Nassau County prosecutors will not have to immediately turn over all the evidence they amassed against Jesse Friedman, the former Great Neck man who is trying to withdraw his 1988 guilty plea to molesting children, an appeals court judge ruled Tuesday.
Justice F. Dana Winslow of state Supreme Court in Mineola had ruled last week that under the Freedom of Information Law, Friedman was entitled to see the entire file. He set Tuesday as the day for compliance.
But Justice Peter Skelos, assigned to the Appellate Division in Brooklyn and sitting in Mineola, said Tuesday that when the office of Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice filed a notice of appeal last Friday, a stay of Winslow's order went into effect.
Friedman's attorney, Ronald Kuby, said the law was unclear on when a stay was automatic, but Skelos said the law was, "cut and dried."
"You have a stay," Skelos told Rice's attorneys.He said both sides should have motion papers on the stay filed with the Appellate Division by Sept. 20.
Winslow ruled last Thursday that he was granting Friedman's FOIL request partly because of the public's need to have confidence in how prosecutors and other public officials carry out their duties. "We can't function in the justice system in this fashion," he said at the time. "This is a country that has no feeling of credibility when it comes to our institutions."
Winslow ordered prosecutors to stay away from their files on the case pending further court action to make sure the documents are preserved.
Kuby asked Skelos to issue a similar preservation order, but Skelos declined.
"They're not going to destroy any records," Skelos said. "They have an obligation to maintain those records."
Friedman and his father pleaded guilty to sexually abusing more than a dozen young boys in their Great Neck home. Arnold Friedman killed himself in prison in 1995. Jesse Friedman served 13 years and was paroled in 2001.