Yesterday Governor Cuomo signed into law A9036/S7082-2019, a Bill which extends the CVA's one year “look back window” for another year, until August 14, 2021. In doing so the Governor explained his rationale: “We cannot let the pandemic rob survivors of their day in Court,” further noting that “This extension [of the window, initially set to expire on August 14, 2020] will ensure that abusers are held accountable.”
The Bill was controversial inasmuch as it is believed that its swift passage was a response to concerns that the Governor had exceeded his authority by issuing Executive Order (“EO”) 202.29, which directed that the CVA window be extended for five months until January 14, 2021. In issuing EO 202.29, Cuomo explained that the January date was a sufficient extension of the window, even in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, because the courts have been closed due to the coronavirus. When the Bill was initially introduced in January of this year, Governor Cuomo did not support the extension advising that society needs closure and “people just want to know at some point what their liability is.”
After Cuomo issued EO 202.29, the concern was that he exceeded his executive authority and his emergency powers because, notwithstanding the current COVID-19 emergency, his actions were not “reasonably necessary” as required under Executive Law Article 2B, and because such Orders must be limited to thirty-day increments and then, if necessary, extended through additional Executive Orders. By the Legislature codifying the extension (and for a longer period), the Governor is protected from a challenge to his authority.
Although the Bill was passed on May 27th—during the final days of the legislative session—it was not delivered to the Governor until last Friday, July 31st. The uncertainty as to whether he was going to sign it, and if so when, especially in light of his prior remarks that a January date was a sufficient extension, led to an increased barrage of CVA complaints being filed daily—for fear that he would not sign the Bill and that defendants would challenge the validity of the Executive Orders abating deadlines generally, and EO 202.29 specifically. Governor Cuomo's signing the Bill into law now moots any question as to whether or not his Executive Orders properly tolled the date that the window closes, and resolves any question that, at least for now, the window closes on August 14, 2021.
Originally published by Seyfarth Shaw, August 2020
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