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Judge denies bid to knock Thomas Spota off GOP ballot

Raymond G. Perini, who has filed 4,725 signatures

Raymond G. Perini, who has filed 4,725 signatures to challenge Democratic District Attorney Thomas Spota in a GOP primary, in his office in Islandia. (July 11, 2013) Credit: Ed Betz

A State Supreme Court justice has denied Republican primary challenger Ray Perini's bid to oust Suffolk's Democratic District Attorney Democrat Thomas Spota from the ballot.

But Justice Joseph Farneti Friday rejected Spota's claim that Perini and the court lacked jurisdiction to deal with the issue because of a separate pending appeal on Suffolk County's term-limits law.

Perini, an attorney, said the ruling clears the way for appeals courts to give a definitive answer on the legality of the term-limits law. "We're on our way to the appellate division," said Perini. "We will be in court Tuesday and the case will be heard on the merits."

Perini had argued that Spota is ineligible to seek re-election because Supreme Court Justice Ralph Gazzillo had ruled last year that the term-limits law could not apply to Spota because his post is part of the state constitution. Farneti said he had "no authority to rule on a matter already reviewed by another judge of equal authority."

Spota's attorney, Thomas Garry, said Farneti, "followed Judge Gazzillo's ruling, and I'm confident that the appellate division will do the same."

Farneti rejected Garry's arguments that Perini could not bring an action because of the pending appeal on the term-limits law. Civic activist Peter Nichols is seeking to become an intervenor in that case -- a status denied by Gazzillo -- and to reinstate the term-limits law as it affects Spota, the county sheriff and county clerk.

Spota, a Democrat, is endorsed by the Republican, Democratic, Conservative and Independence parties.

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