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Monday, October 20, 2008

Bad DA's (Pirro) Make Bad TV

Pirro Gains New Perch, but Past Isn’t Far Behind
The New York Times by JOSEPH BERGER - October 12, 2008

WHITE PLAINS, NY-  BELYING F. Scott Fitzgerald’s maxim that there are no second acts in American lives, Jeanine F. Pirro is now appearing afternoons as a black-robed judge on her own television reality show, arbitrating domestic quarrels like one between a middle-aged roué and the gold-digging fiancée he claimed was fleecing him. Just like Judge Judy. But her first act, as a Westchester district attorney for 12 years who was so charismatic that she was a Republican challenger to both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Andrew Cuomo, just won’t stop intruding, nipping at her feet like a frustrated terrier. When her program premiered last month, two dozen pickets paraded before the Manhattan offices of Warner Brothers, its distributor, deploring the depiction of Ms. Pirro as a judicial paragon. Prosecutors, the pickets argued, must see that justice is done, not just settle scores. “The show portrays her as a crusader of justice,” said Jeffrey Deskovic, a leader of the pickets. “In fact, she made a regular habit of prosecutorial misconduct and breaking rules.” In 1989, Mr. Deskovic was prosecuted by the district attorney’s office and wrongly convicted — though not when Ms. Pirro was in charge — of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old fellow student at Peekskill High School. He lost the next 16 years to the bleakness of prison until DNA evidence submitted by the Innocence Project to Ms. Pirro’s successor pointed to another man as the killer and led the authorities to free him.

Mr. Deskovic claims that when Ms. Pirro was the district attorney he twice wrote to her from prison asking her to match semen and hair samples taken from the girl against the state’s DNA database. Ms. Pirro referred questions about legal matters to her lawyer, William I. Aronwald, who said that a search of office files never turned up such letters and that formal appeals based on trial errors could not have concerned a DNA match because at the time of the trial there was not yet a DNA database. But Mr. Deskovic’s case is not the only one clouding Ms. Pirro’s reinvention after a series of scandals stemming mostly from the mischief of her estranged husband. There are two more cases. A few days before Ms. Pirro’s program premiered, another of the office’s signature felons went free — Richard DiGuglielmo. He was off duty as a police officer in 1996 when he shot to death Charles Campbell, who had twice struck Mr. DiGuglielmo’s father with a baseball bat during a parking dispute in front of the father’s deli in Dobbs Ferry. The racially charged case — Mr. DiGuglielmo is white, the dead man was black — hinged on whether Mr. Campbell was about to swing again or was retreating. The former version would have shored up Mr. DiGuglielmo’s case for self-defense, but witnesses at trial said, in the words of one, that Mr. Campbell had been “backpedaling away from the older guy,” suggesting that the father was out of danger and thus the shooting bolstered the charge of depraved indifference.

But last month Judge Rory J. Bellantoni of Westchester County Court concluded that the Dobbs Ferry police relentlessly and improperly interrogated two witnesses who had initially told the police that Mr. Campbell was in the process of swinging the bat yet again. After five days, those witnesses shaded their testimony closer to the police and prosecution theory of a retreat followed by a reckless shooting. Judge Bellantoni said that Ms. Pirro’s office should have turned over information about the repeated grilling and the inconsistencies to the defense. Mr. Aronwald, speaking for Ms. Pirro, contended that the judge’s strongest criticism was of the police. And, he said, a finding that an assistant district attorney did something improper “is not the same thing as saying that the district attorney did something improper.” “There was no evidence presented that Jeanine Pirro knew or was aware that information that was required to be turned over to the defense was being withheld or suppressed,” he said. A third high-profile case that raised questions about Ms. Pirro’s fairness resulted in the release last year of Anthony DiSimone, who was convicted of the fatal knifing in 1994 of Louis Balancio, a college student, during a fight between Italian and Albanian gangs outside a Yonkers bar. Ms. Pirro celebrated the conviction in 2001 as “the culmination of a fight for justice” against Mafia-linked gang members. But last year Judge Charles L. Brieant of Federal District Court threw out the conviction because of what he termed “egregious” withholding of exculpatory evidence.

That evidence included a tape recording made on the day before Ms. Pirro announced Mr. DiSimone’s indictment. In that conversation, a federal prosecutor told Ms. Pirro that an informant had appeared who claimed that another gang member, Darin Mazzarella, confessed to holding Mr. Balancio down while his brother, Nick, stabbed him. Ms. Pirro never turned the tape over to the defense; indeed, her office used Mr. Mazzarella as its lead witness. Mr. Aronwald said that Ms. Pirro was under the impression that she was supposed to wait for the federal prosecutor to verify the informant’s credibility and that when he did not contact her, she assumed that the informant had turned out to be untrustworthy. Nevertheless, critics like Mr. Deskovic say that while watching Judge Pirro on her television show it is worth thinking about the fact that she or at least her office has been slapped on the wrist by two different judges for less-than-fair prosecutions. The issues in those cases were not those of low-rent television squabbles, but ended up costing two men, who may have been innocent, precious years of their lives.  E-mail: joeberg@nytimes.com

8 comments:

3 cheers for Ms J said...

Stop making fun of Ms. Pirro. She is an honest person. She has NEVER denied that she is a mobster and a dress-wearing thug.

Anonymous said...

Anyone been banging anyone in Italy lately?

JAIL this thug said...

Ms. Pirro needs to be behind bars, thats where she belongs, not on Primetime TV..She's nothing but a two bit thug w---- with no conscience.

Anonymous said...

So then why did Good Morning America, NYC feature her today on their show as the judicial "teacher" for Sam Champion to extract his information and legal ability, if he were to become a judge in real life?
She was the example for the nation to see how she determines the TRUTH..so she stated ... from litigants!
She appeared ever so honest, respectful and dutiful, in her position as the robed angel, characteristic of any American courthouse!
In my mind reading this and matching her up for that piece was a perfect example of what America must view as an example of what actually exists in our courts..that we pay and give homage to as the great crooked judiciary....making HALLOWEEN an everyday event in the justice system of our nation...dressing up as what they want people to believe they are..and scaring the crap out of them when they answer the door!

Anonymous said...

Pirro should be in jail...... She easily could of, AND SHOULD OF, done her job and Deskovick would have gotten out earlier.

Anonymous said...

keep calling the useless tv station that put this bitch on the air..... what the hell were they thinking... she's a disgrace.

Paul Edward Wicht said...

An honest person?! You can't be serious!! She is simply an as yet unindicted FELON. How anyone could still support this evil woman is beyond comprehension. The 3 egregious cases cited, BTW, are only the tip of the iceberg, as there are numerous others who have been wrongfully convicted through her misconduct. The appellate courts are no better than she, as they merely rubber stamp convictions in NY, no mater how obvious the misconduct.

Anonymous said...

Judge Pirro is a fake and ruined my life. She thinks abused women and children is funny. Hmmmmmm karma sucks and she is a horrible person.

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               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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