Case against Copake councilman dismissed

 

HUDSON–The trespass charge against Copake Councilman Walter R. Kiernan was dismissed in Columbia County Integrated Domestic Violence Court by Judge Paul Czajka, June 29.

Mr. Kiernan, 40, of Copake, was charged in March by Copake Police based on a complaint signed by his estranged wife, Carolyn Kiernan, in which she alleged that Mr. Kiernan went on her property and picked up their three children.

Married for 16 years, Mr. Kiernan filed for divorce in June 2008. The Kiernans do not live together and have joint custody of their children, but according to Mrs. Kiernan, her husband took the children during the time they were scheduled to be with her.

A dairy farmer who was elected to the Town Board in November 2007, Mr. Kiernan appeared in Copake Court to answer the charge March 23. At that time, town Justice Brian Herman told Mr. Kiernan that both he and town Justice John Spencer were recusing themselves from hearing the case because Mr. Kiernan’s position on the Town Board essentially made him the justices’ employer.

Also, the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office recused itself from prosecuting the case.

A special prosecutor, Greene County Chief Assistant District Attorney Charles Tailleur, was appointed and the case was reassigned to Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Court, where Mr. Kiernan pleaded not guilty April 29.

The case was scheduled for trial June 30, but Judge Czajka signed the dismissal order June 29 because “the Greene County District Attorney’s Office, acting as Special District Attorney in this matter has indicated that they are declining to prosecute and have withdrawn the accusatory instrument,” according to the judge’s order.

Attorney Richard Mott, who replaced Mr. Kiernan’s initial attorney on the charge, told The Columbia Paper Monday, that the case was dismissed because “the allegations were totally baseless.” Mr. Mott said, “I conferenced the case on several occasions at considerable length with Special Prosecutor Charles Tailleur, and I persuaded him that the case was baseless–without merit. He agreed and communicated his position on the case to the court, and the matter was ordered dismissed.”

When reached for her comment on the matter June 30, Mrs. Kiernan said this reporter’s call was the first time she had heard about the dismissal.

Mrs. Kiernan said she had appeared at the County Courthouse last week with her attorney, Lisa Mills, and after her attorney conferred with the court clerk. Mrs. Kiernan said she was told that the case had been adjourned until a future date.

She said news of the dismissal made her upset and disappointed in her lawyer, Mr. Tailleur and the judicial system. Mrs. Kiernan said she had asked her attorney to seek an order of protection against her husband, but had been told that a judge would not issue one.

Mrs. Kiernan said she had spoken to “Chip” Tailleur herself and believes her allegations “should have been taken more seriously.”

To contact Diane Valden email .

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