Mayor's lawyer tries to get judge to block star witness in upcoming trial | WHEC.com

Mayor's lawyer tries to get judge to block star witness in upcoming trial

Berkeley Brean
Created: September 10, 2021 05:48 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The defense lawyers for Mayor Lovely Warren and her two co-defendants are trying to block one of the district attorney's office star witnesses.

The witness was the lawyer for the political action committees at the center of the case. In court, the lawyer was only referred to by initials, R.S. 

The allegations in the case say the mayor and two top campaign aids raised more money than state election law allowed, directed donors to put money into the PACs and then spent that money on the mayor's campaign. The lawyer for the PAC is who the defense lawyers are trying to block because they argue it violates attorney-client privilege.

Joe Damelio, attorney for Mayor Warren: "And they should not have been permitted to testify in front of the grand jury and not before the trial jury in this case either."

Brean: "So you essentially want to block one of the prosecution's top witnesses."

Damelio: "Possibly."

The mayor's co-defendants including 2017 campaign treasurer Albert Jones junior and 2017 PAC treasurer Rosalind Brooks-Harris.

Brean: "They want probably your star witness not to be able to testify. The lawyer — right?"

Assistant District Attorney Jacob Ark: "I'm not going to make any characterizations but they are trying to have a witness's testimony precluded."

Brean: "Because they think there is some privilege between the witness and the PACs."

Ark: "That's what they're asserting, sure."

Brean: "And your answer to that was what?"

Ark: "Without getting into a lot of detail, effectively that the material is not privileged or confidential."

The judge called the lawyer/witness issue "complicated" and said he's going to make a decision about the witness at the start of the trial which is Oct. 4.

Then there's the issue of the jury. The mayor's team wanted this trial moved out of town. That was denied. 

So now they want each potential juror to fill out a questionnaire and then want to be able to interview each juror one on one. 

Damelio: "No question about it. We want to do everything we can to ensure we get a jury and the jury is going to be fair and impartial."

Brean: "You could avoid that by just have the judge hear the case."

Damelio: "Yeah, but we have a constitutional right to a jury trial."

Brean: "The issue of this being high profile, the mayor being involved, and the media attention. Is that a concern for you guys?"

Ark: "It's a concern for every case and media attention obviously is going to raise different issues but we're treating this just like any other case that goes through my office."

Each lawyer including the prosecutor can submit three questions to each potential juror.


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