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June 27, 2012 - 6:08pm

Attorney says there will be a trial in Christmas Eve Walmart assault case

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Jacquetta Simmons.

In Genesee County Court today, attorney Earl Key, representing Jacquetta Simmons, the 26-year-old Batavia resident accused of punching a 70-year-old Walmart employee on Christmas Eve, asked Judge Robert C. Noonan a series of specific questions about how juries are selected in his courtroom.

Key was there with co-counsel Ann Nichols and Simmons for a hearing on motions filed by the defense and as things were wrapping up, Key wanted to be sure he understood Noonan's ground rules.

The information will be important because outside of court after the hearing, Key told reporters, "I definitely intend to go to trial."

From the time Key was first retained to represent Simmons, he's said there's more to the case than has been reported in the media.

Asked to elaborate, especially in context of having now reviewed video surveillance tapes from Dec. 24, Key's only example of misinformation was that it's been reported that the victim, Walmart employee Grace Suozzi, was near the front door working as a greeter. She was actually working as a cashier that day.

Asked if the tape showed anything else, such as whether Souzzi grabbed the bag from Simmons, Key said, "I'll let that come out at trial."

Today's hearing was scheduled to cover a series of motions filed by Key, including a challenge to the constitutionality of a section of New York law that makes it a felony for a younger person to hit somebody over age 65.

This motion was supposed to be heard a week ago, but the Attorney General's Office was not notified of the challenge as required by law.

The AG's office has now been notified, but the letter did not include notice of today's scheduled hearing, so Noonan set another date, July 16, for the hearing.

Noonan said if history is any indication, the AG's office will not send a representative to the hearing, but rather write the court and inform Noonan that it opposes the challenge but reserves the right to appeal if Noonan finds the law unconstitutional.

This is at least the second time the law has been challenged by a defense attorney. The first time was in Queens, and that attorney lost his motion, but Key said he's raising two additional matters not addressed by the previous attorney.

While he declined to elaborate on the differences, Key said the main issue he is challenging is the vague language of the statute.

"It's vague in meaning and unclear," Key said. "It’s unclear if our client had to know if the alleged victim was 65 years of age. That’s the real question here."

If there is a trial, jury selection will begin Aug. 20 in county court.

The July 16 hearing will also be the last opportunity for Simmons to accept any possible or potential plea offer. If no plea agreement is reached before Simmons leaves court July 16, she will either go to trial or have to accept an unconditional plea.

Rich Richmond
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Last seen: 6 months 1 week ago
Joined: Mar 29 2011 - 4:50pm

A trial deliberately scheduled on Christmas Eve is no more than a legal circus; a distasteful, disgraceful, parlous perpetrator with the propensity for mindless violence represented by a postulating lawyer; a slap in the face of Christians in our Community.

Doug Yeomans
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What the heck are you talking about?

John Roach
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Do you have your cases mixed up?

Beth Kinsley
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I must admit that when I first read the headline I thought that it said "trial ON Christmas Eve." I'm assuming Richard did also.

Mike Piazza
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I have a question for Mr.Key regarding the vagueness of the law that he is questioning(a challenge to the constitutionality of a section of New York law that makes it a felony for a younger person to hit somebody over age 65).

"If Ms. Simmons knew that Mrs. Suozzi was under the age of 65, would she have held off from attacking her?"

Maybe Ms. Simmons should have asked Mrs. Suozzi her age or proof of her age so she could have made an "educated decision" as to whether or not to attack Mrs. Suozzi.

Rich Richmond
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My apologies, my mistake. I jumped the gun. I read it as the trial being held on Christmas Eve. I will delete.

Rich Richmond
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Read it wrong and I'm sure I'll hear more about it during coffee on Monday

RICHARD L. HALE's picture
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One thing you got right Richard...it is going to be a legal circus.

Scott Birkby
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I noticed that the jury selection begins right after Ramadan ends. Good thinking. If it were held during Ramadan, heads would roll.

bud prevost
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Joined: Jan 11 2009 - 9:12pm

Attorney Key said " I definitely intend to go to trial."
Thank God for pompous, arrogant attorneys. The last thing I want to see is a plea deal. Bring on the jury, and lets get some justice for Ms. Suozzi. I'm certain said counsel will try to utilize the race card, and try to paint the victim as the antagonist. Good luck with that, Earl. Your client assaulted another person, and regardless her age, Jaquetta was wrong and should face the consequences.

Frank Bartholomew
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The only question Mr. Key should ask is why his client would punch anyone in the face for just doing their job.

Autumn Connolly
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The bottom line is she hit someone in the face and broke it. No matter the age you don't touch another person!

Kyle Couchman
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Last seen: 4 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 25 2009 - 8:54am

I agree w the concenus here.... Who cares if this was at the register, or at the front door, looks like Mr. Key is already blowing smoke for the smoke and mirrors dog and pony show.

Ms. Simmons had no right whatsoever to strike Grace while she was doing her job. As was pointed out I'm sure the race card will be thrown in but as the comments at the time the story broke clearly show, Almost all of us have been stopped at Walmart and Target and K-Mart when we have made purchases elsewhere....(the pharmacy or electronics dept) and been asked for our reciept, hell even recent shoplifters still hav enough sense not to outright slug an employee when they've been caught. No matter how you slice it her behavior was unacceptable, and on top of committing this act dont forget that she attempted to flee the scene as well, if not for some bystanders who had to put themselves in harms way to keep her from being driven off before police arrived. She know's she f.....er messed up and tried to run, now through her lawyer she will make even further attemts to divert responsibility from herself to everyone else. I may attend this trial just to see the legal wranglings first hand, could be better than a Law & Order episode.

C. M. Barons
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Last seen: 4 months 11 hours ago
Joined: Jul 29 2008 - 11:56pm

Did anyone suspect a defense attorney was going to tell his client, "You know you're S-O-L on this one. The best I can do is hold your hand while the DA nails you to the wall."

John Roach
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You have to agree with CM on this. What is the defense attorney to do with such a losing hand?

Howard B. Owens
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Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

I'll make the same point I've made many times about many defense attorneys and defendants when conversations have taken this turn before:

In our country, ever accused is entitled to a vigorous defense. The right to a speedy and fair trial is enshrined in our Constitution.

When we're ready to surrender the rights of others, we're really surrendering the same rights for ourselves.

Regardless of what you think of this defendant or any other defendant, you are attacking the very core values of this nation when you attack somebody for standing up for their rights.

I love this country and our freedom too much to ever criticize anybody for standing up for their rights.

Let me be clear, nobody should read anything into my statements regarding my opinion of the conduct of Ms. Simmons. I just find ir rather frightening that people -- and I understand this was the tone and tenor of The Buzz show this morning -- would attack somebody for exercising their constitutional rights.

Nathan Oaksford
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Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I just wish it wasn't costing tax payers to prove she is guilty.

I did have to laugh though when he said, "She was actually a cashier that day, not a greeter." That should win you the case there. Maybe Al and Jesse will show up.

I would be too ashamed to sit in front of a judge knowing that some lady had to go the hospital on Christmas eve because of some stupid decision or whatever you want to call it.

Take your medicine, learn your lessons.

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