Judge denies arrow-shooting assault suspect to withdraw plea

A Peekskill man who was to be sentenced today for shooting a man in the neck with an arrow last year instead got some harsh words from Westchester County Judge James Hubert.

Lee S. Johnson, (left) who has been held at the Westchester County jail on $50,000 bail since his arrest, had asked the judge in writing on Dec. 17 to withdraw his guilty plea and be assigned a new lawyer.

Hubert told him that he needed a good legal reason to withdraw his plea, not just because he had “a mere change of heart.” Hubert suggested that Johnson, 54, had been listening to “jailhouse lawyers” who told him to fight the charges. Johnson had pleaded guilty to felony attempted assault, felony weapon possession and misdemeanor menacing charges.

“You told me under oath that you did this crime,” he said, reminding Johnson that he had also agreed to serve five years in prison for the crime.

Johnson tried to speak, but Hubert would not let him.

“I talk, you listen,” he said. “It’s important that you listen because you have a lot at stake.”

Hubert told Johnson that he was assigned a good lawyer and there was no reason that Westchester Legal Aid lawyer Anne Bianchi should be dismissed from the case. He also said that no one forced him to plead guilty on Nov. 16.

“We were about to start your trial. You pulled the trigger. You stopped the trial.”

Johnson was charged with shooting Wayne Inesta, a 40-year-old Peekskill resident, on March 10, when a group of friends gathered at Johnson’s home at 165 Smith St.

Police said Inesta and Johnson got into an argument that escalated to a physical fight in which Inesta beat up Johnson. As Inesta was leaving, polcie said, Johnson got a crossbow from somewhere in the house and shot at him. The arrow struck Inesta in the neck.

Neighbors heard the commotion and called police. A police officer found Inesta walking near 720 South St. He removed the arrow himself and collapsed after losing a large amount of blood.

WWBA judges the judges

The Westchester Women’s Bar Association released its ratings today for the eight candidates running for four judicial seats in the 9th District, which covers Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange and Putnam. Possible ratings are “outstanding,” “well qualified,” “qualified” or “not qualified.”

The WWBA has deemed these candidates “well qualified”
State Supreme Court Justice Orazio Bellantoni
State Supreme Court Justice Francesca Connolly
Westchester County Judge Jeffrey Cohen
Westchester County Judge James Hubert
Hyde Park Town Justice David Steinberg

The group deemed these candidates “qualified”
Pawling attorney Charles “Terry” Stewart
Yonkers City Judge Charles Wood

For Westchester County Court, the WWBA deemed incumbent Judge John P. Colangelo well qualified.
Peekskill City Judge William Maher, who was a late addition to the 9th JD race, was not rated.

The WWBA’s Judicial Screening Committee conducts a personal interview of each candidate and reviews a written questionnaire, a resume, written decisions, legal briefs and other writings. The committee bases its rating on judicial temperament, knowledge of the law, legal writing ability, general reputation, character and fitness, and attitudes towards women’s issues. The panel also considers a candidate’s judicial experience and references from lawyers who have appeared before the candidate or as opposing or co-counsel.

This year, the WWBA Judicial Screening Committee was chaired by attorney Loren I. Glassman and included attorneys Lisa Bluestein, Sylvia Goldschmidt Sandra Kurtz, Roberta Michael, Lucille Oppenheim, Kevin Plunkett, Marilyn S. Reader, Beverley Rogers, Steven A. Swidler and Arlene Gold Wexler.

WWBA is the largest chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, with more than 600 members who live or work in Westchester County and nearby counties.