Disgraced Brockport Mayor Connie Castaneda appeared before Judge David Murante in Ogden Town Court yesterday.
Her appearance was scheduled for 5:00 p.m. but Castaneda was late. She didn’t even step into the courtroom until 5:05 p.m.
Now some people would say that was impolite. Others might say it was foolish to think that the judge wouldn’t notice when she arrived, especially since the charges against Castaneda are a bit more serious than cases normally handled by the Ogden Town Court.
But it was probably Connie’s lawyer, Donald Thompson, who made that decision. Court was already in session and the judge was very businesslike in dealing with a run of the mill traffic violation when Castaneda finally arrived with her lawyer and Norm Giancursio.
Connie was wearing a black and white print top and black slacks. Norm was wearing a light green button down shirt, which was a marked improvement over the puke green gold shirt he’d worn to his last court appearance.
The entrance, sign-in table, and metal detector are at the back of the courtroom on the left side. Castaneda and her lawyer walked up and sat in the first row on the right side of the courtroom.
But Giancursio took a seat in the second row on the left side of the courtroom and so did his sister Linda Borrayo and her husband Francisco.
It looked like a deliberate attempt to distance himself from Castaneda, since there were several empty seats in the front row where she sat, and every chair in the row behind her was empty.
Connie and her lawyer sat quietly as the judge dealt with a 3 point motor vehicle violation, and then a youthful offender case in which he issued an order of protection for the victim before he sentenced the young man to 3 years probation.
At 5:19 Judge Murante started to call Castaneda’s case, but changed his mind and said, “Let me get this matter out of the way first.”
He then called the case of a young woman from Livingston County who was on probation for an offense that wasn’t mentioned in court last night. After a quiet conference with the defense attorney and the assistant DA, the judge set a date of October 10 for sentencing.
Judge Murante then called up the lawyer for a violation of probation case and chastised the attorney for missing a court date. The judge was not pleased that he had to call the attorney’s office personally in order to get the attorney to appear in court.
At 5:21 p.m. Giancursio’s lawyer, Lawrence L. Kasperek, walked over and chatted quietly with Giancursio for a few moments as the judge continued to deal with the violation of probation case.
Judge Murante finally called Castaneda’s case at 5:28 p.m. He just looked at Castaneda’s lawyer and said, “Mr. Thompson.”
You have to wonder if the judge made Connie and her attorney wait an extra 19 minutes because they showed up 5 minutes late for her court appearance.
The judge told Thompson that he had received his motion and that he approved the motion, but he never mentioned what the motion was. He did say that there had been an exchange of emails, and asked Mr. Thompson, “How much time do you need?”
He then said, “Considering it took five months to get to this point, and the case was in limbo for a while. You were on vacation, Mr. Thompson was on vacation. I’d like to get this wrapped up. I’ll set a date of October 23rd, and if you need more time than that then let me know.”
After a quiet conversation with the two lawyers, the judge set the court date for October 16 at 5 p.m. But after a few more quiet words with the lawyers, he changed the date again and set the date for Connie’s next court appearance for October 23 at 5 p.m.
Then the judge had a long list of questions about the Brockport Code for Assistant District Attorney Mark Monaghan in which the judge mentioned 15 different sections of the Brockport Code.
Several times, the judge mentioned that different sections of the Brockport Code contradicted each other.
The members of the Brockport Board of Trustees definitely should have been there to hear what the judge had to say.
Since they were not there, and since none of the members of the Code Review Committee were there, they should definitely contact the Ogden Court Clerk, Erin Megalo, to obtain a transcript of the hearing so they can be aware Judge Murante’s concerns.
The judge did not sound pleased with the wording of the Brockport Code, and it is the responsibility of the Trustees to amend the code to eliminate any flaws found by Judge Murante.
The judge referred to Castaneda as a “Wayward landlord,” but he also expressed concern about some limitations in prosecuting public officers.
Assistant District Attorney Monaghan held up a thick packet of papers and told the judge that the DA’s initial submission on this case was 93 pages long and that his office was, “Ready to make an equally long submission,” that might answer the judge’s questions.
Judge Murante’s parting words to the two lawyers were, “I’d like to get this done by Christmas next year. I think the people of Brockport deserve that.”
Then he called Norm Giancursio’s case. But that is another story.
Stay tuned for some strange requests by Giancursio’s lawyer.