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January 09, 2004

Last chance for justice

Today's NY Sun has an editorial urging the US Supreme Court to agree to hear an appeal by John O'Hara of his felony conviction for vote fraud here in NYC.   This is O'Hara's last chance to clear his name (and regain his right to practice law).   (Of course, he could always get a presidential pardon.)   Here is the gist of what Seth Lipsky and his colleagues at the Sun had to say about the case:

Today, at its regularly scheduled conference, the Supreme Court of the United States will decide whether to hear the matter of John O'Hara, a political gadfly and former candidate for office from Brooklyn. Mr. O'Hara holds the distinction of being one of only two New Yorkers to be criminally prosecuted merely for the act of voting. The other was the 1876 case of Susan B. Anthony, who cast a vote before women were granted that right. While the Supreme Court agrees to decide only a tiny percentage of the many cases brought to it, People v. O'Hara would be a choice case.

In 1992 and 1993, Mr. O'Hara voted from the address of his girlfriend, with whom he often stayed, rather than from his own home a few blocks away. He was criminally prosecuted not once, but three times; one case was overturned on appeal, the next ended in a hung jury, and the third resulted in a felony conviction. As a result, Mr. O'Hara, a lawyer, was disbarred, charged tens of thousands of dollars in fines, and sentenced to 1,500 hours of community service, raking leaves in a Brooklyn park.

The relentless legal pursuit was undertaken by Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes, one of the frequent targets of Mr. O'Hara's acerbic tongue and anti-incumbent political barbs. In the city's political circles, it's widely believed that Mr. O'Hara made his own bed by antagonizing Mr. Hynes. Mr. O'Hara's request to submit a final appeal is, at its root, a claim that the Brooklyn prosecutor improperly used the power of his office to settle a political score...

For more information about Mr. O'Hara and the politically motivated witch hunt that cost him his license to practice law, see previous posts here and here.

January 9, 2004 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

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