April 07, 2020

Contempt action dissolved against Rockland attorney

ROCKLAND — A contempt of court action against Rockland attorney Robert Levine was dissolved Friday by Superior Court Justice Francis Marsano. Marsano issued the order last month for “insolent” argument in a motion entered by Levine.

Levine represented Rockland City Councilor Patrick Reilley in a trial on charges of drunken driving and improper influence. Arresting officers said Reilley reminded them that he was scheduled to vote on the Police Department budget the following night.

A Rockland jury convicted Reilley of drunken driving, but a mistrial was declared when they could not come to a unanimous verdict on the influence charge, with a single juror holding out for an innocent verdict.

In a motion to dismiss the influence charge, Levine presented a hypothetical situation in which Marsano was stopped by a state trooper who was scheduled to appear in Marsano’s court for a divorce. In that hypothetical scenario, Levine compared Marsano’s response to Reilley’s response to police on the night of his arrest. After reading the motion, Marsano issued the contempt order. Levine later apologized to the judge.

Marsano had also dismissed the charge of improper influence against Reilley, much to the displeasure of District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau.

Rushlau said he had no further avenues on the improper influence charge. “But that does not change my view that it was not appropriate for the judge to decide this case. I was surprised by his decision and still disagree that he could exercise that kind of discretion.”

The district attorney said there was “absolutely no politics” involved in the decision to prosecute Reilley. “The case flowed out of the political process because the statue involves bribery and corruption of public officials. But the prosecution was based on the evidence, not politics,” the district attorney said.

Levine had argued to the jury that the case was sparked by “small-town politics.”

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