Monday, December 21, 2009

New York: Daily News for O'Hara

The New York Daily News is calling on the Governor to pardon John O'Hara, who was sentenced to 1,500 hours of community service, five years of probation and a $20,000 fine for vote fraud. The recommendation is clearly prompted by the recent ruling of a state court that O'Hara's law license be restored. The court's opinion noted O'Hara's prosecution was, in the words of the News, "patently unfair" and that he was "the victim of a criminal justice vendetta ginned up by enemies in the Brooklyn Democratic Party who were fed up with his constant challenges." Here is how the News explains O'Hara's "crime":

He lived and had a law office on 61st St. in Brooklyn for years. He was registered to vote there. In 1992, he moved into an apartment 14 blocks away, intending to purchase the building. He registered to vote at the new address and cast ballots in state and local elections. The purchase fell through. In 1993, he returned to his residence on 61st St. and shifted his voter registration back.
The News also notes O'Hara "had voted only once in each election" and "both addresses were in the same voting district. But the local DA made three trial efforts in order to convict O'Hara on the basis of "a hyper-technical reading of the law." Tellingly, the News notes:
For perspective on how selective, consider the fact that Bronx state Sen. Pedro Espada lives openly in Westchester while voting in and representing the Bronx.
O'Hara has petitioned Gov. Paterson for a pardon and his case would appear to be quite strong. On the other hand, such a pardon would require the Governor to admit to misconduct by members of his own party. Regardless of how wronged O'Hara may be, that is a long shot! See full editorial here.

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