Judge Denies Lecuona Campaign Motion to Dismiss Democrats’ Suit to Deny Her and Her Party’s Petitions. Democratic Party Alleges All Petitions of Lecuona and Slate Should be Invalidated Due to a Cover Sheet Error.

WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL. By John F. Bailey. August 1, 2017:

Judge Lawrence H. Ecker  in New York Supreme Court in White Plainsdenied a motion made by Guy Parisi,attorney for Milagros Lecouna to dismiss a show cause order asking the court to rule all Ms. Lecuona’s petition signatures and those of her Common Council running mates, Michael Kraver, Alan Goldman and Saad Siddiqui as invalid.

The suit was filed July 25 in Supreme Court  seeking to contest Mayor Thomas Roach, John Martin, John Kirkpatrick and Justin Brasch, nominees of the Democratic City Committee.

Judge Ecker, after reviewing the presentation of the four volumes of signatures, copies of which were provided by the Board of Elections, dismissed the Lecuona motion for outright dismissal of the 4 Democrat candidates’ suit, and set Tuesday, August 8, for a continuation of the proceedings. He will meet with Mr. Abinanti tomorrow to receive Abinanti’s list of Lecuona petition witnesses, whom his subpoena servers had not been able to serve.

Abananti wishes to question Lecuona’s petition witnesses as to how they collected the signatures. Mr. Abinanti said the Lecuona had paid persons to collect a portion of the signatures. A spokesman for Lecuona campaign, Christine Senteno, said the Lecuona slate had paid 3 professional canvassers out of 8 canvassers they used, and denied Abinanti’s statement that the Lecuona group had paid $10,000 to professional canvassers (to amass the signatures).

Thomas Abinanti, (a New York State Assemblyman, representing Greenburgh), attorney for the Roach team, said in his arguments, began by saying his clients contend they have found irregularities (wrong city, wrong county, wrong address, one-third do not live in White Plains, not members of Democratic Party, among others)  invalidating some of the signatures. He did not give a number. Mr. Parisi contended that Mr. Abinanti should show the examples. Abinanti said he did not have to at this time.

The validity of signatures acquired and contained in the four volumes of Lecuona petitions are now being checked by the Board of Elections. County Board of Elections Co Chair, Reginald Lafayette informed WPCNR prior to the beginning of the proceeding, this would be the procedure. He told WPCNR the signature check would be done by Monday.

Abinanti than moved on to his main argument: All the petitions submitted by the Lecuona slate should be invalidated because the description on the “Cover Sheet” misidentified the four volumes.

Judge Ecker said he would be willing to look at the four volumes with the attorneys, and court was recessed at 10:30. When copies of the volumes arrived, court reconvened at 11 A.M.

During the session, the Judge, Mr. Abinanti, Mr. Parisi and the attorney for the county, and a representative of the Roach campaign examined Mr. Abinanti’s showing of the discrepancies between the cover sheets of volumes 1, 3,4 submitted July 11,and Volume 2, submitted July 13.

Abinanti noted that the cover sheet submitted with all four volumes on July 13, misidentified Volume 2, and also contended that since Volume 2 was for different candidates, it could not be submitted as part of the group.

During the summation of arguments, Judge Ecker brought up the question of whether the signature submissions were the same in the four volumes with the final cover sheet, as they were first submitted.

The attorney for the Board of Elections said they were. Mr. Abinanti said they were too, though his allegations of signature irregularities were a separate issue.

His main argument that all Lecuona signatures should be in validated was that all four volumes of Lecouna and her Common Council challengers’ signatures should be invalidated in entirety because they were submitted twice, the second time with a cover sheet that  identified three volumes differently on the cover sheet than when they were identified when they were first submitted.

His argument was that changing a cover sheet was not permitted by State Board of Elections law. He also said that it could make extra work for any party wishing to challenge the second set because potential “challengers” in the future would have to cross check with previously submitted petitions if they had already begun to analyze the first submissions.

Guy Parisi attorney for the Lecuona contingent said that election law allows a correction can be made within  three days and the candidates submitting have three days to do so. He countered several cases cited by Mr. Abinanti as being invalidated by subsequent decisions.

Mr. Parisi contended that Mr. Abinanti neglected to mention that the State Election Law Abinanti cited (as the basis for denying the Lecuona petitions) had the caveat that common sense should be used ruling on whether a discrepancy can be corrected or a change be made or error corrected, rather than applying the restriction Abinanti alleges as automatically invalidating the Lecuona collections.

Court will reconvene Tuesday, August 8 at 10:30 A.M, when signatures are expected to be counted, and Judge Eckert presumably will rule on the demand for invalidating all four petitions.

The Democratic Primary is September 12.

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