A young man from the Rochester area remains in a local hospital following a vicious beating in Buffalo last weekend. The defense attorney for one of the suspects raising more than a few eyebrows in court Tuesday as he raises the issue of race.
A hearing in City Court on reducing a suspect's bail becomes a matter of race. Defense Attorney John Liberti trying to keep news cameras out of the courtroom -- blasting reporters for covering a story about three young white men accused of beating up University at Buffalo student Michael Bliss. "I think that it's a sad state of affairs that you're even here," said Liberti. "We don't see you in the courtroom for a bail hearing and you were here for a mundane routine hearing I think because of the race of the parties involved."
Liberti accusing Judge James McLeod of allowing the cameras in for Charles Jordan's case because McLeod is running for re-election. Liberti also critically quizzed the judge on what he knew about the case...as McLeod filled in for the original judge who was out for personal reasons. "That which took place in the courtroom was insulting," said McLeod in the hallway afterwards. "And to say the things that he said in my opinion were crazy and totally without merit."
Liberti said, "It was my job to determine whether the judge did know about this situation, what was going on, the racial makeup of the defendants."
Police still don't know why Bliss was attacked early Saturday morning on the sidewalk near the corner of Main and Winspear. Bliss' cousins told reporters he suffered two broken vertebrae in his neck and was initially paralyzed from the waist down. Although he's still listed in critical condition, there was word in court that he may be making progress. "I think just recently regained feeling in his legs. He's still I believe on a ventilator or a respirator," said Assistant District Attorney David Heraty.
Jordan and his two co-defendants, Michael Gunderman and Kevin Rowland, were each held on 50 thousand dollars bail. Gunderman posted his, Rowland remains behind bars. Jordan is from Albany, attends U.B. In arguing to reduce his bail, Liberti said Jordan has no prior criminal record. Judge McLeod didn't bend.
"I was here begging," said Liberti. "Now I'm on my knees. I'm saying 25 thousand is reasonable."
"I'm not reconsidering anything since I'm not the one who initially set it," said Hon. McLeod. "So there's nothing for me to reconsider."
Bliss' immediate family is asking the Erie County Medical Center not to release any information about his condition.
All three suspects are due in court Friday for a preliminary hearing. That may change depending on whether the district attorney's office can talk to Bliss.