Friday, January 22, 2016

Bazzomanifesto Update 01/22/16:12 Topics In Today's blog


1)  Check Out

2) Check Out Yorktown News:
3) Volpe/Bazzo Report on YouTube: January Show: Guests:Co-Host  Co-host Domenic Volpe, Political Commentators Bryan Fumagall and Darren Rigger

4) Jeffrey Deskovic: Press Release about confirmation of Janet DiFiore as New York's Chief Judge.

5) [Public Meeting Agendas] Yorktown Planning Board 01/25/16

6) Con Edison Gears Up For Winter's First Snowstorm

7) ICYMI: Reasons to worry about $15 Minimum Wage

8) MEDIA ADVISORY] *WEDNESDAY*, 1/27 3:30pm* Sen. Murphy to Host Community Blood Drive

9) [PRESS RELEASE] Murphy sponsors bill to protect Israel, allied nations

10) Yorktown Town Board: Controversy over Courtesy of the Floor 01/19/16

11) The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair  - New Focus On

12) 12 Grapes: A fun-packed weekend!

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Executive Director of The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice; Criminal Justice Advocate; Exoneree   [Visit our new website!] [Help Us Get Corporate Sponsors by Liking Us On Facebook!]
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From: Jeffrey M. Deskovic
Re: Confirmation of Janet DiFiore as Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
Date: January 21, 2016
Yesterday, the state Senate Judiciary Committee essentially abandoned its constitutional
obligation to searchingly question and properly vet Janet DiFiore before she was confirmed as
Chief Judge.
Ms. DiFiore spoke in platitudes about her commitment to the “fair, even and ethical
administration of justice,” and that she will “strive to bring fair and balanced approach to every
case.” She proclaimed, “I say to you all ... that I am extremely proud of the work I have done ...
as a trial judge ... and as the district attorney ....”
Sen. John J. Bonacic is Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I requested that I be
permitted to make a brief statement, as Ms. DiFiore’s actions in my case were being touted in
support of her confirmation. My request was refused. Therefore, I submitted the attached
memorandum which was included in the public record and distributed to the eleven Democrats
and twelve Republicans on the committee. It provided the Senators ample reason to question
whether Ms. DiFiore should be “extremely proud” of her conduct, as a trial judge and DA, in the
Kian Khatibi and Selwyn Days cases. Not one Senator confronted her about these cases.
Sen. DiFrancesco can be seen holding the memorandum in hand.1 He made implicit
reference to my case, and asked her “whether there can be wrongful conduct by a district
attorney” and whether there was “non-disclosure of exculpatory evidence” by prosecutors. She
avoided the first question, and claimed exculpatory evidence was presented to the jury in my
case. That was false.
When asked about prosecutorial misconduct generally, she said, “we have not
uncovered” any such misconduct in her office like “cases from Texas.” When asked “do you
know of any?” she answered, “I read about them,” feigning unawareness of Justice Bellantoni’s
critical findings about her office in the DiGuglielmo case cited in my memorandum
Sen. Boyle referenced prosecutorial misconduct in the Steven Avery case in Wisconsin,
and asked whether she believed courts should receive expert testimony about false confessions.
She declined to respond, claiming the matter was currently before the court.
New Yorkers deserve better from their Senators.
To: The Senate Judiciary Committee:
John J. Bonacic, Chairman [District 42 - R, C, IP]
George A. Amedore, Jr. [District 46 - R, C, IP]
Tony Avilla [District 11 - D]
Phil Boyle [District 4 - R]
Neil D. Breslin [District 44 - D, IP, WF]
Leroy Comrie [District 14 - D]
Thomas D. Crocie [District 3 - R]
Ruben Diaz [District 32 - D]
Martin Malavé Dilan [District 18 - D]
Adriano Espaillat [District 31 - D, WF]
Kemp Hannon [District 6 - R, C, IP]
Ruth Hassell-Thompson [District 36 - D, WF]
Brad Holyman [District 27 - D, WF]
Andrew Lanza [District 24 - R]
Kenneth P. LaValle [District 1 - R]
Michael F. Nozzolio [District 54 - R, C, IP]
Thomas F. O’Mara [District 58 - R, C, IP]
Bill Perkins [District 30 - D, WF]
Michael H. Ranzanhofer [District 61 - R, C, IP]
Diane Savino [District 23 - D, WF, IP]
Sue Serino [District 41 - R, C, IP]
Toby Ann Savisky [District 16 - D]
Michael Venditto [District 8 - R, C, IP]
From: Samuel A. Abady, J.D., on Behalf of Jeffrey Mark Deskovic - Exoneree, Criminal Justice
Reform Advocate and Director of the Jeffrey M. Deskovic Foundation for Justice, Inc.
Date: January 19, 2016
Re: Conformation Hearing for Janet DiFiore, Esq., Gov. Cuomo’s Nominee for Chief Judge
of the Court of Appeals
Jeffrey Mark Deskovic submits this Memorandum to members of the Senate Judiciary
Committee and requests they question Ms. DiFiore about the matters identified herein in her
forthcoming confirmation hearing scheduled for Wednesday, January 20th at 1:00 P.M.
In the Timeline of major events in Janet DiFiore’s professional life, the Journal News
lists the following:
2006: Ordered the retesting of DNA evidence from the 1989 rape
and murder of 15-year-old Angela Correa. The results led to the
exoneration of Correa’s classmate, Jeffrey Deskovic, who had
served nearly 16 years in prison, and the conviction of Correa’s
killer, Stephen Cunningham.2
Likewise, Albany Law School professor, Vincent Bonventre, declared Ms. DiFiore to be
a “champion for the reduction and prevention of wrongful convictions,” citing her actions in the
Deskovic case, and the report she commissioned to identify factors that led to Mr. Deskovic’s
wrongful conviction and imprisonment.3,4
The University of Michigan Law School maintains The National Registry of
Exonerations.5 To date, the total number of actually innocent defendants who have been
2 /.
3 .
Ms. DiFiore's predecessor and current Fox News television personality, Jeannine Pirro, vigorously opposed DNA
testing of crime scene evidence.
4 (hereinafter as “Deskovic Report”).
The authors stated “a broader understanding of his tragedy will help those who work in the criminal justice system
take the steps necessary to protect others from his fate.” The Innocense Project’s comments about the report are
found here:
5 Most laymen assume wrongful convictions are aberrant, unpredictable, tragic events. To the contrary,
legal scholars have demonstrated they arise from systemic defects in the criminal justice process, and sometimes,
several of these defects are found in the same case. Major defects include:
• Prosecutorial Misconduct;
• Failure to Preserve Biological Evidence (such evidence is available only in 10-12% of all serious felony
cases, and DNA is available in only about one fifth of all wrongful conviction cases due to lax or nonexistent
biological evidence preservation statutes);
• Police Interrogation Techniques (“Legal academics as well as many who have scrutinized the causes of
wrongful convictions have long advocated the videotaping of police interrogations ....” Deskovic Report at
exonerated is 1,662. Three of them were wrongfully convicted in Westchester County on Ms.
DiFiore’s watch, or while she was a member of the Westchester D.A.’s office:
• Jeffrey M. Deskovic
• Kian Khatibi
• Selwyn Days
A fourth case, that of NYPD officer Richard DiGuglielmo, led one County Court judge to
issue a blistering 50-page opinion cataloguing egregious, pervasive and aggressive misconduct
by Ms. DiFiore’s prosecutors.
These matters are described below. The Committee should inquire about them.
Kian Khatibi
On January 11, 1998, Kayvan Khatibi and his friend, Eric Freud, got into an argument
with Brian Duffy and William Boyar outside the Lock, Stock and Barrel, a college bar in the
Village of Pleasantville. The altercation lasted some time. Kian walked by and avoided the
group, and went to the Pleasantville police station. While Kian was at the police station, Kayvan
stabbed Duffy and Boyar and with a small paring knife. Both victims were so drunk they “were
not aware that they had been stabbed.”6 Kayvan then fled the scene and threw his knife on the
roof of the Mediterraneo Restaurant.
Kian Khatibi is sixteen months younger than his older brother, Kayvan, and much
shorter. Kian was not involved in the fight or stabbing incident in any way.
His brother, the real perpetrator, later testified in Kian’s successful Court of Claims
wrongful imprisonment action that Pleasantville Detectives Stephen Bonura and Robert Mazzei
came to his house looking to arrest Kian, but Kayvan told them that he, not Kian, stabbed Duffy
• False Confessions, as happened in Mr. Deskovic’s case (Police often contaminate confessions by feeding
suspects non-public information about the crime. A 2010 groundbreaking study revealed “the problem of
[police] contamination is epidemic, not episodic.” Steven A. Drizin, The Three Errors: Pathways to False
Confessions and Wrongful Convictions,
• Use of Incentivized or So-called “Snitch” Testimony; and
• Victim/Witness Misidentification.
6 Khatibi v. State of New York, 35 Misc.3d 1211(A), 951 N.Y.S.2d 86, 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 50654(U) (Ct. of
Claims, 2012).
and Boyar in self-defense. In response, the detectives threatened Kayvan should he give that
exculpatory testimony at Kian’s trial. Kayvan also testified Det. Mazzei stopped him on the
street the night before he was scheduled to testify at Kian’s trial, ordered him into an unmarked
police car, drove around the block, and “reminded Kayvan of the threats that Mazzei and Bonura
had made to Kayvan about confessing to the stabbing.”7
On May 19, 1999, Kian was convicted of his brother's crimes,8 and despite having no
prior criminal record, and having turned down a plea deal for 1-3 years because he was actually
innocent, he was sentenced to 7-14 years in prison.
Kian pursued direct appeals and sought habeas corpus relief in federal court, but to no
avail.9 He filed some 30-40 FOIL requests to unearth police reports and other evidence not
produced at trial, again to no avail.10 Notably, he “refused to admit to the crimes” at a 2006
parole hearing seven years after his conviction, “despite his awareness that this would jeopardize
his chances for parole because it would be considered a failure to show remorse.”11
In May of 2003, he made a post trial motion under CPL § 440.10 to vacate his conviction
because his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to obtain the Pleasantville police videotape
which established his alibi. The matter was heard by Ms. DiFiore sitting as a Supreme Court
judge in Westchester.
She found the fact that Kian “was in the local police station was not disputed,” but
refused to vacate his conviction on procedural grounds because “there is no allegation ... a
7 Khatibi v. State of New York, 35 Misc.3d 1211(A), 951 N.Y.S.2d 86, 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 50654(U) (Ct. of
Claims, 2012). Not surprisingly, the detectives disputed Kayvan’s testimony.
8 Assault in the first degree, Penal Law § 120.20(1), and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth
degree, Penal Law § 265.01(2).
9 People v. Khatibi, 289 A.D.2d 593, 736 N.Y.S.2d 238, 2001 N.Y. Slip Op. 11035 (2d Dept., 2001) (trial
evidence deemed “legally sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” for assault in the first
degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, as “verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the
evidence”), further app. den., 742 N.Y.S.2d 617, 97 N.Y.2d 756, 769 N.E.2d 363 (2002), and Khatibi v. Tracy, Case
#: 7:04-cv-01509-SCR-GAY (S.D.N.Y.) (habeas writ denied by Hon. Stephen C. Robinson, March 28, 2005), aff’d.,
Khatibi v. Tracy, Case Number 05-7025-PR (2d Cir., 2007) cert denied, 551 U.S. 1152, 127 S.Ct. 3020, 168
L.Ed.2d 740 (2007).
10 Khatibi v. Weill, 8 A.D.3d 485, 778 N.Y.S.2d 511, 2004 N.Y. Slip Op. 05245 (2d Dept., 2004) (rejecting
mandamus to compel disclosure in response to FOIL request because “such documents were previously furnished to
the petitioner's trial attorney”).
11 Khatibi v. State of New York, 35 Misc.3d 1211(A), 951 N.Y.S.2d 86, 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 50654(U) (Ct.
of Claims, 2012) (Justice Ruderman noted that Kian “would rather spend his life in prison than admit to crimes he had
not committed.”)
demand was made for this information,” even though it “would have established an alibi,” and
because “there is no explanation offered why this was not raised at trial or on appeal.” She
concluded, “that the Defendant was in the local police station” when his brother stabbed Duffy
and Boyar, but said this “is not newly discovered evidence,” and likewise brushed aside that the
video of Kian at the police station and contemporaneous audio tapes had been destroyed,
“thereby preventing his use of them at trial” because Kian failed to show his lawyer made “a
request ... for either of these recordings for trial.”12 Yet, she somehow found Kian’s trial
attorney provided him with effective representation.
Four and a half years later on November 17, 2007, Kian’s siblings were having an early
Thanksgiving dinner with their father, George Khatibi, at his home in White Plains. He
lamented Kian’s absence at the family event. Kayvan then “admitted that he was the one who
had committed the stabbing.” Kian’s father was shocked and angry, as was Kian’s sister Sheila,
and two other siblings left the table in disgust.13
Kian moved to vacate his conviction again, this time based on his brother’s confession as
newly discovered evidence. The matter was heard by Justice Barbara Zambelli. She noted
Kayvan admitted, “I'm the one who did the stabbing and Kian is in jail for nothing”; “Kian is in
jail for something that he had not done”; and “he was responsible for Kian being in jail.”14 She
ruled that Kayvan’s confession represented “a new theory ... in this is a purely circumstantial
case where neither victim was able to state that they (sic) observed the actual stabbings ... and no
witness was able to directly identify the defendant as the perpetrator.”15
Notably, Ms. DiFiore’s prosecutors opposed vacature of Kian’s conviction, and proffered
an entirely new and patently risible theory of the case that “both Kian and Kayvan committed the
assault.”16 Justice Zambelli gave short shrift to this argument and vacated Kian’s conviction.
On September 23, 2008, which was Kian's thirty-third birthday, she released Kian on his own
recognizance after serving nearly ten years in prison, and ordered a new trial. Ms. DiFiore’s
office then dismissed the indictment against him.
12 People v. Kian Daniel Khatibi, Indictment 98-240, decision on CPL 440.10 motion dated May 19, 2003.
13 Khatibi v. State of New York, 35 Misc.3d 1211(A), 951 N.Y.S.2d 86, 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 50654(U) (Ct.
of Claims, 2012).
14 People v. Kian Daniel Khatibi, Indictment 98-240, decision on CPL 440.10 motion dated September 9,
15 Id.
16 Id.
As noted above, Kian won his Court of Claims action.17 Justice Ruderman found Kian
“forthright and credible” and found his “conduct of going to the police station shortly after
witnessing the fight was consistent with his innocence and his lack of awareness that his brother
was involved in the fight.”18
Surely, if claimant had in fact just stabbed two people or knew that
his brother had done so, it would be highly unlikely that claimant
would proceed into the nearby police station seeking a ride from a
police officer. Further, claimant’s physical appearance at the
police station was not consistent with the appearance of someone
who had just been in a physical altercation with two, very large,
intoxicated men who were bleeding in several places.19
All this was known to Ms. DiFiore’s office for many years. In 2010, Kian filed a multimillion
dollar civil rights action against Pleasantville and its police department in federal court.20
That action likely will be tried this year.
Members of the Committee are urged to press Ms. DiFiore about her conduct in this case.
Specifically, she should asked the following:
• whether she regrets her judicial decision which cost Kian another four and a half
years in prison, and would have cost him another decade in prison had his brother
not finally confessed in 2007;
• if not, how she rationalizes her decision as just;
• why she did not move to vacate Kian’s conviction after her office learned his
brother confessed;
17 As Justice Ruderman noted, under Court of Claims Act § 8–b, a claimant must prove by clear and
convincing evidence that: (i) he was convicted of one or more felonies or misdemeanors, sentenced to a term of
imprisonment, and served all or part of that sentence; (ii) the judgment was reversed or vacated under a statutorily
enumerated ground; (iii) he did not commit the crimes charged; and (iv) did not by his own conduct cause or bring
about his conviction. These statutory requirements are strictly construed, Torres v. State of New York, 228 A.D.2d
579, 644 N.Y.S.2d 748 (2d Dept., 1996) and “the linchpin' of the statute is innocence.” Ivey v. State of New York, 80
N.Y.2d 474, 479, 606 N.E.2d 1360, 591 N.Y.S.2d 969, 479 (1992).
18 Khatibi v. State of New York, 35 Misc.3d 1211(A), 951 N.Y.S.2d 86, 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 50654(U) (Ct.
of Claims, 2012).
19 Id.
20 Kian Khatibi v. Stephen Bonura, Robert Mazzei, The Village off Pleasantville, and The Village of
Pleasantville Police Department, #1:10-cv-01168-ER-PED (S.D.N.Y.)
• why instead she directed her deputies to oppose Kian’s motion to vacate his
conviction after his brother confessed;
• whether she believes it was appropriate for her office to argue Kian and his
brother together stabbed Duffy and Boyar, when they clearly did not believe it,
given that they dismissed the indictment shortly afterward rather than re-try Kian.
Her answers to these questions will reveal a great deal about whether Ms. DiFiore is
qualified to be New York’s most important and powerful judge.
Selwyn Days
Selwyn Days is a mentally retarded man with a long history of taking “antipsychotic
medication used to treat schizophrenia and acute psychosis.”21 He was charged with a double
murder. “Shortly after noon on November 21, 1996, the bodies of 79 year-old Archie Harris and
35 year-old Betty Ramcharan were discovered inside of Harris’ Eastchester home. Harris had
been beaten, bludgeoned and stabbed to death, while Ramcharan had been strangled and
suffocated and her throat had been slit. A bloody kitchen knife was found lying near
More than five years later, Days was arrested on February 16, 2001, and interrogated on
and off for seven hours during fourteen hours in police custody. Only the last seventy-five
minutes during which he supposedly confessed was recorded. “Shortly after the killings,
investigators learned that Harris had made Ramcharan the major beneficiary of his $1.6 million
estate. But because she died with him, the estate went to his grown children.”23 Those with a
motive to commit the murders were never pursued.
At the time of the murders, Days was 500 miles away at his home in Goldsboro, North
Carolina, as established by four witnesses from Goldsboro, including a North Carolina
magistrate.24 No crime scene DNA evidence matched Days, but DNA on the knife and rope
matched others. Ms. DiFiore's prosecutors claimed this evidence was “inconclusive and
21 People v. Days, 131 A.D.3d 972, 980, 15 N.Y.S.3d 823, 831 (2d Dept., 2015) (“there was little evidence
to corroborate the defendant's confession in this case, and his conviction turned almost entirely on his videotaped
confession (citation omitted). There was no DNA or other physical evidence linking the defendant to the crime, and
there was no eyewitness testimony.”)
22 People v. Days, 26 Misc.3d 1205(A), 906 N.Y.S.2d 782 (West. Cnty., 2009).
24 People v. Days, 26 Misc.3d 1205(A), 906 N.Y.S.2d 782 (West. Cnty., 2009).
The first trial in 2003 ended in a hung jury. Days was convicted on April 16, 2004,
following his second trial and “sentenced to two consecutive terms of 25 years to life
imprisonment,” and that conviction was upheld on appeal.26 Thereafter, The Exoneration
Initiative together with the Manhattan firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Whaton & Garrison took over
as defense counsel, and proved Days’s trial lawyer failed to pursue his alibi defense and DNA
evidence. As a result, the conviction was thrown out.27
The third trial ended with a hung jury in 2011, but Days was found guilty in his fourth
trial. That conviction was thrown out because the trial judge barred expert testimony on the
issue of false confessions. Police “repeatedly employed suggestive and leading questions, fed
the defendant specific details related to the crime scene, and used rapport-building techniques,”
to exploit Days’s feeble intelligence and mental illness. The appellate court found “significant
concerns” that only the supposed confession during the last seventy-five minutes of the
seven-hour interrogation was videotaped.28
In addition, “The indictment and the initial bill of particulars alleged that the victims
were killed between November 19, 1996, and November 21, 1996,” but for the third trial, Ms.
DiFiore's prosecutors amended the bill of particulars ten years after the murders and now
claimed “these murders occurred two or three days prior to the discovery of the two bodies,
including and encompassing the evening hours of November 18, 1996.” The Second
Department rejected this shameless tactic because prosecutors knew “defendant's alibi witnesses
previously indicated that the defendant was present in North Carolina beginning on November
19, 1996.”29
His case is now headed to a fifth trial.
Ms. DiFiore should be asked why she continues to pursue Selwyn Days. She should be
pressed to explain her reasoning in detail, both from the perspective of a prosecutor’s duty to do
justice, and the cost-benefit analysis of spending millions in public resources to pursue this
mentally ill, feeble minded man with a strong alibi, instead of pursuing those with 1.6 million
reasons to murder the victims.
26 People v. Days, 31 A.D.3d 574, 817 N.Y.S.2d 535 (2d Dept., 2006), aff'd, 7 N.Y.3d 811, 855 N.E.2d
802, 822 N.Y.S.2d 486 (2006).
27 People v. Days, 26 Misc.3d 1205(A), 906 N.Y.S.2d 782 (West. Cnty., 2009).
28 People v. Days, 131 A.D.3d 972, 15 N.Y.S.3d 823 (2d Dept., 2015)
29 Id., 131 A.D.3d at 982, 15 N.Y.S.3d at 833.
In the last appeal, the Second Department noted “False confessions that precipitate a
wrongful conviction manifestly harm the defendant, the crime victim, society and the criminal
justice system,” citing the Court of Appeals.30 The Committee also should ask Ms. DiFiore
whether she accepts or rejects admission of expert testimony to demonstrate some confessions
may be false and therefore worthless.
Richard DiGuglielmo
Perhaps no Westchester case is more notorious than that of NYPD officer Richard
DiGuglielmo who shot and killed Charles Campbell outside the deli owned by DiGuglielmo’s
father.31 The merits or demerits of his conviction and appellate claims are not at issue. Rather,
the Committee should press Ms. DiFiore on the findings of then-County Court Justice Rory
Bellantoni who vacated DiGuglielmo’s conviction, but was overturned on appeal on grounds
essentially unrelated to his factual findings.32
Justice Bellantoni presided over a lengthy post-conviction trial about Ms. DiFiore’s
office and the Dobbs Ferry police. He issued a blistering 50-page opinion in which he
condemned Ms. DiFiore’s prosecutors for their flagrant misconduct in suborning perjury,
muscling a key prosecution witness to change his story and then hiding that fact from the
defense, and tainting the transcript of the proceedings.33
Justice Bellantoni was unsparing in his condemnation of Ms. DiFiore’s chief lieutenant:
“When a Government lawyer, with enormous resources at ... her disposal abuses power and
ignores ethical standards, ... she not only undermines public trust, but inflicts damage beyond
30 People v. Days, 131 A.D.3d at 979, 15 N.Y.S.3d at 830.
31 See, e.g., Sam Abady, Reversal of Forture - The Deeply Troubling Case of Richard DiGuglielmo,
Westchester Guardian, p.1 (July 1, 2010).
32 DiGuglielo told the jury he did not intend to kill Charles Campbell, but instead, shot to protect his father
because Campbell had hit his father twice with a baseball bat and was poised to strike his father in the head, possibly
killing him. The jury acquitted DiGuglielmo of assault and intentional murder, but convicted on depraved indifference
murder. Justice Bellantoni exhaustively reviewed the trial record and concluded Campbell “took a batter's stance and
was about to strike the elder Diguglielmo who was trying to regain his balance when Officer Diguglielmo shot,” and
held a defendant can be guilty of intentional murder or depraved indifference murder, but not both. Thus,
DiGuglielmo “should never have been charged with, or convicted of, depraved indifference murder.” The Second
Department reversed. It acknowledged the law of depraved indifference murder had changed, but DiGuglielmo could
not benefit from it because the change in the law was not retroactive. Viewing that same record, the appellate judges
in Brooklyn also found “the circumstances did not support an objectively reasonable inference that a deadly strike
with the bat was imminent.” The lynchpin of that court’s decision was “defendant's ... background and training as a
police officer” who knows he can “use deadly force only as a last resort.” People v. DiGuglielmo, 75 A.D.3d 206,
902 N.Y.S.2d 131 (2d Dept., 2010), aff'd, 17 N.Y.3d 771, 952 N.E.2d 1068, 929 N.Y.S.2d 74 (2011).
33 People v. DiGuglielmo, 21 Misc.3d 1103(A), 873 N.Y.S.2d 236, 2008 WL 4355431 (Westchester Cnty,
calculation to the system of justice.”34
Among his many findings, Justice Bellantoni condemned Ms. DiFiore’s prosecutors for:
• their “scorched earth policy of attempting to vilify” the eyewitnesses at the
hearing because they would “not go along with their program”;
• their deceit in arguing a witness named White was “so biased and so perjurious
that his odious presence in the courtroom made a mockery of the proceedings,”
when Justice Bellantoni found to the contrary, “White's testimony, as the People
are well-aware, was truthful and accurate”;
• their “win at all costs” approach to the case, ethics be damned;
• one prosecutor, A.D.A. Ward, sat alone with the court stenographer, Betsy
Watson, to “proofread” the hearing transcript, and then lied to Justice Bellantoni
about having done so, which “damaged the integrity of the transcript, if not the
proceeding itself”; and
• another seasoned prosecutor close to Ms. DiFiore, A.D.A. Murphy, “was
intimately involved” in directing the Dobbs Ferry Police to illegally coerce an eye
witnesses “every step of the way” because his testimony was favorable to
Ms. DiFiore manages an office which employs some 230 people.36 The above represents
an extraordinary judicial condemnation of a sitting District Attorney.
Prosecutorial misconduct is not an outlier in criminal justice. To the contrary, as noted
by Alex Kozinski, one of the nation’s leading federal appellate judges, “violations have reached
epidemic proportions in recent years” and such misconduct “erodes the public's trust in our
justice system, and chips away at the foundational premises of the rule of law.”37 Justice
Bellantoni attributed this to the win-at-all-costs mentality of Ms. DiFiore’s office. A 2003 report
from The Center for Public Integrity found prosecutorial misconduct nationwide was rampant:
34 Id.
35 Id.
36 Joseph De Avila, Westchester D.A. Is Nominated to Be State's Top Judge, Wall Street Journal (December
1, 2015).
37 U.S. v. Olsen, 737 F.3d 625 (9th Cir., 2013).
“Local prosecutors in many of the 2,341 jurisdictions across the nation have stretched, bent or
broken rules while convicting defendants.38
The Committee should question Ms. DiFiore about the office culture she fostered, and
ask her to respond to Justice Bellantoni’s findings about the flagrant misconduct of her
subordinates. The Committee should explore her views generally about prosecutorial
misconduct. Her answers will shed light on her fitness to be New York’s top judge.
Conclusion - Atmospherics Versus Substance
Political atmospherics unavoidably surround nomination to the state’s most important
judicial position. For example, Ms. DiFiore was endorsed by Manhattan D.A., Cyrus R. Vance
Jr., who proclaimed she has “dedicated her career to ensuring public safety and fairness,” and by
outgoing Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman who hailed her “intellect, integrity and collegiality.”39
In contrast, the New York State Bar Association deemed Ms. DiFiore merely “qualified,”
not “well qualified,” which generated the headline, “DiFiore not among top qualified candidates
for chief judge, Bar Association says.”40 The New York State Trial Lawyers Association
deemed her to be “highly qualified and highly recommended,” while the New York City Bar
Association deemed her “well qualified,” but the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers
deemed her merely “recommended,” but not “most highly recommended,” much less “highly
Media pundits have focused on Ms. DiFiore’s close ties to Gov. Cuomo and questioned
whether, as Chief Judge, she will be sufficiently independent when presiding over cases
challenging the Governor’s exercise of Executive authority. Mr. Deskovic believes that issue is
presented in any nomination because governors do not nominate their political enemies to serve
as the state’s top judge.
To date, no media have focused on the serious issues set forth herein. Yet, these are
matters that vitally affect the delivery of fair and impartial justice, the birthright of every New
Yorker and every American.
38 Steve Weinburg, “Breaking the rules: Who suffers when a prosecutor is cited for misconduct?”,
39 Id at footnote 1.
41 Id.
Accordingly, Mr. Deskovic submits confirmation or rejection of Ms. DiFiore’s
nomination should be based on the merits and her fitness for the state’s highest judicial office,
not atmospherics, and specifically, her commitment to address issues pertaining to wrongful
conviction described above.
New York’s Chief Judge, perhaps more than any other public official, is instrumental in
moving the Legislature to adopt remedial legislation. Mr. Deskovic remains grateful to Ms.
DiFiore for changing course from her predecessor, as it led to his exoneration. Nonetheless,
substance is what counts, and to merit the Committee’s confirmation, Ms. DiFiore should be
questioned searchingly about the cases summarized above. Her answers should demonstrate two
(i) that she has learned from mistakes made in the wrongful
conviction cases on her watch; and
(ii) that she is determined, as Chief Judge, to champion remedial
legislation to avoid wrongful convictions in the future.
If her answers fulfill these criteria, then she should be confirmed, per New York State
Constitution, Art. VI, § 2(e).42 If, on the other hand, her answers leave members unconvinced,
then she should not be confirmed and her nomination must be rejected.
42 “The governor shall appoint, with the advice and consent of the senate, from among those recommended
by the judicial nominating commission, a person to fill the office of chief judge ... whenever a vacancy occurs in the
court of appeals.”
Public Meeting Agendas PUBLIC MEETING AGENDA - TENTATIVE YORKTOWN COMMUNITY & CULTURAL CENTER 1974 Commerce Street, Room 104, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 Planning Board Calendar Date: Monday, January 25, 2016 - 7:00pm Add th
On Friday, January 22, 2016 9:14 AM, Catherine Borgia wrote:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
ConEd Video
Con Edison is closely monitoring the winter storm that is expected to hit our region this weekend and preparing to respond to any service problems that occur.
Customers can report downed power lines,outages and check service restoration status at or by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633)When reporting an outage, customers should have their Con Edison account number available, if possible, and report whether their neighbors also have lost power.
Customers who report outages will be called by Con Edison with their estimated restoration times as they become available.
The combination of the snow and gusting winds could bring down power lines, causing customers to lose power and creating a safety hazard. In addition, road salt will mix with melting snow and could damage underground electrical wiring, possibly leading to outages.
Crews will give priority to restoring service lines that will provide power to the most customers as quickly as possible, then move on to restore smaller groups and individual customers who are without power.
Con Edison offers a number of mobile solutions so you can manage your accounts, report and check the status of an outage, learn energy-saving tips, and more. Text REG to OUTAGE (688243) to sign up for text notifications, and follow the prompts.
You will need to enter your Con Edison account number to complete the registration process. Once you've registered, you will not need your account number to report or check the status of a power problem. For more information, go to:
Con Edison offers the following storm tips to customers to help weather the possible effects of a storm:
  • If you see downed electrical wires, do not go near them. Treat all downed wires as if they are live. Never attempt to move them or touch them with any object.Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by snow, tree limbs, leaves or water.
  • Report all downed wires to Con Edison and your local police department immediately. If a power line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay inside the vehicle and wait for emergency personnel.
  • If your power goes out, disconnect or turn off appliances that would otherwise turn on automatically when service is restored.  If several appliances start up at once, the electric circuits may overload.
  • Check to make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios or televisions are in working order. Make sure you have a supply of extra batteries. Weather updates and news on restorations of electrical service can be heard on most local radio and television stations.
  • For more storm tips and preparation, go to
In addition, the company is in close contact with the New York City Office of Emergency Management and the Westchester County Department of Emergency Services to coordinate storm-response if needed.
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Westchester County Board of Legislators © 2016-17
800 Michaelian Office Bldg., 148 Martine Avenue,
White Plains, NY 10601
January 21, 2016

In case you missed it, here's Chris Churchill's article from today's Albany Times-Union warning of the dangers of a statewide $15 minimum wage increase.
by Chris Churchill
Albany Times-Union

A $15-an-hour statewide minimum wage would be a dramatic but untested economic experiment.

No country in the world has a minimum wage that high. New York's minimum has never come close, even when adjusted for inflation.

That leaves this question: Is upstate New York and its slumbering economy the place for such a radical experiment? Even if $15 an hour might make sense in booming, high-cost New York City, is it appropriate in Utica, Watertown and Glens Falls?

Many upstate businesses and nonprofits insist it isn't. They warn that a $15 an hour minimum wage will unleash unintended consequences, and they're frustrated that nobody seems to be listening to their concerns.

"That's just a huge increase," said Howard Ganter, executive director of the Jefferson Rehabilitation Center, a Watertown nonprofit that serves the developmentally disabled. "Without additional money from the state, we won't survive."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal phases in the increase, with the minimum rising to $15 an hour in New York City by 2018 and statewide by 2021. It's a 67% jump over the current $9 statewide minimum.

If the governor is taking the concerns of businesses and nonprofits seriously, you wouldn't know it from last week's State of the State address. He made it sound as if only fat-cat corporations would be hit by the wage increase.

But big businesses such as Wal-Mart and McDonald's can better absorb the costs. It's smaller, mom-and-pop businesses that will struggle most.

For the full article click here 
Don't forget to check out our new NYGOP app! available at your local App store
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 22nd, 2015
CONTACT: Michael Jefferson, 914-962-2624
VALHALLA, NY -  Recognizing January as Blood Donor Month, State Senator Terrence Murphy will sponsor a community blood drive at the Mt. Pleasant Community Center on Wednesday, January 27, beginning at noon. The drive, hosted by Senator Murphy and the Town of Mt. Pleasant, will help the New York Blood Center  replenish blood inventories during the winter, when the need for donations is critical. 
details for WEDNESDAY'S event are as follows:
WHO: Senator
Terrence P. Murphy
Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi
County Legislator Margaret

Community Blood Drive

Pleasant Community Center, 125 Lozza Drive, Recreation Room A, Valhalla, NY

January 27th, 3:30PM.

Senator Terrence Murphy, LOB 817, Albany, NY 12247
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 21st, 2016
CONTACT: Matt Slater, 914-962-2624
ALBANY, NY - When it comes to standing with our allies the New York State Senate made a bold statement yesterday by passing legislation sponsored by State Senator Terrence Murphy that would ban state business with contractors or investment companies that boycott, divest or sanction American allies. 

"Our allies should know that our state and nation unequivocally stand with them," said Murphy.  "This is a common sense piece of legislation that would prevent our hard earned tax dollars from potentially funding those trying to harm America's allied nations.  With the recent string of violent attacks across the globe nations need to stand together now more than ever to stop the spread of terrorism in the world."

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, "New York taxpayers need to be protected from becoming unwitting supporters of those who are trying to undermine our greatest ally, Israel, and other critical allies.  We are demonstrating that New York will continue to stand with our international partners and protect our shared interests."

Senator Martins said, "Our tax dollars should not be used to aid those who wish to harm our friends. Israel and our other allies stand side by side with us to protect New Yorkers and all Americans. We owe it to them to ensure our own resources are not used in efforts to attack them. This sends a strong message that New York State supports those who have continually supported us."
Current New York State law prohibits the State from directly engaging in an international boycott against American-allied nations. New York City has a similar prohibition as part of its administrative code. However, the state could indirectly support a boycott of American allies by providing state monies to businesses or individuals that participate in boycotts like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at causing economic harm to Israel and the Israeli people.

The legislation passed yesterday would expand New York's law by prohibiting state contracting with, or state investment in businesses or individuals that promote or engage in activities to boycott, sanction, or divest in Israel and other American allied nations. This would prevent the state from becoming unwilling participants in a discriminatory agenda.

The state would use publicly available information to develop a reference list of companies, organizations, or other entities that have engaged in or promoted boycotts of American allies. New Jersey, Illinois, and South Carolina have adopted similar laws to ensure that their taxpayers are not paying to support these entities.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.

Senator Terrence Murphy, LOB 817, Albany, NY 12247
Citizens for an Informed Yorktown
Note: Beginning January, 2016, the CIY Town Board meeting summaries will continue to be written by Susan Siegel in her capacity as an observer.
Town Board Meeting
January 19, 2016

Meeting highlights. For a summary of all agenda items, visit

1. Courtesy of the floor
The meeting was dominated by an often contentious discussion about the recent change to have only one Courtesy of the Floor and move it to the end of the agenda.

2. Opening on volunteer boards
Supervisor Grace announced openings on the following volunteer advisory boards: Assessment Board of Review;
Cablevision; Housing; Conservation; Planning. Interested residents should send their resumes to the supervisor’s assistant, Mary Capoccia, at

3. Competition Carting/changes in pickup routes
With the exception of the Kitchawan area which will continue to be picked up Monday and Thursday, residences east of the Taconic would be picked up Monday/Thursday and west of the Taconic Tuesday/Friday. The changes will start April 4th. Only residents whose pickups days will be changed will receive postcards and door hangers.

4. Crompond Terraces: Public hearing on amendment to zoning map
The board unanimously approved the changes to the zoning map.

5. Mobil Gas Station special permit: Public hearing
The board voted unanimously to close the public hearing to public comment but left it open for further comments from the Planning Board and DEP.

6. Spectra license agreement
The board voted unanimously to amend the license agreement signed in 2015 to eliminate the 2,000’ gravel driveway into the parkland in exchange for a payment of  $62,500.

7. Alleged $400,000 "grant" 
Supervisor Grace said the town did not actually receive a grant, but rather is working with Senator Murphy to get state funding to help pay for the construction of a steel building on Greenwood for the highway garage so that he can pursue his Depot Square vision..

8. Special Board closed  executive session meetings: Jan 8 and Feb 3, 11 & 17
The board did not respond to the Courtesy of the Floor comment that closing the special meetings to the public was a violation of the Open Meetings law.

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VOTED BEST KARAOKE 2015 in Westchester Magazine's Best of Westchester! LBK puts you center stage, singing with a live band and back-up singers. Choose from 200 songs, including 70s, 80s, 90s and contemporary pop/rock/soul. The band: Tito Wilson, Chris Burke, Artie Walker & Hank DeCora, & host JP Patrick. NO Cover.
$18 Two-course 
Dinner Deal all night!

Drew Bordeaux
Classic / Modern Rock
Drew can take one of your most cherished Rock cover songs and make you love it all over again. From Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Santana and so many others. Whether playing solo with an acoustic guitar or screaming Hendrix-style riffs on violin, Drew Bordeaux never fails to captivate and entertain any audience. His use of the loop pedal brings an entirely new sound to the solo performance.  $5 Cover.

  Class Action
"Lawyers that Rock" 
Seasoned litigators by day, these counselors Rock the night away with classic favorites from The Beatles, The Stones, Van Morrison, John Mellancamp & more. 
With Gary Cusano (acoustic guitar) and Mike Latini (bass) on vocals, Jim Nowak on guitar, Sal "the Judge" Lagonia on trumpet, Ken Greene on drums, Steve Kaplan on Sax, Rick Tota on drums and Tommy D on keys. 
$10 Cover or $5 with dinner.
A Night of R&B / Soul
Qu Boii & Eclectic Paradise
Jaquon "Qu Boii" Welch has a soulful, tenor voice that smoothly transitions from old-time Gospel to modern Urban Soul and R&B. He draws inspiration from legendary artists like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, John Legend and others. $10 Cover and
$10 minimum for table reservations.
"Sessions" with 
JP Patrick & Friends

Mike Milazzo

Andrea & the Armenian Rug Riders
Bazzo 01/22/16

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