Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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The Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the Board of Standards and Appeals of the City of New York (BSA) interpreting the definition of open space within the meaning of the New York City Zoning Resolution to encompass rooftop gardens accessible to a single building's residents as long as the residents of each building on the zoning lot receive at least a proportionate share of open space, holding that the BSA's determination was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law.Plaintiff commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding asserting that BSA's interpretation of open space had no legal basis under the Zoning Resolution. Supreme Court denied the petition. The Appellate Division reversed, determining that the definition of open space unambiguously required that open space be accessible to the residents of every building on a zoning lot. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the BSA's application of the definition of open space to multi-owner zoning lots was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law. View "Peyton v. New York City Board of Standards & Appeals" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that, in these two criminal cases, there was no constitutional violation in the practice of temporarily confining level three sex offenders in correctional facilities, after the time they would otherwise be released to parole or postrelease supervision (PRS), while they remain on a waiting list for accommodation at a shelter compliant with N.Y. Exec. Law 259-c(14).New York statutes allow the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to place a Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA)-restricted sex offender temporarily in a residential treatment facility (RTF) until SARA-compliant housing is identified. At issue was whether the Federal Constitution allows DOCCS to place a SARA-restricted sex offender in an RTF or other correctional facility while awaiting SARA-compliant housing. The Court of Appeals held that the practice is constitutional. View "People ex rel. Johnson v. Superintendent, Adirondack Correctional Facility" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that the condition restricting entry upon school grounds on certain offenders is mandatory only for parolees who have been designated a level three sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) and are serving a sentence for an offense enumerated in N.Y. Exec. Law 259-c(14).Although Petitioner's conviction did not qualify as an enumerated offense under the statute, the Board of Parole determined that, because of his level three sex offender designation, Petitioner was nevertheless subject to the mandatory condition restricting entry upon school grounds. The Appellate Division granted Petitioner's petition for habeas corpus to the extent of annulling that part of the Board's determination that found Petitioner subject to the mandatory school grounds restriction. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding than an offender must be serving a sentence for an enumerated offense and be a level three sex offender in order for the mandatory condition to apply. View "People ex rel. Negron v. Superintendent, Woodbourne Correctional Facility" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that New York statutes allow the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to place a Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA)-restricted sex offender temporarily in a residential treatment facility (RTF) until SARA-compliant housing is identified.Under N.Y. Penal Law 70.45(3), the board of parole may impose as a condition of postrelease supervision (PRS) that for a period not exceeding six months immediately following release from an underlying term of imprisonment the person be transferred to and participate in the programs of an residential treatment facility (RTF). N.Y. Correct. Law 73(10) authorizes the DOCCS to use any RTF as a residence for persons who are on community supervision, which includes those on PRS. The Court of Appeals held that Correction Law 73(10) authorizes DOCCS to provide temporary housing in an RTF to sex offenders subject to the mandatory condition set forth in the SARA, N.Y. Exec. Law 259-c(14), after the six-month period specified in Penal Law 70.45(3) has expired but before the offender on PRS has located compliant housing. View "People ex rel. McCurdy v. Warden, Westchester County Correctional Facility" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that the certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to National Fuel Gas Supply for its proposed construction of a ninety-nine-mile natural gas pipeline satisfied Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL) 206(A) so as to entitle National Fuel to exercise eminent domain over the land in dispute without undertaking additional review of the pipeline's public benefit.National Fuel commenced this EDPL vesting proceeding seeking to acquire, by eminent domain, temporary construction easements and a fifty-foot-wide permanent easement over property owned by Landowners to facilitate construction of the pipeline. Supreme Court granted the EDPL petition, concluding that National Fuel made a prima facie showing of entitlement to the easements based on the FERC certification. The Appellate Division reversed, reasoning that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's intervening denial of National Fuel's application for a water quality certification meant that National Fuel no longer held a qualifying federal certificate for purposes of the EDPL 206(A) exemption. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that because the FERC-issued certificate of public convenience and necessity did not condition National Fuel's eminent domain power on receipt of a water qualify certification, the federal certificate remained valid at all relevant times. View "National Fuel Gas Supply Corp. v. Schueckler" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division reversing the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board that Claimant, a former courier with Postmates, Inc., and others similarly situated are employees for whom Postmates is required to make contributions to the unemployment insurance fund, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the Board's finding that the couriers were employees.In reversing the Board's determination, the Appellate Division concluded that the proof did not constitute substantial evidence of an employer-employee relationship to the extent that it failed to provide sufficient indicia of Postmates' control over the means by which the couriers performed their work. The Court of Appeals revered, holding that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that Postmates exercised control over its couriers sufficient to render them employees rather than independent contractors. View "In re Vega" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board upholding Claimant's award for loss of post-accident earnings, holding that because the Board departed from its administrative precedent without explanation, the case must be remitted so the Board may clarify its rationale and issue a decision in accordance with Matter of Zamora v. New York Neurologic Association, 19 NY3d 186 (N.Y. 2012).On appeal, Appellants argued that the Board's decision was inappropriate because, at the time of her disability classification, Claimant failed to establish that she attempted to and could not find work commensurate with her abilities. Before the Court of Appeals the Board admitted that it departed from its purported precedent by applying a discretionary inference in favor of Claimant as permitted by Zamora without first requiring Claimant to present evidence of her efforts to obtain work or get retrained. The Court of Appeals reversed and remitted the matter to the Board to permit the Board to develop a record of its purported precedent as applied to Claimant and clarify its determination whether to draw an inference in accordance with Zamora's core holding. View "O'Donnell v. Erie County" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals confirmed the determination of a local services agency, confirmed by a state agency, that child support payments a parent receives, made for the benefit of her five children living at home, are included as "household" income in deciding whether the household is eligible for benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), holding that, for the purposes of SNAP, child support directly received by a parent is household income, even if it is used for the benefit of an ineligible college student living at home.The Suffolk County Department of Social Services (DSS) discontinued the household's benefits because its income exceeded the upper limit for the household. Because the two college children were ineligible for SNAP, DSS did not count them as household members but did include the full amount of child support in its calculation of household income. The mother appealed, arguing that the college children's pro rata share of the child support payment should be excluded from household income, rendering the household SNAP-eligible. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) upheld the determination. The Appellate Division confirmed the OTDA's determination. The Court of Appeals also confirmed, holding that the OTDA's interpretation of the relevant federal statutes was not irrational and was entitled to deference. View "Leggio v. Devine" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that the Public Service Law, in authorizing the Public Service Commission (PSC) to set the conditions under which public utilities will transport consumer-owned electricity and gas, authorized the PSC to issue an order that conditioned access to public utility infrastructure by energy service companies (ESCOs) upon ESCOs capping their prices in a certain manner.In 2016, the PSC issued the order challenged in this case that conditioned ESCOs' access to public utility infrastructure upon ESCOs capping their prices such that, on an annual basis, they charge no more for electricity than is charged by public utilities unless thirty percent of the energy is derived from renewable sources. Petitioners - ESCOs and their representative trade associations - commenced these two separate proceedings - combined N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceedings and actions for declaratory judgment - seeking a declaration that the order was void and a a permanent injunction enjoin the PSC from enforcing the order. Supreme Court granted the petitions to the extent of vacating the challenged provisions of the order. The Appellate Division unanimously affirmed. The Court of Appeals modified the Appellate Division's orders, holding that the PSC did not exceed its statutory authority or violate Petitioners' constitutional rights in issuing the order. View "National Energy Marketers Ass'n v New York State Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the decision of Supreme Court annulling the decision of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to approve the redevelopment of 346 Broadway, a historic building that the LPC previously designated as a landmark, holding that the LPC's decision was not irrational or affected by errors of law.If an application seeks to alter or demolish a landmark, the LPC must issue a certificate of appropriateness (COA) before the proposed work can begin. In this case, a developer seeking to convert the 346 Broadway into private residences sought a COA from the LPC. The LPC approved the proposal. Supreme Court annulled the COA, The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division erred in concluding that the LPC acted with "no rational basis" and that the LPC's decisions were not affected by an error of law. View "Save America's Clocks, Inc. v City of New York" on Justia Law