My Opinion Of An Attorney's Attacks On The Monticello Police Department

MEMORANDUM

July 8, 2012

Mayor and Board of Trustees
The Village of Monticello
Village Hall, 2 Pleasant Street
Monticello, New York 12701

To Whom It May Concern:

This memo summarizes why I said I was not prepared to vote in favor of a Resolution prepared by the Nyack law firm of Feerick, Lynch & MacCartney at a regular meeting of the Board of Trustees on July 5, 2012.

It was irrelevant to my decision that night whether anyone was guilty or not of any pending charges, as all are innocent before the law until proven otherwise. My hope is that the Mayor and all others involved will receive fair and competent treatment and legal representation during upcoming legal processes.

Attorney Dennis Lynch, whose office drafted a lengthy Resolution which was put forth for approval by the Board of Trustees on July 5, 2012, denies that he is defending the Mayor. Mr. Lynch claims: “Our Firm has NOT been retained by the Mayor on any criminal defense charge. Moreover, our Firm would not accept representation of the Mayor’s criminal defense since we are the attorneys for the Village at this time.”

The Resolution is filled with baseless accusations against our Police Department, caring nothing about public confidence or safety and unaccompanied by supporting evidence; and yet also seemingly intended to sink any chance the Mayor might have had at negotiating an amicable Resolution of this foolishness. It appears deliberately designed to divide rather than to unite us, and only to generate controversy with false statements.

I am compelled to view Mr. Lynch as acting in the role of criminal defense with respect to the Mayor, despite his incredible denial. Yet, as I see it, he performs this role in a less than competent or honest manner, more likely to escalate matters with lies about the police than to perform any civic service. It seems as though those who are most indebted to the Mayor for their positions are aiming for his personal and political destruction.

I voiced intent to abstain in part due to the inflammatory and adversarial tone of the Resolution’s assertions, which were unsupported by evidence, and also because of the glaring conflict of interest of the firm presenting it. Mayor Jenkins deserves credit for also abstaining on the Resolution because of the appearance of impropriety taking part in such a vote would carry. As an elected public official, I am not indebted to the Mayor, as the Attorney, Manager, and Deputy Mayor are for their appointments. I respect Mayor Jenkins’ good heart and concern for Monticello and hope he gets a fair trial. This can only occur if he has competent, ethical legal representation and stops taking advice from men seeking to divert attention from their own misdeeds or with the hidden agenda of hoping to see him vacate his seat so they can replace him.

Based on my own investigation as a Village Trustee, conducted before and after the night the presentation of the defense Resolution to the Board, I have found nothing to support allegations of “civil rights violations” by the Village of Monticello Police Department as put forth by Mr. Lynch. My findings are outlined below.
Quotations from the Resolution are followed by pertinent comments and questions:

"WHEREAS, one week before July 3, 2012 Mayor Jenkins of the Village reported to law enforcement authorities concerns about drug dealing activity;"

Anyone is entitled to reasonable confidentiality when filing a report with police about suspected criminal activity, so the question will not be posed here as to exactly what the Mayor might have reported or the identity of any alleged drug dealer(s). However, since the Mayor's attorney, Mr. Lynch, has made it a basis of his accusations against the Village police, it is reasonable to inquire whether the Mayor made this report as a matter of record or not, and whether the individual(s) involved were specifically named in the report or if the report was merely a general expression of concern about criminal activity occurring in the community.

The Lynch defense Resolution suggests that the Mayor believed the person who came to his store did so as a result of his own drug-dealing report, but does not indicate how the alleged report was communicated, specifically to whom, or over what. Other statements made the Mayor and the Building Inspector immediately after the incident of July 3, 2012 were that the individuals came to the store to complain to the Mayor about being removed from their home by the Building Inspector due to unsafe conditions (i.e. no fire escape) in their home. This issue, which was apparently a precipitant, is not even mentioned in the defense Resolution.

“WHEREAS, a short time after such complaints were made by the Village Mayor to law enforcement an individual came into the commercial business operated by the Mayor and threatened to kill the Mayor with regard to the Mayor's complaints regarding drug related activity;”

Does the above described "short time after" refer to the incident on July 3, 2012, or to some other span? When this perceived threat was made is unclear in the Resolution.

For the Board to accept an allegation that this man was “working with the police to take the Mayor down” there ought to be supporting evidence, not a bald-faced assertion that someone who was evidently speaking in anger, according to all accounts, allegedly said something, with no proof to back it up, or even proof that it was said. If the statement was made, does the speaker have any credibility? Why in the world should anyone believe him? Only someone who wants to divide us would amplify such garbage.

“WHEREAS, the Village Mayor contacted the Police Department because of this actual threat against his life and only one Village Police Officer responded and the Village Code Enforcement Officer was also in the area and responded to remove an individual who threatened the Mayor at his commercial business;”

The author of the Resolution should identify his source. Publicly available records indicate that a total of five (5) officers responded to the scene, including two (2) supervisors, one (1) investigating detective, and two (2) assisting officers. Contrary to the accusation by the Mayor’s attorney, I have been advised that more than one police officer physically entered the store. Police records report, “After reviewing video and speaking with all parties” the intruders were arrested. Let the Board see the video and other relevant evidence before voting.

Video recordings mentioned above, which were shown to police, have been withheld from the Board of Trustees. The board should be allowed to review relevant evidence before drawing conclusions that should precede a costly and long Federal civil rights investigation. Approving a Resolution defending the Mayor while important evidence is being concealed from the Board by the attorney would be negligent and wasteful.

“WHEREAS, other law enforcement arrived outside of the Mayor's commercial business and it did not seem as if that the individual who threatened the Mayor was being promptly arrested and the safety of the Mayor protected as a Public Official and citizen of the Village;"

On what basis did it “seem” the officers were not performing their duties? How was such a conclusion formed, if in fact that is what the Mayor believed in that moment? Based on this alleged perception, as claimed after the fact by his attorney, the Mayor allegedly decided it was prudent for him to “proceed... to move outside of his store to request as a victim that the individual who threatened him be arrested.”

No answer has been given by his attorney to why he alleges that the Mayor judged this to be the ideal time and place for him to confront law-enforcement officers about what he incorrectly believed to be their plan to let the intruders go without charges, or why he thought they were not going to be arrested.

"WHEREAS, the Mayor caused a request to be made for an Order of Protection to have this individual who threatened him to stay away from his premises, his home and any business of the Mayor and that the Order of Protection was not conveyed by law enforcement to the local Justice Court;"

The Mayor's attorney does not make clear why he says an Order of Protection was not requested by the police, or why he thinks such Orders were not subsequently issued by the Village Justice Court in conformity with this law. In fact, his denial of these official events appears to demonstrate reckless disregard for the truth.

New York State law allows any crime victim or witness, the police, or the District Attorney to request an Order of Protection from the Justice Court, protecting any victim or witness who is at risk. Information gathered in the course of my informal investigation as a Trustee convinces me that Orders of Protection were properly requested and issued by the Village Justice Court, and Mr. Lynch is flat wrong in his conclusions.

"WHEREAS, the foregoing activities evidences [sic] a pattern and policy that warrants appropriate independent investigation by Federal civil rights authorities;"

The above claim should have been supported before being put forth as an alleged fact. There is no evidence whatever of a pattern or policy of activities that warrant investigation by Federal authorities. In the absence of any such evidence, it is hard to believe Mr. Lynch published his frivolous Resolution in good faith. For this, in my opinion, he deserves formal sanctions. The “attack” style garnered in response to this incident suggests either inexcusable incompetence or deliberate malicious intent by the attorney or firm that prepared this Resolution.

"NOW THEREFORE, it is resolved by the Village Board as follows:
"1. All "WHEREAS" paragraphs are incorporated herein by reference as though set forth in full herein."

This paragraph is very problematic. The whole Resolution is inflammatory, adversarial and makes assertions that are contrary to evidence. The motive behind it appears to have been to inflame and arouse a controversy, not to serve the public interest or to add to the likelihood of those facing criminal charges receiving fair trials.

"2. The Village Special Counsel is hereby directed to commence an immediate investigation into civil rights violations that have occurred and to contact the Department of Justice for the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and also to investigate a threat made by the individual who was arrested by the police that he was ‘working with the police to take the Mayor down.’”

A special Village counsel has no authority to conduct interviews of officers involved in any ongoing criminal investigation in the hands of the District Attorney. The Village would have to provide legal counsel for every individual officer involved if there were an actual DOJ investigation or lawsuit, at a huge financial cost.

Fortunately, the above Resolution has not passed. Hopefully a majority of Village Trustees will take seriously their duty to honestly and closely evaluate this matter, inform themselves, and vote their own consciences.

The firm of Feerick, Lynch & MacCartney, and all of its associates or employees, have a direct conflict of interest in this matter. The Resolution was sent to members of the Board of Trustees in an e-mail from a paralegal at Mr. Lynch’s office on July 5, 2012, after 3:00 PM. (This was the first I knew of the Resolution, though its construction had been under discussion between the Attorney, Manager, and other Board members all day.) No one with this firm can credibly and competently represent the interests of the Village of Monticello (which includes all five members of the Board of Trustees, as well as all Village employees) at the same time they advocate for the Mayor's criminal defense interests by falsely accusing Village Police of wrongdoing.

Based on negligent, unethical assertions made against the Village of Monticello, Mr. Lynch and his firm want the Board of Trustees to authorize paying them an unspecified sum of money in unwarranted legal fees for launching a Federal investigation against the Monticello Police Department in this matter, which is wholly without merit or a shred of evidence of any actual “civil rights violations.” As a Village Trustee, I call on Feerick, Lynch & MacCartney to immediately resign and to cease and desist any further representation of the Village of Monticello in any matter, due to blatant conflicts of interest and unethical behavior.

If Mr. Lynch and his firm fail to behave correctly by resigning, it is my belief that along with Village officials who are seeking to use this matter to their own political advantage, Feerick, Lynch & MacCartney may become a Defendant in legal actions, and eventually be subjected to appropriate civil and other sanctions. It is not currently my plan to bring such action myself as a Plaintiff, and no threats of litigation are made or intended, though as a member of the Board of Trustees I would have standing to do so and could feel compelled to do so at some time in the future if this pattern of conduct continues. My suspicion is that Mr. Lynch may dismiss these statements. Perhaps he will surprise me and behavior more ethically than I have come to expect of him.

If or when such legal action is brought, with the facts and history that now exist, I do not believe Mr. Lynch and his firm, or the other political and financial opportunists at Village Hall who are trying to undermine the Mayor by endorsing this reckless and inflammatory course of attack on our municipality and Justice system, will prevail. But this failure to prevail could be at great economic cost to an already struggling community. In the interest of the Village, and to ensure the Mayor receives a competent and effective criminal defense, Mr. Lynch and his firm should immediately recuse themselves from any further municipal representation of this Village.

I recognize that I speak with one voice, and have “just one vote” (as the aforesaid opportunists in Village Hall have pointed out to me more than once), but as long as my words are aligned with truth, justice, and the American way (which they are), “doing right” will outweigh all the phony bluster the opposition can muster.

Mr. Lynch, if you have any decency left beneath your self-righteous veneer, do the right thing and step down.

Respectfully submitted,

Carmen Rue, Village Trustee

cc: Dennis Lynch, Esq.


Note: Although he has at times described himself as such (including using an engraved name plate identifying himself as such at Board of Trustees meetings), Dennis Lynch, Esq. is not the duly appointed Village Attorney of the Village of Monticello. Because he does not reside, or even maintain an office, within the boundaries of the County in which the Village of Monticello is situate (he commutes to our meetings from Nyack), he is not eligible under NYS Village Law to be the actual Village Attorney. Instead, he was appointed in 2011 as a "Special Counsel" who allegedly provides the same services that by law should be provided by our Village Attorney (of which none is appointed), except that he charges a lot more money. In my opinion, we are definitely not getting the quality of municipal legal representation from Mr. Lynch for which taxpayers are paying through the nose.