Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Right to Serve in Office

The following is a letter from an Attorney to Warren County Board of Elections in regard to John Haskell's ability to run or serve as Thurman Town Supervisor;
September 30, 2013
Via Email:
And US Mail
Mr. William A. Montfort, Comm. Ms. Mary Beth Casey, Comm. Ms. Elizabeth J. McLaughlin, Dep. Comm. Ms. Emily Kladis, Dep. Comm.
Warren County Board of Elections Co. Municipal Ctr. 3rd Fl.- Human Serv. 1340 State Route 9 Lake George, NY 12845
Re: John M. Haskell
Sub: Qualification to run for election or to hold public office pursuant to a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.
Dear Commissioners:
The purpose of this letter is to request an immediate ruling and order regarding a party’s ability to seek, be elected and hold public office under an active, temporary State of New York, Certificate of Release from Disabilities imposed on such party.
Due to the critical timing of the upcoming elections, we request your consideration of this matter, and appropriate action taken prior to the upcoming general election, to allow otherwise qualified candidates to be identified on the ballot, or substitution of the runner-up to the primary election for the primary winner on the general ballot.
Facts: On September 12, 2013, former Thurman supervisor John M. Haskell defeated current Thurman supervisor Evelyn Wood in the Republican Primary, leaving Warren County’s residents, especially its Republican residents in a quandary.
In 2008, Mr. Haskell was convicted of a felony involving the creation of an easement to his access locked property while holding the office of Town Supervisor. The nature of the infraction leading to the conviction and the level of punishment imposed (felony) has been, and is a subject of significant debate in the Town. Regardless, the crime was committed, investigated and Mr. Haskell was convicted of a felony; defrauding the Government. The court upheld the Warren County Supreme Court’s decision that Mr. Haskell bought a landlocked parcel of property and then, improperly convinced the Thurman Town Board to convey him right-of-way access across adjacent town-owned land.
At the time, there were other extenuating circumstances involving town governance and budget mismanagement, which lead to the imposition of the felony. See State of New York’s Comptroller Report for 2007 – 2008 at:
The history of the conviction and certificate has created significant discussion and animosity among the residents of Thurman, Party Lines, and in the media:
Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities
Eligibility: Individuals who have been convicted of an offense or crime or their first felony may apply for a certificate of relief from civil disabilities at (1) the time of their sentencing, (2) the time of their parole, or (3) any time after conviction, but not during incarceration.
Restrictions on Issuance: The court and parole board may not issue a certificate to relieve an applicant of: (1) the bar on felons holding public office; (2) the bar on felons holding a hospital operating license; (3) any disabilities imposed as a result of a conviction concerning driving while impaired; or (4) the ability of the Motor Vehicles commissioner to suspend or revoke licenses of nonresidents or unlicensed individuals.
Effect of Certificate: The law states that an individual holding a certificate (1) may not be automatically barred from “any license, permit, employment or franchise, including the right to register for or vote in an election, or of any other right or privilege” (New York Code, Article 23, § 701(1)(2)) and (2) his conviction may not be deemed a conviction for purposes of civil disabilities laws. However, the law allows individuals to ultimately base their decisions on the certificate holder's criminal conviction. Mr. Haskell is the Holder of a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, NYSID 03829720Q, Dated January 5, 2010 and temporarily effective until January 5, 2015 which in pertinent part, under Section 11 a. specifically states: This Certificate shall relieve the Holder of all forfeitures, and of all disabilities and bars to employment, excluding the right to retain or be eligible for public office, by virtue of the fact that the certificate is issued at the time of sentence. (See attached Exhibit A) Thus, pursuant to the Certificate, Mr. Haskell does not have the right to run for public office, nor hold public office if appointed, in such circumstances were Mr. Haskell were appointed to a public office until a special election could be held. We ask the Board to consider three other issues; two relevant to Certificate of Relief from Disabilities in general, and the other specific to this particular Certificate. First, New York Code, Article 23, § 701(3) the Board has the discretionary power to refuse to permit a privilege. Second, as Mr. Haskell’s previous conviction occurred as a consequence of his employment as Town Supervisor. After the election, should he prevail, he would be employed as Town Supervisor. New York Code, Article 23, §752 (1) prohibits a party from a job with a direct relationship to his conviction. §752. Unfair discrimination against persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses prohibited. No application for any license or employment, and no employment or license held by an individual, to which the provisions of this article are applicable, shall be denied or acted upon adversely by reason of the individual's having been previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses, or by reason of a finding of lack of "good moral character" when such finding is based upon the fact that the individual has previously been convicted of one or more criminal offenses, unless: (1) There is a direct relationship between one or more of the previous criminal offenses and the specific license or employment sought or held by the individual; or
(2) the issuance or continuation of the license or the granting or continuation of the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public. [Underscore Added] Finally we note that the notary did not stamp the certificate and wonder whether the lack of stamp may void the Certificate, ab initio. As non-affiliated residents of the Town of Thurman, we request an expedited ruling on whether Mr. Haskell may indeed run or hold elected office. We believe that by allowing Mr. Haskell to run for office when he is no longer qualified to do so violates the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, and more importantly, runs afoul of the principles of our democracy.
Concerned Residents of the Town of Thurman, NY


  1. thanks again, for getting real documentary facts on line.

  2. Even if it is determined that he can run, which I don't see how that is legal. It does not appear that he can hold office as you have stated. If he is voted in, then removed...all that voted for him, their votes just don't count.