Thursday, November 15, 2012

Paddling-Rights Arguments This Friday

State Supreme Court Justice Richard T. Aulisi is scheduled to hear arguments in a navigation-rights lawsuit at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the Fulton County Courthouse.

The suit was filed after I paddled through private property owned by the Friends of Thayer Lake and the Brandreth Park Association in 2009. I wrote about the trip for the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.

Since I am the defendant, I don’t want to write about the case. However, the Explorer wants to make public the memoranda of law that were filed in advance of Friday’s arguments. The documents were prepared by the New York State Attorney General’s Office; John Caffry, who is my attorney; and Dennis Phillips, who represents the plaintiffs. The attorney general is arguing that the waterway in question is open to the public.

AG motion for summary judgment

Caffry memorandum of law

Brandreths memorandum of law

AG reply memo

Caffry reply memo

Brandreths reply memo

Phil Brown

Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.


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10 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Phil thanks.

    I think it boils down to this comment made in the Plaintifff’s memo:

    “Yet this Court should have no doubt, based on DEC’s and Sierra Club’s past joint-activism, that both would tout
    this Court’s acceptance of their theory as carte blanche to take any boat up any waterway on private property so long as additional public access could be found somewhere further up the brook, regardless of the obstacles therein.”

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  2. Paul says:

    How did it go?

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  3. Phil Brown says:

    All the arguments were made. A decision probably won’t be handed down for at least a few months.

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  4. Paul says:

    Come on, get someone to tell us more. Phil, I know you can’t comment. You can usually get a good feel for how a ruling will go down based on the arguments and the judges questions and reaction. We need our Nina Totenburg of the Almanack!

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  5. Phil Brown says:

    I wish I could tell you more. We had a reporter there, and he may be posting a brief account.

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  6. Phil Brown says:

    Here is a link to a story in the Daily Gazette.
    http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2012/nov/17/canoeist-vs-landowners-lawsuit-goes-court/

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  7. Marco says:

    “A decision in the favor of the property owners would allow the family to continue that stewardship, Bradford said.” This is not an arguement, this is a lightly veiled threat. And is not bearing on this case.

    The issue is: paddler rights, open & navigable waterways, point-to-point public access to public land. It is NOT about how a private land owner maintains his property, even if he cannot determine which way trees will fall across a road.

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  8. Bill Ott says:

    Perhaps this comment is late, but it seems to me that the courts are eventually going to reach a decision which will decide “for ever and ever” the status of public access to waterways on private land. Whoever wins, people are going to be hurt. This may be dreaming, but why can’t it be set up for private landowners agree to public access on these waterways while keeping the option to shut down access if their property is violated.

    Bill Ott
    Lakewood, Ohio

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