A 48-year-old Humber Avenue man has filed a notice of claim, the first step toward a possible civil lawsuit, claiming he was improperly imprisoned for allegedly threatening an assistant district attorney.
William Payne was jailed from April 8-14 after Erie County Judge Kenneth F. Case revoked his bail upon being informed by the district attorney’s office that Payne had allegedly driven his car near the female prosecutor in his rape trial outside the courthouse on April 7.
The notice against the Erie County District Attorney Office and the Erie County government was filed by Payne’s civil attorney, Eric B. Grossman of Williamsville, based on the week he spent in jail last month.
Payne still faces trial in Erie County Court for a 2012 rape.
Payne’s claim is for “personal injuries and deprivation of freedom as a result of libel, slander, defamation, malicious prosecution, deprivation of due process rights, false arrest, abuse of process, assault and battering stemming from false accusations initiated by the Erie County District Attorney’s office.”
District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III stressed Tuesday night that Payne was not arrested in April.
He said that Judge Case was advised on April 8 that the female prosecutor in Payne’s rape trial felt Payne had accosted her in a car near the courthouse on Delaware Avenue near West Eagle Street after court on April 7. The judge then declared a mistrial and had Payne jailed, the prosecutor said.
“We never had Payne arrested in April, but we did have a legal obligation to advise the trial judge of what had allegedly occurred after the rape trial began that day,” Sedita said.
Joseph A. Agro, Payne’s criminal trial attorney, provided the judge with still photographs from Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority surveillance cameras showing Payne got on a bus April 7 to go to his East Side house. On April 14 Payne was released from the Erie County Holding Center under $25,000 bail.
Case said he believed the prosecutor had merely mistakenly identified Payne as the car driver who accosted her on April 7.
Payne’s trial will resume Aug. 11 on third-degree rape and third-degree incest for allegedly raping a young woman in his East Side apartment in the fall of 2012. He was initially charged in the case on Jan. 19, 2013.