NY's highest court rejects term limit for district attorney - New York News

NY's highest court rejects term limit for district attorney

Posted: Updated:

MICHAEL VIRTANEN | AP

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York's highest court ruled Thursday that a longtime Long Island prosecutor can continue his re-election bid, because the county where he was elected lacks the authority to set his term limit.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota is not bound by the 12-year limit approved by local voters in 1993, the Court of Appeals said in a 6-1 ruling. The 62 counties lack the power to regulate the number of terms for their district attorneys, who are officers established by the state constitution to enforce New York's penal law and should be subject to uniform qualifications, the majority said.

Spota faces attorney Raymond Perini in a Sept. 10 Republican primary. He also has Democratic, independent and conservative cross-endorsements.

"Permitting county legislators to impose term limits on the office of district attorney would have the potential to impair the independence of that office, because it would empower a local legislative body to effectively end the tenure of an incumbent district attorney whose investigatory or prosecutorial actions were unpopular or contrary to the interests of county legislators," the majority wrote. "The state has a fundamental and overriding interest in ensuring the integrity and independence of the office of district attorney."

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman was joined by Judges Eugene Pigott Jr., Susan Read, Victoria Graffeo, Jenny Rivera and Sheila Abdus-Salaam in the ruling.

In his dissent, Judge Robert Smith wrote that he sees nothing in the constitution or state law preventing Suffolk County from limiting the number of consecutive years a district attorney may serve. "It is irrelevant that, as the majority notes, a district attorney is `a constitutional officer' as well as a county officer and that the office of district attorney is a subject of statewide concern," he wrote.

Perini said after the court arguments Wednesday that thinks he'll win the Republican primary and got 4,725 petition signatures without party backing. "People want a choice," he said.

Attorney Kevin Snover, who challenged Suffolk County's 12-year limits for district attorney, sheriff and county clerk and won in trial court, said he was gratified the top court agreed that district attorney is a sufficiently important office from a statewide level that it would be inappropriate to have counties limit its term and so set qualifications for office.

"Those three offices are mandated in the same section of the constitution," Snover said.

When Suffolk County imposed the limits, it was done for other county offices as well. Snover doubted there would be a credible legal challenge for limiting any of the others.

  • Long Island NewsLong Island NewsMore>>

  • Officials: Piece of jet fell onto Long Island yard

    Officials: Piece of jet fell onto Long Island yard

    Saturday, August 23 2014 2:33 PM EDT2014-08-23 18:33:40 GMT
    Authorities are trying to figure out how if a metal part from a jet airliner fell out of the sky and landed in a Long Island yard.
    Authorities are trying to figure out how if a metal part from a jet airliner fell out of the sky and landed in a Long Island yard.
  • Giving your college-bound kids their space

    Giving your college-bound kids their space

    Friday, August 22 2014 9:31 PM EDT2014-08-23 01:31:50 GMT
    Going off to college is an exciting time for the entire family, especially for the upcoming freshman. But with technology, parents can be in touch all the time. What's too much and what's just enough? Freshman move-in day seems to be harder on the parents than the students at Stony Brook University.
    Going off to college is an exciting time for the entire family, especially for the upcoming freshman. But with technology, parents can be in touch all the time. What's too much and what's just enough? Freshman move-in day seems to be harder on the parents than the students at Stony Brook University.
  • Fatal boat explosion on Long Island

    Fatal boat explosion on Long Island

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:59 AM EDT2014-08-21 15:59:22 GMT
    Detectives from the Nassau County Homicide Squad are investigating an explosion that destroyed a boat, burned two docks, and killed the boat's owner in Manorhaven on Wednesday afternoon. Two dock workers and two boaters were gassing up a docked 33-foot Carver motor boat just after 2:45 p.m. when an explosion tore through the boat, setting it and the dock on fire, police said. Hogan was reportedly a former NYPD captain.
    Detectives from the Nassau County Homicide Squad are investigating an explosion that destroyed a boat, burned two docks, and killed the boat's owner in Manorhaven on Wednesday afternoon. Two dock workers and two boaters were gassing up a docked 33-foot Carver motor boat just after 2:45 p.m. when an explosion tore through the boat, setting it and the dock on fire, police said. Hogan was reportedly a former NYPD captain.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Officials: Piece of jet fell onto Long Island yard

    Officials: Piece of jet fell onto Long Island yard

    Saturday, August 23 2014 2:33 PM EDT2014-08-23 18:33:40 GMT
    Authorities are trying to figure out how if a metal part from a jet airliner fell out of the sky and landed in a Long Island yard.
    Authorities are trying to figure out how if a metal part from a jet airliner fell out of the sky and landed in a Long Island yard.
  • Thousands march in Staten Island to honor Eric Garner, Michael Brown

    Thousands march in Staten Island to honor Eric Garner, Michael Brown

    Saturday, August 23 2014 1:35 PM EDT2014-08-23 17:35:39 GMT
    Thousands of protesters packed in cars and caravans, crossed over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Saturday to protest the death of Eric Garner, the man who died last month after being put in a chokehold by an NYPD officer.
    Thousands of protesters packed in cars and caravans, crossed over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Saturday to protest the death of Eric Garner, the man who died last month after being put in a chokehold by an NYPD officer.
  • Police: 5 suspects wanted in Central Park attack

    Police: 5 suspects wanted in Central Park attack

    Saturday, August 23 2014 12:27 PM EDT2014-08-23 16:27:52 GMT
    Police are looking for five suspects in a Central Park pellet attack they're investigating as a hate crime.
    Police are looking for five suspects in a Central Park pellet attack they're investigating as a hate crime.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices