Late Night: Broken Glass

New York State Senator and former police officer Hiram Monserrate, a Demcorat recently sworn in to his first term, was indicted by a grand jury today on several felony and misdemeanor charges for cutting his girlfriend's eye with a drinking glass.

Monserrate insists the prosecution is politically motivated and it was an accident...he tripped. Karla Giraldo, his girlfriend, first said Monserrate was beating her. Now she agrees with his accident defense and wants the charges dropped.

How will they present the case without her cooperative testimony? Through the security camera at his apartment which captured him dragging her out the door and her banging on the neighbor's door. The neighbor heard a lot of screaming...which she says wasn't unusual. [More...]

This is also interesting, from the Times article:

A former Marine, Mr. Monserrate served 12 years in the New York Police Department before getting a psychological disability pension in 2000. The cause for his claim was not known and he has declined to discuss it.

As the DA's press release (pdf) says, "An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty." That said, I don't see how it's a political prosecution, given this from the Daily News article:

Giraldo at first told a doctor at Long Island Jewish Medical Center that Monserrate beat her, but then changed her story. She wants prosecutors to drop assault charges... Emergency room doctor Dawne Kort told Queens prosecutors on Tuesday that Giraldo accused Monserrate of bashing her in the face, sources said.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Political implications (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 10:40:14 PM EST
    If he resigns, the State Senate could be thrown into chaos. The Dems have a one seat majority, and there is no Lt Gov to break ties.

    Is that enough reason (none / 0) (#2)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:04:58 AM EST
    to keep him from resigning?

    Serious question.

    Also, how can NY fill the Lt Gov seat?


    I don't believe it can (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:18:02 AM EST
    Uncharted constitutional waters so far as I know.

    Oof. A bad person (none / 0) (#4)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:23:16 AM EST
    in a position of power for an indeterminate future.

    Actually, I just checked the number again (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:29:29 AM EST
    If he resigns, Dems would have a 31/30 majority. However, the was a time last year when such a tie seemed possible.

    Interesting (none / 0) (#5)
    by Cream City on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:23:37 AM EST
    as Wisconsin's constitution was modeled, almost word for word, on New York's -- which just had revised its constitution at the time.  And I thought I read that there was a route for appointive succession from the start here.  There sure is now, as we have had to implement appointive looey govs several times when govs get posts in D.C. or something.

    The issue came up (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:31:15 AM EST
    last year:

    Will Mr. Bruno be able to vote twice: once in his capacity as a state senator, and again as a tie-breaker in his capacity as the acting lieutenant governor?

    "It's an open question," said Richard Briffault, the Joseph P. Chamberlain professor of legislation at Columbia Law School and an authority on state government. "There is no specific answer in the State Constitution or any statute or the State Senate rules. The temporary president of the Senate -- the majority leader -- acts as lieutenant governor to preside over the Senate. There is no discussion of whether he gets any double perks -- for example, salaries. The better reading seems to be that he gets to act as lieutenant governor but isn't lieutenant governor. You could say the background norm in the American political tradition is that people don't get double votes. There's nothing that says that he can and nothing that says that he can't."

    John E. McArdle, a spokesman for Mr. Bruno, offered a different interpretation. "We believe the Constitution is clear," he wrote in an e-mail message in response to questions from The Times. "The lieutenant governor only votes on procedural matters in the event of a tie. Not on legislation. As the temporary president, Mr. Bruno assumes all the duties of the lieutenant governor and would vote in the event of a tie -- in effect, twice."

    Not surprisingly, Christina Dickinson, the deputy counsel to the Senate Democratic minority, took the opposite position.

    "Our position would be that he cannot vote twice," she said. "The idea of one member of the body being able to exercise two votes seems to violate the whole premise of the Legislature adopting rules and procedures and passing legislation. I think it flies in the face of the intention of the casting vote, which is supposed to be, for all intents and purposes, the breaking of a tie by a neutral party, which Senator Bruno would not qualify as."

    The Republicans and Democrats also disagree on another matter of interpretation. The Republicans, as Mr. McArdle noted above, believe the lieutenant governor can only cast tie-breaking votes on procedural matters, not legislation; the Democrats believe the lieutenant governor can break ties in passing laws and setting rules.

    The issue has never been adjudicated in New York, as far as the lawyers interviewed today knew, and the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, has not ruled on the matter.

    Of course, the parties would reverse their positions now. . .


    So there is an acting lt. gov. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Cream City on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 09:48:28 AM EST
    but that it didn't require him to resign as a leggie is mind-boggling to me in my state, where the legislature is exactly where the replacement lt. gov.'s have from.  I guess we must have improved considerably on New York's constitution. :-)