State Panel: Bartlett Can Stay on Case

A state Appellate Division panel has ruled that acting state Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bartlett can oversee the sexual abuse trial involving Monsey businessman Zalman Silber and fired Ramapo police officer Andrew Dale.
The Appellate Division rejected District Attorney’s Office’s contention  Bartlett had actually recused herself.
Now, all that’s left is for Bartlett to schedule a trial date for either Dale or Silber. She separated their cases.
The sideshow to the trial has been contentious – adding to the rough relations between Bartlett and the District Attorney’s Office under Thomas Zugibe and his predecessor, Michael Bongiorno. Bartlett is a GOP-appointed Court of Claims judge assigned several years ago to Rockland County.
Dale and Silber are accused of performing gynecological exams on Silber’s now-former wife, who testimony the defense contends has been inconsistent and erratic. They each face four felony counts of unauthorized practice of a profession and fourth-degree aggravated sexual abuse.
Dale was fired by the Town Board following a disciplinary hearing after which the hearing officer recommended a year’s suspension without pay. His firing came a day after his indictment. Dale has filed a federal lawsuit seeking millions of dollars from the town over his firing.
The recusal issues came about in February when Bartlett informed defense and prosecution lawyers that someone had spoken to her about Silber’s divorce.
Prosecutors argued she recused herself and couldn’t take it back. Defense lawyers contended she offered the option, but never decided to recuse herself.
After several weeks of considering recusal, Bartlett released a 22-page decision presenting her legal arguments to stay on the case, contending she could hear the jury case without bias. The Rockland District Attorney’s Office appealed.
The appellate judges wrote in a June 30 decision that that recusal is a decision “solely within the discretion and personal conscience” of the judge.
Defense attorney David Goldstein, who represents Dale, said today that the panel echoed the contentions of the defendants. Both Silber and Dale felt Bartlett could be fair and wanted Bartlett to remain.
In the Dale-Silber case, Bartlett previously dismissed 24 misdemeanor sexual abuse charges and two counts of official misconduct against Dale. Silber faces separate type of sexual abuse charges on the same issue brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
First Assistant District Attorney James Mellion declined comment on the decision.

Manhattan DA Not Seeking Another Term

Manhattan Districit Attorney Robert Morganthau announced his plans to retire when his term ends in December, ending a 35-year reign as the top prosecutor for one of the country’s most prestigious law enforcement offices.

Morganthau, 89, brought many high profile prosecutions since taking office in 1975 that included international crimes, rivaling the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan for prestige.  

Like President John F. Kennedy, a contemporary who appointed him U.S. attorney in Manhattan in 1961, Morganthau came from political progressive family.

His father, Henry Morganthau Jr.  served as treasury secretary under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was a aggressive advocate of rescuing Europeran Jews from the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. His grandfather, Henry Morganthau Sr., served as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire under President Woodrow Wilson.

Morganthau became the prototype for the character Adam Schiff in the television show “Law and Order.”

Morganthau inspired hundreds of prosecutors, including former Rockland District Attorney Michael Bongiorno, who worked for Morganthau from 1981 to 1995, serving as a deputy bureau chief.
Bongiorno, now with the state Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, said his former boss was a man of integrity.

“It was an honor and privilege to work for and learn from Robert Morgenthau,” Bongiorno said. “Morgenthau’s emphsis on conducting thorough prosecutions while adhering to the highest ethical standards is an approach prosecutors should follow.”