Voters deserve all the information

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to candidate Brockman’s assertion against my campaign regarding his potential conflicts. If concerned taxpayers, regardless of whether they support my candidacy, have researched this issue independently, then they have that right. Court opinions are obtainable from their attorneys and via the Internet.

Last week’s Chronicle-Express printed a letter by Mr. Brockman’s attorney, Edward Hourihan, which discussed a case entitled People v. Martin, involving a repeat offender and was decided on its own unique facts.

However, every new case would need to be evaluated based upon the circumstances of that case. In fact, in the September 6, 2009, Finger Lakes Times, Mr. Brockman stated that “examination of repeat offender records shows that it won’t cost the county as much as some think”. Also, in the September 9, 2009, Chronicle Express, Mr. Brockman stated “We have already made plans to alleviate any conflicts that do arise.” Despite these words, which clearly confirm the existence of the conflict issue, Mr. Hourihan now offers his own “legal opinion.”

Potential conflicts would be for defendants facing current charges (and future defendants) who are represented by the public defender’s office. If elected, Mr. Brockman, including the entire office, would have to be recused from prosecuting those cases, and a special prosecutor would have to be hired at county expense.

In People v. Games 277 A.D.2d 900 (4th Dept. 2000) the Court held “it is well established that a criminal defendant’s right to counsel is violated when a public defender who actively participated in the preliminary stages of the defendant’s defense becomes employed as an assistant district attorney by the office that is prosecuting the defendant’s ongoing case.” The Court noted that “disqualification is required when there is the appearance of impropriety and risk of abuse of confidence, however slight. The rule is necessary to prevent situations in which former clients must depend on their former lawyers turned adversaries to protect and honor confidences shared during the now extinct relationship. In those situations, the risk of abuse is obvious.” It is the law - a lawyer cannot switch sides in the same case after the case has begun.

Yates County voters deserve to know all relevant information regarding the conflict question and should be able to determine for themselves whether this issue is important enough to influence their vote. Thank you for allowing me to respond.

Jason L. Cook

Penn Yan