David Mongielo, the Lockport businessman who was fined and sentenced to prison for violating a Town of Lockport sign ordinance that limits the frequency of message changes, is in court, but has yet to address the merits of his case.
At Mongielo’s arraignment on January 8, he put forth a motion to throw out the case in front of Justice Raymond Schilling on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction over his person. His previous arraignment was adjourned in order for Mongielo to properly inform the court of his intention to represent himself. Having now done that, he attempted to present his motion.
Justice Schilling felt that the town court (and he himself) had the required jurisdiction. Mongielo wanted a written answer and moved to dismiss the case on that basis. The town prosecutor, Bradley Marble, disagreed with Mongielo’s assessment and sought a “searching inquiry” to determine Mongielo’s competence to represent himself. The inquiry is necessary to ensure that the defendant is fully cognizant of his rights and the consequences of proceeding without qualified counsel.
Mongielo’s case now lingers in a judicial-bureaucratic limbo, as Mongielo seeks a written response and the court and prosecution are not likely to provide precisely what he is looking for. A new court date is unknown and the merits of the case still seem to be sitting on the sidelines.
This is an unfortunate development as the Reporter thought this case was prime for a jury’s consideration. The alleged illegality of Mongielo’s charitable sign in support of a fundraiser to benefit an injured Niagara County Sheriff’s deputy, Allen Gerhardt, should be considered against the language of the town’s sign ordinance.
Will jury nullification come into play? The right of 12 jurors to use common sense in deciding both the facts and fairness of the law, and its application, is a fair and proper exercise in the legal realm. However, it is hard to find justice and the right answer when one cannot present the question.
Inquiries to the town prosecutor did not receive a response.