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Irish Echo: 11/05/03: O'Hara files plea with Supreme Court

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Posted by GET NY on 18:30:24 12/22/04

O'Hara files plea with Supreme Court
John O'Hara says the basis of his voting fraud conviction was unconstitutional.

Irish Echo
November 5, 2003

Ray O'Hanlon

John O'Hara is facing his fourth down. And a lot of yards.

The disbarred Brooklyn attorney has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to roll back his conviction for felony voting fraud.

O'Hara's "Petition for Writ of Certiorari" was filed by his attorneys on Monday, Nov. 3, the eve of election day and ii years to the day since O'Hara last voted.

O'Hara's petition, in which Brooklyn District Attorney Charles "Joe" Hynes is the named respondent, asks the court to confirm O'Hara's view that the basis of the charge of felony voting fraud was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court agrees to consider only about two percent of cases presented to it, but O'Hara said this week that he felt his chances of a hearing were much better than that.

"This is a case of first impression, and while the odds are against me, I feel that I have a shot, maybe as good as 50-50," O'Hara said.

Before his conviction, O'Hara was involved in several Brooklyn political campaigns, both as a campaign manager and candidate. He is the first New Yorker to be convicted of illegal voting since suffragette Susan B. Anthony.

"If this stands, anyone who voted in elections this week is in danger of facing felony prosecution if they don't pledge to one residence," O'Hara said of his conviction.

"Prosecutions could start against political dissidents, people who run for office, or people who write letters to editors."

The basis of the case against O'Hara was that he voted from his girlfriend's address.

The Brooklyn District Attorney's office contended that O'Hara, a onetime Wall Street lawyer, used his girlfriend's address to nrn for election in an assembly district where he was not a legal resident.

O'Hara was convicted in 1999 after three trials. He was barred from voting, disbarred from his law practice, fined and sentenced to community service, specifically cleaning a public park near his home.

It is because community service is considered a form of confinement that OA lara has been able to appeal his conviction before courts at various levels.

In September, a U.S. appeals court rejected O'Hara's bid to overturn the conviction, a decision that prompted the petition to the nine judge Supreme Court.



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