Chris Charvella granted permission to start attending county legislature meetings again
Chris Charvella can start attending Genesee County Legislature meetings again.
Town of Batavia Justice Mike Cleveland today adjusted the order of protection barring him from showing up at the place of business of Legislator Jay Grasso.
Grasso has accused Charvella of harassing him for leaving a message on his home phone that said, "Thanks for reading my blog."
Charvella is charged with harassment, 2nd. Under the statute, he is accused of making a phone call with no legitimate purpose.
Along with attorney E. Robert Fussell, Charvella, a Democratic committee member, appeared in Town of Batavia Court today for a status hearing.
Fussell indicated he is preparing motions to challenge the constitutionality of the charge, but the only request today was to change the order of protection issued in Town of Le Roy Court when Charvella was first arrested. The order prohibits Charvella from having any contact with Grasso.
"It's certainly has been my practice to attend meetings of the legislature," said Charvella, who ran for a seat on the county board in 2009. "That's a practice I would like to continue."
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini object to the change in the order, saying that Charvella was offered a plea deal that would have altered the court order and given Charvella
a conditional discharge of the case.* Since Charvella turned down that offer and the case may go to trial, Cianfrini said, Charvella should be kept away in all circumstances from Grasso, since Grasso is both the alleged vicitm and a potential witness in any trial.
(UPDATE: Cianfrini called to clarify: Charvella was offered an adjournament in contemplation of dismissal, meaning the case would be dismissed with no record (all court records would be sealed) if Charvella stayed out of trouble for six months).
Grasso, a Republican, is Le Roy's elected representative on the legislature.
Outside of court, Fussell wouldn't confirm that he and his client intend to take the case to trial. He would only say, "I'm preparing motions." He said the motions would be based on constitutional issues.
During the hearing today, Fussell gave some indication of what those arguments will be, telling Cleveland, "If a politician doesn't like what a constituent has to say, it would be very, very chilling (to block meeting attendance). He (Charvella) should be allowed to attend these things."
Those motions must be filed by April 15 and Charvella's next court appearance was set for 4:30 p.m., May 23.
For previous coverage of the Chris Charvella and Jay Grasso case, click here.