Lawyer Sues District Attorney

Attorney sues DA over new drunken driving policies August 8, 2006, 11:41

MINEOLA, N.Y. — A district attorney elected last fall on a promise to
limit plea bargains is being sued by a defense attorney who claims the
prosecutor’s new policies on DWI cases are unconstitutional.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said she is not backing
away from the changes, which include the creation of a separate courtroom
for DWI cases. She also wants permanent criminal records for first-time
offenders convicted of having a blood-alcohol level of 0.13 percent or
more. The legal limit in the state is 0.08 percent.

Rice has also stiffened her office’s approach to plea deals, insisting
she has the final word on sentences, not the judge.

Attorney Thomas Liotti on Monday filed a show-cause order for his
client _ a St. John’s University student charged in May with misdemeanor
drunken driving _ claiming the student will not be treated fairly under
Rice’s policies.

Rice, however, dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous.

“I’m actually quite proud of the fact that drunk drivers are treated
more harshly here in Nassau County than anywhere else in the state,” she
said. She said in the past, first time DWI offenders were given the
equivalent of a traffic ticket.

“That is why drunk driving is an epidemic in Nassau County,” she said.
“I will stand with the victims of drunk driving, with the families of the
victims of drunk driving who say ‘enough is enough.’


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