By Tom Liotti
Every Sept. 17 for the past six years we have celebrated Constitution Day in our Village Court by inviting the community to hear distinguished speakers on some aspect of the Constitution. We will do it again this year but before that we have something special planned—The second annual Honorable John L. Molloy and Honorable Frank J. Santagata Law Day Program on April 30 at 7 p.m. in the Village Hall and Courtroom. Last year we honored the lawyers from Westbury with special mention of our principal speaker, Lawrence Boes, Esq.. This year our plan is to honor Dwight Kraemer, our former Village Attorney and prosecutor. In addition, this year’s Law Day Program will have a theme: Lawyers And Their Community.
All of our schools in Westbury and Carle Place will be invited. Special acknowledgment will be given to the pro bono publico Legal Committee that fought against the casino at the Fortunoff’s property. The Legal Committee, the community and some elected officials worked “hand and glove” to stop the casino. For those , and there were many, it was an amazing result brought about by a great team effort.
This was a time when the community made the law work by what lawyers refer to as nullification. The concept goes back to the early 1700s when John Peter Zenger, a publisher, was accused of libeling the King of England. If the jury followed the English law, then Zenger was certain to be convicted. The jury acquitted Zenger. They refused to follow the King’s Law. This was considered by many to be a starting point for the American Revolution.
Likewise when the Judge, much like the English King, denied the Committee’s Temporary Restraining Order he ignored Home Rule and community sentiment. But this fight was going to continue until Home Rule, the right of localities to determine their own zoning as provided for in our Constitution and by statute, was vindicated. There was a collective, community nullification taking place. The community was ready to re-load with more legal actions including possible claims for damages. In the end, OTB and the Fortunoff property owners found that this potato was too hot to handle. They had to relent, the voter backlash was building like a tsunami.
Our country was founded on a revolution and the anti-casino committee showed that spirit is still alive. Show your support for Home Rule and your Constitutional rights. Come to Law Day 2015.