Thursday, December 25, 2008

Westchester Guardian/Janet Difiore/The Advocate.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Westchester Needs A District Attorney Who
Is A Public Servant, Not A Self-Servant

Those who understand the power vested in a district attorney realize that it is the single most important position in all of County government. Only the DA has the power and authority to indict and prosecute. Only the DA can, if he or she chooses, turn the life of an
innocent individual and all of his loved ones into a nightmare without probable cause or justification. And, as we continue to discover, that has, in fact, happened far too frequently in Westchester over recent years.

It is vital that the individual who takes control of the office be someone of high moral character with a passion for the bringing about of justice, and beneficial outcomes, in the lives of innocent individuals and families. Reactive, politically-motivated prosecutors are truly dangerous individuals, quite capable of causing serious and prolonged misery and harm in the lives of good families. There is absolutely
no room for self-promotion, grandstanding, or covering up, at any time.

The truth must be pursued regardless of where the investigation may lead. Competent and thorough investigation must be the foundation of every case put before a grand jury.

The DA must not be engaged, for even one moment, in a numbers game; must not be all about winning, but rather about solving. It is far better to have not solved a case, and to continue struggling with it, than to prosecute an opportunistic defendant, perhaps achieving wrongful conviction and leaving the actual perpetrator out there to strike again. Such was the double tragedy in the Jeffrey Deskovic case,
where a 17-year-old, clearly innocent, as established by DNA, nevertheless went to prison for Rape and Murder, the prosecuting Assistant DA knew he did not commit, and the actual perpetrator took another life in the same fashion just three and a half years later.

The DA must be capable of withstanding close scrutiny. Someone with a powerful but scandalous spouse, one who previously attempted
to bribe another candidate off the ballot and intimi-date party chairmen for their parties’ endorsement, must be non-starters.

Neither can the People accept a DA candidate who has been closely associated with consultants and campaign advisors who have produced sleazy ethnic lies and distortions in the past, or associated with hoodlums who have engaged in election fraud, machine-tampering, and/or race
fixing, all of which have been employed in recent Countywide elections.

The People need an experienced prosecutor, one who has actually tried cases, not one who lied and said she “tried 2,000,” but in fact had only prosecuted 12 misdemeanors. Westchester needs a district attorney unfettered by incestuous relationships with various police departments in ways that render her unfit to hold office, committed to overlooking criminal activity, serious brutality against innocent citizens, and other unlawful acts. The right individual to be district attorney must not seek police department endorsements,
nor use or pressure attorneys and investigators in the Office to campaign on his or her behalf.

The People of Westchester deserve a district attorney who will strive to fulfill the full mandate of the Office, both the prosecution of the guilty and the protection of the innocent. One who would look at a videotape such as the one showing Yonkers Police Officer Wayne Simoes bodyslamming an intoxicated, defenseless, petite woman like Irma Marquez, without any justification, nearly killing her, and then
decide to prosecute the innocent civilian victim by way of covering up the crime of the rogue officer should actually be recalled, removed from office. Such a chief law enforcer is, in reality, a grave menace to public safety.

After 15 years of misguided, self-promotional activity, and wrong-headed prosecutions of innocent civilians and police officers, not to mention all of the withheld Brady and Rosario materials, the blatant and malicious lies fed to federal and state appeals courts, and all of the subornation of perjury, tampering with witnesses and evidence, it’s time for a change. There has been more prosecutorial misconduct than most observers might imagine; and it is time for someone with the moral authority and the skill and experience to re-direct, re-train, and re-motivate those attorneys and investigators remaining in the wake of some 70 resignations over the past three years, and those who
must be hired.

Yes, it is high time the People of Westchester know the benefits of a professionally operated District Attorney’s Office, time it was restored to the level of investigative excellence and prosecutorial integrity it was known for throughout the law enforcement community under the late Carl Vergari. We have had more than our fill of district attorneys who talk about “dead-beat dads” while sleeping with one who denied paternity of his first offspring from an extramarital affair until she was 16, and DNA proved he was the father. Just as troubling is a DA who talked about law and order while her spouse attempted to bribe her opponent from the Right To Life Party to get him out of the race.

Westchester needs a district attorney who can handle constructive criticism; who does not punish and interfere with good police officers; dedicated professionals performing a difficult and dangerous job. They do not need a DA who constantly covers up the crimes and violence of rogue, violent officers from departments with whom she has twisted and incestuous relationships.

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