We fill the communication gap between representative/lawyer and client by working on a set-fee basis, not an hourly rate, and by giving unlimited time to research and to discuss the facts and issues. Our goal is to assure each client that he or she has someone in their corner at all times and that the arguments presented are accurate and comprehensive. We keep all parties on the same page.

That's what Due Process Advocacy is all about: preserving the right to be heard and to have relevant facts considered.

Friday, December 8, 2017

American Bar Association: Judges Should Not Use the Internet For Research on Cases

| December 08, 2017 | Originally published on National Law Journal

The internet is a powerful research tool, but in the hands of a judge, its use poses serious ethical conundrums that are best avoided, warns a new American Bar Association opinion.
The ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which develops and interprets ethics standards for lawyers and the judiciary, issued the opinion Friday. While internet information may be educational or useful, the ABA said, there are risks because internet information can be “biased, unreliable, or false.” When making decisions, judges should not rely on facts found via internet research that are not subject to the adversarial process, the guidance adds.
“Stated simply, a judge should not gather adjudicative facts from any source on the Internet unless the information is subject to proper judicial notice,” the guidance advises.
The guidance says judges should not conduct internet research to fill factual gaps in a case record, or to corroborate or discredit facts in the record. If extra information is needed, that information should be subject to judicial notice, or in other words, “not subject to reasonable dispute.” Judges should also ask parties to provide more information when appropriate, not go find it on their own.
Judges can, however, conduct research into general topics to help them understand a subject unrelated to a pending case, under the ABA’s rules. The guidance gives the example of a judge recently assigned to a jurisdiction with a high volume of environmental cases. That judge would not face ethical issues by reading articles and other materials about environmental law, according to the guidance.
The opinion lists additional hypothetical situations, and explains whether a judge’s behavior may be acceptable. That includes a judge using social media to learn about lawyers, jurors or parties in a case. While judges can use social media, the guidance says, judges should not gather information about jurors or parties.
But gathering information about a lawyer is a “closer question,” the ABA said. If a judge wants to become “familiar with counsel” who appear in his or her court, that’s acceptable. But judges cannot use independent research on lawyers in weighing or considering adjudicative facts.
The extent to which judges should engage in online research is a subject of ongoing debate, especially as social media sites that provide personal information about users have become more pervasive. In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit handled a case in which a prisoner who suffered from gastroesophageal reflux brought an Eighth Amendment challenge, claiming prison officials restricted his access to over-the-counter medicines.
Judge Richard Posner, now retired, conducted extensive research on medical websites, including WebMD and others. In the opinion, Posner defended his research, writing that the court was not “deeming the Internet evidence cited in this opinion conclusive or even certifying it as being probably correct, though it may well be correct since it is drawn from reputable medical websites.” He said the information was only used “to underscore the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact” that arose in district court proceedings.
The dissenting judge, David Hamilton, wrote that Posner’s research was an “unprecedented departure from the proper role of an appellate court.”
It appears the ABA agrees, as its guidance explicitly states that judges should not conduct outside research to gather facts that affect the outcome of a case.
The ABA goes even further, noting that judges should simply ask parties to provide information if possible, rather than finding it themselves.
“Judges should not use the Internet for independent fact-gathering related to a pending or impending matter where the parties can easily be asked to research or provide the information,” the guidance says. “The same is true of the activities or characteristics of the litigants or other participants in the matter.”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Discrimination and Filing a Complaint With the EEOC

If you believe you have a claim for disability discrimination, you should file a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as soon as possible. There are time limitations which are all too often missed.

Without missing your deadline for filing, I suggest that you take the time to read up on the Laws which protect your rights in the workplace, even if you hire an Attorney. Be an informed client.

Read the Sections on Prohibited Practices and Policies, and the Discrimination By Type which the EEOC prohibits. Gather all of your notes, emails, tapes, videos, and documents on the actions and people who you think have discriminated against you, and write a detailed timeline summarizing all the misconduct, with dates, times, place, and any other facts.

Betsy Combier
Editor, Advocatz.com
President, Advocatz

Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because she has a disability. Learn more about the Act at ADA at 25.
Disability discrimination also occurs when a covered employer or other entity treats an applicant or employee less favorably because she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is controlled or in remission) or because she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if she does not have such an impairment).
The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer ("undue hardship").
The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.
Note: Federal employees and applicants are covered by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, instead of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The protections are mostly the same.

Filing With the EEOC

If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information, you can file a Charge of Discrimination. A charge of discrimination is a signed statement asserting that an employer, union or labor organization engaged in employment discrimination. It requests EEOC to take remedial action.
All of the laws enforced by EEOC, except for the Equal Pay Act, require you to file a Charge of Discrimination with us before you can file a job discrimination lawsuit against your employer. In addition, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf of another person in order to protect the aggrieved person's identity. There are time limits for filing a charge. The laws enforced by the EEOC require the agency to notify the employer that a charge has been filed against it.
A Charge of Discrimination can be completed through our EEOC Public Portal after you submit an online inquiry and we interview you. Filing a formal charge of employment discrimination is a serious matter. In the EEOC’s experience, having the opportunity to discuss your concerns with an EEOC staff member in an interview is the best way to assess how to address your concerns about employment discrimination and determine whether filing a charge of discrimination is the appropriate path for you. In any event, the final decision to file a charge is your own.
If you have 60 days or fewer in which to file a timely charge, the EEOC Public Portal will provide special directions for quickly providing necessary information to the EEOC and how to file your charge quickly. Or, go to https://www.eeoc.gov/field/index.cfm and enter your zip code for the contact information of the EEOC office closest to you.
The laws enforced by the EEOC require the agency to accept charges alleging employment discrimination. If the laws do not apply to your claims, if the charge was not filed within the law’s time limits, or if the EEOC decides to limit its investigation, the EEOC will dismiss the charge without any further investigation and notify you of your legal rights.

With A State or Local Agency

Many states and local jurisdictions have their own anti-discrimination laws, and agencies responsible for enforcing those laws (Fair Employment Practices Agencies, or FEPAs). If you file a charge with a FEPA, it will automatically be "dual-filed" with EEOC if federal laws apply. You do not need to file with both agencies.
Note: Federal employees and job applicants have similar protections, but a different complaint process.

Disability Discrimination & Work Situations

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Disability Discrimination & Harassment

It is illegal to harass an applicant or employee because he has a disability, had a disability in the past, or is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).
Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person's disability. Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren't very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation

The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.
Reasonable accommodation might include, for example, making the workplace accessible for wheelchair users or providing a reader or interpreter for someone who is blind or hearing impaired.
While the federal anti-discrimination laws don't require an employer to accommodate an employee who must care for a disabled family member, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may require an employer to take such steps. The Department of Labor enforces the FMLA. For more information, call: 1-866-487-9243.

Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation & Undue Hardship

An employer doesn't have to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer.
Undue hardship means that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer's size, financial resources, and the needs of the business. An employer may not refuse to provide an accommodation just because it involves some cost. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant wants. If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide.

Definition Of Disability

Not everyone with a medical condition is protected by the law. In order to be protected, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined by the law.
A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:
  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning).
  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).
  • A person may be disabled if he is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).

Disability & Medical Exams During Employment Application & Interview Stage

The law places strict limits on employers when it comes to asking job applicants to answer medical questions, take a medical exam, or identify a disability.
For example, an employer may not ask a job applicant to answer medical questions or take a medical exam before extending a job offer. An employer also may not ask job applicants if they have a disability (or about the nature of an obvious disability). An employer may ask job applicants whether they can perform the job and how they would perform the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Disability & Medical Exams After A Job Offer For Employment

After a job is offered to an applicant, the law allows an employer to condition the job offer on the applicant answering certain medical questions or successfully passing a medical exam, but only if all new employees in the same type of job have to answer the questions or take the exam.

Disability & Medical Exams For Persons Who Have Started Working As Employees

Once a person is hired and has started work, an employer generally can only ask medical questions or require a medical exam if the employer needs medical documentation to support an employee's request for an accommodation or if the employer believes that an employee is not able to perform a job successfully or safely because of a medical condition.
The law also requires that employers keep all medical records and information confidential and in separate medical files.

Available Resources

In addition to a variety of formal guidance documents, EEOC has developed a wide range of fact sheets, question & answer documents, and other publications to help employees and employers understand the complex issues surrounding disability discrimination.

The ADA Amendments Act

Veterans with Disabilities

The Questions and Answers Series

Mediation and the ADA

HIV/AIDS and the ADA

The following documents were developed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Monday, October 16, 2017

New York State Supreme Court County Clerk Offices

WebCivil Supreme - County Clerks
Albany County Clerk
32 North Russell Road
Albany, NY 12206-1324
(518) 487-5110
Allegany County Clerk
7 Court Street, Room 18
Belmont, NY 14813
(585) 268-9270
Bronx County Clerk
851 Grand Concourse, Room 118
Bronx, NY 10451
(718) 618-3300
Broome County Clerk
Broome County Office Building, Third Floor
44 Hawley Street
P.O. Box 1766
Binghamton, NY 13902-1766
(607) 778-2451
Cattaraugus County Clerk
Cattaraugus County Center
303 Court Street
Little Valley, NY 14755
(716) 938- 2297
Cayuga County Clerk
County Office Building, 1st Floor
160 Genesee Street
Auburn, NY 13021
(315) 253-1271
Chautauqua County Clerk
1 North Erie Street
PO Box 170
Mayville, NY 14757
(716) 753-4331
Chemung County Clerk
210 Lake Street
PO Box 588
Elmira, NY 14902-0588
(607) 737-2920
Chenango County Clerk
5 Court Street
Norwich, NY 13815
(697) 337-1450
Clinton County Clerk
Clinton County Government Center
137 Margaret Street, 1st Floor
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
(518) 565-4700
Columbia County Clerk
560 Warren Street
Hudson, NY 12534
(518) 828-3339
Cortland County Clerk
46 Greenbush Street, Suite 105
Cortland, NY 13045
(607) 753-5021
Delaware County Clerk
Court House Square
PO Box 426
Delhi, NY 13753
(607) 746-2123
Dutchess County Clerk
22 Market Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 486-2120
Erie County Clerk
92 Franklin Street
Buffalo, NY 14202
(716) 858-8865
Essex County Clerk
7559 Court Street
PO Box 247
Elizabethtown, NY 12932-0247
(518) 873-3600
Franklin County Clerk
PO Box 70
355 West Main Street, Suite 248
Malone, NY 12953
(518) 481-1681
Fulton County Clerk
223 West Main Street
PO Box 485
Johnstown, NY 12095
(518) 736-5555
Genesee County Clerk
County Building 1
15 Main Street
Batavia, NY 14020
(585) 344-2550 ext 2242
Greene County Clerk
411 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414
(518) 719-3255
Hamilton County Clerk
Route 8, Box 204
Lake Pleasant, NY 12018
(518) 548-7111
Herkimer County Clerk
109 Mary Street, Suite 1111
Herkimer, NY 13350
(315) 867-1129
Jefferson County Clerk
175 Arsenal Street
Watertown, NY 13601
(315) 785-3200
Kings County Clerk
Supreme Court Building
360 Adams Street, Room 189
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(347) 404-9760
Lewis County Clerk
Lewis County Court House
7660 State Street, PO Box 232
Lowville, NY 13367
(315) 376-5333
Livingston County Clerk
County Government Center
6 Court Street, Room 201
Geneseo, NY 14454
(585) 243-7010
Madison County Clerk
Madison County Office Building #4
138 North Court Street, PO Box 668
Wampsville, NY 13163
(315) 366-2261
Monroe County Clerk
101 County Office Building
39 West Main Street
Rochester, NY 14614
(585) 753-1600
Montgomery County Clerk
County Office Building
PO Box 1500
Fonda, NY 12068
(518) 853-8111
Nassau County Clerk
240 Old Country Road
Mineola, NY 11501
(516) 571-2664
New York County Clerk
60 Centre Street, Room 161
New York, NY 10007
(646) 386-5956
Niagara County Clerk
PO Box 461
Lockport, NY 14095-0461
(716) 439-7025
Oneida County Clerk
Oneida County Office Building
800 Park Avenue
Utica, NY 13501
(315) 798-5794
Onondaga County Clerk
401 Montgomery Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
(315) 435-2227
Ontario County Clerk
20 Ontario Street
Canandaigua, NY 14424
(585) 396-4200
Orange County Clerk
Orange County Government Center
255 Main Street
Goshen, NY 10924
(845) 291-2690
Orleans County Clerk
3 South Main Street
Albion, NY 14411
(585) 589-5334
Oswego County Clerk
46 East Bridge Street
Oswego, NY 13126
(315) 349-8621
Otsego County Clerk
197 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326
(607) 547-4276
Putnam County Clerk
Putnam County Office Building
40 Gleneida Avenue, Room 100
Carmel, NY 10512
(845) 225-3641
Queens County Clerk
88-11 Sutphin Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11435
(718) 298-0605
Rensselaer County Clerk
105 Third Street
Troy, NY 12180
(518) 270-4080
Richmond County Clerk
The County Court House
130 Stuyvesant Place
Staten Island, NY 10301
(718) 390-5386
Rockland County Clerk
Rockland County Courthouse
1 South Main Street, Suite 100
New City, NY 10956-3549
(845) 638-5070
St. Lawrence County Clerk
48 Court Street
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 379-2237
Saratoga County Clerk
40 McMaster Street
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
(518) 885-2213
Schenectady County Clerk
620 State Street
Schenectady, NY 12305
(518) 388-4220
Schoharie County Clerk
284 Main Street
PO Box 549
Schoharie, NY 12157
(518) 295-8316
Schuyler County Clerk
105 Ninth Street, Unit 8
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
(607) 535-8133
Seneca County Clerk
Seneca County Office Building
1 DiPronio Drive
Waterloo, NY 13165
(315) 539-1771
Steuben County Clerk
3 East Pulteney
Bath, NY 14810
(607) 776-9631 ext 3203
Suffolk County Clerk
310 Center Drive
Riverhead, NY 11901-3392
(631) 852-2000
Sullivan County Clerk
Government Center
100 North Street
Monticello, NY 12701
(845) 794-3000 ext 5012
Tioga County Clerk
16 Court Street
PO Box 307
Owego, NY 13827
(607) 687-8660
Tompkins County Clerk
320 North Tioga Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-5431
Ulster County Clerk
Ulster County Office Building
244 Fair Street
Kingston, NY 12402
(845) 340-3288
Warren County Clerk
Municipal Center
1340 State Route 9
Lake George, NY 12845
(518) 761-6429
Washington County Clerk
Municipal Center, Building A
383 Broadway
Fort Edward, NY 12828
(518) 746-2170
Wayne County Clerk
9 Pearl Street
PO Box 608
Lyons, NY 14489
(315) 946-7470
Westchester County Clerk
110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
White Plains, NY 10601
(914) 995-3080
Wyoming County Clerk
143 North Main Street, Suite 104
Warsaw, NY 14569
(585) 786-8810
Yates County Clerk
417 Liberty street - Suite 1107
Penn Yan, NY 14527
(315) 536-5120