Articles Posted in Suffolk County

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No: GO53597 Fourth Dist. Division Three

This case is an appeal by the mother of a three-year-old child, and the Social Services Administration (SSA). The mother’s petition for a Writ of Mandate from an order terminating reunification services and setting a Welfare Institutions hearing pursuant to code section 366.


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In a neglect proceeding pursuant to Family Court Act. Article 10, the maternal grandmother appeals from an order of the Family Court, Kings County, dated April 7, 2009, which suspended her visitation with the subject child and directed the Administration for Children’s Services to instruct the subject child’s school not to provide any information to her or allow her access to the subject child. Assigned counsel has submitted a brief in accordance with one case decided by the court, in which he moves to be relieved of his assignment to prosecute this appeal.

In child protective proceedings, counsel said the Commissioner has the burden of establishing abuse and neglect by a preponderance of the evidence. The statute provides that “proof of injuries sustained by a child or of the condition of a child of such a nature as would ordinarily not be sustained or exist except by reason of the acts or omissions of the parent or other person responsible for the care of such child shall be prima facie evidence of child abuse or neglect”. Upon proof to establish a prima facie case, the respondent must offer a satisfactory explanation to rebut the evidence of neglect. In rendering its decision, the court must set forth the specific grounds for its finding that the child had been abused or neglected.

Counsel said an order as suspended visitation between the maternal grandmother and the subject child must be dismissed as academic because that portion of the order has been superseded by a permanency hearing order dated June 11, 2009, awarding the maternal grandmother visitation with the subject child in accordance with the permanency plan.

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The appellant (hereinafter the mother), is the mother of the three children who are the subjects of these neglect proceedings. In the early morning hours of February 4, 2009, the children, then aged six years, four years, and nine months, respectively, were found by a police officer wandering the streets alone. The next day, February 5th, the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (hereinafter ACS) filed petitions in the Family Court, alleging that the mother neglected her children as a result of this incident. The Family Court issued an order of protection prohibiting all contact between the mother and her children, with the exception of ACS-supervised visitation. The children were then paroled to the care of their non-respondent father and his mother (the children’s paternal grandmother), with whom the father lived.

On June 2, 2009, the mother orally requested a hearing pursuant to Family Court Act § 1028 for the return of her children. Ultimately, the Family Court denied the mother’s request for a Family Court Act § 1028 hearing on the ground that a hearing was not required because the children were paroled to the father’s care. Instead, the Family Court granted an application of the attorney for the children for a hearing pursuant to Family Court Act § 1061 to modify the order of protection. While a Family Court Act § 1028 hearing must be held within three court days after the application, there is no requirement that a Family Court Act § 1061 hearing be held within any period of time. The Family Court Act § 1061 hearing was not held for nearly 1½ years, during which time the children remained in their father’s care. The Family Court Act § 1061 hearing was eventually scheduled for the same day that oral argument on the instant appeal was scheduled before this Court. Several months later, while the determination of this appeal was pending, by order dated October 20, 2010, the Family Court returned the children to the mother.

The question presented on this appeal is whether a Family Court Act § 1028 hearing is triggered by the removal of a child from the home of one parent and temporary placement into the custody of another parent or relative, or whether such hearing is triggered only where a child is placed into government-administered foster care. Although the Family Court returned the children to the mother while the determination of this appeal was pending, we find that this case nevertheless presents a justiciable controversy, and we reverse the order denying the mother’s application for a Family Court Act § 1028 hearing.

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This is a motion brought before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Department, by the respondent on appeals from two orders of fact-finding and disposition of the Family Court, Kings County, (one as to each child), both dated 9 June 2006, inter alia, to amend a decision and order of the Court dated 30 October 2007.

The court denied the motion, based upon the papers filed in support of the motion but ordered granted that branch of the motion which was to amend the decision and order. Thus, the decision and order of the Court dated 30 October 2007, in the above-entitled matter was recalled and vacated. The following decision and order was substituted.

The case:

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The information dated March 28, 1968, charges the crime of Aggravated Harassment in violation of section 240.30, subdivision 2 of the Penal Law. The complaint is made and sworn to by ERG, who is defendant’s step-daughter.

Pursuant to the information, a summons for purposes of investigation was issued and served by mail. Defendant has appeared specially by her attorney and makes the within motion to vacate the summons upon the grounds that any controversy between the complainant and her father’s wife is exclusively in the jurisdiction of the Family Court and the District Court is without any jurisdiction in this matter.

Article 6, section 13, subdivision b of the New York State Constitution in establishing the Family Court, invested that Court with jurisdiction over ‘crimes and offenses by or against minors or between spouses or between parent and child or between members of the same family or household.’

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This misdemeanor information alleging the perpetration of an assault third by one Susan O’Toole and another upon the person of one Cathy O’Toole was transferred to the Family Court by the District Court, the County of Suffolk: First District.

Briefly stated, the facts are as follows: Cathy O’Toole went to a bar with her parents and brother where she saw respondent, Susan O’Toole, her brother’s wife. Susan and Cathy’s brother had been separated for some time. It is alleged by Cathy that she was assaulted by Susan and another in a parking lot outside the bar. Susan and Cathy do not reside in the same house.

At this juncture, there is only one question before the court: Whether the assault by one sister-in-law upon another constitutes a family offense within the meaning of Article 8 of the Family Court Act?

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After providing for a number of bequests, legacies and trusts in various articles of her last will and testament, Maude S. W. McKay, the decedent, disposed of the residue of her estate in the following language

‘TENTH:–All the rest, residue and remainder of my Estate, both real and personal, and wheresoever situate, I give, devise and bequeath unto The Ministers & Missionaries Benefit Board of the Northern Baptist Convention, a corporation of the State of New York, to be invested and reinvested and the income applied to the objects of said organization.

‘My will is, however, that said organization shall first use the said income for the alleviation of suffering from arthritic or other incurable disease, illness or condition, and/or for the comfortable maintenance and support, of any person or persons who may be living at the time of my decease and who may be connected by blood (but not beyond the tenth degree), either with my husband, James Pickens McKay, or with me. It is my purpose that the income on said residue shall be ultimately and solely devoted to the purposes of said organization, but that those near to me and my husband may have first call thereon for the purposes and within the limitations above mentioned. To that end it is my wish that said organization use its sound discretion in the expenditure of said income both as to amount and beneficiary, bearing in mind always that the care of incurables, and particularly arthritics, is nearest to my heart; and to said organization I leave the decision, on whatever proofs may be required, as to what persons are connected with my husband and with me as aforesaid. Should there be a balance of said income remaining in any year, after carrying out the above provisions, then said organization is empowered to use said balance in any following year for the general purposes for which it is formed.

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The following statements of fact were found by the trial court: The defendant United States Cremation Company, Limited, is a domestic stock corporation organized in 1884 under the General Business Law (Consol. Laws, c. 20). Among the powers granted by its certificate of incorporation is the right to cremate dead human bodies and to conduct a crematory and columbarium. The defendant has operated a crematory at Fresh Pond in Queens County since 1884. It now is in the process of establishing and erecting a crematory in Nassau County. It is the owner of approximately 27 acres of land located in Central Park (now called Bethpage), town of Oyster Bay, Nassau county. Edwin C. Moore is the owner of approximately 45 acres of land which adjoins that of the defendant on the west. The land of both parties fronts on the south side of the Hempstead-Farmingdale turnpike, which leads to Pinelawn Cemetery, about three miles east. This land of the defendant is located in the district defined by the zoning ordinance of the town of Oyster Bay as a Business H District, and was so placed in a resolution of the town board of the town of Oyster Bay on May 28, 1934, after due notice and hearing. Among the uses permitted in Business H District is that of a crematory and mortuary. On June 6, 1934, a permit was issued by the duly authorized official of the town of Oyster Bay, to wit, the building inspector, to erect and operate a crematory; and immediately thereafter the defendant entered into a contract for the erection and completion of its crematory except for the retorts. Work was commenced the same day the permit was issued.

On the 17th day of August, 1934, a resident taxpayer of the town of Oyster Bay, instituted a mandamus suit in the Supreme Court to compel the town board to revoke the building permit and to compel the said town board to set aside the resolution which placed the land in a Business H District. The application for the mandamus was denied all the way through to the Court of Appeals. This suit related solely to the zoning resolution, no point being raised as to the state statute prohibiting the erection of crematories.

On June 6, 1935, one year after the issuance of the building permit, and after the defendant had completed the entire foundation work of the crematory and columbarium, this action was commenced by the adjoining landowner for a declaratory judgment setting forth the rights of the respective parties, and to have it declared that, pursuant to section 78 of the Membership Corporations Law, the defendant has no right to erect or maintain a crematory.

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The family case at bar involves a petition for support filed pursuant to the Florida Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Law. The petitioner-wife seeks a de novo hearing relative to support for the two children of the parties’ marriage as well as support for herself. Respondent-husband, a Suffolk County resident, opposes the petition on the basis that there is presently an existing support order emanating from the Nassau County Family Court and, therefore, the petitioner’s application should be treated as one seeking an upward modification of an order of another court. Respondent contends that the Family Court may transfer the within matter pursuant to Family Court Act Sections 171 and 174 and, therefore, justify this court’s denial of a de novo hearing.

Section 41(1) of the Domestic Relations Law provides that the Uniform Support of Dependents Law ‘. . . shall be construed to furnish an additional or alternative civil remedy and shall in no way affect or impair any other remedy, civil or criminal, provided in any other statute and available to the petitioner in relation to the same subject matter.’ Section 411 of the Family Court Act provides the Family Court with exclusive original jurisdiction over support proceedings initiated under both Article 4 of the Family Court Act and in proceedings under Article 3-A of the Domestic Relations Law, known as the Uniform Support of Dependents Law. In light of this original jurisdiction and the above mentioned Section 41(1) of the Domestic Relations Law, petitioner had a choice to proceed under either the Uniform Support of Dependents Law or seek a transfer of the pending case from Nassau County and then an upward modification and enforcement of that Family Court order pursuant to the Family Court Act.

The fact that there is an existing Family Court order of support of another county is, thus, not relevant since petitioner has not sought to proceed under that section, but rather has chosen to proceed under the Uniform Support of Dependents Law as an ‘additional or alternative’ remedy which is available to her. Her selection leaves the court with no choice but to proceed with a de novo hearing on the question of support under the USDL.

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In a proceeding under article 78 of the former Civil Practice Act, against the respondents, the People, the District Attorney and the County Court of Nassau County, petitioner appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Nassau County, dated March 14, 1963, which dismissed the petition (see opinion 38 Misc.2d 710, 238 N.Y.S.2d 864).

This proceeding has a dual purpose. It is in the nature of prohibition to prevent the respondents from proceeding with the criminal prosecution in the Nassau County Court of the pending indictment against petitioner for his (first degree) assault upon his wife. It is also in the nature of mandamus to compel the transfer of the pending criminal action against petitioner from the County Court to the new Family Court (N.Y. Const. art. 6, § 13; Family Court Act [L.1962, ch. 686, as amended, eff. September 1, 1962]).

Prohibition is not available to a petitioner whose rights can be adequately protected on appeal (Matter of Harris Motors v. Klapp, 296 N.Y. 242, 72 N.E.2d 305; Kenler v. Murtagh, 12 A.D.2d 662, 209 N.Y.S.2d 834; Matter of Duchin v. Peterson, 12 A.D.2d 622, 208 N.Y.S.2d 458, leave to appeal denied 9 N.Y.2d 609, 210 N.Y.S.2d 1025, 172 N.E.2d 293; Matter of Brandenburg v. Court of General Sessions of New York County, 189 Misc. 4, 71 N.Y.S.2d 442, affd. 272 App.Div. 1013, 74 N.Y.S.2d 906).

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