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Appeals court throws out conviction of woman accused of bilking employer out of $14K

Some of the evidence used against a former Bergen woman in her trial for fraud a year ago shouldn't have been submitted to the jury, so the woman should get a new trial, an appeals court has ruled.

Michele Ann Case, 47, of 1037 Chili Center-Coldwater Road, Rochester, was found guilty by the jury on criminal counts for allegedly bilking her employer out of more than $14,000 in fraudulent mileage and reimbursement claims.

Case was a home care nurse.

In prosecuting the case, the District Attorney's Office used as evidence summaries of financial and accounting documents as evidence.

According to the justices of the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, Case's attorney, Public Defender Gary Horton, did not challenge the admissibility of the documents.

The documents were not admissible, the court ruled, because the defense was not given a chance to review the data used to create the summaries.

The lack of review denied Case her right to a fair trial, the court ruled.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said the prosecution is "back to square one" -- at the same point the case was at before Case went to trial, but unless there is a plea deal, Friedman indicated he intends to proceed with the case.

"It's not like this decision indicates in anyway that we can't prove our case," Friedman said. "It's a question as to the admissibility and accuracy of the records that were used. It's certainly something that's curable for a retrial.

"This is not anything in my mind that weakens our case," Friedman added. "It's a matter of going back and reviewing the records and eventually redoing summaries that were used for the jury."

Dave Olsen
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" Friedman indicated he intends to proceed with the case" Good heavens, how much of our money do you intend to spend on this Mr. Friedman? Not to mention the cost of her public defender (an issue just brought up on here yesterday) You guys screwed up, it's over. Get your stuff together on the next case. Move on.

Robert Brown
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Sounds like delaying the inevitable, except Ms. Case's (former) employer is likely never to receive retribution and taxpayers will be covering duplicate legal expenses. Where's Mr. Friedman's culpability in this case? Oops I did it again just doesn't cut it - this is not the level of quality we expect from the DA's office. We deserve far better from our tax dollars.

Mark Brudz
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"According to the justices of the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, Case's attorney, Public Defender Gary Horton, did not challenge the admissibility of the documents."

It was the PD that screwed up, not the DA, had the PD challenged it, the DA merely would have had to show more detail then the summary

Mark Brudz
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The conviction rate for the Genesee County District attorney is well above the state average For 2012 Lawrence Friedman and his staff have done a remarkable job and in fact have been instituting various procedures to reduce the amount of frivolous appeals which are of tremendous cost.

http://criminaljustice.ny.gov/crimnet/ojsa/dispos/genesee.pdf compare our counties stats to other counties in the state.

http://criminaljustice.ny.gov/crimnet/ojsa/dispos/index.htm

And again, the reversal clearly stated that the PUBLIC DEFENDER FAILED TO CHALLENGE, it was actually overturned for an inadequate defense

Robert Brown
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Thanks for the clarification Mark. I apologize for my misdirected protest. Sadly, it still falls on a taxpayer funded component and we still deserve better. As for the DA's stats, let's put them all on the table: how many cases go untried/unresolved due to inadequacies in our system or simply a decision to not prosecute? What are the severity levels of the crimes obtaining convictions as opposed to the severity levels of the crimes left open? If all we are concerned about is some level of performance at or above state average, that's hardly remarkable. It's in fact complacent - we pay enough to strive for best in class performance on all metrics. I'll bow to the stats when we are world class and every other county in the nation looks to Genesee as setting the bar for prosecution excellence. Better yet, let's set the bars for the lowest crime rate and the lowest cost for law enforcement.

Dave Olsen
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Granted, I am not a lawyer, nor did I play one on TV. I didn't even stay in a Holiday Inn, but I believe the prosecution is REQUIRED to make all evidence available to the defense.
from wikipedia: "Rule 3.8 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct requires prosecutors to "make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information ... that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense." Not all U.S. states adopt the model rules, however U.S. Supreme Court cases and other appellate cases have ruled that such disclosure is required. "

The district attorney is the representative of the people (Government) therefor should be ever vigilant of the proper procedure. It is my humble opinion that they should be fined personally if they fail to follow the rules. This is still America and the accused have rights.

Sorry about the all caps, but Mark started it.

Robert Brown
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I retract my retraction. Mr. Friedman and his staff know better than anyone the process involved for evidence disclosure. This case was handled sloppily - it should be over and done. Case closed.

Beth Kinsley
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In reading the decision she won on two issues - that the evidence should not have been admitted because it was not provided to the defendant prior to trial, and that the PD did not object to the submission of evidence. Sloppy on both sides.

I applaud Shirley Gorman, the attorney who handled the appeal for Ms. Case. It is always a sensitive matter to accuse another attorney of ineffective assistance of counsel. These are usually the same attorneys you have to deal with on a daily basis so to accuse them of not doing their job correctly does not go over very well.

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