It’s the coach, not the school

Niagara County today celebrates Coach John Beilein Day.

The Niagara County Legislature declared the observance earlier this week to honor the Niagara County native who led the University of Michigan men’s basketball team to the national championship game.

Beilein could not make it to Lockport to receive the citation in person, but his niece, Sara Capen, her husband Mike and their three children attended the declaration on Tuesday, wearing maize and blue Michigan garb.

“Those aren’t my colors,” said Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, who attended Michigan State and played on the Spartans’ Rose Bowl team in 1953.

“Like Chairman Ross, I graduated from Michigan State,” Sara Capen added. “You’ll notice I’m wearing [a T-shirt with the words] ‘unBeileinable,’ not necessarily ‘Michigan.’ ”

Thankfully, no University of Louisville alumni showed up to remind us of their win over the Wolverines.

Weather or not

Our readers might think News reporters generally aim for the front page when writing news stories.

But defense attorney Joseph Agro has us figured out. The best placement, he reveals, is near the weather maps on the last page of the local news section.

During a recent trial, Agro complained to the judge about The News’ coverage of his client, Antoine J. Garner, whom jurors eventually convicted of choking and assaulting a prostitute. Garner is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Agro’s requests for a mistrial started during jury selection.

“The New York Post has nothing on The Buffalo News,” Agro told Erie County Judge Kenneth F. Case, comparing The News to the New York tabloid.

Where the story ran bothered him.

“They put it where the weather is, where they know strategically most people are going to turn to,” Agro said. “We live in Buffalo, OK. If this case ever went up on appeal, the people in the Appellate Division would know that, generally, the people in Buffalo check to see what the weather is going to be. It’s the Top Three things that they do in their lives around here.”

It’s too soon to know where coverage of Garner’s sentencing will appear in the paper. But we’re bracing for Agro’s reaction if it’s next to a weather story on the front page.

This one’s for you

The fashion choices made by some defendants can be puzzling.

Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III recently offered some legal advice to one such defendant.

Joseph M. Gaines showed up for his arraignment on a driving while intoxicated charge and other charges.

The 50-year-old Wilson man has a prior conviction for drunken driving, so he should know the drill.

As he pleaded not guilty to his felony charges, he wore a bright red racing-style jacket emblazoned with sponsor patches, including a very large well-known sponsor prominently written in signature cursive across the chest.

Gaines took the jacket off before he stood before the judge, but not before the jacket caught the judge’s eye.

James J. Faso Jr., Gaines’ attorney, and Deputy District Attorney Theodore Brenner were summoned to the bench.

“Next time I would instruct your client not to wear a jacket that says Budweiser on it before he appears in court on DWI charges,” the judge was clearly overheard telling Faso.

The long walk

A judge had his hands full with some jurors this week.

State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia called nine jurors, one at a time, to the jury box and questioned them about what a fellow juror said in the jury room the day before.

A fellow juror reported hearing her say something like “if you’re arrested, you must be guilty of something.”

“We may not be hearing much testimony but we’re getting good exercise,” the judge quipped in between jurors walking to and from the jury box.

The judge declared a mistrial.

By Patrick Lakamp, with contributions from Thomas Prohaska and Nancy Fischer email: