No politics involved, Charvella case being handled by staff, DA says
Sure there's a free speech consideration, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said when discussing the arrest of local Democrat activist Chris Charvella on a charge of aggravated harassment, 2nd.
But the statute he's charged under has nothing to do with the content of the phone message Charvella left for Republican Legislator Jay Grasso.
The statute is about making a phone call "for no legitimate purpose other than to harass or annoy," Friedman said.
The content of the message matters only in helping to establish intent, and intent is a matter, ultimately, only a judge or jury can decide.
"That's always true," Friedman said.
Critics of Charvella's arrest have expressed concern that the 30-year-old Batavia resident won't get a fair hearing in Genesee County because of his political affiliation.
Friedman, a Republican, said politics plays no part of it.
"I've been in this job 29 years and I challenge anyone to say politics has played a part in my decision making," Friedman said.
The case is being handled by one of Friedman's five assistant attorneys, and as is often the case, he said he isn't personally involved. Friedman said how the case is handled is entirely up to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell.
Because of the jurisdiction of the case -- a town court, where ADAs handle the caseload -- and the nature of the charges, it's a case that he does not routinely follow.
"I don’t intend to get personally involved in this case, so my political affiliation is irrelevant," Friedman said. "My political affiliation is always irrelevant. I don’t look at anybody’s politics when I get involved in a case, neither the victims nor the defendants nor the witnesses nor anybody else."
He added, "I don't get involved just because a case is in the media."
Friedman said he hasn't read the case file and only knows about Charvella's arrest from what he's read in media reports.
For previous coverage of Charvella's arrest for allegedly harassing Grasso, click here.
Photo: File photo.