LIVINGSTON COUNTY — A Livingston County man served a number of months in the Livingston County jail in 2010 despite the fact that a grand jury decided there was insufficient evidence of wrongdoing to indict him on any charges.
In response to numerous email requests received, the GeneseeSun.com is continuing to investigate the situation involving Reynard LaBostrie, 23, who was originally arrested in Mount Morris in late 2010 along with two other men and charged with drug possession.
According to sources, after his arrest and prior to his grand jury hearing, which typically takes place shortly after an arrest, LaBostrie was offered, and accepted, a plea deal by the District Attorney’s office. The deal was that if he agreed to testify against the other defendants he would receive a lenient sentence, apparently five months time in County jail. However, when the grand jury met on the case, it voted that there was insufficient evidence and LaBostrie should not be charged at all.
According to the law in New York State, in cases such as this, when a grand jury votes to dismiss charges, the District Attorney is required to notify both the Court, the defendants, and their counsel – including defendants who have made early plea agreements. There is no record of any such notice ever being given to Mr LaBostrie, his lawyer, or to Judge Wiggins, who heard the case initially.
The fact that the required notice was not sent led to Mr. LaBostrie’s erroneous conviction on the charge, and LaBostrie served 4-5 months in jail for no reason. How and why this notice was never sent could now be the key issue in the matter.
According to court transcripts anonymously emailed to the GeneseeSun.com, a “440.10” motion was filed in court after LaBostrie had already served his jail sentence. Section 440.10 of NY Criminal Procedure Law gives defendants the right to file a motion to vacate (void and erase) a conviction at any time on the grounds that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated. During the 440 hearing, which took place in January 2011, the Court ultimately admitted the error and dismissed LaBostrie’s conviction.
In the 440 hearing transcripts, former Assistant District Attorney Eric Schiener, who was the original prosecuting attorney for the case and who represented the County during the 440 hearing, states that “Due to either a clerical error or some other oversight, his [LaBostrie’s] name was left on the grand jury schedule and, as such, it appears that the Grand Jury voted not to indict Mr. LaBostrie.”
Also according to the transcripts, the matter might not have come to light at all, but for an information leak at the District Attorney’s office, which was then under the direction of former District Attorney Tom Moran. The leak led almost immediately to the 440:10 motion.
Several questions are still open at this point, including the significance of Assistant D.A. Scheiner’s suggestion in court that LaBostrie’s name was left off the Grand Jury schedule, and why the District Attorney’s office subsequently failed in its requirement to notify Labostrie of the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict him.
In the 440 hearing transcripts, Judge Wiggins granted the motion and ordered Labostrie’s conviction vacated. “This leaves all of us, probably you [Mr. Labostrie] as well, with kind of an empty feeling because there was never a determination, at this point anyway, as to whether or not you are properly charged, or should have been charged. I am going to vacate your conviction. It would be inappropriate for you to be convicted, even by pleading, when there is no jurisdiction.”
As of Monday morning, the GeneseeSun.com has been unable to reach LaBostrie for comment. He is currently wanted in Livingston County on another warrant from an unrelated incident involving drug charges.