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Zuroski Responds To Writ Of Habeus Corpus Filing

The county’s chief assistant district attorney is asking a state Supreme Court justice to deny release for a Buffalo man who has been jailed since March on weapons possession charges.

John Zuroski filed the response Friday to Judge Lynn W. Keane after a second writ of habeus corpus was submitted by Mikial C. Moore.

A writ of habeus corpus is a court order demanding that a public official, in this case Sheriff James Quattrone, deliver an imprisoned individual to the court and show a valid reason for that person’s detention. The procedure provides a means for prison inmates, or others acting on their behalf, to dispute the legal basis for confinement.

Moore has remained jailed on charges of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, tampering with physical evidence, second-degree obstructing governmental administration and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property following a shooting March 26 on Jefferson Street in Jamestown.

The Buffalo man, who is being represented by Lakewood attorney David Roggenbaum, believes he has been entitled to mandatory release from the county jail since Sunday, July 5, because no grand jury was empaneled to hear evidence in the case following his May 21 preliminary hearing. That July 5 date is the last date when the county District Attorney’s office should have been allowed to file a good cause argument to a judge to extend the 45-day grand jury window, he claims.

A writ of habeus corpus filed previously by Moore seeking release was denied shortly before his preliminary hearing.

Zuroski noted that Moore was arraigned at a time when preliminary hearings and grand jury presentations were precluded in an executive order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

He further states that an order from Cuomo makes clear that the 45-day window for grand jury action does not begin until one week after a grand jury has successfully been empaneled. To that end, Zuroski said the chief administrative judge for the 8th Judicial District will allow the county to empanel a grand jury beginning Wednesday of this week.

“It remains to be seen whether the commissioner of jurors for Chautauqua County will be able to successfully empanel a grand jury of 23 members, given the possible fears of those potential jurors regarding their possible exposure to COVID-19 in that forum,” Zuroski told Keane. “The enormous spread of the virus in most of the country is an ominous warning for what occurs when social and professional interaction return to even closer to normal.”

Zuroski said the Moore case has been given high priority for grand jury action. “The people have done whatever they could do within their powers to advance this case,” he said.

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