Thursday, January 24, 2008
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg
Brieant Accords Davis & Co. Every Consideration
United States District Court, White Plains
Judge Charles L. Brieant Presiding
Friday, January 11th, Attorney Stephen C. Jackson and approximately 10 diehard supporters of former Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis appeared in Federal District Judge Charles L. Brieant’s Court, White Plains in a proceeding that the Judge defined by stating, “This is meant to be a case management meeting.” Brieant went on to tell Attorney Jackson, speaking about a prior judge who had handled his clients’ $600 million lawsuit, “The Judge determined that there was no reasonable possibility of success on the merits of the case.” Addressing Jackson directly, he continued, “You do not contend, and you never contended, that those elected failed to gather more votes. Your position is that the voters were deceived, a Fraud In The Inducement.”
Attorney Jackson attempted to put forth the notion that his client, former Mayor Ernest Davis, and his supporters, were the victims
of a concerted and coordinated effort by the FBI and federal prosecutors, together with Democratic opponent Clinton Young, to dissuade voters from coming out to reelect Mr. Davis by conducting an investigation just before Election Day, and repeatedly raiding the Mayor’s Office at City Hall, serving the Mayor and his staff with subpoenas and search warrants.
Judge Brieant declared, “Some Judge, not I, signed a search warrant.”
Jackson countered with, “However, Your Honor, the Government chose to conduct a highly-publicized investigation at the time of the election. We have First Amendment Rights that were violated. The essence of the complaint is that they had information, it’s the timing of the raid.”
Brieant broke in with, “Everyone wants to hear from the Second Circuit.” He went on to instruct the Plaintiffs, “The prosecutorial arm of the Government is not prohibited from going forward merely because there’s an election going on. A neutral magistrate told them, Go.”
At this point, an Assistant United States Attorney told the Judge, “Your Honor, this case is legally frivolous on numerous grounds.” Brieant retorted, “Maybe not.” The government attorney continued, “Principles of Soveriegnity bar any action against the federal government. There was a valid warrant issued. The Plaintiff has no standing. Numerous courts have held that the reasons why an election is won or lost cannot be ascertained.”
Now, Judge Brieant revealed his intentions, telling the Government, “In my view, Mayor Davis has a right to the information he is seeking.”
The Assistant United States Attorney, digging in his heels, declared, “There are no facts that need to be discovered.”
Brieant then clarified and firmed up his position, stating, “I believe that, in fact, there was a finding of Probable Cause; that, in fact, there was an investigation; that, in fact, it involved a trash hauling contract.”
The Government Attorney, once again, took the position that the Government could not be sued. Brieant then said, “Assuming that to be so, he (Davis) is still entitled to the information. What was in the warrant? What did they seize?”
The Government now declared, “Your Honor, we want to make a motion to dismiss this case. The affidavit upon which the warrant
was based is still under seal.” Brieant came back with, “Hard cases make bad law.”
The Government attorney responded, “I don’t believe this is a hard case.”
Judge Brieant then declared, “If you want to make a motion, perhaps I should not permit it without production.” He then directed
the United States Attorney’s Office to “Produce the warrant, the papers upon which the warrant was issued, and the return papers,
that this Court shall examine in camera.” The Government, as if to strengthen their position, reasserted, “The primary grounds for dismissal is Absolute Immunity, even based upon the facts the Plaintiffs are alleging.”
Attorney William Greenawalt, of the law firm McCarthy Fingar, now rose on behalf of his client, a named Defendant in Davis’ action, Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young, declaring, “There is no evidence that my client was involved in any kind of conspiracy. My client won by more than 2700 votes. There was a greater turnout than usual, especially in African-American areas. Judge Goettel found that there was no legitimate basis to overturn the results of the election.”
Brieant informed Greenawalt that he would be “going forward, examining the documents that I directed the Government to produce.” Attorney Jackson then broke in, asking, “Is that for Counsel’s eyes?” Brieant, as if reading Jackson, quickly responded, “No, not yet.”
Judge Brieant extended the benefit of the doubt with regard to the sincerity and good faith of Ernest Davis’ $600 million filing and with respect to the sanctity of the election process.However, Mr. Jackson would need to get up a whole lot earlier if he thought the Judge was about to give him a sneak preview of sealed discovery materials before any indictment of his client was announced.
Westchester DA’s Office Continues To Harass Police Officer Ralph Tancredi
Westchester Supreme Court, White Plains
Judge Sam Walker Presiding
Last Thursday, January 17th, Harrison Police Officer Ralph Tancredi appeared in State Supreme Court before Judge Sam Walker, to answer to a series of charges leveled against him by Harrison Police Chief David Hall, and Captain Anthony Marriccini in retaliation for charges brought against them early last year in United States Federal District Court, White Plains. In papers filed on behalf of the Harrison Police
PBA, of which Tancredi was President, Chief Hall was charged with Intercepting and Converting By Forgery a $2500 check
mailed by a local country club to the Harrison PBA following a fundraiser at the club. Additionally, both Hall and Marriccini
were named in a federal civil rights lawsuit charging them with having secretly installed audio and videotaping equipment in the locker room at Harrison Police Headquarters.
The charges brought in Federal Court by Tancredi and several members of the Harrison Police Benevolent Association were
originally brought to the attention of the Westchester District Attorney’s Office, which refused to take any action. The failure of the DA’s Office to take appropriate action in response to criminal charges substantiated against high-level police brass, choosing, instead, to join forces with said offenders in retaliatory acts against rank and file complainants, is really nothing new in Westchester.
Representing Officer Tancredi, before Judge Walker, were Attorneys Jonathan Lovett, of Lovett & Gould, White Plains, and Gustavo L. Vila, PBA Counsel. Assistant DA Audrey Stone replaced Barbara Egenhauser, who was, herself, charged with Harassment, Intimidation, and False Imprisonment, by Sophia Saenz, an indispensible witness to the DA’s Office in the Tancredi matter. Ms. Saenz has retained Mr. Lovett in her federal suit against Egenhauser and the Town and Village of Harrison, New York. Judge Walker opened the proceedings stating, “The last time we were here, the People had filed a Motion for Consolidation.”
Mr. Lovett responded, “No, Your Honor, we were opposed.”
ADA Stone then proceeded to reiterate her Office’s position, and Judge Walker quickly granted the motion to consolidate all of the actions lodged against Officer Tancredi into one case.
Attorney Vila then requested the opportunity to file Omnibus Motions, but was refused by Walker. Vila then declared, “If I’m going to be refused the opportunity to file motions, I want to go immediately to trial.”
At that point, Walker softened his position somewhat, telling Attorney Vila, “I will give you the opportunity to file motions in writing.” He then turned to Jon Lovett, asking, “What is Mr. Lovett’s position?”
Lovett declared, “I don’t see how the District Attorney is going to trial without a witness. The People can subpoena her (Ms. Saenz),
but she is going to assert her Fifth Amendment Right.”
Then, turning to another subject, the Judge told Lovett, “The last time your client was here, I assigned him to TASK.” At that point, the court clerk handed a progress report from TASK to the Judge, which he glanced at and appeared satisfied with. He then proceeded to establish a pre-trial hearing date of February 6th before Judge Colangelo.
Following the proceeding, outside the courtroom, Attorney Vila told The Guardian, “The DA’s Office is essentially co ntinuing to facilitate the retaliatory actions being taken against Police Officer Ralph Tancredi by Chief Hall and Captain Marriccini, because of Tancredi’s having come forward to report their unlawful activities.” Attorney Lovett added, “This case primarily embodies the biggest waste of taxpayers’ money in Westchester. It’s purely politically driven.”
The scenario that has been unfolding between Harrison Police Of-ficer Ralph Tancredi, with more than 10 years on the job, together with
several other fellow PBA member officers, on the one side, and Chief Hall and Captain Marriccini, aided and abetted by the Westchester DA’s Office, on the other, has already had profound consequences in the Town of Harrison. For one thing, it clearly influenced the outcome in the recent Supervisor’s race, resulting, in part, in the election of former Town Clerk Joan Walsh, in whom many residents have expressed confidence that she will straighten out their Police Department, previously ignored by Stephen Malfitano. As significantly, from the standpoint of the citizens of the rest of the County, the continued prosecutorial misconduct that has ignored the unlawful, criminal, activities of high-ranking officers of the Harrison Police Department while, at the same time, aiding and abetting the continuing harassment of innocent rank and file police officers, cries out for federal investigation and prosecution.
“I don’t see how the District Attorney is going to trial without a witness. The People can subpoena her (Ms. Saenz), but she is going to assert her Fifth Amendment Right.”