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SEP 22 - SEP 29, 2015

Is Cuomo in Contempt of Court? Attorneys May Seek Motion Before Judge Caruso

SEP 22, 2015

Attorney Peter A. Reese wants Gov. Cuomo to be held in contempt for violating Judge Frank Caruso's order regarding the Women's Equality Party.


Women’s Equality Party Lawyer Causes controversy

A routine court appearance in Niagara County Monday flared into controversy involving the relatively innocuous Women's Equality Party (WEP), a minor part line appearing as the seventh line on the ballot. 

Supreme Court Judge Frank Caruso had ruled no one has the right to file nominating certificates for the WEP line in the November 3, General Election, and enjoined anyone from doing so. 

Caruso ruled that, in the absence of a duly constituted state committee, a “majority” of the four statewide WEP candidates in 2014 (Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Atty Gen. Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli) must agree on party rules. 

So far, only Cuomo and Hochul have forwarded rules, while Schneiderman and DiNapoli have declined to participate.

The dictionary defines majority as the larger part or number, greater part or number, most, more than half, plurality, preponderance or predominance.   Half of four just doesn't make it. 

Either Schneiderman or DiNapoli would have to join Cuomo and Hochul, or the new party is essentially neutered, Caruso ruled.

Neither Schneiderman nor DiNapoli are political allies of the governor at present.

Gov. Cuomo created the WEP in 2014 to aid his re-election campaign and to reportedly punish the Working Families Party for its reticence in nominating him for their line.

Now the Gov. can't even control the Frankenstein which he created.

Caruso's ruling has been appealed and the lawyers representing the various factions had to agree on what materials are included in the record which the Appellate Division reviews, a legal process known as “settling the record.” 

However, things got a little stormy when attorney Shawn Nickerson indicated that a contempt proceeding would be brought because the Cuomo-backed faction has filed WEP nominations in violation of Caruso's injunction. 

 It got more factious when the attorney for a group led by former State Senator Cecelia Tkaczyk, Peter A. Reese, asked whether nominations filed in Niagara County in violation of the injunction were filed by persons who "identified themselves as agents of the governor's office.”

Reese stated that he was livid that the Cuomo contingent had intentionally violated the Caruso injunction against filing WEP nominations in both Erie and Niagara Counties.   Following a tirade about being a lawyer for 41 years and never intentionally violating a court order, Reese said, "your Honor, please let me just tell you this, if I ever do something like this, please sanction me and throw me in jail because I believe it will be an indication that my body has been taken over by aliens." 

 Later in the proceeding, County Attorney, Claude Jeorg, confirmed that a women had filed nominations for Cuomo at the Niagara County Board of Elections "about four o'clock in the afternoon and she indicated that she was allowed to do this because she was coming as a representative of       the governor's office." 

 Judge Caruso handed down his order and injunction and communicated it to all counsel at 2:00 PM, fully two hours before the Cuomo directed WEP nomination filing.

Later in the afternoon, Republican election lawyer, John Ciampoli, of Central Islip, New York, moved to intervene in the proceeding and file an amicus brief.   This is believed by political observers to be an indication that the Republicans intend to make an assault on Cuomo for his purported contempt of court. 

 This matter will bear watching in the future.






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