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Appeals court reduces sentence for Jacquetta Simmons to one year in jail

Jacquetta Simmons

Jacquetta Simmons need only serve one year in jail for punching a Walmart cashier on Christmas Eve, 2011, according to a ruling issued by the the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, NYS Supreme Court.

The court, in a unanimous decision, found that the five-year prison sentence handed down by Judge Robert C. Noonan on Nov. 14, 2012, was "unduly harsh and severe under the circumstances of this case."

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he's disappointed in the decision.

"We felt Judge Noonan's sentence was appropriate," Friedman said. "I thought it was well reasoned. It may have happened before, but I don't recall a sentence of his being reversed in his 17 years of being a judge."

The ruling means Simmons, who became a mother to her first child shortly after an appellate judge stayed her sentence in 2012, is saved from serving any further state prison time. The one-year sentence, likely to be reduced to eight months on good behavior, will be served in a county jail.

That's disappointing, Friedman said, but most importantly, the court upheld the jury's conviction of Simmons.

Attorneys for Simmons argued to the court that the jury's verdict flew in the face of the evidence presented at trial. With a dissent from Justice Rose H. Sconiers, the court upheld the jury conviction.

The jury could reasonably conclude, ruled the majority upholding the conviction, that based on the testimony and video evidence presented, that Simmons did intentionally punch Grace Suozzi.

Sconiers wrote in her dissent that she didn't believe the evidence supported that conclusion, but rather the video supported the defense contention that somebody behind Simmons had grabbed her arm and that she swung away causing her to accidentally strike Suozzi.

Friedman said he was surprised by the dissent and found it baffling.

The Batavian has no means to contact attorneys for Simmons on a Saturday for comment.

In the majority on the conviction, and joining Sconiers in reducing the sentence, were justices Henry J. Scudder, John V. Centra, Stephen K. Lindley and Joseph D. Valentino.

The case is remitted to Noonan's court for formal sentencing. No date has been set yet for re-sentencing and Simmons remains free in the meantime.

The sentence reduction is a real disservice to the victim and her family and the community, Friedman said.

"Having gone through this and seeing the impact this had on Mrs. Suozzi, her family, a lot of people in the community who knew her and cared about her -- all of that is something that is lost in the appeal process," Friedman said. "It's one punch, but more than the physical harm is the emotional harm. It really affected her life as far as her ability to return to work and go out and about. She's a very nice lady and this sentence doesn't do her justice."

The Batavian first broke the story of the Simmons case in 2011. For a complete archive of our coverage, click here.

Steve Hackett
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Tune into 98.9 the buzz, on Monday......Kimberly and beck are going to have a field day with this story....

Bea McManis
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Totally disgusted with this decision.

mark jackett
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SO IT'S OKAY TO GO AROUND AND BEAT OLDER PEOPLE UP?
THATS THE JUSTICE SYSTEM FOR YOU.
SHE PROBALLY HAD A POOR PITY STORY
CAN'T COLLECT WELFARE IF YOU ARE IN PRISON,OR GET UR FREE OBAMA PHONE,POOR POOR LADY ,SHE'S GOT IT SO BAD..

Tim Howe
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"but rather the video supported the defense contention that somebody behind Simmons had grabbed her arm and that she swung away causing her to accidentally strike Suozzi"

Lady's and Gentlemen, I give you our "justice" system.

Frank Penna Jr
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The appeals court's decision is baffling to say the least. The minimum sentence for this coviction is two years, so why just one year if the appeals court thought five years was too harsh. I've known Grace for over 60 yrs and this incident has broken the spirit of a wonderful, friendly person.

Bea McManis
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Frank, not ony have we known Grace from the time she joined us in grade school, but we have been with her throughout this ordeal. To say that we are incensed by this is an understatement.

Frank Penna Jr
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Howard, I was just repeating what I read in The Daily News "Friedman said he was also bewildered by the reduction to a one-year term, considering that the minimum state sentence for a class D violent felony offence is a two-year determinate term. The Appellate Divison does, however, had discretion when it comes to such sentences."

Frank Penna Jr
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Bea, do you remember the day Grace joined us in fourth grade at St Anthony's School.

Bea McManis
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Fran, I do remember. I remember thinking how brave she was to come to a new country, learn the language, meet new classmates in a new school. I value her friendship. Grace has a deep abiding faith that was only strengthened by this. The Christmas Eve incident, whether intentional (as most of believe) or unintentional (ala the Appeals Court) was a life changing event for Grace, her family and those who know and love her.

Frank Penna Jr
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Bea, nice picture in monday's daily news of the St Joseph's table. The unknown priest is Father 'Cal' and the LaRussa girl next to you is Patti.

Bob Harker
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Thanks for the clarification, Howard. I guess the "wisdom" of the Appeals Court indicates that punching an elderly person in the face, knocking her down, and fracturing bones in her face does not constitute violence.

Unless, of course it's THEIR mother or grandmother.

This decision infuriates me.

Bea McManis
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Fran, I missed that in the paper. What memories it brought back. Chuckie, rest his soul, was my best friend growing up. My uncle, camera at the ready, documented our life on film. lol, good picture to prove to my kids how shy and retiring I was.

Richard Richmond II
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Abraham Lincoln said; “He reminds me of the man who murdered both his parents and then when sentence was about to be pronounced pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan” and Jacquetta Simmons’s sentence reduction reminds me of our 16th President’s quote.

Jacquetta Simmons did intentionally assault an elderly woman and then pleaded for mercy on the grounds that she is pregnant.

A famous and revered Civil Rights Leader said “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere”....... does anyone care to guess his name?

Justice for Grace Suozzi wasn’t diminished.....it was obliterated.

Ron C Welker
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I am with you Bob 100%, if this is the way the system works so be it we have no chance.
I was not a personal friend of Grace but I knew her in passing and her wonderful family. I was good friends with her younger brother Anthony and had visited their home many times.
I am sickened by the decision!
Ron

Brenda Gill
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The one-year sentence, likely to be reduced to eight months on good behavior ...
Example of "good behavior" is ?

When Judge Nooan presides over formal sentencing he can if he choose to sentence for the full year ?

Tim Miller
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Thank you, Howard, for digging into the gory details of the law... Must have taken much caffeine or alcohol. Wink

But seriously - it takes a lot to dwell in the minutia....

Kyle Couchman
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Let's hope Karma takes over and Jacquetta has attitude with the other prisoners... And not only gets her rear end kicked sideways but earns herself a few extra decades. That would be TRUE Karmic payback.

Something tells me though she wont be bringing that attitude to the lockup though. As most in there arent elderly or defenseless.

John Roach
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Don't forget, she gets any jail time she has done credited to her one year.

Frank Penna Jr
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Howard, the good behavior reduction does apply to most sentences. When a person gets a life sentence, the minimum has to be served. Good behavior (good time) is not earned on life sentences because there is not a maximum to subtract the good behavior allowance from.

Carol Foster
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Hopefully, if this poor young "lady" stays in Genesee County after her "good behavior" is recorded, she is watched by anyone and everyone in her travels so her first screw-up sends her back to her home away from home for another year or two! This reduced sentence has to be humiliating for Mrs. Suozzi, after all she went through. I wonder if she had been the judges' mother, would they have felt the same way? Judge Noonan has always been fair, and this decision overruling him will probably make him question every decision of the future.

tom hunt
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No where in all the wisdom coming from the Appeals Court do I see any mention of Anger Management Classes. I think this is very appropriate in this situation. This woman is obviously a ticking time bomb.

Raymond Richardson
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This is unbelievable.

She should move after her time in jail.

tim raines
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Dishonorable Judge Rose Sconiers is the same judge who kept Ja-quet-ta out of jail pending appeal.

She seems to always have her own agenda. Shes black and is a member of or supports many black only organizations.. She's not color blind or impartial as judges are required to be.

Sconiers and Ja-quet-tas attorney are the only 2 people in this case who "see" her not intentionally throwing a punch.

This case makes you question all the judges in the appelate court, They don't realize who the real victim is. It's always about the criminals rights and not the victim.

Time for Mrs Suozzi to file a civil suit.

bud prevost
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And you all thought racism was a one way street

Richard Richmond II
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The racism will always be there to some degree for its propagation, dissemination and the subsequent intimidation allows the race-baiters their sphere of influence and power.

It allows their useful idiots an excuse for their own short-comings to shift the blame.

It’s the visceral hypocrisy that I find maddening for it makes it almost impossible for intellectual discourse to find a solution and in Grace’s case...... JUSTICE DENIED.

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