Robert Gavin in the Albany Times-Union reports
that a state appeals court said on Feb. 19 that Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka (pronounced CHAI-kah) served altered documents to a Kinderhook village court without a judge's permission. The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court called the DA's actions "startling" and "grave and disturbing." The story emerges from the actions of David Dellehunt, a justice in Kinderhook's town and village courts, who asked for sanctions to be imposed on Czajka to at least cover legal fees for the town and village he estimated at $20,000. The appeals court only learned of the altered documents from Czajka's own arguments in the case. "It certainly bears significant consideration that, as an elected district attorney, petitioner's apparent involvement here may be deemed to constitute a substantial violation of the rules of professional conduct," Justice Elizabeth Garry wrote in the decision. She was supported by Justices John Egan, Michael Lynch and Christine Clark. Czajka could face discipline from the Appellate Division's Committee of Professional Standard ranging from an admonishment to censure to disbarment, or no action. Czajka emailed a statement to the paper: "I accept full responsibility for the circumstances described in today's (Thursday's) decision. Although I delegated the preparation of the papers to another and although I had no personal knowledge of the 'amended petition' until much too late, I recognize that I am not relieved of responsibility as an institutional matter." Read the full story in the Albany Times-Union.