Suffolk to appeal term-limit ruling

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota speaks to

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota speaks to the Suffolk County Legislature in Hauppauge. (April 19, 2012) (Credit: Ed Betz)

Suffolk County plans to appeal a state judge's ruling last week that declared the county's term-limit law unconstitutional and opened the door for Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota to run for a fourth consecutive term.

At a meeting Wednesday of the Legislature Ways and Means Committee, attorney Stuart Besen, retained by the county to handle the case, said he would file an appeal at the direction of the legislature.

"I believe I stated on the record I would file a notice of appeal and then come to the legislature for direction," Besen said, responding to a call for updates on the case from committee chair, Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Brentwood).

Besen told legislators he had not filed an appeal yet, because the plaintiffs in the suit -- Spota, County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco and County Clerk Judy Pascale -- first had to file a response to the ruling. Once filed, the county would have 30 days to file its appeal.

Kevin Snover, a Babylon attorney representing the three officials, said he was in the process of filing his response to the court ruling.

"It's certainly within their rights to file an appeal," Snover said of the county.

In the suit, filed in State Supreme Court, the three county officials contend Suffolk's three-term limit, enacted through a 1993 voters referendum, should not apply to their offices because their positions are authorized through the State Constitution.

State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Gazillo rejected Suffolk's argument that the county limits should apply because the officials are elected solely by county voters.

The committee later went into a closed-door executive session to discuss the case.

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