Saturday, January 17, 2015

New York: O'Hara Turns the Tables

John O'Hara
The Times reports John Kennedy O’Hara has
... filed a motion in the Brooklyn courts saying that his conviction should be vacated on the grounds of selective prosecution. The motion is jammed with facts collected by Mr. Rudin during the years he helped a man named Jabbar Collins overturn a wrongful conviction for murder and then sue the city, which settled with him for $10 million in August. Along the way, Mr. Rudin was able to question many senior executives in Mr. Hynes’s office, and uncovered a great deal of casualness about where they actually lived, as opposed to where they claimed to live. Also, he found out that some of the prosecutors let other people sign personal and professional papers for them. And a voter registration card appeared to show that Mr. Hynes himself was, for a time, enrolled using the address of a municipal office building, which hardly qualifies as a residence.
Click here to view the motion in its entirety. This move comes after years of waiting for something along the lines of executive clemency, which occurs with much greater infrequency than lightening in the State of New York. See our previous posts here.

O'Hara was smacked with community service and fines and restitution amounting to more than $15,000 for (as the Times explains it) registering to vote using the address of a girlfriend - where he claimed to live part of the time - but maintaining a residence 14 blocks away. Says the Times:
While this sounds like pretty serious punishment for virtually nothing — the state election laws are so remarkably elastic on matters of residency that a former head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party was actually living in Queens during his reign — we cannot be sure if Mr. O’Hara got more than his unfair share. There are, after all, very few people to compare him with. Practically no one.  It appears that the last person to be convicted of illegal voting in New York State before Mr. O’Hara was the abolitionist and suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who cast a ballot in Rochester in 1872 ...
The piece notes O'Hara was, indeed, something of a "gadfly" and "chronic nuisance" to the Brooklyn Democratic machine "elements of which were, for many years, as crooked as the hind leg of a dog." And, as it turns out, O’Hara was prosecuted for illegal voting "when he was on the outs with the machine and with the reformers."

So, the Brooklyn DA assigned a homicide prosecutor to the case and O'Hara was tried three times before conviction was obtained. The Times notes O'Hara was recently restored to the practice of law by "a judicial committee that said he was given a raw and smelly deal indeed."  Some members of a Court of Appeals have also "plainly thought [the conviction] was crazy and said it should have been overturned."  See full story here.

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