Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

When Will Joe Bruno And Friends Stop Politicizing New York’s Criminal Justice System?

Republican-Sponsored State Senate Bill Would Reduce Parole To A Trickle

If it were entirely up to the Republican-controlled State Senate, nobody in the state prison system would ever be paroled. Hypocrites the likes of Joe Bruno would like it just fine if we simply spent billions of dollars building more and more prisons, and never let any of “those criminals” out. Of course, “it’s just too bad about” those who were unlawfully prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. What was it Joe’s good friend, Jeanine Pirro, wrote in her book: “Cage The Bastards.”

Under George Pataki, the State Parole Board was a virtual stone wall. Unless, of course, you were the relative of an influential and wealthy political contributor. Inmates well beyond their sentenced time, with excellent conduct in prison, were routinely turned down. Those who were, in fact, innocent and doing hard time for crimes they did not commit, were made to admit that they were guilty, or else be automatically
turned down. It’s incredible that creatures such as Joe Bruno and Jeanine Pirro, each under federal investigation, hold themselves
out as protectors of the public; “tough on crime.” And, of course, there was Republican Governor George Pataki and his army of
Republican appointees, mostly greedy, common criminals, such as Robert Boyle and Jack Gaffney.

Not content enough with their six-figure appointments, Boyle to the Chairmanship of the Port of New York Authority and the Javits
Center; Gaffney, as Commissioner of the Bridge Authority; each had to steal from the public treasury.

A new bill recently introduced by the Republican majority in the State Senate would require all three appointees on a parole panel to vote in favor of release. Two out of three would no longer qualify. Joe Bruno, Republican State Senator and Majority Leader, whose financial dealings with pension funds are under investigation, and whose son, for years, practiced as a lobbyist, trading on his father’s position and
influence, has the gall to refer to Governor Spitzer as “soft on crime.”

However, while continuing their charade, their pretend protection of the public from criminals, the Republican-controlled State Senate refuses to recognize the need for legislation to control prosecutorial misconduct. They would, instead, prefer to sweep the growing body of evidence that District Attorneys’ Offices, all over the state, have engaged in unconstitutional conduct from public awareness. Nevertheless, Jeffrey Deskovic, Anthony DiSimone, Richard DiGuglielmo, and numerous other cases in Westchester; Marty Tankleff in Suffolk; and the Central Park Jogger and Paladium cases in Manhattan, all refuse to go away. Some 13 recent exonerations across New York State, based on DNA evidence alone, cannot be ignored.

Prosecutors who engage in the withholding of exculpatory information, Brady and Rosario materials; intimidation and turning of witnesses; tampering with evidence; suborning of perjury, and countless other unlawful acts, must be punished. The notion that prosecutors are immune
from accountability, the notion of absolute immunity, is a fiction.

The fact is, prosecutors enjoy only qualified immunity when appropriately engaged in lawful investigatory or prosecutorial activity.
Unlawful conduct that knowingly, and intentionally, violates the Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of any accused must be
met with decisive punishment; stiff fines, and loss of licensure, at the very least.

We must not tolerate a two tiered criminal justice system; one for the wealthy and politically-connected, and another for the rest of us. The Joe Brunos, Jeanine Pirros, and Bernie Keriks of New York, who essentially say “Do as I say, not as I do,” and who believe that they are above the law, must be brought down to earth, and made to comply with the same laws that govern us all. As for prosecutors at every level; “One who would enforce the law, must live by it.”

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