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.
First came a half-hour of preliminary arguments on procedures, followed by more than two hours of revolving meetings in chambers with lawyers who were involved in the original lawsuit, in which Leo rejected GOP claims to bar Democrat Julie Lofstad getting 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 bring 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 and he refused to appear in court to provide a basis for bringing a last-minute action in a rare Saturday session.
Republican lawyer Peter Bee said the case should be dismissed because attorneys seeking sanctions had no evidence that LaLota’ s suit was frivolous or done in “bad faith,” and were on a “fishing expedition” to force LaLota to testify in a vain attempt to make their case.
“I don’t think the parties . . . have made a prima facie showing for sanctions,” he said.
Leo, in adjourning the hearing, said he had given some suggestions and ideas during discussions in chambers and asked both sides to consider his suggestions to help resolve the issue. Attorneys for both sides declined to comment afterward.