Up-Date on Surrogate Nora Anderson
Here is an up-date on New York County Surrogate Nora Anderson. It is difficult to encapsulate in just a few paragraphs all the allegations of and responses to the ten-count indictment brought by D.A. Morgenthau against Surrogate Nora Anderson (and her former boss Seth Rubenstein). Some say it was a and politically motivated because Morgey at the time was running for re-election, and he was concerned that Leslie Crocker-Snyder would make an issue of Anderson if Morgey did nothing. Some say the charges are weak and will not stand, while others have already “convicted” her.
The D.A. paints an illegal scenario: Anderson is alleged to have filed false instruments with regard to her campaign last year, instruments which either are or aren’t “business records,” and engaged in financial transactions to get around campaign contribution limits, while asserting the money given as a gift was hers to use in her campaign.
Defendants made an omnibus pre-trial motion to dismiss arguing that there is nothing illegal, there is no proof, there is no criminal intent or knowledge, and there is no “injured forum” or effect on or harm to the citizens of New York County . Further that the court lacks jurisdiction because the indictment was brought in the wrong venue (relying on Stanley Steingut et al. vs. Eugene Gold et al., 42 NY 2nd 311). As the transactions did not occur in New York County, Morgenthau cannot bring an indictment [Should the Kings County D.A. extradite Nora from Manhattan?]. Also that some of the counts are defectively pleaded in that they are duplicitous in alleging more than one crime in a count. [On March 26th of this year, the ruled in People vs. Bauman that there is to be strict compliance with CPL 200.30—each count of an indictment must charge only one offense.]
The District Attorney’s response is basically that there is sufficient evidence, the counts are not “duplicitous,” and that New York County was “harmed.”
On Friday, 22nd May, 2009, trial judge Michael Obus heard two and a half hours of oral argument (mostly iterating the points in the moving and answering papers) on the defendants' omnibus motion to dismiss the indictments. The Asst. D.A. didn't appear effective, sometimes arguing hypotheticals. Justice Obus was alert, patient, courteous, let everyone have their say, and asked questions which indicated that he read the papers beforehand. Of the 23 people in the courtroom, not one (save your correspondent) was a news reporter, which is strange considering the extensive coverage the media had given this.
The issues are complex, involving both technical points and interpretations of the campaign financing and election laws as well as a jurisdictional issue. The judge, who has two law clerks working on this case with him, will issue his decision on July 31st.