Because of a conflict of interest with the judges in Le Roy, where the case originated, Judge Robert C. Noonan this morning assigned the case of Chris Charvella to Town of Batavia Court.
Charvella is charged with harassment, 2nd, for allegedly placing a phone call to the home of Legislator Jay Grasso.
It will be up to the court in Batavia to set a time for Charvella's next appearance, and whether that appearance will be in front of Justice Tom Williams or Justice Mike Cleveland.
After the hearing this morning, Charvella said he couldn't comment on the case, but added, "When all is said and done, I'm confident I'll be completely vindicated."
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Fennell said there's been no discussion in the DA's office about whether or not to proceed with the case, but indicated that Charvella was arrested so he would be prosecuted.
He said he doesn't see this as a First Amendment issue.
"It's not the political aspect of the case that's been at issue," Finnell said. "It's the phone call to his home for no apparent legitimate purpose."
New York's harassment law bars phone calls for "no purpose of legitimate communication."
At the time of the call, according to Charvella's blog entries, Charvella believed Grasso was responsible for placing a Mike Ranzenhofer campaign sign on Charvella's front lawn. Charvella said he called Grasso's house to thank him for reading his blog, where he had previously written about a Ranzenhofer signs showing up in front of the family business, where he works.
Charvella, a frequent contributor to The Batavian, is active in local Democratic politics and ran in 2009 for county legislator against Grasso's colleague Hollis Upson, losing to the GOP incumbent.
Besides sitting on the legislature, Grasso is a part-time aide to Ranzenhofer, now in his second term representing Genesee County in the state Senate.