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District Attorney Argues for Restoration of County Funding

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The first of the lawsuits seeking to reverse the budget cuts were argued Tuesday in State Supreme Court.

First out of the box was District Attorney Frank Clark. Legal arguments presented by Clark's attorneys sought to reverse the last round of cuts made by the County Legislature.

The DA claims the additional $1 million in cuts would reduce his office to 59 assistant district attorneys, down from 98. And that, attorneys told the judge, would make it impossible for the office to fulfill its mandated duties.

Clark's Attorney Joseph Sedita believes they have a strong case.

"I know the Judge is studying deeply," said Sedita. "So, I think he's looking at it from all angles, but I think he's going to feel himself constrained by the limitations of the judicial function. However, we're pretty confident that they're not so limited that they can't grant relief in this instance."

Sedita says what's at stake is the prosecution of everything from misdemeanor DWI cases to felony assaults. Justice Makowski acknowledged the important mandate of the DA's office. But the Judge also agreed that he's found nothing in the charter that requires a specific level of funding to meet those mandates. Giambra Administration attorney Carol Heckman says what he decides will matter.

"Yes, I think everyone else in other cases is watching this case to see where it goes," said Heckman. "It would definitely have an impact -- no question."

Makowski reserved decision until Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. A long-list of other cases from other departments and unions will follow. As many as 2,000 jobs are riding on these legal decisions.