The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected a motion by Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. to file under seal his brief in a political case involving the Working Families Party and a 2009 City Council election on Staten Island.
Donovan, who sought to be relieved from the case for reasons he has never publicly disclosed, had asked the high court for permission to file his brief under seal, and also asked to serve his adversaries a redacted version. In a terse order Tuesday, the court denied the motion.
The court is slated to hear Matter of Working Families Party v. Fisher, 2013-996, on April 29.
At issue is whether the “actual prejudice” standard needed to disqualify a district attorney is applicable when the prosecutor himself asks to be replaced. Also at issue is whether Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Fern Fisher had the authority to remove Donovan from the case and appoint Roger Bennett Adler as special district attorney.
Although Donovan has not revealed why he bowed out of the case or why various documents should be kept secret, he has implied that public disclosure could prejudice entities or individuals under investigation.His office declined comment on the court’s decision.
Avi Schick of Dentons USA, who represents the party along with Richard Zuckerman and Kiran Patel, maintained that denying the defendants a full and unredacted brief would deprive them of their “fundamental right to review and respond” to Donovan’s arguments.
“For four years, District Attorney Donovan has refused to release the basis or rationale for the appointment of a special prosecutor, saying instead ‘trust me,’ Schick said in response to the court’s order on Tuesday. “The Court of Appeals rejected that offer, saying in essence ‘show us.’ We look forward to seeing what has been kept secret all these years.”