Handy assault case abruptly adjourned after private conversation between DA, judge
Roger Hannigan Gilson reports for the Times Union that the trial of four people charged with unlawful imprisonment and assault for the alleged 2020 beating of local mechanic Harold Handy was abruptly adjourned November 28, after a private discussion between the judge and the district attorney prosecuting the case. Columbia County Judge Richard Koweek's decision was made without any input from defense counsel. The matter is now unlikely to go to trial before next year. Neither Koweek nor DA Paul Czajka [CHAI-kah] would speak afterward about the circumstances that led to the private confab or what prompted it. The four defendants — Columbia County Sheriff's Deputy Kelly Rosenstrach; her husband, businessman Alex Rosenstrach; IRS agent Bryan Haag; and local contractor Corey Gaylord — were indicted on gang assault charges following an incident in the Rosenstrach home in the early morning hours of July 5, 2020. The top charges, carrying the potential for lengthy prison terms, were dismissed by Koweek in December. Gaylord's attorney, Stephen Coffey, said the adjournment followed a request by Czajka for a private discussion between himself and the judge. "They (talked) for about 20 minutes, and then the judge came out and said that the case was now adjourned — did not give a reason, except he said, 'This was pursuant to my discussion with Mr. Czajka,'" Coffey said. The reasoning for the adjournment was sealed by the court, according to Coffey. Handy's personal counsel, Paul Freeman, said his office was trying to figure out why the case was adjourned. "We were told the determination to adjourn — for whatever reason — is sealed, and so they're not releasing the rationale or reasons," he said. Haag's attorney, Paul DerOhannesian [Deh-ROH-hann-eesian] II, plans to make a motion to unseal the minutes of the ex parte [par-tay] communication "to get more insight" into why the decision was made, he said, but it would be up to Koweek whether to grant the motion. It is also up to the judge's discretion whether to make the minutes publicly available or only available to the defense. Neither Czajka or Koweek responded to inquiries. A new trial date has not been set, but there is a conference on the schedule for February. Read the full story in the Times Union.