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June 19, 2014 - 11:17am

Attorney for John Robinson asks for dismissal of charge 'in the interest of justice'

posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, bergen.

The attorney for John Robinson, the Bergen man arrested 15 months after he allegedly pointed a shotgun out a window at another person, has asked Justice Donald Kunego, Town of Bergen Court, to dismiss the case "in the interest of justice."

The motion, part of several otherwise standard defense motions filed yesterday by attorney Kevin DeCarolis, addresses all seven statutory points Kunego must consider before rendering a decision.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell filed an answering affidavit, but interestingly, did not use any sort of pointed or strong language opposing the dismissal motion.

In court yesterday, DeCarolis characterized Finnell's response as favorable to his client.

"There isn't a lot there that cuts against my client and his rights in the motion," DeCarolis told Kunego. "A lot of what he raises parrots my motion, quite frankly."

Finnell hardly disagreed, stating, "I laid out the facts as I believe them to be, but I don't know what way that cuts, but certainly it is what it is."

The facts Finnell and DeCarolis seem to agree on is that Brookport resident Michael Crooks went to Robinson's house under the belief that Robinson and Mrs. Crooks had some sort of relationship that Michael Crooks found objectionable.

Crooks banged on Robinson's front door, threatened him and called him a coward for not coming out. In the process, perhaps while trying to gain entry to the house, Crooks damaged the front door.

When he couldn't get Robinson to open the door, Crooks went to the side of the house and looked in a window. At that point, he found Robinson pointing a shotgun at him.

Crooks immediately fled the residence.

On that date, Jan. 13, 2013, Crooks never filed a complaint or even contacted law enforcement. In fact, according to DeCarolis, Crooks actively tried to evade State Police during their investigation.

Crooks was later arrested and charged with criminal mischief, 4th. A charge later dismissed on the condition Crooks not be re-arrested.

Trooper Eric Daigler, who handled the investigation, consulted with other members of his department and the District Attorney's Office on whether to charge Robinson along with Crooks, and concluded that Robinson should not be arrested.

Crooks lobbied the State Police to arrest Robinson in November 2013. When that didn't work, he contacted the Sheriff's Office, which had no prior involvement with the case, in March 2014.

Robinson was arrested by a deputy in April and charged with menacing in the second degree.

"Significantly, the New York State Police, to this day, believe that Mr. Robinson should not have been charged and are not supportive of his prosecution," DeCarolis wrote in his motion.

Finnell wrote in his motion that for basic facts -- the facts contained in the DA's own files -- he agrees. He does not agree with statements by DeCarolis that go to the state of mind or thoughts of Robinson or other parties involved.

These would include the assertion by DeCarolis that Mrs. Crooks often initiated the contact with Robinson and was a "willing participant in their communication."

DeCarolis also stated that "Due to Mr. Crook's relentless and persistent actions, aggressive demeanor and verbal threats, Mr. Robinson felt threatened in his own home."

Finnell said that Robinson's actions rose to the level of probable cause for his arrest.

In addressing one of the points Kunego is asked to consider in the motion for dismissal, Finnell wrote, "The events that led to the conflict are somewhat unique and are not likely to be repeated by this defendant. The typical societal justifications for punishment, rehabilitation, retribution and deterrence are perhaps less applicable to this fact pattern. However, the defendant here might have employed other, less inherently dangerous methods in his claimed defense of his person and property, which methods would not subject him to the possibility of criminal prosecution."

One of the key factors Kunego must consider is whether dismissal would cause the public to loose confidence in the justice system.

DeCarolis argued that public sentiment is clearly behind Robinson already, citing comments left on news media accounts of Robinson's arrest (The Batavian has provided nearly exclusive coverage of Robinson's arrest).

"People expect to be able to protect their 'castle' from attack," DeCarolis wrote. "Mr. Robinson's castle was under attack by Mr. Crooks and public opinion in form of comments on the reporting of this story in the news are overwhelmingly supportive of Mr. Robinson and his actions to thwart an uninvited and threatening presence on his property."

Finnell used an analogy of about speeding tickets in his answer and concluded, "The decision of whether or not to charge in the above scenario (or dismiss in the interests of justice in this case) requires the decision maker (the court) to look beyond what is literal and do what is right. The public's confidence in the criminal justice system will be bolstered with the just decision here, no matter what that decision ultimately is."

If the case isn't dismissed, it will likely go to trial, at which point, DeCarolis is likely to raise the defense -- also a part of his dismissal motion -- that state law allows a person to defend his person and property.

"... a person may be legally justified in his actions when he acts not only to protect himself but also to prevent a criminal trespass or even prevent damage to premises," DeCarolis wrote. "In these instances the law allows for a person to go so far as to use physical force in order to defend against these various threats."

Don Patterson
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Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Apr 21 2014 - 9:35pm

This is one of those stories where you scratch your head and tell yourself there has to be more to this story. Why on earth would the Sheriff's Department make the decision to arrest Robinson more than a year after the original incident. Then the DA compounds the error by prosecuting Robinson, why? Does Crooks know somebody in the Sheriff's Dept or the District Attorney's Office? I'd love to know the Sheriff's take on his deputies actions and the District Attorney rational for prosecuting. I hope the judge does the right thing and consignees this to the trash can.

Julie Morales
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Last seen: 1 week 3 days ago
Joined: Nov 27 2009 - 1:29pm

Wondering what Mr. Robinson could have been doing when Crooks trespassed to look into his window after banging on his door and calling him out that WOULDN’T have been considered “menacing.” Knitting? Frosting cupcakes? Blowing him kisses? What was he supposed to be doing while someone beats down his door, pretend nothing is happening?

More to the story, yes, I agree.

cj sruger
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Last seen: 9 hours 27 min ago
Joined: Jun 18 2009 - 12:04pm

he should have waited until he came thru the window and finished the job!

John Woodworth JR
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Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: May 28 2009 - 11:13am

Hmmm, did Crooks embellish the incident to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department? Did the GCSD talk to the NYSP Investigators on this matter? Did their decision have something to do with New York's SAFE ACT law?

If, Crooks was threatening and trying to gain access to Robinson's house then he has the right to defend. He did not shoot Crooks and he did not brandished the shotgun in public, it was within the privacy of his own home.

shelly mathers
shelly mathers's picture
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: Dec 29 2009 - 2:43pm

There is no reason he should be charged. This is a waste of time and money for the DA.

Kyle Couchman
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Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
Joined: Dec 25 2009 - 8:54am

I'm sure Howard will correct me if I am wrong but.... It was my understanding that the 911 operator was reported to have instructed Robinson to arm himself due the the pounding and shouting they heard over the phone line.

Either way it's obvious that lack of communication between the SP and GCSD allowed Crooks to use the legal system to harass and get revenge on Mr. Robinson after the fact.

Howard B. Owens
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Last seen: 1 week 3 days ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

No, the operator, according to reports, instructed him to shout out that he had a gun.

Kyle Couchman
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Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
Joined: Dec 25 2009 - 8:54am

Ok my bad Howard, but I was close :D

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