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Sedita may have his numbers slightly off on convictions

An article by District Attorney Frank Sedita was recently published, explaining in some detail the professional responsibilities of a prosecutor. He noted that he, and all prosecutors, must respect the legal rights of the accused, and emphasized how careful he is to prosecute only those cases in which his office can prove “each and every element of each and every crime alleged in the indictment.” I commend the district attorney for his stated philosophy.

Mr. Sedita asserted that the vast majority of his indicted cases result in a trial and “usually a conviction.” The facts, however, suggest otherwise with respect to the trial outcomes.

Many accused persons are represented by retained counsel, and some by Legal Aid. I believe that representation in the majority of felony trials in Erie County is provided through our Assigned Counsel Program. Mr. Sedita may be correct with respect to his conviction rates in other cases; I am not privy to those numbers.

With respect to those cases in which assigned attorneys represent the accused, however, our records show that over the most recent two-year period, fewer than half of the felony trials resulted in a conviction of the top count charged, and over 36 percent resulted in either a finding of not guilty, or a conviction of a misdemeanor or a violation.

Robert D. Lonski

Administrator

Assigned Counsel Program

Buffalo