A story in the November 18 Times Union by Wendy Liberatore was titled ”Court Drops Charges Against Saratoga Protester.” The story involved Ms. Gabrielle Elliott who is the mother of Lexus Figuereo’s two children. The title was untrue, but the editor could be forgiven because Ms. Liberatore’s lead stated that “Charges against a Black Lives Matter protester…were dropped Thursday morning in city court.”
In fact, as the story noted, the court issued an ACD which stands for “adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.” Ms. Liberatore failed to report to her readers that the charges would only be dismissed if Ms. Elliot was not arrested again during the next six months. Ms. Elliott was charged with, among other things, throwing a water bottle at a police officer and resisting arrest.
In criminal procedure, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD or ACOD) allows a court to defer the disposition of a defendant’s case, with the potential that the defendant’s charge will be dismissed if the defendant does not engage in additional criminal conduct or other acts prohibited by the court as a condition of the ACDWikipedia
The charges then are still pending. The court has made no determination regarding guilt or innocence. It is significant that the court has not dismissed the case.
One could argue that the defendant may have believed themselves innocent but agreed to the ACD in light of the cost and inconvenience of contesting the charge. What is indisputable is that the charge has not been dismissed and that should the defendant be charged with a crime during the stipulated period they would have to defend themselves against the original charge as well as the new charge.
Ms. Liberatore’s story portrays Ms. Eliot’s experience in the most lurid prose with Ms. Elliot and her children cast as innocent victims traumatized by the police. I have written about this earlier. I was there during the incident. Ms. Elliot acted recklessly precipitating the arrest knowing her children were with her.
Hopefully Ms. Elliot will learn from this experience and will be sufficiently intimidated by the potential penalty of a future arrest to show more wisdom in the future.
Ms. Eliot and Lexus Figuereo are allowed by Ms. Liberatore to go on about the trauma to their children and about their plans to sue the city. I am not an attorney (their attorney characterized the charges as ”garbage”) but it would seem that an actual dismissal by the court rather than the ACD would have been more helpful were they to sue the city.
A Note To My Readers
Readers who have followed my blog are aware that I have written quite a few posts about errors in Ms. Liberatore’s reporting.
When I first started writing my blog I wrote to both Ms. Liberatore and to her editors about inaccuracies in her stories. I soon learned the futility of such efforts. I no longer make any effort regarding these, frequent as they are. Ms. Liberatore enjoys the full support of her editors.
Late breaking news–Daily Gazette reports “Saratoga County DA Charges Elliott’s Lawyer mischaracterized motive for conditional dismissal.”
In an article that will appear in tomorrow’s (11/21/21) Daily Gazette, Brian Lee reports that County District Attorney Karen Heggen said the defense lawyer for Gabrielle Elliott of Ballston Spa, “mischaracterized why her office agreed to conditionally dismiss three misdemeanor charges [Ms.Elliott] faced.”
The story says that Heggen refutes Elliott’s lawyer, Jasper Mills’, statement to reporters that Heggen recognized the case against Ms.Elliott as a “pile of garbage.”
“According to Heggen, ” Lee reports, “the DA’s offer of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal to the three charges….wasn’t offered because of problems with the validity or substance of the charges filed against Elliott as Mills speculated” and it was an offer made to many defendants in similar situations.
Heggen stated “As with all cases that are adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, the cases regarding Ms. Elliott are technically still open in Saratoga Springs City Court and will remain open until May, 2022. The cases will be dismissed at the end of the six-month period of time if Ms. Elliott is not charged with any new crimes during that time period. If she does not remain arrest-free during that time period, the cases could be reopened and the charges placed back on the court calendar.”
It remains to be seen if Ms. Liberatore will report on Ms. Heggen’s statement.