District Attorney challenge goes back to court
ROCHESTER--After a New York State Supreme Court decision, a panel of four judges from the Appellate Division have partially overturned the court ruling. Todd Casella, a candidate for Yates County District Attorney, filed to be on the ballot for the Sept. 12 Republican primary election, and on the ballot for the Independence and Reform lines in the general election.
A challenge by Penelope Marchionda pointed out discrepancies on election petitions for Casella. Initially, it was determined Casella would be removed from the Independence and Reform parties. When the matter moved to the Supreme Court, Casella won the decision, allowing him to again be listed as a candidate for all three parties.
However, the Appellate Division reversed the earlier finding on the Republican primary, and asked that Casella be removed. The judges found, "We agree with Marchionda that she established that Casella did not reside at the address that he listed as his residence on his designating petition."
In regards to the challenges to the Independence and Reform petitions, the judges said "we reject Marchionda's contention that Casella's designating petitions for the Independence Party and the Reform Party must be invalidated because he failed to designate himself as either a notary public or commissioner of deeds when he notarized various sheets of those petitions."
In a statement released Thursday, Aug. 24, incumbent District Attorney Valerie Gardner said, "Make no mistake: This lawsuit was not an underhanded 'scheme' as Casella has called it. This lawsuit was about seeking the truth for Yates County voters."
Gardner went on to say, "The Appellate Division struck Casella for violating election law on the Republican petitions and should do the same for the same violations on his other petitions. So we are forced to appeal to the Court of Appeals to address the question that was missed on the action that Casella filed."
Casella's first statement after the ruling was, "I strongly disagree with the court's change of ruling, but will abide by it. I respect our legal system, even though in this case I believe they got it wrong. I'm disappointed but I won't back out of this fight. The stakes are too high for the people of Yates County."
A follow-up statement later the same day said, "I'm going to fight to stay on the Independence and Reform lines. And, while I stated earlier today that I accepted the Appellate Division's separate ruling against me in regard to the Republican line, I am now planning to fight this at the Court of Appeals."
A decision is expected this week.