Earlier this week, in a case that kind of flew under the
radar, Rensselaer County Court judge candidate Debra Young was called for jury
And she was not chosen.
Why? You might ask. I’m told by someone who was in the
courtroom that it was because she said she told Judge Andrew Ceresia she could
not be fair and impartial if the defendant does not testify and she could not
give the same credence to the testimony of a police officer as any other
I’m told you can still be a juror if you admit to those two
things – which is understandable for someone off the street - but say OK if the
judge instructs you not hold the defendant accountable if he or she refuses to
testify and to give a police officer’s testimony no more credibility than say someone
with a string of felonies.
Young, from what I’m told, said she couldn’t do either and
was dismissed from jury duty.
Just a little background … the above questions are asked in
just about every criminal trial since the defendant always has the right to
testify and since the burden of proof is on the prosecution has the right not
to. And in just about every trial I have seen, cops do testify since the
defendant becomes a defendant only after being arrested and generally it’s the
cops doing the arresting.
Anyway, it’s all part of the Vior Dire process that the
defendant, the prosecution and the judge put jurors through in an effort to get
a panel that is fair and impartial and can give the defendant a fair shot. We
are all human so the black and white letter of the law is blurred thanks to our
That said, I don’t know who bounced Young but someone did and
I know it was because of the two answers she gave.
I also know there are a number of defense lawyers out there
who are trying to get a copy of the transcript to throw a monkey wrench into
any trial she presides over – should she get elected county court judge –
during which a police officer testifies. As I mentioned, trials where cops don’t
testify are few and far between.
It’s kind of funny that Young wants to be a judge but was
bounced off jury duty because she can’t follow the judge’s orders. Human
frailty is probably one of the main reasons people stand in front of a judge.
They do so with their attorney by their side and with the prosecution across
the aisle ready to do battle with whatever means at their disposal. The judge
is the referee, and is supposed to make sure what they at least kind of stick
to the black and white.
But, as one defense attorney said: “At least she was in
county court.” The back story to that is that she has spent a good part of her
career doing medical malpractice stuff and really hasn’t, among the opinion of
many, spent too much time doing criminal work. And overseeing criminal trials
is what a county court judge does.
As far as the case in question goes, police in Colonie got a
complaint about two black guys who appeared to be drunk walking around in
traffic near the Target on Wade Road.
Police went to check it out and there were in fact two drunk
guys walking around. They weren’t necessarily doing anything wrong, but were
arrested anyway after a scuffle with police – who I am sure didn’t harass them
One of the guys, Zebedia Jackson, was taken to Samaritan
Hospital in Troy and was restrained to a gurney. While restrained, from what I’m
told, he started spitting on people – either on purpose or by accident.
A cop saw it, and the process of putting either a mask or a
towel over Jackson’s face ended up with his hand in Jackson’s mouth. Jackson
bit him and was charged with assaulting a police officer.
After a day of testimony, Ceresia tossed out the charges and
Jackson, who was represented by Albany attorney Michael Jurena, is a free man and
can again get drunk at his pleasure and walk around traffic on Wade Road.
And Young is running against Troy City Court Judge Chris
Maier, by the way. She has four lines thanks to the GOP having control of the
Independence and Conservative parties and I think this one if going to be close.
To: Lisa Lewis, Editor, The Record
Date: October 27, 2012
Re: County court candidate Debra Young
gets thrown off jury duty
Cc: Jim Franco, City Editor, The Record
We are writing this correspondence
regarding a news article posted on the website of The Record, www.troyrecord.com, on October 27
which includes erroneous, false and damaging information to Debra Young.
Debra Young was not contacted by the
reporter prior to the publication of this news article, published on The
Record’s website, www.troyrecord.com on October 27, 2012.
Referencing the headline, “County court
candidate Debra Young gets thrown off jury duty”; the headline is incorrect as
Debra Young was not “thrown off” jury but in fact was not selected and no
reason given for her not being chosen to serve as a juror. The statement also
falsely implies misconduct or misbehavior by Debra Young as a juror; in fact,
Debra Young fully and legally executed her obligations as a juror.
Referencing the second paragraph, Debra
was not chosen to be a juror. No jurors were informed why they were not being
chosen; only those picked for the panel were informed they had been selected.
Referencing the third paragraph, and the
statement “she told Judge Andrew Ceresia”; Debra, in fact, did not talk to
Referencing the third paragraph and the
statement “she could not be fair and impartial if the defendant does not
testify”; Debra Young, in fact, did not say the statement attributed to her.
Again referencing the third paragraph
and the statement “she could not give the same credence to the testimony of a
police officer as any other witness”; Debra Young, in fact, did not say the
statement attributed to her.
Referencing the fifth paragraph and the
statement “Young, from what I am told, said she couldn’t do either”; Debra
Young, in fact, did not say the statement attributed to her. Other jurors did
make the statement attributed to Debra Young.
Again, referencing the fifth paragraph
and the statement “and was dismissed from jury duty”; no reason was given for
the dismissal of Debra Young and the statement erroneously implies a reason was
given for her dismissal.
eighth paragraph and the statement “That said, I don’t know who bounced Young
but someone did and I know it was because of the two answers she gave”; again,
no reason was given for the dismissal of Debra Young, and the statement implies
the reporter is unclear of the source of the information or obtained erroneous
or false information via hearsay or malicious conduct.
Referencing the tenth paragraph and the
statement “It’s kind of funny that Young wants to be a judge but was bounced
off jury duty because she can’t follow the judge’s orders”; the statement is
damaging to Debra Young, based on false information and moreover, there was
never a statement that Debra Young was dismissed because she could not follow
judge’s orders and Debra Young in fact did not disobey, fail to follow or disregard
any orders by the judge in the trial. The erroneous statement is damaging to
Debra Young professionally.
Referencing the eleventh paragraph and
the statement “really hasn’t, in the opinion of many, spent too much time doing
criminal work”; in fact, Debra Young has spent considerable time handling
criminal work, and given the opportunity, which was not extended by the
reporter, would have discussed her professional qualifications. In fact, the
State Independent Judicial Elections Qualification Commission rated Debra as
“Qualified”, the exact same rating given to her opponent in the race.
Given the numerous factual inaccuracies
as described in this correspondence, we respectfully ask the article in
questioned to be removed from the website of The Record, www.troyrecord.com.
Welcome to Talespin. Jim Franco, the blogs current caretaker, has covered the Capital District for more than 15 years and particularly enjoys Troy, Rensselaer County and state politics. Reach Jim at email@example.com or give a call, 478-5343.