Showing posts sorted by relevance for query John O'Hara. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query John O'Hara. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Boom ! John O'Hara Gets Himself Some Justice !

(In the interest of full disclosure, the Editor confesses that John O'Hara has provided wonderful scrutiny of typographical errors in this blog. For this, we have always been thankful!) 

The New York Law Journal reports that, 18 years later, "an act of political retribution by former District Attorney Charles 'Joe' Hynes" has been "thrown out." John O'Hara's conviction - for illegal voting in New York, the first since suffragist Susan B. Anthony got pinched - was vacated at the state Supreme Court.

O'Hara has had his share of feeling like a "convicted felon ... a second-class citizen." Indeed, he was disbarred. But, in 2009, a unanimous 25-member Character and Fitness Committee concluded there were "grave doubts" that he "did anything that justified this criminal prosecution."

Here is a brief summary of this bizarro case from the Journal:
O'Hara, 54, worked on Hynes' first district attorney campaign in 1989. Following his own unsuccessful run for the New York State Assembly, the following year he began working on "insurgent" campaigns to challenge Hynes and other members of Brooklyn's Democratic establishment. O'Hara had lived in an apartment on 61st Street in Brooklyn and voted from that address, but redistricting in the early 1990s put his apartment in a different election district. O'Hara filed a new registration form stating his residence was at the 47th Street basement apartment of the building owned by his ex-girlfriend, which put O'Hara back in his old district. He voted under the 47th Street address five times. In October 1996, O'Hara was indicted on charges of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, false registration and five counts of illegal voting. O'Hara stood trial three times in cases that revolved around the question of principal residence under Election Law definitions. Neighbors testified that O'Hara did live at the address, but the previous owner of the building testified that the basement was unfinished at the time, and thus uninhabitable. The Appellate Division, Second Department, ordered retrial on the first conviction, citing an improper jury charge. The second trial ended with a hung jury and the third resulted in a guilty verdict in July 1999. 
The Journal reports the Brooklyn DA's conviction review unit scrutinized the conviction and determined the owner of the building recanted her testimony that the basement was uninhabitable.

For more, interesting background and commentary on John's case, see our previous posts here. See New York Times article here. See New York Daily News article here. See Journal article here.

Congratulations John O'Hara !!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New York: Pardon O'Hara Already!

John O'Hara visits this blog from time to time and we are proud to have him as a reader. He also catches typos like it's nobody's business! But, today, O'Hara has to be satisfied that the New York Daily News is taking notice of other, more serious errors.

The News hopes "wisdom and the law" will convince District Attorney Cy Vance that "there are no grounds for action against three children of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who vote in his lower East Side district while living elsewhere." Why? New York’s election statute requires voters to cast ballots where they "reside." But the definition of residence "covers a whole lot of territory." For example, while discussing "permanent and principal" homes, it also allows voters to remain registered if they move, but “always intends to return.”

And, the News suggests, "absent evidence of fraud [a] prosecutor should leave the policing of elections to others." Says the News:
In the 1990s, John O’Hara, a political gadfly and thorn in the side of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, moved out of his home and in with his girlfriend, who lived 14 blocks away in the same neighborhood. He changed his registration to the new address and voted several times. DA Joe Hynes indicted O’Hara in 1996 on charges of violating the residency rule and hounded him through three trials before winning a felony conviction in 1999. The verdict was upheld. O’Hara was disbarred as a lawyer and sentenced to community service. In 2009, O’Hara won a measure of vindication when his law license was restored on a finding that there were “grave doubts that Mr. O’Hara did anything that justified his criminal prosecution.” A panel of lawyers added: “Mr. O’Hara, accurately, it appears, claims that the machine went gunning for him.” Then-Gov. David Paterson declined to pardon O’Hara. He was wrong to turn him down. Gov. Cuomo can rectify the injustice done to O’Hara after Vance refrains from acting against Silver’s offspring for the exact conduct that subjected O’Hara to overzealous and selective prosecution.
To which PardonPower says "Bravo! Right on! Pardon John O'Hara, Mr. Governor! Now!" See complete story here. Sign O'Hara's Online Petition here !

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.

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":

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New York: Finally, A Pardon for O'Hara?

Almost a year ago, PardonPower spoke with John Freedlander of New York Press. The topic was one John Kennedy O’Hara, a "political gadfly, perennial candidate and man with the distinction of being the first New Yorker since Susan B. Anthony to be convicted for voting" (see Freedlander's original story here). At the time, the 46-year old O'Hara was said to be "relentlessly pursuing a pardon" via a "thick" petition. He was working on then-Governor Eliot Spitzer (D) and had given the previous Governor, George Pataki (R), the same treatment.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New York: Pardon John O'Hara!

Today, the New York Daily News argues that Gov. Paterson "must pardon John O’Hara," whose "unjust felony conviction" makes clemency on his behalf a "very easy case." Indeed, O'Hara's case has no "complications" and is "as clear-cut as they come." The News says O'Hara's 1999 arrest - for voting from the wrong address - rendered him "the first person convicted in New York for voting since suffragist Susan B. Anthony in 1873." The felony meant that he would lose his law license, pay a $20,000 fine, do 1,500 hours of community service and serve five years' probation. Last year, a state appellate found "grave doubts that Mr. O'Hara did anything that justified his criminal prosecution." See News editorial here.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

New York: O'Hara Turns the Tables

The New York Law Journal reports that Brooklyn attorney John O'Hara:
... the first person charged with illegal voting since 1873, when Susan B. Anthony cast a vote before women were legally allowed to do so, has over the past several years been reinstated to the bar and had his name cleared. Now O'Hara is setting his sights on a new challenge: He wants to lead a slate of insurgent candidates to run this year in the Democratic primary for open seats on the bench in Brooklyn Civil Court. 
O'Hara, who says he can "bring a perspective to the bench that no one else brings,” quips, “Better to be a judge than be judged."

Readers of the blog are aware that O'Hara was indicted on the illegal voting charge in 1996, but reinstated to the bar in 2009. His conviction was then thrown out. See previous posts here.

O'Hara will file papers to become a candidate and needs at least 4,000 valid signatures on a petition. See story here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

O'Hara on Voting, Crime

PardonPower recommends a very fine editorial by John O'Hara, entitled "Voting is a Right, Not a Crime." It appears at We have discussed Mr. O'Hara's case several times before. As he describes it:
In 1996, I was picked out of 1 million voters and indicted on felony charges that could have landed me in prison for 28 years. I didn't vote twice in the same day, nor did I vote from a sham address. I voted from a place that was not my "principal and permanent" residence. It was the first time anyone had been prosecuted on a voting residency issue, and the first time a person in Brooklyn was tried three times. The saga endured for years. I managed to avoid going to prison, but I was disbarred from the practice of law, confined by probation, fined $20,000 and ordered to perform 1,500 hours of community service. 
O'Hara notes that, since 2010, "30 states have passed what are benignly referred to as 'Voter ID' laws" but, until 2006, "no state required a person to produce ID to vote." He also notes that "almost all of the states that enacted these laws are controlled by Republicans" and courts "have called these laws into question recognizing that they are designed to prevent the elderly, poor and people of color from voting."

Says O' Hara: 
The days of state troopers using attack dogs on voters are over. They were too confrontational, too messy and, in the end, they backfired. The smoother way is the Republican way — make laws that allow the politically appointed registrars to purge the list of "undesirables." This isn't George Wallace's Alabama. It's worse, and it reflects a sign of the times. 
America has "5 percent of the world's population, but 25 percent of its prison population" but "voting should not be a crime. Read the complete, very informative editorial here. Sign the online petition for O'Hara's pardon here

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New York: Charles Hynes, aka "Toast"

The Brooklyn Paper has a wonderful piece of reporting on one Charles Hynes:
... whose 24-year run as a Machiavellian crime-slashing prosecutor came to a screeching halt on Tuesday, when a relatively unknown legal eagle knocked him out. 
The Paper notes Hynes "shot to national stardom at the height of the city’s racial tensions in 1987" after investigating an "infamous fatal beating." He then secured three more murder convictions, "criminalized domestic abuse" and "created the state’s first family justice center."

But, the Paper notes Hynes "wasn’t above exacting vengeance on his political adversaries":
Attorney John O’Hara had been a thorn in the side of Hynes for years in the 1990s, backing candidates against the DA and campaigning against the Democratic Party’s chosen few. So, when he voted in a neighboring election district, Hynes prosecuted him — and won the first case of voter fraud in New York City since Susan B. Anthony in 1873. 
See our coverage of O'Hara's case here. When a civil rights attorney ran against him, Hynes subpoenaed those who signed the petition to get her on the ballot and indicted her on felony charges - although no conviction followed. Hynes had another challenger "declared mentally incompetent."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

O'Hara Reinstated. Time for Clemency?

The Brooklyn Eagle reports John O'Hara, who was convicted of vote fraud in the early ‘90s, has been readmitted to the state bar. It is also reported that the Committee on Character and Fitness, which reinstated O'Hara, is also reported to have issued a "scathing criticism" of District Attorney Charles Hynes’ decision to prosecute to begin with. Indeed, the Committee expressed "grave doubts" that O'Hara did anything wrong at all. According to the New York Post, O’Hara is the only person besides suffragette Susan B. Anthony to be convicted of such a charge. See story here and here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New York: O'Hara to Cuomo

Capitol Confidential reports that the pardon request of John O'Hara is headed to the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo. See story here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New York: Christmastime is Near!

Gov. Paterson brought considerable attention to himself six months ago when he announced that he would consider granting pardons to immigrants who have “contributed as New Yorkers and who deserve relief from deportation or indefinite detention.”

The New York Times now reports that Paterson's initiative "is finally coming to fruition — with little time to spare." The Governor is now said to be "swamped" with boxes containing "hundreds" of clemency petitions and a five-member "special clemency panel" is sifting through them and making recommendations. The Times also reports that there is an expectation of over 1,000 such requests.

To date, Governor Paterson has granted only two pardons to legal permanent residents. His term ends on December 31.

PardonPower suggests that, while the panel is "sifting," it should revisit the case of John O'Hara! See Times story here.

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