Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Our Readers Respond...

Dear Editor:

I want to commend your newspaper for being a lone voice in the media forest when it comes to reporting the malfeasance and incompetence
of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, as represented by the conduct of former Chief District Attorney Clement Patti,
particularly with respect to his prosecution of the Balancio homicide case.

Your readers know that Mr. Patti prosecuted the case of People v. Anthony DiSimone for Mr. Balancio’s murder. What amazes me is how
such an incompetent and malicious prosecution by Mr. Patti has not resulted in his being disciplined by the Bar Association or the Office of
Court Administration.

First, Mr. Patti, either through incompetence, at best, or malice, at worst, went to trial against Mr. DiSimone on two different theories
of Murder, “Intentional” and “Depraved Indifference”. It was improper for Mr. Patti to charge Depraved Indifference Murder because Mr.
DiSimone’s conduct, if he were guilty, had to be intentional. When the jury found him not guilty of Intentional Murder, but guilty of Depraved Indifference Murder, Mr. DiSimone should have walked out of court a free man because the highest court of New York State ruled this was an illegal conviction (stabbing someone repeatedly is an intentional act under the circumstances of this case) but the Court ruled on this issue after the DiSimone verdict and did not apply it retroactively to the DiSimone verdict. So, Mr. DiSimone remained in jail. That should have been the end of it.

But Mr. Patti’s conduct, we have learned, got worse. Not only did he not properly file the charges against Mr. DiSimone, the right charges, at
trial, Mr. Patti committed the worst possible act a prosecutor can commit. He intentionally withheld the confession from another man that
he, and not Mr. DiSimone, had killed Mr. Balancio. Obviously, had Mr. DiSimone had this information at trial for his Defense, he may have
been found not guilty. Instead, his life was ruined, and he spent many years in jail. Mr. Patti’s gross misconduct, as we know, resulted in the
United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversing the conviction and ordering a new trial.

But, Mr. Patti also victimized the Balancio family. Let’s suppose that the man who confessed to the murder was lying, and that Mr. DiSimone did, in fact, commit the murder. Nevertheless, Mr. DiSimone cannot be retried on the Depraved Indifference Murder charge because this is an illegal charge. Since Mr. DiSimone was found not guilty of Intentional Murder, he can’t be retried due to Double Jeopardy considerations. So, even though the case against Mr. DiSimone can be retried by the DA’s Office, he cannot be prosecuted again for murder.

However, if the man who confessed to killing Mr. Balancio did, in fact, commit this murder, the victim’s family will never see him go to
trial because Mr. Patti, by virtue of not pursuing the real killer, allowed him to escape to an unknown destination in a foreign country. So, if Mr. DiSimone is innocent, Mr. Patti caused an innocent person’s life to be ruined. If the real murderer escaped prosecution because of Mr. Patti’s conduct, then the Balancio family has been doubly victimized.

I am shocked that Mr. Patti has not been prosecuted by the current DA, or brought up on charges by the Office of Court Administration.
Hopefully, your newspaper will keep us advised of this case unlike the general media.

A Concerned Reader,

an attorney with over 35 years of practice who wishes not to mention his name because he’s a defense attorney
in Westchester County and fears reprisals.

In Our Opinion....

Perhaps The Time Has Come

With the so-called “quiet appointment” of a $55,000-a-year lobbyist by the Westchester County Legislature several days ago, once again that
not-so-august body of local politicians has effectively dared the hard-working, taxpaying citizens of Westchester to seriously consider the possibility of forcing a referendum to abolish County Government. Given the County Executive’s $25,000-a-year emissary in Albany, the Legislature went out and did him one better and hired their own at $55,000.

After all, each branch of Westchester County Government, the executive and the legislative, obviously has its own interests and agenda, and true to Newtonian Physics, they are equal in force and definitely opposite in direction. Perhaps the Board Chairman, Bill Ryan, was thwarted in his attempt to bring his salary, his part-time salary, within striking distance of Andy Spano’s; but he’s got a lobbyist that cost more than twice as much as Andy’s. And, isn’t that a good thing when push comes to shove in Albany, and con-flicting interests, albeit both housed under one roof at 148 Martine Avenue, are seeking funding and legislation favorable to their particular agenda?

Taxpayers are asking questions. For one thing, it’s hard for most to understand why either the County Executive or the Board of Legislators should need a hired ‘salesperson’ to do their bidding in Albany. Why is it, they want to know, “people who are handsomely paid for their full-time and part-time positions in County Government are no longer capable of speaking to their Legislators, both in the Assembly and in the Senate, themselves?”

Furthermore, many Westchester families are having difficulty understanding why the message from the County Executive would be so different than from the Board of Legislators, if each is actually seeking what is needed by the families and taxpayers they mutually represent. Of course, it might just be that these two branches of County Government are not employing lobbyists in furtherance of their constituents’ needs, but rather their own. If so, how long do these clowns think the populace will sit still for one stunt after another before shutting down the circus?

What makes the current picture in Westchester County the more intolerable and unfathomable is the fact that the Democratic Party, the same party that controls the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the State Comptroller’s Office, as well as the State Assembly, has a 13-4 supermajority in the County Legislature. Clearly, it’s not about the People; it’s about a struggle for power and money. We’ve granted them the power, virtually absolute power, and now they are fighting amongst themselves for our money. It’s inexcusable and ugly.

Perhaps the People of Westchester need to look to the east, to their neighbors in the State of Connecticut, to realize that life can go on without County Government. Essential services can all be met by state and municipal agencies already in place. And, finally, the ugly extra layer of fat can be eliminated, and taxes can be reduced in the process.

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