Cuomo Hands Paterson Case to an Ex- Judge
By DANNY HAKIM
ALBANY — Facing growing political pressure, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on
Thursday appointed an independent counsel to take over his office’s investigation into the
Paterson administration’s response to a domestic violence case.
Mr. Cuomo said Judith S. Kaye, the former chief judge of New York, would lead the inquiry,
along with an investigation into whether the governor lied when he was questioned by the State
Commission on Public Integrity about his office’s solicitation of Yankees World Series tickets.
The development came as a surprise; Mr. Cuomo had previously expressed no public
reservations about taking on the sensitive cases, even as he prepared to announce his candidacy for governor, and his staff had spent the past two weeks investigating the domestic violence case.
But in recent days, the political complications for Mr. Cuomo became more apparent. The cases
are likely to drag on for weeks if not months, potentially colliding with the start of Mr. Cuomo’s
campaign for governor, which is expected to begin next month.
In addition, some African-American leaders and newspaper editorials had urged him to step
aside, given his political ambitions and the delicate decisions he could confront leading the
“An investigation of a sitting governor of New York is a complex, weighty matter indeed,” Mr. Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday afternoon.
“My office has conducted a preliminary review of both matters,” he added, “and we have
determined that there are credible issues that need to be resolved.”
Those staff members from his office who have been conducting the investigation will now
Report to Ms. Kaye instead of to him.
In a statement, Ms. Kaye thanked Mr. Cuomo for “entrusting me with these serious and
“I promise,” she added, “that the public will haveThe governor’s lawyer, Theodore V. Wells, Jr., said in his own statement: “We respect Attorney General Cuomo’s decision to appoint Chief Judge Kaye as independent counsel to the Office of the Attorney General,” adding that they “look forward to a prompt and favorable conclusion to both investigations.”
a full, fair and independent accounting of the facts.”
But Oscar Michelen, the lawyer for David W. Johnson, the aide involved in the alleged domestic
violence, said Mr. Cuomo should go further and withdraw his staff members from the case.
“After all, this investigation has been proceeding under his direction and control for some
time,” Mr. Michelen said.
“I believe it would have been more prudent and would have completely removed any specter of political motivation to have allowed Judge Kaye to take over with her own staff and team. I hope that he re-evaluates this decision and comes to the conclusion to do just that.”
In his conference call with reporters, Mr. Cuomo said his decision was driven not by politics,
but by his concern about the appearance of a conflict of interest.
“I understand the political environment, and I understand the ferocity of politics in New York,”
he said, “and I understand that it is incredibly important to all of us that the public have 100
percent confidence that this investigation is being handled properly.”
Mr. Paterson, who like Mr. Cuomo is a Democrat, ended his own candidacy last month in the
wake of the domestic violence scandal. But some African-American leaders have expressed
concern that the controversy has been overblown and worry that the governor will not get a full
hearing for his side of the story.
Last weekend, Charles Barron, a New York City councilman, called on Mr. Cuomo to recuse
himself from the domestic violence case. Ms. Kaye, who spent nearly 16 years as the state’s chief judge before her retirement in 2008, now works at Skadden, Arps. She was appointed in 1983
to the Court of Appeals by Mr. Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, and was the first
woman to serve on the state’s highest court. Ms. Kaye will not be paid in her role as
It is unclear exactly how long the inquiries will take. Mr. Cuomo said his office had reviewed
hundreds of pages of documents and thousands of e-mail messages, and had interviewed
dozens of witnesses in what he called a preliminary review of the domestic violence case, before
determining a more thorough investigation was warranted.
Mr. Paterson himself called for one of the investigations after The New York Times reported
last month that a companion of Mr. Johnson’s had gone to court seeking a protective order
after what she described as an assault inside the apartment she shared with him.
The woman complained in court that the State Police had pressured her to drop the case, and the administration conceded that the State Police had contacted the woman, Sherr-una Booker. In addition, Mr. Paterson has acknowledged he spoke to the woman on the day before a scheduled court appearance on Feb. 8, but has said he did nothing improper.
Ms. Booker ultimately did not show up the next day, and as a result the case was dismissed.
In subsequent days, The Times reported that Mr. Paterson had directed two state workers to
contact Ms. Booker and ask her to play down the episode.
The governor’s press secretary asked the woman to issue a statement describing the episode as nonviolent. Mr. Paterson, according to people briefed on the case, also had several additional phone calls with Ms. Booker after the court date, although it is unclear what was said during those conversations. Mr. Cuomo said it was too early to draw conclusions about the behavior of the governor or anyone else involved.
“We haven’t even had all the witnesses in at this point, and we haven’t even had many of the key witnesses in, so any impression of the ultimate outcome of this case would be certainly,
certainly premature,” he said, adding that his office had not even begun discussions with Mr.
Paterson’s lawyer about setting up an interview.
Asked why the governor had not yet been interviewed, Mr. Cuomo said, “There’s a sequence to
the witnesses, and the witnesses who are going to be most directly involved in the charges
normally come at the end of that sequence.”
The question of whether the governor was truthful during the public integrity commission’s
inquiry into his administration’s solicitation of World Series tickets was only referred to the
attorney general’s office last week.
The commission has said the governor backdated, or had another person backdate, a personal
check to buttress his explanation that he had planned to pay the Yankees for the seats, which
were behind home plate and had a face value of $425 each.
Serge F. Kovaleski and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting. ""
Is everyone Paying Attention to this? Judith Kay doing this investigation should have Red Lights Going on Off Everywhere and Bells and Whistles... Danger - Danger. Judith S. Kaye is VERY conflicted in this, Andrew Cuomo's father appointed her as judge... her connections and affiliations will make it impossible for her to be impartial, in my opinion. Not to mention all the "other" favors owed, and conflicts of interest that are soon to be popping up..
It is my Opinion that Judith S. Kaye was brought in to head this investigation to cover something up, hide something, protect someone - other wise it does not make any sense. I mean Judith Kaye's Proskauer Rose connections alone put her at the top of the Attorney, Judge, Investigator Food Chain. Judge Kaye was on the bench when Proskauer Rose was involved in the theft of a Trillion Dollar Technology and allegedly due to her husband working at Proskauer Rose LLP and Major Connections there... she helped Proskauer Rose to cover up this patent theft... IN my Opinion...
Now the Iviewit Stolen Patent also would call in Favors from Mega-Law Firm Foley and Lardner, and from what I hear that is One Awesome Favor to have owed, as Michael Grebe is said to be one of the most powerful attorneys in the world and Michael Grebe ran Foley and Lardner when the Iviewit Technologies Patent was Stolen.
Guess you can't investigate a Governor and Run For Governor huh... so Bring in an old Stand by that you can count on to do What is "needed of her"... Watch this One Close Folks..
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