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Judge dismisses case because Czajka withheld evidence

Jan 11, 2024 12:59 pm

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports in the Times Union former District Attorney Paul Czajka (pronounced chi-kah) improperly withheld key evidence, and that revelation has led to a judge dismissing a case against a 75-year-old Chatham man who had been charged with sexually abusing a girl. Lawrence R. Thomas of Chatham had been indicted in July 2021 on the 31 felony counts for child sex abuse crimes, including seven charges that carried the maximum sentence. Those charges have now been dismissed. Shane Hug, an attorney for Thomas called the actions of prosecutors “deplorable” and “well below the acceptable standards that prosecutors should be held to.” Czajka, who is now retired, said, “I am solely responsible for that error and not disclosing (the material) if (the defendant) already knew anyway.... Any adverse decisions to the people were solely a result of my acts or omissions, no one else’s.” Czajka district attorney for six terms, but did not seek reelection last year. Chris Liberati-Contant, a Democrat, beat Czajka’s former chief assistant district attorney, Ryan M. Carty, in the election. Liberati-Conant said he is looking at the dismissal by state Supreme Court Justice Meagan K. Galligan to decide whether to appeal the decision. Read more about this story in the Times Union.

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