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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

NY Times Questions DA Hynes' "Professional Conduct" On Zev Brenner Radio Appearance

In search of love and votes, Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, cannot seem to stop tripping over himself.

Last week, he went on a television and radio show for the Orthodox Jewish community and denounced Sam Kellner. Bearded and intense, a bubbling fountain of words, Mr. Kellner is one of the rare few in the Hasidic community who spoke publicly about the plague of child sexual abuse. 

He helped the district attorney build cases against prominent Hasidic leaders, including a man accused of molesting Mr. Kellner’s own 16-year-old son.

Or at least Mr. Kellner spoke until Brooklyn prosecutors turned around two years ago and charged him with trying to extort his son’s accused abuser, the Satmar cantor Baruch Lebovits.

The weakness of the case against Mr. Kellner is difficult to overstate. On Monday in State Supreme Court, Mr. Hynes’s prosecutors pleaded for more time to reinvestigate their rapidly disintegrating case.

None of which appeared to have given pause to Mr. Hynes. “I believe there was a substantial effort by Mr. Kellner to gain money by making up stories,” he told the host of the program, Zev Brenner, last week. “I think we have a substantial case.”

It appears Mr. Hynes, who often emphasizes the management experience he has accumulated over many decades, has violated the state’s rules of professional conduct, which prohibit prosecutors from offering “any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a suspect” in a criminal matter.

“That’s an expression of his opinion of Kellner’s guilt, and he can’t say that,” said Prof. Stephen Gillers of New York University, one of the nation’s leading legal ethicists. “Hynes may have tried to stop short, but he didn’t stop short enough.”

The case against Mr. Kellner comes with curious aspect piled upon curious aspect.

Mr. Lebovits’s lawyers pounced upon the indictment of Mr. Kellner. They pointed to it, and to legal technicalities, and persuaded a state appeals court to overturn their client’s conviction.

The two lawyers for Mr. Lebovits — Arthur L. Aidala and Alan M. Dershowitz — make a formidable and intriguing pair. A respected trial lawyer, Mr. Aidala is a former Brooklyn prosecutor and a former campaign manager for Mr. Hynes. 

He is the registered agent for the Charles Hynes Association. Mr. Aidala, his family, and his legal firm contributed $5,100 to the district attorney last year.

Mr. Dershowitz, meanwhile, rendered his own service to Mr. Hynes. Earlier this year, Pro Publica, a respected investigative news Web site, published a critical account of Michael F. Vecchione, a close friend of Mr. Hynes and chief of the district attorney’s rackets bureau. 

The news site’s account detailed “a staggering array of misconduct” by Mr. Vecchione as he led the prosecution of a young black man, Jabbar Collins, in the killing of an Orthodox Jew. After 15 years in prison, a court overturned Mr. Collins’s conviction; he is now suing the Brooklyn district attorney’s office and Mr. Vecchione.

Read more at: NY Times

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