May 052015

May 5, 2015

media contact: Sujata S. Gibson, Esq. | 607. 327. 3284


Sujata S. Gibson, Esq.

Statement from We Are Seneca Lake Attorney Sujata S. Gibson, Esq. in Response to District Attorney Fazzary

We understand the District Attorney intends to revoke his offer of support for the remaining mass dismissals of the protest charges. We are surprised and disappointed by this decision and will be addressing it in court, as there is a question about whether such a prosecutorial reversal of a voluntary offer made on the record is appropriate under law.

None of the remaining defendants who were offered the District Attorney’s support in their motions to dismiss has violated any tenant of their agreement with the prosecution. Under the plain language of the offer, all of the 84 remaining defendants who were supposed to have their cases dismissed last week complied with their end of the bargain.

The agreed upon language that formed of the basis of the motion to dismiss in the interest of justice was explicit and encompasses the entirety of the agreement. [Complete text below.] The only “promise” anyone made in that motion was that, as each person made this motion, each movant had no present intention of breaking the law as they continued to protest, though they each reserved the right to act as their conscience dictated going forward.

Contrary to certain allusions that we’ve seen in the press attributed to Mr. Fazzary, there were no other promises or assurances made by any member of the legal team. We attorneys made it clear on the record and off that the defendants were not promising even for themselves that there would be no more arrests, leave aside making an impossible claim that non-movants would never be arrested protesting. The District Attorney acknowledged in court that he understood this and indicated that each person should be aware that the offer of support for each defendant would be extended only once each– if anyone made the motion and got rearrested, they would have to go to trial the next time. He explicitly reserved a decision on whether people who were arrested for the first time after the offer was made would also be supported in a motion to dismiss and warned that new arrestees after March 18th may not get an offer of support for dismissal. However, he was quite clear that all those with charges pending as of March 18th would be supported in their motions to dismiss on all the charges pending. This is the extent of any “deal” that was made. The prosecution asked the remaining defendants to submit notarized statements saying the same, and they did. None of the movants have been rearrested.  We were scheduled to hold the last of the dismissals on April 30th, 2015, when the District Attorney announced that he was revoking support and seeking an adjournment.

The arrest of nineteen non-movants on Earth Day should have no bearing on the offer extended to the eighty four defendants with pending offers to support dismissals. Four Judges have now granted the dismissals in the interests of justice, including Judge Berry, who will be hearing the motions for the remaining 84 or so who were originally offered support. There is nothing that separates these 84 from the 60 that got the dismissals, other than that their court dates were scheduled later, and we hope the Judge will be consistent in his ruling for them, with or without the prosecution’s support.



News stories: 

“DA: Seneca Protest Leaders Didn’t Follow Pact’s Terms,” May 1

“Charges Won’t be Dropped for 84 Crestwood Protesters,” April 30

“19 New Protesters, Including 7 from Tompkins, Arrested at Crestwood’s Gates,” April 22

“New York Winemakers Fight Gas Storage Plan Near Seneca Lake,” New York Times,  Dec. 25


Full text of the Motion to Dismiss in the Interests of Justice:

We only have this planet. We must safeguard it for those who follow. Would that it not be necessary, but sometimes citizens of good conscience must engage in non-violent acts of civil disobedience to protect that sacred trust. As long as Crestwood Midstream Partners, or any other corporate or public or private entity, continues to threaten our way of life by the proven dangerous storage of highly compressed gas in the crumbling caverns at the Salt Point facility, I reserve the right to act as my conscience dictates in order to protect Seneca Lake, its citizens, and the surrounding environment. I reserve all rights to protest further at the Crestwood facility, although it is not my intent at this time to break the law in doing so.

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 Posted by at 5:36 pm