An opinion on conflicts
To the Editor:
Dear Mr. Cook:
Ed Brockman is a candidate for Yates County District Attorney. It has been reported in public statements by your campaign that, as a result of Mr. Brockman’s past service as Public Defender, it would cost Yates County (the “County”) taxpayers large sums of money allegedly because the County would have to hire special prosecutors if any individuals Mr. Brockman previously represented were charged with new crimes while Mr. Brockman serves as District Attorney.
Mr. Brockman’s campaign has requested that we provide a legal opinion on this issue. Based on our research we have definitively concluded that statements that have been made by your campaign concerning the necessity of hiring a special prosecutor are untrue and unfounded in the law.
Special prosecutors are not required in instances where there are charges pending against individuals that a sitting District Attorney has previously represented in criminal proceedings.
This issue was unanimously decided by the Fourth Department. People v. Martin, 770 N.Y.S.2d 541,2 A.D.3d 1336 [4th Dept 2003], (copy enclosed). There, the Court unanimously ruled that an assistant district attorney is not precluded from prosecuting a case against an individual the assistant district attorney had previously defended in a prior, unrelated matter. Inasmuch as Yates County is within the Fourth Department, the Martin holding is binding precedent.
Claims concerning the necessity of a special prosecutor and additional expense to County taxpayers are as irresponsible as they are inaccurate. Mr. Brockman would be fully capable of prosecuting such defendants as District Attorney on behalf of the County. Moreover, the Yates County District Attorney’s office employs assistants that can handle prosecutors even in the event of a conflict.
Based on the foregoing, I have been asked to appeal to your commitment to fairness in this campaign and to obtain a promise by you to the Brockman campaign that further misleading statements, as discussed above, would stop.
Thank you for your courtesies.
Edward P. Hourihan, Jr.
Bond Schoeneck & King, PLLC