Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Prosecutors defended their conviction of an ex-deputy Nassau County police commissioner who appealed a jury’s verdict that he was guilty of covering up a burglary committed by a police nonprofit donor’s son.Attorneys for William Flanagan argued in a 93-page appeal that Nassau prosecutors tainted the trial with what the ex-commander’s counselors described as a prejudicial closing argument, insufficient evidence to support the conviction and prosecutorial misconduct in the grand jury’s indictment. But, his lawyer did not show up to make that case in person during oral arguments Tuesday at the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department in Brooklyn.“A defendant is entitled to a fair trial,” Yael Levy, the deputy chief of the Appeals Bureau for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office, told the panel of four judges while quoting the Sixth Amendment. “A defendant is not entitled to a perfect trial.”Flanagan was convicted in February 2013 of three misdemeanors—conspiracy and two counts of official misconduct—but was acquitted of a felony charge of receiving reward for official misconduct following the month-long trial. Judge Mark Cohen—a Suffolk judge brought in after two Nassau judges recused themselves—sentenced Flanagan to 60 days in jail, but execution of that term was stayed pending the appeal. Prosecutors said that Flanagan helped quash the case against Zachary Parker, who stole thousands of dollars worth of electronics from his alma mater, John F. Kennedy High School, in Bellmore shortly before he graduated five years ago while he was an intern for the Nassau police Ambulance Bureau.“It seems to me…that the prosecution really focused in on the Parker family and made it about the quote-unquote child of privilege,” Judge Hector LaSalle told Levy while referring to Flanagan’s friend and the burglar’s father, Gary Parker, who was volunteering for the nonprofit Nassau County Police Department Foundation when he asked for Flanagan’s help with his son’s case. “I want to make sure Mr. Flanagan wasn’t convicted because of an overarching theory against Mr. Parker.”Levy argued that influence wielded by Parker, who was named in court as an unindicted co-conspirator, had to be detailed at trial in order to prove the motive behind the conspiracy.The judges also questioned her why prosecutors had Zachary’s friend testify that a New York State Trooper let Zachary go when Zachary flashed a Nassau police foundation badge after the trooper stopped Zachary for speeding 100 miles per hour. Although that didn’t show the Parker’s influence with Nassau police because it was a difference agency, Levy said Flanagan’s defense attorneys had gotten email evidence thrown out that she said showed the elder Parker brokered dinners between Nassau and state police—evidence that she argued would have made the connection.“It would have been more fleshed out had prosecutors been able to connect the dots with emails,” Levy told the panel, adding that the testimony was included “in good faith.”As far as the closing arguments, which Flanagan’s attorneys argued were improperly meant to inflame the jury’s emotions to coax a conviction, they cited prosecutors’ mention of what the “taxpayers” deserve. Judge Sylvia Hinds-Radix called the reference “over the top.” Levy countered that it was relevant because “this was a public corruption case…this was a public official.”Flanagan’s attorneys also accused prosecutors of improperly allowing hearsay testimony before the grand jury, but specifics were redacted in court documents because grand jury proceedings are shielded from public view. In her reply, Levy maintained that the issue was irrelevant.Two other ex-police commanders—John Hunter, the retired Deputy Chief of Patrol and Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe—both pleaded guilty this year to misconduct and were sentenced to probation in connection with the case, which stemmed from a Press expose into police favoritism for the nonprofit’s donors. Zachary Parker pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to prison after violating his probation. He has since been released.Although it is unclear exactly when the judges are expected to issue a ruling on the appeal, a decision can take anywhere from three weeks to six months, sources say.Neither a spokesman for Rice nor Flanagan’s attorney, Donna Aldea, head of the Appellate Practice Group for Garden City-based Barket Marion Epstein & Kearon, LLP, would comment while the decision is pending.
DES MOINES — The Republican-led Iowa legislature has voted to establish a 24-hour waiting period for abortions performed in the state.Two years ago, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled a 72-hour waiting period was unconstitutional. During debate late Saturday night, Representative Shannon Lundgren of Peosta made it clear Republicans aim for this new proposal to reverse that.“Maybe this will provide an opportunity for the courts to rectify the terrible situation that they’ve created here in our state,” Lundgren said.The chief justice who wrote in the 2018 opinion that Iowa women had a right to an abortion under the Iowa Constitution died in November. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has now appointed a majority of the justices in the Iowa Supreme Court. It raises the possibility the court might overturn the previous ruling that has essentially blocked all legislative attempts to restrict access to abortion.Senator Jake Chapman, a Republican from Adel, said the bill sends a clear message to the Iowa Supreme Court about that 2018 ruling.“The very notion that somehow there’s a fundamental right in Iowa’s constitution is one of the most gross misuses of the power of the gavel,” Chapman said.Senator Liz Mathis, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, said the money the state has spent litigating the abortion issue would be better spent elsewhere.“We are talking about an issue that we are not going to solve tonight,” Mathis said. “We may never solve this issue in our lifetime, but we can help kids with mental health in our lifetime.”The 24-hour waiting period emerged as a policy option for GOP lawmakers Saturday after it became clear a proposed constitutional amendment relating to abortion could not pass the Iowa House. Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen of Des Moines and all but one Democrat in the legislature voted against the bill.“The interesting thing about it: it’s a 24-hour waiting period and you didn’t even give women 24 hours notice that you would be stripping them of their rights,” Petersen said.The proposal requires a doctor to get written certification from a woman that she is eligible to obtain an abortion, 24 hours before one is performed. According to Representative Sandy Salmon, a Republican from Janesville, 17 other states have 24 hour waiting periods for an abortion.“Waiting periods help ensure that decisions are made not under duress and under undue influences,” Salmon said.Representative Vicki Lensing, a Democrat from Iowa City, argued legislators shouldn’t “second guess” the medical decisions women make.“It is presumptuous, disrespectful and in my opinion insulting,” Lensing said.Representative Heather Matson, a Democrat from Ankeny, said requiring two medical appointments within 24 hours creates hardships for poor women and for women from rural areas who have to travel a greater distance.“The intent of a 24 hour ban is the same as a 72 hour ban…Make it harder for a woman to get the care she needs and she just won’t get it,” Matson said.The bill passed the House late Saturday evening as Democrat Andy McKean joined 52 Republicans in voting yes. Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, opened Senate debate on the measure shortly before 4:30 this morning.“Iowa has a three-day wait for marriage, a 72-hour waiting period after birth for adoption, 90 day waiting period for divorce,” Schultz said. “All of these waiting periods are to ensure Iowans who are making life-long decisions have time to reflect.”The bill passed the senate shortly after 5:30 Sunday morning. Governor Kim Reynolds has not commented publicly on the measure, but she has supported previous abortion restrictions and signed the state’s so-called “fetal heartbeat” bill into law in 2018.Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa Executive Director for Planned Parenthood North Central States, issued a written statement, saying “in the midst of a pandemic and continued momentum for Black Lives Matter,” Republican legislators “remain determined to make it more difficult for Iowa women to obtain,,,reproductive health care.