Tag Archives: County Attorney Cheryl Green

Cheryl Green – Not Recommended

19 Oct

The Bar Association of Erie County has released their annual ratings for candidates for New York State Supreme Court and Erie County Court.

It would appear that former Erie County Attorney and current candidate for the State Supreme Court (and our old friend), Cheryl Green, did not fare too well.

Judicial candidates complete a written questionnaire and are rated on criteria including integrity, experience, professional ability, education, reputation, industry, temperament, fairness, statutory standards, attitude, punctuality, and knowledge of the law; all of which are determined through a process which includes a personal interview with each candidate and interviews with lawyers and judges who have had interaction with the candidates.

The ratings are defined in the Bar Association of Erie County’s Judicial Rating Application:

The great public responsibility and power of the bench necessitates that the measure of qualification for judicial office must be greater than that required for the private practice of law. To be rated “Qualified” the applicant must meet each of the listed criteria to a reasonable degree. A rating of “Well Qualified” requires qualifications to a high degree, and a rating of “Outstanding” requires qualifications even beyond that high standard. In assessing an applicant’s qualifications it must be remembered that meeting the ‘standards of professional conduct expected of lawyers in their relationships with the public, with the legal system, and with the legal profession,’ is at least as important as the requirement of knowledge and proficiency in technical aspects of the practice of law.

Green was rated as “Not Recommended” by the Bar Association.  As stated above, to be rated as “Qualified”, the candidate must meet each of the listed criteria to a “reasonable degree“.  Implied in their “Not Recommended” rating is that the former Erie County Attorney does not meet the basic standards for the bench.  Too bad they couldn’t have rated her prior to her appointment as Erie County Attorney, perhaps we could have saved taxpayer monies spent defending Sheriff Howard’s willful flouting of standards and pointless arguments with the federal government on jail standards.  As Jim Heaney said in The Buffalo News, her scorecard on the fight against implementation of federal standards at the Eire County Holding Center went, umm, poorly…

Let’s see, that makes her one for six (in her legal battles with the federal government). With that batting average — .167, for the record — she’d be headed for the minors if she was playing for the Bisons. The low minors, at that.

I guess that explains why Green’s boss, County Executive Chris Collins, gave her the OK to retain an outside law firm at $425 an hour to handle the Justice Department’s suit against the county for conditions at the Holding Center.
With her batting average, would you want Green handling your legal affairs?

The other candidates were rated as follows:

New York State Supreme Court
Deborah A. Chimes ~ Qualified
Hon. Kevin M. Dillon ~ Outstanding
Hon. Eugene M. Fahey ~ Outstanding
Cheryl A. Green ~ Not Recommended
Mark A. Montour ~ Qualified
Hon. Henry J. Nowak ~ Qualified
Catherine Nugent Panepinto ~ Qualified
Mark C. Rodgers ~ Well Qualified
Jeffrey F. Voelkl ~ Qualified
Paul B. Wojtaszek ~ Qualified

Erie County Court
Kenneth F. Case ~ Well Qualified
Hon. James A.W. McLeod ~ Qualified

Erie County Jails

6 Mar

In an interview with Matt Spina of The Buffalo News a few weeks back, Erie County Executive Chris Collins said, “I believe in recognizing the importance of promoting personal accountability and personal responsibility”

Evidently, this statement only applies to the poor, the unemployed and those who dare cast a shadow upon the path of his royal highness of Clarence as he enters the Rath Building each day.  It certainly does not seem to apply to his Sheriff, his County Attorney nor does it seem to apply to him.

We’re going on nearly two years of disturbing problems in our Erie County jails, specifically at the Erie County Holding Center.  With three suicides in four months, and past reports of prisoners being beaten, raped, denied basic medical care and medication, escapes, poor security, mismanagement, and the denial of basic hygienic products, the county prisons are a sordid embarrassment.

The Department of Justice has taken the remarkable step of suing Erie County for access to our mini-Guantanamo Bay in order to investigate these issues after being stonewalled by the County Executive, County Attorney and Sheriff during the past year.  Collins has attempted to turn this into a federalism issue, saying that the DOJ lacks jurisdiction in our local jails.  Erie County Attorney Cheryl Green claims that if the DOJ are allowed to enter the facilities they will begin a “fishing expedition” that will most likely result in Erie County being forced to provide medical care for inmates that far outweighs the benefits that the county employees themselves receive, which is a strawman.

Since December, five inmates have attempted suicide with three ultimately taking their own life.

The DOJ contends in their court filing that the “suicide rate at the Erie County Holding Center is almost five times the national average for local jails”.  Green contends the DOJ is using flawed methodology, a claim the DOJ dismisses.

If this County Executive demanded the same level of personal accountability of his staff as he does the working poor of Erie County, he would demand a wide ranging investigation into the problems in our jails, demand the resignation of  Green and force Sheriff Tim Howard to open his doors to experts and investigators.

Instead, we get dismissive references to coddling criminals and inferences that the Department of Justice has some sort of hidden agenda and is a creeping entity of a monolithic federal government.

“I would have to ask the general public, who do you trust more, the federal government, the state government or your local government?” Tim Howard said. “And I think most people I talk to say they have most trust in their local government.”

What has this Sheriff done to earn the trust of the local populace?  Did he earn our trust by ignoring recommendations to secure his facilities which led to Ralph “Bucky” Phillips’ escape from an Erie County jail? After his escape, Phillips shot three state troopers, ultimately killing State Trooper Joseph Longobardo. The Phillips manhunt also cost the state millions of dollars.  In a state investigation following Phillips’ escape, it was found that the Sheriff “willfully operated the Alden Correctional Facility in an unsafe manner”.

Did Sheriff Howard earn our trust when a clerk in the Sheriff’s office mistakenly released rapist Rasheed Milton only to have him rape again while he was on the loose?

Did he earn our trust in 2007 when Robert Henchen died of pneumonia caused by starvation and dehydration while in Erie County custody?

This is a matter of public safety and of our community integrity.  Will we let these abuses continue or will we have the courage to demand action?

People are dying on your watch, Mr. Collins.  It’s time to stand up and be accountable. Or is accountability just for the less fortunate?

Erie County Legislature Resolutions on County Jails

6 Mar

At the regular Erie County Legislature session on Thursday, a Resolution was passed that urges the County Executive and the Sheriff to advise the Legislature on procedures at Erie County Correctional Facility and Holding Center.

The legislation, introduced by Majority Leader Maria Whyte (D-Buffalo, 6th District) was directed at the County Executive and his Administration as well as the Sheriff’s Department and sought answers on policies and procedures at both facilities. In particular it asked County Attorney Cheryl Green to produce documentation outlining the policy with regards to screening inmates for suicide prevention and what, if any, action can be taken in regards to removing prisoner’s shoelaces.

The Resolution also called on the Administration and the Sheriff to grant immediate access to the Holding Center and Correctional Facility for a Suicide Prevention Specialist.

“This issue is fundamentally important to why we exist as a Legislative body,” stated Majority Leader Maria Whyte (D-Buffalo, 6th District) “contained in this Resolution we are formally asking for documents the County Attorney has already agreed to provide but that we have not yet seen. It also calls for immediate access by the suicide prevention specialist and the gravity of the situation requires us to act immediately on these issues. I want the voters of Erie County to know that we, as a Legislative Body, are monitoring this issue and working to provide answers.”

“We are all deeply disturbed by the news from the Holding Center. We are working hard to see what actionable items we, as the County Legislature, can take to try to avoid these problems in the future,” said Erie County Legislature Chair Barbara Miller-Williams (D-Buffalo, 3rd District). “today was a step, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the Administration and the Sheriff to implement policies that will improve conditions, we call upon them to do that immediately and to report those actions to the Legislature.”

A RESOLUTION TO BE SUBMITTED BY LEGISLATORS WHYTE, GRANT, MARINELLI, LOUGHRAN, MILLER-WILLIAMS & MAZUR

RE: Erie County Holding Center Correctional Facility Citizen’s Advisory Commission

WHEREAS, allegations abound about the lack of basic necessities such as toilet paper and tooth brushes, as well as medically necessary prescription drugs at the Erie County Holding Center and Correctional Facility; and

WHEREAS, more serious allegations about prisoner abuse and rape have also surfaced including during testimony offered at a Public Safety Committee Meeting in 2009; and

WHEREAS, three suicides along with two attempted suicides have occurred in the last four months at the Holding Center; and

WHEREAS, it has been reported that the Erie County Holding Center has a suicide rate of nearly five times the national average; and

WHREAS, the public outcry over conditions at the Holding Center and Correctional Facility have resulted in a call for a Erie County Jail Citizen’s Advisory Commission.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Erie County Legislature invite individuals, civic organizations, and all other interested parties into the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee to discuss the establishment, composition, responsibility, and duties of an Erie County Jail Citizen’s Advisory Commission; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Erie County Legislature study how such Commissions have been used effectively in other areas of the country; and be it further

RESOLVED, that certified copies of this resolution be sent to the County Executive, the County Attorney, the Comptroller, the Sheriff, and the acting Jail Superintendent.

Also filed on March 4th, 2010:

AMENDMENT TO INTRO 4-10 (2010)

RESOLVED, that the County Attorney immediately file with the Clerk of the Legislature the following documents: the section of New York State law pertaining to footwear for incarcerated individuals; the written review conducted by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care in which Erie County was recognized for following the “best practice” model for 12 out of 13 suicide prevention strategies; all written materials (including but not limited to training manuals, checklists, questionnaires, etc.) related to the internal policies and procedures used by Erie County personnel in the identification of potentially suicidal inmates; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Erie County Legislature call upon the County Executive, County Attorney, Sheriff, and First Deputy Superintendent of the Jail Management Division to revisit all suicide prevention strategies currently in place at the Holding Center and the Correctional Facility and provide a written report to the Legislature within fourteen days regarding how and why such protocol may not have been successful at identifying the suicidal nature of certain inmates; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Erie County Legislature call upon the County Executive, County Attorney, and Sheriff to immediately grant access to the Holding Center and the Correctional Facility to a Suicide Prevention Specialist who can advise Erie County on any additional protocol jail personnel might employ in identifying suicidal inmates; and be it further