Group memberships do not constitute conflicts

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

To the Editor:

It has  been stated that Jason Cook will have literally hundreds of potential conflicts due to his membership in organizations such as the Penn Yan Lions Club, Penn Yan Elks Club etc.

This is untrue. The only way Mr. Cook would have a conflict is if he were to have a confidential attorney/client relationship with one of the members.

In a case decided by the Fourth Appellate Division People v Gaines, the judges vacated a plea in the interest of justice. The justices wrote citing People v Herr. Even in a case in which the District Attorney’s office took all available precautions to insulate the attorney from the defendant’s case the Court of Appeals concluded that the District Attorney’s office should have been disqualified because the facts “inescapably gave both defendant and the public the unmistakable appearance of impropriety and created the continuing opportunity for abuse of confidences entrusted to the attorney during his active representation.”

So, if a public defender turned DA does not call for special prosecutor in all cases currently being handled by Yates County Public Defender’s office, the district attorney’s office opens itself up for numerous appeals at significant cost to Yates County to say nothing of the cost of having special prosecutors come in to handle these cases.

Jason Cook has handled hundreds of felony cases as Yates County First District Attorney, Steuben County Assistant District Attorney and Schuyler County Chief Assistant District Attorney.

Yates County needs and deserves a District Attorney with more than just municipal code violation prosecution experience.

John Cahill