Suffolk Conservatives’ legal battles over last month’s party leadership vote had to be put off last week after two Democratic state Supreme Court judges recused themselves from hearing the cases.
First, Justice John Leo, who before his judgeship was a prominent Democratic election lawyer, recused himself from the suit brought by Kenneth Auerbach to challenge Frank Tinari’s voice vote election as the new Suffolk Conservative chairman to replace Edward Walsh, who was convicted on federal corruption charges last spring.
The case, by random selection, then went to Justice Arthur Pitts, who was already set to hear another Conservative suit brought by Tinari forces challenging the election of Auerbach ally Frank Profetta as Brookhaven Conservative chairman.
However, Pitts, a former Democratic Babylon supervisor, had ruled against Auerbach in an earlier suit to block the party’s executive committee from filling 250 vacant committee positions before the party convention at which the new leader was picked. Auerbach’s lawyers had argued that packing the committee after the Sept. 13 primary gave an unfair advantage to Tinari.
Pitts recused himself from the current case after Auerbach’s lawyers made a motion for him to step aside. “We wanted the case heard outside of Suffolk County to avoid any appearance of impropriety,” Auerbach said.
Both sides say that the case will resume Nov. 2, perhaps outside Suffolk if they can find a judge, perhaps from Westchester County.