JACKSON -- Legal advice will not be sought - at least officially - as the Town Board considers a stiffer English-only law.
But it appears board members both for and against the law may consult legal experts - as long as the town isn't paying for their advice.
That was the case at Wednesday's public hearing when one Washington lawyer visited Jackson to advocate in favor of the law.
ProEnglish, a nonprofit that has helped 30 states adopt English as their official language, joined the contentious issue of a stronger English-only measure in Jackson.
The organization's executive director, Jayne Cannava, spoke after being introduced by board member Roger Meyer, who introduced the first English-only law.
Cannava's organization provided a double-sided, two-page ordinance to the surprise of residents and Supervisor Alan Brown.
She said her organization has provided legal help to towns in the past.
Residents themselves cross-examined Cannava, who has a legal degree, about funding for her Jackson visit and the organization itself.
"We're disintegrating into more polarization then what we had when we got into this meeting," Brown said. "I'm disturbed because I didn't know we have a guest."
Many speakers at the meeting raised the concern that the law would open the town to the risk of a lawsuit.
Melanie Trimble, Capital Region Chapter director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, also said the law was a violation of state and federal constitutions as well as the Civil Rights Act.
Brown said the town's attorney would need further time, as much as 20 hours, to determine if the second law would put the town at risk legally.
The town attorney, D. Alan Wrigley, concluded the town had some liability with its first English law, adopted in March, Brown said after the meeting.
"I think Roger became concerned that the first law could be challenged ... certainly because the ACLU became involved," Brown said Thursday.
At the meeting, Meyer and Carol Rich indicated they were in favor of the new law, while Brown and board member Michael Nolan said they were opposed.
Board member Edward Rouse, who has not previously voted on the measure, declined to express his opinion.
More people spoke out against the law at Wednesday's meeting than for it, but there were heated opinions on both sides, leading to public comments being closed by just after 9:45 p.m.
The board meets again at 8 p.m. Aug. 4 at 2355 state Route 22, and Brown said it was likely to discuss the law again at that meeting.
But before that happens, the town might have some more lawyers involved. Brown said he could obtain advice from the Association of Towns of the State of New York.
"I'd be very surprised if we don't address this, but I can't anticipate all the developments in between," Brown said Thursday.