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Ethington Trial Begins: Day One

Written By Editor on 7/9/14 | 7/9/14

Schoharie County's long awaited disciplinary trial/hearings on the fate of suspended Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington kicked off Tuesday night, setting the tone for what might be a rather lengthy and inquisitive exchange between the prosecution and defense attorney.

County Attorney Michael West initiated the proceedings by explaining the parameters, before recusing himself. Joanne Darcy Crum was named as special counsel in Mr. West's place, while Michael McDermott stood for the prosecution and Ron Dunn represented Ms. Ethington. 

Seven Supervisors were included on the witness list, excluding them from hearing additional testimony or casting a final vote on the embattled Personal Director's fate, leaving the remaining nine as jury of the case. 

Among those excluded were Mr. Barbic of Seward, Mr. Bradt of Carlisle, Mr. Lape of Richmondville, Ms. Manko of Sharon, Mr. Milone of Schoharie, Mr. Skowfoe of Fulton, and Mr. Vroman of Seward. All six freshmen legislators in addition to Mr. Buzon, Mr. VanGlad and Mr. VanWormer remained. 

The prosecution opened Tuesday's hearing by calling Schoharie County Labor Attorney Mary Roach to testify on Ms. Ethington's conduct during two lawsuits brought by Eva Gigandet and Penny Grimes in April of 2012. Mr. Jordan was barred from speaking, due to a similar suit he filed at the same time. 

Both lawsuits had contended that Ms. Ethington assumed control of the County Public Health Department in the aftermath of the previous director's resignation, allegations that Ms. Roach testified were denied in response to Ms. Gigandet's and Grimes lawsuits, as directed by the Personnel Director. 

Mr. McDermott then presented Ms. Roach with a series of documents, emails, and portions of the Fitzmaurice Report, in which Ms. Ethington was either referred to or credited herself as the interim department head of Public Health. Ms. Roach would later state the information had been withheld from her.

Upon the prosecution's rest, Mr. Dunn arose and queried Ms. Roach on the code of conduct lawyers are sworn to abide on, including the acknowledgment of submitting false information over the course of a trial, which Ms. Roach testified she did not do in regards to either the Gigandet or Grimes cases. 

Mr. Dunn would later query Ms. Roach on an email exchange between herself, Ms. Ethington, Mr. West, and then Personnel Committee Chairman Dan Singletary, in which she offered the comments that Ethington should, "hang in there," because, "this is a piece of garbage lawsuit." The hearing would then be adjourned. 

Proceedings will resume Wednesday night, 6:00 p.m. at the Schoharie County Courthouse. 

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