Attorney General

Schneiderman Provides “Legal Roadmap” For Sanctuary Cities

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday released a “legal roadmap” for New York cities who wish to protect immigrant communities under the incoming presidential administration of Donald Trump.

At the same time, Schneiderman provided legal guidance that would in essence allow local governments to enact in law so-called “sanctuary” policies.

“Public safety relies on trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. No local law enforcement agency should have to undercut that trust just to carry out Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies,” Schneiderman said.

“The legal guidance and model policies my office released today give local governments the tools they need to protect immigrant communities from any over-reach by federal agencies. New York has a long history of welcoming immigrants and embracing diversity. Now, more than ever, we must stand up for our values of inclusion and pluralism.”

As released by the attorney general’s civil rights bureau, the policies outline the limits local law enforcement can participate in federal immigrant enforcement efforts, including refusing to enact non-judicial warrants in civil cases, denying requests by federal officials in holding people longer than 48 hours and limits on the access Immigration and Customs Enforcement or border protection officers can have with those currently in custoy.

And the policy provides guidance for limits on sharing and gathering information that would be used by federal immigration enforcement.

Such sanctuary measures have been adopted in cities like Syracuse and New York City.

“Cities have long been welcoming and inclusive places and I am proud Syracuse is standing with our immigrant brothers and sisters in that tradition of diversity,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. “As long as I am Mayor, we will not use our resources to enforce federal anti-immigrant policies. I appreciate the Attorney General standing with cities like Syracuse and offering his support as we make these decisions for our citizens.”

Here’s the outline of the guidance as provided by Schneiderman’s office:

Guidance.concerning.local .Immigration.enforcement.1.19.17 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Schneiderman To Investigate Fiat Chrysler Emissions Claims

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday announced his office would investigate accusations from the Environmental Protection Agency luxury car maker Fiat Chrysler violated clean air standards.

In a statement, Schneiderman noted his office had taken up a lead role in the investigation of VW’s emissions scandal.

“I am deeply troubled by evidence presented by the EPA today concerning Fiat Chrysler’s alleged attempts to undermine our nation’s clean air laws,” he said. “My office was proud to take a leading role in the multi-state investigation of Volkswagen that uncovered flagrant abuses of New York’s environmental laws and, in the case of VW, a culture of corruption that enabled blatantly illegal conduct to persist over many years.”

The EPA probe found the company allowed up to 100,000 diesel vehicles it manufactured to have emissions above the legal level. The company’s CEO has denied there was any intentional wrongdoing.

“My office will not tolerate attempts by any company to evade our environmental laws and pollute the air we breathe,” Schneiderman said. “As such, my office will investigate the claims against Fiat Chrysler and stands ready to work with our state and federal partners to ensure that any violations are pursued to fullest extent of the law.”

Cuomo’s Office Defends Prosecutorial Powers For Procurement

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office defended the proposal to create a special prosecutor within the executive chamber to review procurement and contracting procedures, pointing to the power already being held by a post at the Justice Center.

“This would be in addition to all other efforts and can only be a positive. We saw just yesterday another example of the failure of the current system with corruption in the Comptrollers office, which was missed by both the comptroller and the attorney general’s office,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.

“This was despite the fact there were obvious warning signs in this employee’s background and the attorney general should have known there were issues as revealed by then Attorney General Cuomo’s convictions in the Comptrollers office. To be clear, the proposal under discussion is modeled after the special prosecutor established in the Justice Center, which has withstood legal challenge.”

The statement comes as Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has raised concerns with the proposal, made in the wake of the arrests and indictments of eight people charged with bid rigging in economic development programs, including a former close aide to Cuomo, Joe Percoco.

Schneiderman questioned the constitutionality of adding a special prosecutor for procurement as appointed by Cuomo, arguing the offices of both the AG and the state comptroller should have more oversight of contracting procedures.

Meanwhile, a coalition of good-government organizations — NYPIRG, the League of Women Voters, Reinvent Albany and Citizens Union — backed Schneiderman’s assessment of the special prosecutor role as laid out by Cuomo.

“We think the changes you are considering for the Special Session have it backwards,” the groups wrote. “We continue to believe that the contract review and audit power of the Comptroller should be increased — not supplanted by new appointees of the Governor. Likewise, we support calls from the current Attorney General — and the previous Attorney General — to strengthen the ability of the Department of Law to bring actions independent of a referral from state entities.”

Schneiderman Opposes ‘Criminal Special Prosecutor’ For Procurement

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is raising an alarm over a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create what he says is a “criminal special prosecutor” for state procurement.

Schneiderman, in a letter to legislative leaders in the Senate and Assembly and Cuomo, describes the proposed post as one that would essentially have policing and law enforcement powers over procurement procedure.

The letter was obtained by Capital Tonight.

“Such a scheme violates the fundamental checks-and-balances principle that underlies our State constitution, as it does not establish the independence required of a procurement watchdog and therefore will not achieve the real accountability and reform our State desperately needs,” Schneiderman wrote in the letter. “It is also likely unconstitutional.”

As described in the letter, the proposal from Cuomo provides more detail to what the governor has publicly called for in recent weeks, namely the creation of a “chief procurement officer” to oversee state contracting within the executive branch. The proposal was initially included in a package of measures Cuomo had sought for a special session of the Legislature.

The proposal comes weeks after eight people — including former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros and ex-Cuomo aide Joe Percoco — were indicted on charges stemming from an alleged bribery and bid-rigging scheme involving upstate economic development projects.

The corruption case touched off calls for reforming procurement and contracting oversight procedures in state government.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has called for a restoration of his office’s powers to oversee contracting as well.

In his letter, Schendierman points to the joint successes between the attorney general and comptroller’s offices in tackling malfeasance.

“Strikingly, these successes have come even though the Office of the Attorney General has long requested – and long been denied – original criminal jurisdiction to prosecute public corruption cases without first obtaining a specific referral from the Governor, Comptroller, or another State agency,” he wrote.

He added that “it makes little sense” to create a prosecutorial office in the executive branch. Instead, Schneiderman called for his office to be empowered to better tackle the procurement oversight issue.

“Notably, the Governor requested this power when he served as Attorney General,” he wrote. “Now, he could issue a so-called standing referral and unilaterally expand the ability of the Attorney General to act against corrupt public officials and others who abuse the public trust. No new legislation, additional referrals, or new government bureaucracy would be required.”

AG Letter Re Special Prosecutor 12 21 2016 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Schneiderman Talks Trump, Voting Reform

After receiving an unprecedented number of voter complaints during the state’s April presidential primaries, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has released a plan to overhaul what he says is a byzantine and antiquated system that produces questionable results and depresses participation.

Schneiderman said he does not believe his reform plan, which is not currently under consideration as part of any special session deal, would have changed the outcome of the presidential primaries. But in close legislative races – at least one of which on Long Island remains an open question – these changes could potentially make a big difference.

The AG also discussed his relationship with President-elect Trump, and said he stands ready to bring litigation against the incoming administration is it violates any New York laws. We sat down with Schneiderman in his office for a wide-ranging discussion.

Watch the interview here.

Schneiderman Proposes Voter Registration And Ballot Reforms

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday unveiled a package of sweeping changes to the state’s election laws designed to make it easier to cast votes in the state.

The proposed changes included removing barriers to voter access by making it easier to register to vote and helping voters gain access to the ballot itself, made after a lengthy study of the issue by Schneiderman’s office.

“We are just laggards when it comes to voting rights,” Schneiderman said at a news conference in Albany at the Capitol.

The proposals range from measures that would have to be enacted by the Legislature or through rules changes at the state Board of Elections.

Schneiderman backs the automatic registration of those who are eligible to vote, same-day registration for new voters, online registration and allow registered voters to change their enrollment on the day of a party primary.

At the same time, Schneiderman wants to implement a system of permanent registration by having the state Board of Elections and local boards update registration when a voter who gives their consent moves.

The AG’s report also backs a system of early voting and “no excuse” absentee voting.

When it comes to ballots, increased language access, restrictions on “improper” ballot challenges and a restoration of voting rights for those on parole and parolees with felony convictions would be restored as well.

Many of the measures would address long-sought issues that have been raised by good-government groups in the state over the years.

Many of these changes are inspired in part from the problems and complaints that had arisen during the state’s April presidential primary.

“The voting issues we uncovered during the April primary were widespread, systemic and unacceptable,” Schneiderman said. “The right to vote is the right that protects all other rights. New York must become a national leader by protecting and expanding voting rights throughout the state.”

Ex-Village Justice Indicted, Accused Of Seeking Sexual Favors

A former village justice in Jefferson County was indicted on charges of bribery and misconduct, charged with using his official position as a judge to reduce a fine in exchange for sexual favors, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office announced on Monday.

The indictment of Delmar House, a ex-justice in the West Carthage Court, includes charges of felony third-degree bribery and felony second-degree reward for official misconduct.

“Any court official who exploits their position to elicit sexual favors shows blatant disregard for the well being of their victim, the trust of the public, and for the judicial system as a whole,” Schneiderman said. “We will keep working to root out public corruption and hold those responsible accountable.”

Prosecutors allege that House in April 2015 agreed to reduce a fine for a traffic violation in exchange for receiving sexual favors from the defendant and also paid a portion of the fine in addition to more contact.

If convicted, House faces up to seven years in state prison.

House was a village judge from 2008 through 2015.

Schneiderman To Immigrants: Beware Of Fraudsters

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Tuesday issued an alert to the state’s immigrant community, urging them to mindful of fraudulent citizenship and other legal services offered amid a delicate political climate.

“In the past two weeks, we’ve seen intense fear and anxiety in immigrant communities. New York has zero tolerance for anyone who would prey on that fear to defraud immigrants and their families,” Schneiderman said. “We will use all the tools at our disposal to bring to justice those who commit fraud against our immigrant communities.”

Schneiderman’s office outlined various types of fraud, including false “notario” in which someone has the authority to to render legal services who are not attorneys and seek to exploit immigrants.

Immigrants are also urged to be mindful of attorneys who claim they can appear before immigration agencies or an immigration court. And fraudulent services can include providing false information to prospective clients and “affinity” fraud in which victims are targeted because they have the same ethnic or racial background.

Schneiderman’s office also provided other tips for avoiding fraud for immigrants here.

The heightened concern comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced plans to create a legal defense fund for immigrants in New York, regardless of their status.

Court Of Appeals Affirms State’s Right To Review Indian Point License

The state Court of Appeals in a unanimous ruling on Monday determined the New York Department of State has the right to review the renewal of Indian Point’s license — a victory for critics of the Entergy-owned nuclear plant in Westchester County.

The court ruled the state could review permits that align with the state’s Coastal Management Program, first adopted in 1982.

The decision reverses an earlier ruling by the Appellate Division, essentially upholding the position of the state Department of State when it declared the facility’s reactors failed to meet any exemptions covering the program.

“Notwithstanding today’s court decision, we continue to believe we will ultimately be successful in obtaining a CZM permit and relicensing Indian Point,” Entergy said in a statement. “The facility continues to safely operate in a manner that is fully protective of the Hudson River and in compliance with state and federal law.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement in the afternoon praised the decision as a “major victory” for the environment.

“Among our most important laws are those that protect sensitive ecosystems, including New York’s lower Hudson River and its natural resources,” he said. “The court has now made it clear that policies protecting New York’s critical coastal resources are a necessary factor in considering whether to relicense the Indian Point facility.”

Updated: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a critic of Indian Point, responded as well.

“Today’s unanimous decision by the Court of Appeals reaffirms the State’s authority to review Entergy’s federal applications to continue its operation at Indian Point,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“The Department of State already concluded that the Indian Point relicensing application is inconsistent with New York’s long-standing Coastal Management Program requirements and will continue to use this program to protect New York’s coastline. Indian Point is antiquated and does not belong on the Hudson River in close proximity to New York City, where it poses a threat not only to the coastal resources and uses of the river, but to millions of New Yorkers living and working in the surrounding community.”

$25M Settlement Reached In Trump University Lawsuit

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Friday announced a $25 million settlement has been reached in the lawsuit filed against Trump University and President-elect Donald Trump.

The agreement comes after Trump repeatedly insisted throughout the campaign he would not settle the case.

Under the terms of the agreement, reached just over a week after Trump’s presidential campaign victory, the New York businessman will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the state for violating education laws.

The suit filed by Schneiderman’s office and other attorneys general alleged the for-profit online university was a sham organization that failed to live up to its promises made to students.

In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of ​millions of dollars through a scheme known at Trump University,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeal​s​ and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes. Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.”