Federal Judge Runs Amok: Can Joe Bruno Get a Fair Trial?

Whether or not you think former New York Republican Senate Majority leader Joe Bruno, who reigned over Albany in a triumvirate of power for 27 years, is guilty or not, he has the right to a fair trial and an impartial Judge. It appears he is getting neither.

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Bruno has been indicted under the controversial ” theft of honest services” law. The same law that Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia says is unconstitutionally vague. Indeed, the US Supreme Court has taken not one but two “honest services cases” for review. The government has no evidence of bribes or improper pressure on government–required by the law–that Bruno took for his clients. Under New York Law, legislators are part-time and are allowed to have outside income. Bruno , an non-lawyer with a business background, is a business consultant.

When the Government dropped hundreds of thousands of pages of new documents on Bruno’s defense team only days before trial Bruno’s lawyer asked Judge Gary Sharpe of the Northern District of New York for a mere two week delay. The motion was denied.

Indeed , in three weeks of trial Sharpe has overruled Bruno’s lawyer Abbe Lowell 49 times and sustained him twice while he has sustained the Government 36 times and overruled them twice.

But last week Sharpe showed why he is not fit to be a Federal Judge. After a particularly surprising ruling by the Judge, Bruno registered his shock facially and leaned over to speak to his lawyer. Sharpe went berserk and betrayed his animus towards the 81 year old Republican. “For once in your life you do not control something ….I do. If you ever do what you just did in the presence of the Jury again, which is question one of my rulings, I will take measures to make sure you never do that again.”

This arrogant Judge has one problem. Even though the New York Times headline says ” Judge in Bruno Corruption trial Chastises Him Over a Remark”-the court stenographer recorded no audible “remark” by Bruno! Sloppy reporting by Timesman Nick Confessore. How can there be a remark when the official record records none, thus Bruno conversation with his lawyer must have been inaudible.

Sharpe quickly dismissed a motion for a mistrial.

On top of this the Troy Record Reports that Judge Sharpe’s son is an assistant U S Attorney in the same office that is prosecuting Bruno. Sharpe should have had the integrity to recuse himself. Judge Sharpe is a disgrace to the Federal Bench caught up in what he thinks is his 15 minutes.

Citizens who want to contact Judge Sharpe and tell him to recuse himself in the name of fairness can e-mail him at gsharpe@courts.state.ny.us.

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