June 29, 2013

Appellate Court Judge is admonished over letter to Parole Board

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has determined that Nancy E. Smith, a Justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, should be admonished for sending an unsolicited letter on behalf of an inmate who was applying for parole.

The Commission said Smith sent an unsolicited letter on her judicial stationery to a parole board indicating that the inmate was a 'friend' and 'good person' who deserved release. In fact, while Smith had corresponded with the inmate, she never met him and her only connection to the matter was that her brother-in-law's sister is a friend of the defendant's mother.

Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian made the following statement: "This marks the first time the Commission has publicly disciplined an Appellate Division Justice, whose high rank should have made her especially sensitive to setting an example and obeying the ethics rules."

For further details:
Admonition of Appellate Division Justice Nancy E. Smith, Fourth Department (Rochester) June 28 2013
Appellate Justice Is Faulted Over Letter to Parole Board, by John Caher (New York Law Journal, July 1 2013)
In a first, Appellate Division justice is admonished, by Rick Karlin (Times Union Capitol, June 28 2013)

June 25, 2013

Building Bridges - June/July 2013 edition

The June/July edition of Building Bridges has been issued by the Prison Action Network.

Prison Action Network's brief summary is given below. Please see Building Bridges for full details and their current news about parole, including details of the new Parole Board Commissioners appointed on June 19th, and updates from the NYS Parole Reform Campaign.

1. The legislative session is over. So unless the governor calls a special session before then, no more bills will be passed before January 2014. That includes the SAFE Parole Act. The bills introduced in June include some that passed both houses. Summer Strategies. Viewpoint from Inside questions the motivation for sex offender bills.

2. The highly successful Merle Cooper Program is slated for closure on September 1. Read this letter from Ronald Hughes, a participant in the program and if it inspires you to take action, consider signing this petition to stop the closure of the program that many people credit for being the key to their transformation.

3. The SAFE Parole Act ended the session with fourteen sponsors in the Assembly and four in the Senate. We have a lot of work to do, but it can be done if you join us. We have an easy letter writing initiative, and we'll help you plan a visit to your representatives' district offices this summer.

4. Parole News: May release statistics. Detailed biographies of the newly appointed Parole Board Commissioners including notes from their confirmation hearing. Another positive ruling in favor of the plaintiff in a parole board case was handed down in Manhattan Supreme Court: Kozlowski v. New York State Board of Parole, 104097/2012, New York State Supreme Court, NY County (Manhattan).

5. Corey Parks asks us to join him to 'Accomplish Peace, Not Violence' and learn to build up our communities after being conditioned to destroy them.

6. Eddie Ellis has been interviewed by the Sun Magazine.

7. Baba Eng finally is back in New York State. He was the guest speaker at the June 24th meeting of Prisoners Are People Too, which was also celebrating the organization's 8th anniversary.

June 19, 2013

Nominations to the New York State Board of Parole

At a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction on 19 June 2013, chaired by Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, the following nominations to the New York State Board of Parole were considered and approved:

Tina Stanford, Chairwoman, State Board of Parole
Lisa Elovich, Member, State Board of Parole (reappointment)
Walter Smith, Jr., Member, State Board of Parole (reappointment)
Sally Thompson, Member, State Board of Parole (reappointment)
Gail Hallerdin, Member, State Board of Parole
Milton Johnson, III, Member, State Board of Parole
Julie Smith, Member, State Board of Parole

Governor Cuomo Announces Senate Confirmation of Multiple Appointments (with brief biographical details of the new parole commissioners) (Albany, NY, 19 June 2013)
More detailed biographies of the new parole commissioners may be found in the June/July edition of Building Bridges.
Watch the full YouTube video of the June 19 meeting.