long Island. It is the third largest federal courthouse in the country.
The first time I entered the building I was struck by the austere and imposing architecture. After September 11 the increased security and cement barriers made it seem downright Soviet.
There are 23 Courtrooms and 24 judge’s chambers, as well as countless offices for the ?United States Attorney, The U.S. Probation Department, the United States Bankruptcy Court, and other federal agencies.
For a while, the New York State Supreme Court was renting out some courtrooms that were unused.
If you have business at this courthouse, be aware that cell phones are not permitted in the building, so leave yours in the car.
The courthouse is located at the intersection of Exit 43A of The Southern State Parkway and Carleton Avenue, in Central Islip.
Please keep in mind that nothing contained in this article should be construed as legal advice.
In previous articles we have discussed the increased presence of red light cameras on Long Island. Now, a New York City firefighter is raising the issue of a too short yellow light at the intersection where he received a red light camera summons.
Thomas Buttaro received a summons for passing a red light on Route 347 near his home in Port Jefferson Station. He discovered through Freedom of Information Act requests that the yellow light at this intersection lasted only 3.9 seconds. For New York roads with 55 mile per hour speed limits, the yellow light duration should be 5.5 seconds.
Despite the evidence he submitted in Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip, he was found guilty of the violation and fined fifty dollars.
The National Motorists Association Blog is sponsoring a Stop Short Yellow Lights project. It is their belief that municipalities are intentionally shortening the length of yellow traffic lights to generate more revenue. The NMA cites data that shows that the practice shortening yellow lights increases traffic accidents.
A few weeks after Mr. Buttaro received his summons, the lengthof the yellow light at the intersection where he was cited was raised to 5.4 seconds, in compliance with New York standards.
Mr. Buttaro testified before the Suffolk County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee last week and proposed a solution to this problem. According to the Newsday article, “he told the county legislature’s Public Safety Committee last week that the red-light camera system itself could be used to point out when yellow signals are out of sync: A protocol could be established to kick out a ticket when the yellow-light time recorded on it doesn’t correspond to the state-designated time for the intersection.”
Please keep in mind that nothing contained in this article is meant to be construed as legal advice. Also, laws change frequently, so do not rely on this article as an up to date, accurate source of information on New York law. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney of your choice.
Jesse Friedman is looking to clear his name after 25 years. The Great Neck, Long Island native was a defendant in a high-profile, controversial Nassau County child sex abuse prosecution for which he served thirteen years in prison.
Jesse and his father Arnold confessed to sexually abusing more than a dozen young boys in the basement of their home.
Jesse was paroled in 1991. His father committed suicide while still in prison in 1995.
The case was the subject of an Oscar nominated documentary called Capturing the Friedmans.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice appointed an independent panel in 2010 to oversee her office’s work on the case. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Second Circuit refused to overturn Jesse Friedman’s attempt to overturn his conviction, but did criticize the handling of the prosecution by law enforcement, stating that overzealousness by the police may have led to the Friedmans being coerced into giving a confession.
The court cited the “hysteria” over child abuse in the 1980′s. Back then, questionable techniques used by investigators interviewing children lead to many controversial convictions. Perhaps the most famous was the McMartin Preschool Case out of California.
Jesse Friedman maintains his own website about the case. The case contains court documents, personal information, and even promotes Jesse’s memoir of his time in prison.
He also has a link to Professor Elizabeth F. Loftus of U.C. Irvine, who has written extensively about the unreliability of repressed memory. She addresses suspect interview techniques that were used by law enforcement in both the McMartin Preschool case, the Friedman case, and many other child sex abuse cases in the 1980′s.
Please keep in mind that nothing contained in this article should be construed as legal advice.
The Crime of Compelling Prostitution in New York has received some publicity recently as a result of a March indictment brought in Queens County. That prosecution alleges that Gary Council, of Ozone Park, led a gang who held a 15-year-old Long Island girl captive and forced her into acting as a prostitute for their benefit.
The indictment alleges that the group repeatedly raped the girl and gave her Ecstasy pills while pimping her out.
Under New York Penal Law Section 230.33 , “a person is guilty of compelling prostitution when, being twenty-one years of age or older, he or she knowingly advances prostitution by compelling a person less than sixteen years old, by force or intimidation, to engage in prostitution.”
Compelling prostitution is a class B felony.
In New York, it is not a defense to this crime to assert that the actor did not know the child was less than sixteen years old.
Currently, New York law classifies the crime of “Compelling Prostitution” as a non violent felony. However, legislation will soon be brought in the State Senate and Assembly to have this crime and other serious prostitution related offenses re-classified as violent felonies.
If this legislation passes, the minimum jail terms for these crimes will be increased significantly.
This article is written for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as legal advice. Furthermore, laws change frequently, so the statutes cited above should not be considered accurate or current at the time you may read this article.
If you require assistance with your own legal problem or situation, seek the advice of an attorney of your own choosing.
The New York PBA (Police Benevolent Association) began running a series of radio ads last week highlighting the pressure New York City cops are under to issue traffic summonses and win in court when the summonses are challenged.
The ads are thought to be in response to the NYPD ticket fixing scandal, which has resulted in the indictment of more than a dozen police officers so far.
The PBA claims that officers “are getting docked vacation days if they forget events on the stand in traffic court, or if their memo books are missing descriptions of the circumstances that led to the issuance of a traffic ticket.”
Union officials argue that officers are given an incentive to lie on the stand if they cannot remember details of a traffic stop.
Union President Patrick Lynch claims that ““Our officers are under constant pressure from management to write more and more summonses. Now, management’s making it worse by unfairly punishing police officers who lose a case and that has to stop.”
There seems little doubt that the recent financial downturn has caused the city to look to traffic summonses to generate revenue. The department may now be operating under a quota system, but the police department would likely deny its existence.
NYPD spokesman Paul Brown denies the allegations made by the union:
” Contrary to critics, officers are neither punished for purportedly ‘losing’ traffic court cases, nor for clerical errors. In only those cases where an officer fails to appear or testify without a legitimate or valid reason, is the officer subject to potential disciplinary action…”
Please keep in mind that nothing contained in this article should be considered legal advice.
That’s a question only you can answer. Let’s start with the basics. What is a prison consultant?
A prison consultant offers advice to people who are about to begin serving prison sentences. Typically, consultants are ex inmates. Their advice can include techniques for reducing your sentence, advice on getting into drug treatment programs, and “street wise” ways to behave as a prisoner and get along with fellow inmates and staff. Some charge thousands of dollars for advice, while others are free.
The New York times recently published an article about prison consultants. The piece points out that the industry gets more attention when a high-profile convict, such as Bernard Madoff, retains a prison consultant.
It may come as a surprise to discover that most criminal defense lawyers do not give advice along these lines. According to Alan Ellis, a San Francisco based sentencing lawyer, “Ninety-nine percent of lawyers don’t understand this stuff, and the 1 percent who do, are doing time themselves. Most criminal-defense lawyers hate, hate, dealing with that bureaucracy.”
Mr. Ellis is the co-author of The Federal Prison Guidebook, a guide geared towards defense lawyers as well as prisoners and their families.
Here are a few links to prominent prison consultants:
I have included these links for informational purposes only. I do not have any specific information about these organizations, nor do I endorse them in any way.
Prison is a frightening prospect for anyone, and it makes sense to get as much information as you can before beginning your sentence. If you choose to hire a prison consultant, do your homework and seek references before relying on anyone’s advice.
Keep in mind that nothing contained in this article should be construed as legal advice, nor is it a recommendation to hire a prison consultant. Do your own research and make your own decision.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has brought a federal lawsuit alleging that two Suffolk County jails were housing inmates in “decrepit conditions” that constitute cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the inmate’s eighth amendment constitutional rights.
The conditions were brought to the attention of the NYCLU by the federal court in Central Islip. The court had been deluged by individual lawsuits and petitions from inmates serving as their own attorneys. This suit consolidates the individual claims.
The suit alleges that inmates were forced to live in squalor, contending with mold on the walls, raw sewage overflowing drains and toilets, and brown tap water. It also claims that rats run rampant in the jails.
The suit also claims that inmate complaints were either ignored or resulted in intimidation or threats by jail employees.
As a result of the conditions at the jails, inmates have complained of rashes, fungal infections, breathing problems, and nausea.
The jails are located in Riverhead and Yaphank.
We recently wrote about the problems at the Nassau County Correctional Facility, and now Suffolk County must contend with its own issues .
The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office is investigating allegations that a Probation Department Supervisor may have altered a report to benefit a probationer.
The probationer, Edwin Flores, was on probation for a 2011 assault charge. His probation officer recommended that his probation be violated for a number of reasons, including failing to report to probation, failing to attend anger management classes, and associating with gang members.
The probation officer’s recommendations were changed by her supervisor, and the file has gone missing.
Mr. Flores has since been arrested for an alleged armed carjacking.
It strikes me as very unusual that a Violation of Probation charge was not immediately brought in this case. The Nassau County Probation Department is not known for being shy about violating someone’s probation. In my experience, supervisors will sometimes override a probation officer’s recommendation, but only to bring a violation when a person’s probationer officer wants to give his or her probationer a second chance.
New York Penal Law Section 65 governs probation laws.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano stated that his office initiated the investigation by District Attorney Kathleen Rice. John Fowle, the acting director of the Nassau County Probation Department, has not spoken publicly about the incident.
Please be aware that nothing contained in this article should be construed as offering legal advice. If you or a loved one are personally facing criminal charges and are seeking advice, consult an attorney of your choice.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has sued the Nassau County Correctional Center over the recent suicide of Iraqi war veteran Bartholomew Ryan. There have been five inmate suicides at the Nassau jail in the past two years. Other recent inmate suicides at the facility include Herve Jeanot, Gasparino Godino, Eamon McGinn, and Daryl Woody.
According to the lawsuit, problems at the jail are systemic. The NYCLU claims that there have been two hundred inmate complaints recently at the jail, including claims about not receiving prescription medicines and of handicapped inmates being denied access to their wheelchairs.
The suit claims that although the Nassau County Charter provides for a Board of Visitors to address prisoner complaints for the past twenty years, the board positions have remained vacant. The Corrections Department has countered by claiming that sufficient safeguards and oversights are in place.
Over the years, the Nassau County Jail has faced allegations and a lawsuit involving alleged civil rights abuse. In 1999, three correction officers were charged with beating inmate Thomas Pizzuto. He died from his injuries. Pizzuto’s relatives received a $7.75 million civil settlement from the county. The prison guards were convicted and received prison sentences.
This incident precipitated federal oversight of the jail.
In 2009, jail guard Mark Barber was accused of extorting sex from female inmates at the Nassau jail.
The facility has also had prior issues with overcrowding, abuse, health care availability, and mental care.
New York’s laws prohibiting the promotion of prostitution have led to some very famous prosecutions over the years. Sydney Biddle Barrows, known as the Mayflower Madam, parlayed her arrest as the owner of a high-end escort service into fame, films, and a book deal back in the 1980′s.
New York tabloids are now covering the call girl ring allegedly run by Anna Gristina, the so-called “Soccer Mom Madam.” From most reports, this investigation may lead to charges being brought against many more individuals for the crime of promoting prostitution, including lawyers, accountants, and others who may be accused of “laundering” the proceeds of the criminal activity.
The relevant New York Penal Law Statutes for prostitution offenses can be found in Section 230.
A person can be accused of promoting prostitution if he or she “advances prostitution” or profits from prostitution. To be accused of advancing prostitution, it must be alleged that the defendant “knowingly causes or aids a person to commit or engage in prostitution, procures or solicits patrons for prostitution, provides persons or premises for prostitution purposes, operates or assists in the operation of a house of prostitution or a prostitution enterprise, or engages in any other conduct designed to institute, aid or facilitate an act or enterprise of prostitution.”
In other words, anyone who assists the operation.
To be found guilty of promoting prostitution by profiting from prostitution, a person must have received compensation other than for personally engaging in a sex act. So, landlords, accountants, lawyers, madams, pimps could all be prosecuted under this theory.
Promoting Prostitution offenses under New York law can be very serious, with specific crimes ranging from an A misdemeanor to a B felony, depending on the age of the prostitute, the level of organizational management and control exhibited by the accused, and whether any force or coercion is alleged.
For more information on prostitution laws in New York, see a previously published article.
Please keep in mind that nothing discussed in this article is intended as legal advice, and it should not be considered as such. Laws change frequently, and each case is unique, so be sure to consult an attorney for advice about your particular situation.