Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system knows that those famed wheels grind slowly. In the case of the now soap-operatic Rosenstrach affair, the wheels not only zig-zag, but they spin crazily around. There are more twists and turns than you can find in an Agatha Christie novel.
The latest major turn is that the case has divided neatly into separate halves. A third “half,” the civil case, appears to be in limbo at the moment. As a result, two special prosecutors — one of them called a “special district attorney” — have been appointed by the New York State Supreme Court to take the place of Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka, who disqualified himself from the criminal case.
The new players in the piece are Albany attorney Thomas A. Cappezza, the “special prosecutor,” who has been tasked with investigating the possibility of bribery and other crimes revolving around a proposed settlement between the four defendants and the victim. Albany attorney James P. Melita entered the fray this week as the “special district attorney,” who will determine the fate of an appeal seeking to overturn state Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Marcelle’s decision to toss out the case, lock, stock and barrel. This is a good place to note that an actual appeal has not yet been filed and no one has been charged with any crime.
The Rosenstrach assault case began in July 2020 just as the pandemic opened its own assault on Columbia County. Nearly three years later, the four defendants are free, and yet the case goes on, but in a new mutated form. That’s remarkable, and no one can say with certainty when the book will be closed. Who, if anybody, will be ensnared in this complex story’s next chapter? And how much more time will be spent to arrive at justice for all?
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