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49 Comments by ex-pat

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Group Pushing For Religious Boundary Files Suit Against Southampton Town, Westhampton Beach And Quogue

Is it possible to get a copy of the complaint? I would like to read it. It doesn't seem like these plaintiffs have standing." Jan 18, 11 12:46 AM

Attorney Asks For $70 Million Judgment Against Southampton Town

Everybody calm down. This is a frivolous motion. Sordi answered on January 24, 2011. The fact that it is technically untimely is irrelevant.

Default judgments are highly disfavored and a party can generally defend at anytime before default is actually entered. A federal judge is not going to enter a $70 million default against a municipality that has filed papers in defense of the action.

Its a joke PR move meant to boil up the blood, and as a quick review of this comments section shows, it clearly worked." Feb 9, 11 2:03 PM

Simply not true. It does not depend on the whim of a federal judge. The district court is required to exercise its sound judicial discretion in determining whether judgment should be entered, and must consider several factors including (1) the amount of money involved; (2) whether material issues of fact exist; (3) whether the default was largely technical (4) whether the moving party has been substantially prejudiced by the delay; (5) how harsh an effect default judgment would have, and (6) whether court thinks it would be obliged to set aside default on defendant's motion.

All six of those factors favor the Town. Did Sordi make a mistake? Sure. Is it going to have any consequence to Southampton Town in this litigation whatsoever? No way.

" Feb 9, 11 3:05 PM

No, I don't really know anything about Ms. Throne-Host and I have no opinion on whether she remains in office another day. My username is ex-pat for a reason, as I no longer live on the East End. I simply enjoy reading 27east in order to keep abrest of the activities in my hometown.

As an attorney, I am simply trying to help the commentators on this board understand the actual consequences and repercussions of Mr. Sordi's error. Other than the egg of the Town's face and the damage to Mr. Sordi's career and reputation, there really won't be any.

So I admit irrelevant was too strong a word. Inconsequential would be better. Its not irrelevant. It makes for a sexy headline and it makes Mr. Sordi and the Town Board look bad. But Ms. Genovese is not getting a default judgment in her lawsuit." Feb 9, 11 7:15 PM

The fact that a person is not charged with a crime, or that charges are subsequently dropped, says absolutely nothing about the appropriateness or legality of the arrest itself.

People are lawfully arrested every day in this country and ultimately set free without charges or conditions. That is not a legal basis for a civil rights lawsuit." Feb 10, 11 2:54 PM

By the way, there is no difference between "detained for questioning" and "arrested." Both are seizures. A person is either free to go or they are not. If they're not free to go, they're under arrest. If they are free to go, they're not. You don't need to be charged with a crime to be lawfully seized." Feb 10, 11 2:57 PM

Request For $70 Million Default Judgment Against Town Dismissed

I don't think that was in the agreement he had with the board, but regardless, it'd be a violation of the rules of professional conduct. You can't enter a contract with your client limiting your liability for malpractice." Mar 3, 11 1:58 PM

Developers Submit New Canoe Place Inn Application

If I had my choice, I'd much rather keep Tiderunners than CPI. Its a dump, it sits on incredibly valuable and wasted land, and lest we forget, its not even the original building. How historic can it possibly be?" Mar 16, 11 3:55 PM

Most East End Houses Of Worship Won't Wed Same-Sex Couples

What I don't understand is why the article equates the various churches' positions with the civil ceremonies being performed in Southampton and East Hampton town halls, or why the article states that the churches refuse to perform same sex marriages despite the determinations of the state legislature. One of the great problems we as a country have with the same sex marriage debate is our inability to understand and appreciate that the civil institution and the religious institution are seperate and distinct bodies, which ultimately have little, if anything, to do with one another. Indeed, the great problem with the position of the anti-same-sex marriage people is that marriage grants numerous government benefits to the married couple that the government withholds from the unmarried couple. The question really isn't whether it is right to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, but whether it is legal and right to deny gay and lesbian couples access to government benefits due to their sexuality. Its a cynical way of looking at it, for sure, but that is what the new law really addresses. Indeed, many of the pro-same sex marriage denominations would perform the ceremony for a couple even before the passage of this law. It is a symbolic gesture, but so is any marriage performed by any religious figure. You are not married in the eyes of the state until you complete the civil paperwork." Jul 28, 11 2:48 PM

Southampton High School Student Will Not Return To School After Shotgun Arrest, District Says

My thoughts exactly, is a gun that has been rendered inoperable even a gun? Isn't it just a gun shaped piece of wood and metal?" Nov 1, 11 10:57 AM

Judge Denies Injunction That Would Have Allowed Temporary Religious Boundary

Too bad Throne-Holst doesn't understand what this ruling means. Litigation is not over and this is going forward..." Nov 8, 11 5:17 PM

Appeals Court Denies New Trial For Oddone But Reduces Sentence

Absolutely shame that the Appellate Division would substitute their judgment for the discretion of the trial judge, who heard the testimony, saw the witnesses, and was able to judge the demeanor of all present. Reduction was completely unjustified." Nov 11, 11 2:58 PM

Sandy Deals Glancing Blow, Leaves One Death, Destruction Behind

So can anybody confirm whether Neptune's burned down or are we still unable to do that?" Oct 31, 12 5:37 PM

Thanks. Hadn't seen the photos. Read the article again. It makes reference in one paragraph to it burning down, and then says at the bottom of the page that they can't confirm. There is no need to be obnoxious about it." Nov 1, 12 3:20 PM

UPDATE: Police Believe Teacher Recorded Students With Cellphone; Released After Posting $25,000 Bail

Most of the people on this board, as with most people in society at large, fail to appreciate the enormous role that police and prosecutorial discretion plays in the criminal justice system. The decision to arrest Tom Sheppard at the WHBMS administrative offices, with television and print reporters in tow, the decision to hold a press conference, the choice of words utilized by the state trooper, all hint at political and/or ulterior motives on the part of law enforcement. None of those things needed to occur, and all have contributed to destroying this man's life and reputation well before the the facts have been fully and completely aired.

For instance, let's take Major Regan's statement: “These charges are based on one incident that we are aware of, but there may be further charges forthcoming as the investigation continues.” That has about as much relevance and meaning as if I were to say "I don't have any evidence, but sharktopus may be charged with murder tomorrow." Its rank speculation and is absolutely irresponsible. After a three week investigation that do not have evidence of any incidents other than one, of which they have chosen not to release many critical details. Yet the police feel it appropriate to declare him guilty and talk about future charges. Its frankly disgusting and unbecoming of a public servant.

The actions of the state police also illustrate why is is absolutely necessary that we assume this man is innocent until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and why this presumption of innocence is so vital to our system of justice. Tom Sheppard deserves to have is day in Court, and the growing lynch mob needs to put down their pitch forks and stop." Mar 21, 13 12:09 PM

Almost certainly leaks within law enforcement. Combined with that spectacle of an arrest at WHBMS smacks of attention seeking on the part of the state police. The investigation has been ongoing for over three weeks, he had retained an attorney, and he wasn't going anywhere. There was no need for that. There is no justice when we live in a world where the police have unchecked discretion like that." Mar 21, 13 6:35 PM

The school released a simple press statement. They don't have any control over how law enforcement conducts their investigation, and certainly don't have any control over the timing of the arrest. What school would want a teacher arrested on school property with the media in tow? That's ridiculous." Mar 22, 13 10:52 AM

No, he's not. Sam's statement is 100% untrue. Al Tumberello was not a WHB football coach. He was not a WHB school district employee and did not coach one of the school football teams. He may have been a volunteer coach for the PAL, but that has no affiliation with the WHB school district. He certainly isn't "their football coach." That's nonsense." Mar 22, 13 11:00 AM

How old is his son? PAL makes use of public school facilities, as is done in practically every school district and every sport on Long Island. PAL is not the WHB school district, and a volunteer coaching his son is not a WHB school district football coach. For some reason, you're attempting to actively mislead people on this board and criticize school leadership for the actions of someone they have no control over. What's your end game sir?" Mar 22, 13 2:37 PM

You mean the way he was dressed for work as a gym teacher when the police showed up at WHBMS and dragged him off in front of a cadre of reporters who were present only because the police told them to be?

The investigation had been ongoing for weeks and everybody knew it. Sheppard wasn't going anywhere, and the police could have easily arrested him at home or asked him to surrender himself through counsel. Seriously dude, get a clue. The actions, words, and general conduct of the state police in this case has been nothing but a despicable display of self-promotion at the expense of this man's reputation and life prior to a full airing of the facts and evidence." Mar 28, 13 2:36 PM

Westhampton Beach Middle School Teacher Pleads Not Guilty In Riverhead Court

What law enforcement says and what the evidence actually shows is not always the same thing. In fact, its often not remotely even close. I will continue to wait for a public airing of the actual evidence, as should you. Thank you." Apr 29, 13 4:22 PM

Westhampton Beach Middle School Gym Teacher Will Return To Court On Monday

How about waiting to see what the evidence actually shows? Not law enforcement's self-interested interpretation. " Apr 29, 13 4:26 PM

Westhampton Beach Middle School Teacher Pleads Not Guilty In Riverhead Court

Grand juries are confidential proceedings normally attended only by the state and its representatives. Only one side of the story is told, and the standard for the indictment is probable cause, no greater than the standard for the arrest itself. You have no idea what went on behind the closed doors of the grand jury room, no idea what evidence was shown to the grand jury, and no idea why an indictment was handed down. Regardless, it is not a hefty burden. It is hardly surprising that the DA acquired an indictment. But it carries no probative value with regards to whether or not the accused is guilty." Apr 29, 13 6:02 PM

@Hollywood. I'm not saying the DA is making false statements. In fact, your statement simply shows that you don't understand how the criminal justice system works. The DA did not present evidence or make factual statements that form the evidentiary record. Rather, the DA made legal argument regarding the state's interpretation of the evidence that will purportedly be introduced at trial. They argue and state what they believe the evidence will show without the burden of actually producing any or examining any witnesses. Defense counsel will do the same before a jury. Its not evidence, and it certainly doesn't justify the lynch mob mentality prevalent on this site and in the papers." Apr 29, 13 6:10 PM

The Defendant does have a right to testify at grand jury. As a practical matter it simply doesn't happen, and for good reasons. Defense counsel does not get to ask any questions or guide the testimony and the standard for indictment is low. There is limited to no chance that testifying at grand jury will change the outcome, and you risk tipping your hand to the prosecution. For that reason, it rarely ever happens and only the state's side of the story is presented.

@Hollywood: No, you simply don't get it. The criminal complaint is not evidence. The charges are not evidence. The DA reading the charges, public forum or not, is not evidence. The DA is making legal argument and articulating the state's position and what they claim the evidence will show at trial. The state's position and what they claim the evidence reflects does not always comport with reality." Apr 30, 13 9:39 AM

I'm not being remotely technical. I'm being entirely substantive. Reasonable people can differ on what evidence shows, and it is grossly unfair to convict Mr. Sheppard when the evidence itself, i.e., the video tape, not the prosecutor's interpretation, has not been aired publicly. You haven't seen the video have you? Do you have any basis to know what it shows other than what the state has claimed?

This is how the justice systems works. Parties will say the evidence shows very different things. Sometimes one is right, and sometimes the truth is somewhere in the middle. The prosecutor says the evidence shows x, whereas the defense counsel will likely say it shows y. Its the jury's job to determine what the evidence actually shows, and for all you know, the jury could come back with x, y, or even z, which would be something else entirely. Your blind acceptance of what the state claims the evidence shows is narrow minded and naive. You don't get it." May 7, 13 3:47 PM

Have you yourself seen the video? I assume not, so see above. There is nothing technical about what I am saying. Its an adversarial system in which only one side has aired an interpretation of any evidence. You accept that at face value. I prefer to wait until he's had his day in court and the evidence is provided to a jury, for their interpretation." May 7, 13 3:49 PM

Because the police and the state always have truth on their side. Seriously, God help you or your family members if they ever run into an overzealous police officer or prosecutor." May 7, 13 3:54 PM

Diver Rescued Near Ponquogue Bridge On Saturday Morning

Absolutely. Especially at Ponquogue Bridge. Despite the relatively shallow depths, due to the severe currents at all times save slack tide, it is considered an advanced dive." May 13, 13 6:19 PM

Plea Deal Could Be In Works For Westhampton Beach Middle School Teacher Accused Of Filming Girls In Locker Room

You are reading far too much into the defense attorney's statements.

Innocent people plead out all the time. Its just the nature of a system where exercising your right to trial is too dangerous and the potential consequences too risky. Sometimes if you can get a deal that you can live with, the chance for an acquittal is just not worth the risk that you'll be found guilty by a jury. We will see what happens." Jul 31, 13 11:30 AM

Or "what happened here" is that he was arrested and charged with an egregious crime. That statement wouldn't warrant or require an "allegedly," as that is a fact.

You are reading your own conclusions into the defense attorney's statements." Jul 31, 13 11:33 AM

That would probably ultimately be determined by whatever contracts the teachers have with the school district.

But again, you are reading far too much into the attorney's statements. I will agree with you on this point: Mr. Brill should keep the status of plea negotiations to himself. " Jul 31, 13 11:41 AM

That is certainly something that be included in a plea, and it would remove any doubt from the public record. However, I do not believe that allocution is always required, and it is just one more item to be negotiated by counsel." Jul 31, 13 11:44 AM

What is with some of you people and the mistaken belief that anybody who challenges what the state attorney says is claiming that the state's attorney is lying?

Chalifoux is not some deity above repute. He is an attorney with a job to do. Attorneys are obligated to zealously represent their clients' interests within the constraints of the law. Reasonable people - and their attorneys - can differ on what a given piece of evidence means. That doesn't mean one side is lying when they advance their argument over the other's." Jul 31, 13 1:44 PM

I don't think your reading is the more reasonable one. However, I agree with you. Even though anybody knowledgeable about the system would assume that these discussions are taking place, Mr. Brill should not be admitting to the fact that they have engaged in plea negotiations. I don't see how that can possibly help his client." Jul 31, 13 1:47 PM

No, actually it doesn't. By your logic, if a trial were held and a jury found Sheppard "not guilty," Chalifoux could and should be labeled as a liar. Your position shows unfamiliarity and detachment with the reality of the system. Its as simple as that.

I also can't possibly comprehend what you mean by "the proven record of the DA." Nothing in a district attorney's record, whatever that may be, is relevant to the guilt of an individual defendant. Nor do I understand what you mean by "the unproven record of the teacher." Mr. Sheppard had a sterling reputation in the community prior to this incident, and the burden, as always, is on the state to prove the crime through evidence, not the DA's reputation and pronouncements. If and when there is a trial, a jury will personally view all the evidence. They will hear interpretations from both sides, decide what the evidence means on their own, and determine whether the state's version of the events is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. If they disagree with the state's interpretation, it doesn't make the state or its attorney a liar.

The reality is that many people plea out rather than take their chances with a trial and a longer sentence because the risk of landing someone on your jury who simply believes everything the state says can be a frightening prospect." Jul 31, 13 2:16 PM

Yes, I would agree with you that it would be foolish to dispute clear and indisputable evidence. For instance, if George Zimmerman took the position that he didn't even shoot Trayvon Martin, that would have been pretty foolish and made him look like a liar. Instead, he said yes, I shot him, but it was justified because xyz.

But I don't think that is what is going on here. These aren't Sheppard's statements. They're his lawyers. Nothing his lawyer says in a pre-trial court conference or to the press is going to be heard by the jury at trial or considered by the judge in sentencing. The lawyer's statements cannot be used to bolster or attack the defendant's credibility. They're completely irrelevant to guilt or innocence. The only practical impact they have is whatever effect they have on the PR war and plea negotiations." Jul 31, 13 2:26 PM

You're right, he can't plea to those charges. But then again, that wouldn't be much of a plea bargain. If the DA is going full-tilt, you have to go to trial. But saying that he can't accept a plea at all just doesn't jibe with reality. You're also missing what I'm sure is a huge variable in any plea negotiations: sex offender status.

Let's say, in a hypothetical plea bargain, Sheppard was offered the opportunity to plead guilty to some lesser charge, which maybe even includes a little jail time, but he would not be labeled a sex offender. He would never be able to teach again. But his life wouldn't be completely over. He could get out, start over in another profession, and actually have a chance to lead a fulfilling life. Even if he is innocent, he would be forced to consider that offer when he's got a DA shooting for a guilty verdict that carries a 4 year prison term and sex offender status." Jul 31, 13 4:10 PM

You would hope so. Either way, whether he has permission or not, nothing he says can be used to impeach his client." Jul 31, 13 4:13 PM

Because your "inquiry" was based on a faulty assumption that has been parroted far too often on these boards.

It would seem to me that PBR spends half his posts arguing with me and half his posts agreeing because he is a reasonable person who is capable of having a reasonable discussion, which is similar to my point that reasonable people are capable of viewing the same piece of evidence and coming to entirely different conclusions. The fact that people have taken opposing positions with regards to what something means does not make one person a liar and the other a prophet.

Your reliance on the prosecutor's conviction rate as proof that Sheppard is guilty is perplexing. The fact that the prosecutor has had success in acquiring convictions in the past and has a clean ethical record has nothing to do with Sheppard's guilt or innocence. That merely means he's good at his job and has tried strong cases in the past. It means nothing with regards to this case, and it certainly doesn't mean anyone that challenges his legal position is calling him untruthful or a liar. Even more perplexing is your statement that Sheppard's "unproven record" refers to his lack of court experience. I can't even begin to follow how you could conclude an individual must be guilty because he has no prior experience with the justice system." Jul 31, 13 4:26 PM

Westhampton Beach Middle School Gym Teacher Pleads Guilty To Filming Girls In Locker Room

Juries only decide the existence of facts establishing guilt or innocence. Based on the juries' findings, the judge decides the sentence within the guidelines for the established crime.

My guess from reading counsel's position is that the sentencing guidelines for the crimes in question range from a minimum of probation to a maximum of a 4 year prison sentence. The defense was probably unable to work out a plea with the prosecutor that did not include jail time, so they elected to plead guilty to all counts and throw themselves at the mercy of the judge.

By pleading guilty pre-trial, the judge may consider the fact that he avoided an economically wasteful trial, and also relieved the young women of having to testify, which is really never a good experience for anyone - but especially here considering the nature of the charges. It also prevents the judge from hearing other damning evidence prior to sentencing.

Last article that was published indicated that the defense attorney had not yet seen the video. He probably saw it, concluded that the state had Sheppard dead to rights, and recommended this course of action after they were unable to reach an agreement with the prosecutor that included a sentencing recommendation of no jail time.

So to answer your question, it's not a plea deal. Its most likely a strategic effort to give him his best chance at avoiding a prison sentence." Oct 27, 13 3:18 PM

Its not at odds with practical law and Remsen's analysis is probably correct. There is plenty of downside to take it to trial. The prosecutor probably offered a deal that included a prison sentence, but the minimum sentence is probation.

If the defense attorney reviewed the evidence and concluded that they had Sheppard dead to right, under those circumstance the best strategic move is a guilty plea with no deal in place, and a hope that the judge sentences lightly. Considering his contrition and lack of a prior record, combined with the fact that his plea relieves the young women of having to testify, he has a decent shot of not going to prison. If he fought it all the way and was found guilty, he'd probably be looking at a definite prison sentence." Oct 27, 13 3:29 PM

Oddone Conviction Overturned By Highest Court, New Trial Possible In 2008 Killing

Oh Jesus Christ. Get a grip. Innocent of what? This is not a question of identity. He killed a man. A family man with a wife and little kids who was trying to make some extra money working security at a local restaurant on ladies night.

You are stating that he was justified in doing so. You should be ashamed of yourself. " Dec 19, 13 9:05 PM

No. He was acquitted of that charge. Jeopardy attaches and they can't retry him. Most then can seek is the same charge on which he was convicted." Dec 19, 13 9:07 PM

The correctness of Mr. Reister's actions are irrelevant. He held a man in a choke hold until he died. Even giving Oddone every benefit of the doubt, self defense fails the second he holds Reister for a moment too long. That's exactly what the COA said. You don't need the minute to two minutes. Mr. Reister, unconscious, with people yelling at Oddone to get off, by itself negates any misguided notion of self defense." Dec 19, 13 9:11 PM

UPDATE: Services Scheduled For Westhampton Beach Graduate Killed In Hit-And-Run Accident

Great kid from a great family. This is terrible." Jan 17, 14 3:07 PM

Family, Friends Struggle With Loss Of Westhampton Beach Graduate

The tribute in the print edition is beautiful. Well done Ms. Moran." Jan 24, 14 5:59 PM

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