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LeRay judge faults software while dismissing assault case against former Carthage school official

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A town judge finds computer software guilty of slowing the wheels of justice in his court.

It took LeRay Town Justice George E. Mead III 17 months and 17 days from the date of a trial, Aug. 22, 2011, to render a not-guilty verdict for Jan B. LaRock, who had been charged with third-degree assault while she was assistant superintendent of the Carthage Central School District.

Mrs. LaRock, who retired from her position with the district in September 2011, had a one-day nonjury trial on allegations that on Sept. 18, 2009, in front of her West Carthage home, she thrust a car door against Ryan M. Beirman, West Carthage, injuring his left leg and arm. Mr. Beirman was getting into his car after having attempted to serve Mrs. LaRock with a subpoena intended for her daughter, Trisha Covey.

Justice Mead, dating his ruling Feb. 9, dismissed the charge. He said Friday he found that Assistant District Attorney Rodney W. Kyle “did not meet the burden of creditable proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But what took so long, the judge was asked.

After testimony was closed, Justice Mead adjourned the matter to allow the prosecuting and defense attorneys to file summations and motions. Mr. Kyle and defense attorney Dennis G. O’Hara needed transcripts of digitally recorded testimony before they could prepare their documents for the judge, and that is where justice went into a silent stall, Justice Mead said.

Three times, the court prepared CDs containing testimony and, each time, a transcriptionist reported she was getting nothing off the discs, he said.

Initially, “we didn’t know about it,” he said. Finally, after the court started asking about the holdup, the transcriptionist’s issues were revealed.

After a subsequent CD was prepared, “we knew the testimony was there because we tested it,” he said. “But the transcriptionist still said there was nothing there.”

The judge concluded, “It had to be something with her software.”

With the continued failures, the attorneys agreed to make their summations and motions without benefit of a transcript, he said.

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