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SPCA wants judge removed from horse case

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WBFO News photo by Michael Mroziak
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Hoskins horse being cared for by SPCA

By Eileen Buckley

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-977185.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The Erie County SPCA is calling on a local judge to remove himself from an East Aurora horse farm case. The case against Beth Hoskins is almost a year-and-a-half old, with no resolution.

In March of 2010, 73-horses were rescued from an East Aurora breeding farm owned by Hoskins. She accused of 125 counts of animal cruelty. But one year ago this week, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Glownia ordered the return of 40 of the horses back to Hoskins.

The case has been stalled for months and now the SPCA is calling on the judge to remove himself. Gina Browing is public relations director at the SPCA.

"Now we find out that the Supreme Court judge has a family connection to the defendant, and it's discouraging," said Browning.

The judge disclosed at a meeting that he had learned, for the first time, that his son-in-law works for Hoskins' parents, who are the owners of Curtis Screw Company.

Browning said it was at that meeting that the judge noted that due to his close association, he would have difficulty being totally impartial. SPCA's attorney Ralph Lorigo sent a letter on July 5th. asking the judge to recuse himself.

A bond hearing was postponed four times and ,Hoskins had fired her original attorneys in the case. Settlement discussions have also been halted. Hoskins operates a breeding farm known as the Eden Farm on Emery Road. Browning says the SPCA worries about the future care of the horses. The SPCA continues its care of 33-of Hoskins horses. So far there is no word from the judge on the request to recuse himself.

The following is a copy of the letter issued by the attorney for the SPCA:

July 5, 2011

Hon. Joseph R. Glownia New York State Supreme Court 92 Franklin Street Buffalo NY 14202

RE: Index No. I2010-5704 Erie County SPCA v. Beth L. Hoskins

Dear Judge Glownia:

Let me first thank you for your efforts in trying to resolve the issues in the above mentioned matter.

As you may be aware, the settlement discussions have stopped and each party appears to be purusing their legal rights and remedies.

At our last meeting, you mentioned that you had learned for the first time that Ms. Hoskins' parents are the owners of Curtis Screw Company, LLC and that your son-in-law works for that company. You did state that because of this close association, you would have difficulty with being totally impartial and, in addition, would want to make sure there was no appearance of impropriety. As a result, you mentioned you would consider recusing yourself from this case.

Since a settlement has not been effectuated, we are thereby asking that you do recuse yourself and have this case moved as quickly as possible to another Supreme Court Judge so that we can attempt to finalize the legal issues that remain.

Very truly yours,

Ralph C. Lorigo