Jul 142015


media contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607.351.0719

photos: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/motion-to-dismiss/

Statement from We Are Seneca Lake Attorney Sujata S. Gibson, Esq. in Response to Today’s Reading Town Court Hearings on the Motion to Dismiss in the Interests of Justice

“Today, we argued two motions. The first was a motion to enforce the agreement that the Schuyler County District Attorney made to dismiss charges, in the interests of justice, for 84 Seneca Lake protesters. The second was to argue the underlying grounds for the motion to dismiss in the interests of justice.

“In New York, a pretrial agreement made by a District Attorney is an enforceable contract, and our very ability to administer justice depends on people’s ability to have faith that the People will honor their agreements. In this case, there was a clear offer, made on the record and in front of the Judge. The terms were clear. The District Attorney’s office promised that all defendants with violation level charges pending as of March 19, 2015 could have their case dismissed if they signed or read aloud the motion statement stating that though they could not make any promises for anyone else, and reserved the right to act as their own consciences dictated in the future, they did not have a present plan to break the law in future protests.

“During today’s oral arguments, everyone agreed the defendants had complied with their obligations under the agreement and that the only distinguishing factor between these defendants and those who were dismissed was administrative timing. Indeed, the Assistant District Attorney himself repeatedly said that if these defendants had been scheduled to appear on April 15th instead of April 30th, their cases would have been dismissed as planned.

The point of contention was whether the Earth Day arrest of 19 entirely different people, who are not party to this motion and who had never been arrested before, was a valid reason for the District Attorney to revoke the offer. The defendants attorneys stressed that to allow the cases of nineteen unrelated defendants to have any bearing on the case of the 84 before the court would be a gross miscarriage of the fundamental principles of justice.

“Moreover, the agreement of the People was explicitly not contingent on an end to all future arrests. All parties conceded that the agreement had been clear and that it had been explicitly discussed in front of the Judge in court that there was no expectation that the deal would stop all future arrests. In fact, all parties conceded, either directly or by failure to contest, that the discussion expressly contemplated that even some of those defendants making the motion might get rearrested. The District Attorney’s response had been that he still supported the motion to dismiss, but wouldn’t offer any individual defendants support on their motion if they got arrested again after making the individual motion a first time. Attorneys for the defense pointed out that to the extent that these uncontested factual allegations were contested, an evidentiary hearing would be required, and all of us attorneys would need to give sworn testimony.

“However, a favorable decision on the underlying motion to dismiss would negate the need for such a hearing. Mr. Tunney reminded the Judge that though the People had withdrawn their support, it was still within the Judge’s discretion to grant the motions. In fact, he went so far as to suggest it might be not only his right, but his responsibility to do so.

“Attorneys discussed the ten factors that Judges consider on these motions, and how analysis of each factor counsels for dismissal. We also pointed out that the Judge had already appeared to have made his decision on these motions when he granted the original 42 and then ratified that decision each time defendants moved afterwards under the motion language. We urged the Judge to follow his original decision with the remaining co-defendants and grant them their promised dismissals in the interest of justice.

“Judge Berry heard arguments from all attorneys and told us that we could expect a written decision within a few weeks.”


Since October, 296 people from around the Finger Lakes have been arrested on various dates at the gates of Crestwood Midstream as part of peaceful protests against that company’s plans for gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns. Last March, Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph Fazzary said that he would not oppose a motion to dismiss “in the interests of justice” for 144 protesters whose cases had not yet been adjudicated. Over the next month, 60 people had their charged so dismissed by four different judges in four different town courts. On April 29, after additional demonstrations on Earth Day (April 22), involving all-new protesters, the DA rescinded his offer and, reversing course, said that he now opposes dismissal for the 84 remaining defendants whose court dates were still pending.

During the Reading Town Court hearing on July 14, three attorneys for the defendants, Sujata Gibson, Joseph Heath, and Gerald Kinchy, made oral arguments.

The full text of the motion for dismissal 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.
The 84 defendants from ten different Seneca Lake counties:

Peggy Aker, 57, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Alicia Alexander, 62, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Daryl Anderson, 61, Hector, Schuyler County
Danielle Angie, 36, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Thomas Angie, 62, Aurora, Cayuga County
Barbara Barry, 78, Lansing, Tompkins County
Michael Black, 62, Lakemont, Yates County
Carol Bloomgarden, 50, Hector, Schuyler County
Leslie Brack, 47, Ithaca, Tompkins County
John Burger, 56, Dryden, Tompkins County
William Carini, 53, Newfield, Tompkins County
Neil Clifford, 44, Hector, Schuyler County
Alex Colket, 36, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Patricia Darcey-Walsh, 53, Conesus, Livingston County
Phillip Davis, 62, Hector, Schuyler County
Marie De Mott Grady, 29, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Jodi Dean, 52, Geneva, Ontario County
Marty Dodge, 72, Canandaigua, Ontario County
Josh Dolan, 37, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Alexandra Doniger, 26, Hector, Schuyler County
Marge Ehly, 64, Hector, Schuyler County
Elisa Evett, 69, Brooktondale, Tompkins County
Jessica Evett-Miller, 36, Brooktondale, Tompkins County
Paula Fitzsimmons, 57, Hector, Schuyler County
Daniel Flerlage, 63, Enfield, Tompkins County
Celeste Froehlich, 37, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Chrys Gardener, 53, Newfield, Tompkins County
Leah Grady Sayvetz, 25, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Mimi Gridley, 59, Glenora, Yates County
Cynthia Gorham-Crevelling, 67, Keuka Park, Yates County
Becca Harber, 64, Newfied, Tompkins County
Ellen Harrison, 66, Caroline, Tompkins County
Jennifer Johnson, 68, Corning, Steuben County
Sabrina Johnston, 48, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Sue Kinchy, 68, Brooktondale, Tompkins County
Dave Kunath, 37, Elmira Heights, Chemung County
Pamela Mackesey, 69, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Ilona Marmer, 68, Montour Falls, Schuyler County
Margaret McCasland, 68, Lansing, Tompkins County
Edith McCrea, 46, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Kevin McKinzey, 40, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Nancy Medsker, 59, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Maryl Mendillo, Aurora, Cayuga County
Nancy Miller, 68, Dryden, Tompkins County
Andrew Moore, 38, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Mariana Morse, 66, Caroline, Tompkins County
Rosie Newton, 27, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Edward Nizalowski, 67, Newark Valley, Tioga County
Daphne Nolder, Hector, Schuyler County
Jean Olivett, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County
William Ouweleen, 40, Conensus, Livingston County
Barbara Pease, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Judith Pierpont, 70, Dryden, Tompkins County
Terri Radke, 61, Corning, Steuben County
Warren Radke, 63, Lodi, Seneca County
Hope Rainbow, 24, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Anna Redmond, 30, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Asa Redmond, 40, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Ian Remmers, 24, Hector, Schuyler County
Robert Rossi, 42, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Jane Russell, 64, Pulteney, Steuben County
David Sanchez, 26, Rochester, Monroe County
Sarah Schantz, 61, Odessa, Schuyler County
Sue Schwartz, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Thomas Seaney, 65, Ithaa, Tompkins County
Charlotte Senders, 18, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Gabriel Shapiro, 18, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Anne Sierigk, 57, Hector, Schuyler County
Jessie Smith, 24, Burdett, Schuyler County
Richard Stearns, 54, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Martha Stettinius, 50, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Susan Thomas-Wolfanger, 48, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Seth Thomas, 34, Lodi, Seneca County
Jess Thorpe, 31, Hector, Schuyler County
John Tornow, 69, Seneca, Ontario County
Lisa Trent, 41, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Peter Tringali, 62, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Julia Abernathy Uticone, 40, Cayutaville, Schuyler County
Irene Weiser, 56, Caroline, Tompkins County
Jens Wennberg, 79, Dryden, Tompkins County
John A. Wertis, 81, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Kathleen Wilcox, 70, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Ahrayna Susan Zakos, 39, Ithaa, Tompkins County
Jan Zeseron, Ulysses, Tompkins County

Read more about the protesters at: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.
Read more about widespread objections to Crestwood’s gas storage plans: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/nyregion/new-york-winemakers-fight-gas-storage-plan-near-seneca-lake.html?_r=0.
Read Gannett’s investigative report about the risks and dangers of LPG gas storage: http://www.pressconnects.com/longform/news/local/watchdog/2015/06/26/seneca-gas-storage-debated/29272421/

 Posted by at 1:22 pm