Monday, March 02, 2009

The Tom Spargo Witchhunt

I ran across a mention of Tom Spargo today and figured I'd look into his situation. I've always liked him. I knew him before he was a judge. He handled an election law case in front of the judge I worked for, and was a pleasure to work with. I knew him as a judge, and he was one of my favorites. He combined brains, hard work and common sense. That last one is very special.

I also worked with him on a case after he was no longer a judge. We worked on an election law case where his client was trying to knock my client off the ballot. Politically I did not agree with his actions, but professionally he was, again, great to work with.

The accusations against him about corruption never made sense to me for two reasons. First, I handled cases in front of him, and no one ever asked me for money. Second, I know the guy, and I just don't see him doing this.

So I went on Pacer to check on the status of his case. Turns out the prosecutors are trying to remove E. Stewart Jones as Spargo's attorney, as reported in the Times Union a week ago.

I am posting the relevant documents on my website: Prosecutor motion and the response from Jones.

The most ridiculous item in the motion is the allegation that Jones made a $10K contribution to Spargo's legal defense fund 2 days after filing an RJI in a case where Spargo was assigned. This makes no sense at all. When you file an RJI in Albany County, you don't find out who your judge is until weeks later. The prosecutor's attempt to connect those two dots is both idiotic and offensive. All in an effort to deprive Spargo of his constitutional right to the attorney of his choosing.

There is a real issue with the idea of funds established for judges where the money is solicited from lawyers who practice in the same courts. And that would put nearly all judges in NY and local courts in jeopardy due to the way judicial campaigns are financed. So why is Spargo being singled out?

My bet is on a not-guilty verdict - if the case doesn't get dismissed first. They've been harassing Spargo for years now. It's time they left him alone.
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