Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wrist Slap For Gov. Paterson In Handling Aide's Domestic Violence Case

The good news for Gov. David Paterson is that former Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals in New York, Judith Kaye, found that criminal charges weren't warranted in the Democrat's handling of a domestic violence case by his aide David Johnson.

The bad news is that he handled the case poorly and that there were multiple missteps by him and his staff along with the NYPD:
Mr. Paterson personally contacted the woman, Sherr-una Booker, and urged her to help him contain any political fallout from the episode, Ms. Kaye’s report shows, and even called her after he asked the attorney general to investigate the matter for possible criminal prosecution.

But those contacts did not rise to a criminal charge of witness tampering, the report said, because the governor did not specifically try to prevent Ms. Booker from testifying or making an appearance in court.

On Wednesday, Mr. Paterson’s lawyer hailed the findings and said they supported the governor’s repeated insistence that he had never abused his office or broken the law. The governor told investigators that he had contacted Ms. Booker the night before a scheduled court appearance in the case only because he wanted to know whether she was spreading rumors about his personal life. Ms. Booker supported his account in her testimony.

“The governor is pleased that Judge Kaye, after a thorough and independent investigation, has exonerated him” of any criminal wrongdoing, the lawyer, Theodore V. Wells Jr., said in a statement.

Ms. Kaye recommended that the Bronx district attorney consider charges against Mr. Johnson over the episode at Ms. Booker’s apartment on Oct. 31, 2009, in which Ms. Booker said Mr. Johnson tore off her Halloween costume, choked her and shoved her into a mirrored dresser. Mr. Johnson refused to cooperate with Ms. Kaye’s investigation.

Ms. Kaye also said the New York City police erred in their response the evening of the episode.

While Ms. Kaye found that the governor did not break any law, her four-month investigation raises numerous questions about the actions of Mr. Paterson as his administration sought to conceal Ms. Booker’s accusations from the public.
Kaye is also investigating whether Paterson perjured himself in how he obtained tickets to baseball games in violation of state law. That's a far more serious issue, and could result in criminal charges being filed.

Kaye recommended charges be filed against Johnson.

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