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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New York's Doomsday Legal Manual

New York State's Unified Court System has issued a Doomsday-type report suggesting what steps the legal and judiciary systems should take in the event of a major catastrophe.  The report focuses primarily on biohazards and other similar events like outbreaks of communicable and non-controllable diseases. (Think about the 1995 movie Outbreak starring Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo.)  Although natural disasters and man-made unrest are not specifically mentioned, this report could be viewed as a precursor, a template, for similar measures to be adopted in case those events transpire.

Some of the highlights of the report are:
  • page 33:  seizure of private property; and
  • pages 48 and 50: suspension of local laws;
The report is designed to be a framework for true emergencies.  However, it illustrates the danger to our freedoms proposed by any "conquering heo" who asserts -- wrongly -- that a disaster has befallen us.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer.  This column is an opinion only and does not purport to offer legal advice.  Mr. Dixon is available for further comment and consultation at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at

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