Mr. Sanchez, Editor/Publisher of The Queens Ledger has written an editorial so that the layman can better understand the recent decision by Judge Sheri Roman dismissing the August 2007 Grand Jury indictment of Councilman Dennis Gallagher. The editorial is very matter of fact, without bias and free of prejudice. Mr. Sanchez effectively dissects Judge Roman's decision in order for the reader to understand her reasoning and the facts that led to the dismissal of the charges.
The Patriots would like to congratulate and commend Mr. Sanchez for a thought provoking and poignant editorial.
Here is the editorial:
After being furnished with the 26-page decision by Judge Sheri Roman dismissing the August 2007 Grand Jury indictment of Councilman Dennis Gallagher on rape charges in a July 2007 incident, we figured it might better serve our readers to search through the document and detail the "technicalities" by which the judge made her decision to let Gallagher's legal team win this round.
To our surprise, the decision read more like a page-turning crime tale, packed with courtroom grandstanding, abuse of power, and a prosecutor's courtroom audition for a role on a "Movie of the Week."
Judge Roman chided Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Applebaum with phrases like "bias," "ignored jurors requests," "bold prejudice," and "breached his duties as a quasi-judicial court officer." It is quite fascinating reading, even for your average layman. It is, in fact, available for perusal on line. According to legal experts we spoke with, a ruling like this is not typical at all.
Whether or not you believe all you have read in our local papers about the charges brought against the councilman, while reading this decision it is difficult not to imagine yourself as one of the jurors hearing the case. Jurors who asked for help in an effort to better understand the line of questioning were told by an officer of the court (who is also the prosecuting attorney), "What do you need a judge for? I'll answer your questions. That is my answer."
Then when other jurors voiced concerns about the pertinence of certain lines of questioning, they were told their complaint would be taken up later. One can plainly see why Judge Roman dismissed the case – not on technicalities, but on what she branded "bold prejudice," in the Grand Jury room. Apparently, it is in the best interest of justice that if jurors or counsel asks for a ruling by a judge, it is standard operating procedure to grant their wish. Not in that courtroom, however.
The very reason it is standard procedure to allow requests for a judge to give rulings to a Grand Jury is because there is no judge in the courtroom and the prosecuting attorney is given the duty as the quasi-judicial officer, trusted by the people and the courts to operate the proceedings fairly. Jurors are not so familiar with the proceedings and are a bit intimidated by their surroundings, so with an aggressive, intimidating prosecutor - which by all accounts Applebaum was that day - then what you get is a jury that feels intimidated into falling in line.
Applebaum crossed the line – a line he is well aware of – a line which attorneys like him face every day.
But the real story still begs one question - why?
We can't answer that question – only Applebaum and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown can.
According to Judge Roman, statements made by the members of the jury themselves were ignored by Applebaum. In fact, one juror asked, "How do we get a judge in here?" Applebaum reportedly became offensive, asking, "For what purpose? What are your questions about? Tell me!" In Judge Roman's words, the team led by Applebaum, "…not only created just a substantial risk of prejudicing the jury against Gallagher, it in fact created a bold prejudice."
Talk about Applebaum and the district attorney being the judge and jury! This prosecutor abused his power and made a mockery out of the whole case. Furthermore, when another juror wouldn't let abandon the idea of getting a real judge in the room, Applebaum became pretty unwound, stating to the juror, "That is your answer, okay?"
So why would Kenneth Applebaum, an assistant district attorney under Brown, step over the line so blatantly? Why was his bias against Gallagher so obvious to the Grand Jury (supported by the Supreme Court judge), but not to Applebaum himself or his boss?
The prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse team case was so intent on proving their guilt, he, too, crossed the line. In fact, he actually made things up.
This case reeks of an assistant DA looking to make a name for himself with reckless abandon. Would he be so passionate if Gallagher were a Democrat, would he be so passionate if Gallagher were not term-limited out of the City Council in 2009?
These are some of the questions that we have here.
Throughout the 26-page ruling it is clearly obvious that Applebaum and his team were, well, as the judge put it, "…unprofessional and [it is] improper conduct for a prosecutor to express his personal belief as to the truth of falsity of any testimony." In doing so, he makes himself an unsworn witness, supporting his case by his own veracity and position.
Judge Roman called the line of questioning "interrogation."
We don't presume to know of Gallagher's guilt or innocence on the charges, but it seems clear that there are people in the District Attorney's office that will do anything to get him convicted.