State Supreme Court Justice John Leo adjourned until Wednesday a hearing on whether sanctions should be imposed on Suffolk’s Republican Elections Commissioner Nicholas LaLota for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
The adjournment came after a half-hour of preliminary arguments Monday. That was followed by more than two hours of meetings in Leo’s chambers with lawyers, who were involved in the original lawsuit in which Leo rejected GOP arguments for barring Democrat Julie Lofstad from the Conservative ballot line in Tuesday’s special election for Southampton town board.
At the outset of Monday’s hearing in Central Islip, Leo asked those seeking sanctions whether they simply wanted to have oral arguments or call witnesses.
Lawrence Silverman, attorney for Democratic elections Commissioner Anita Katz, Lofstad and the Conservative Party said Leo’s original decision demonstrated that LaLota’s suit was without merit. Silverman said LaLota had refused to appear in court to provide a basis for bringing his last-minute action.
Republican lawyer Peter Bee said the case should be dismissed because attorneys seeking sanctions had no evidence that LaLota’s suit was frivolous or was brought in “bad faith.”
Bee said they were on a “fishing expedition” to force LaLota to testify in an attempt to make their case. “I don’t think the parties ... have made a prima facie showing for sanctions,” Bee said.
In adjourning the hearing, Leo said he had given some suggestions during discussions in chambers and asked both sides to consider his ideas to help resolve the issue.
Attorneys for both sides declined to comment after the hearing was adjourned.