Last week several of us were in Rye City Court waiting for defendant Tim Chittenden to appear. Chittenden, a former member of the Rye Police Department and lifelong Rye resident, received ten traffic citations for violating a number of vehicular laws on his way home in the wee hours of January 1, 2012.
By Robin Jovanovich
Last week several of us were in Rye City Court waiting for defendant Tim Chittenden to appear. Chittenden, a former member of the Rye Police Department and lifelong Rye resident, received ten traffic citations for violating a number of vehicular laws on his way home in the wee hours of January 1, 2012. To date, Chittenden has failed to show up at six scheduled court appearances. In each instance, the court received word that “health issues” prevented Chittenden from coming as planned. And each time the case has been adjourned.
But the Hon. Brian Hansbury, the second judge assigned to Chittenden’s case, is having no more of it. After issuing a Parker warning in December 2013, which requires Chittenden to appear in court or the case will be decided without his testimony, Judge Hansbury denied his attorney’s request for an adjournment on January 16, and gave him until January 24 to submit any additional and relevant — “nothing peripheral” — information in a letter. Chittenden, the former Rye Police Association President, has promised that his testimony will clear him of all charges.
In Rye Court on January 16, Judge Hansbury also denied calling witnesses requested by Chittenden’s attorney, Mayo Bartlett of Young & Bartlett, a litigation law firm, on the grounds that none of them was relevant to this particular case. (Several years ago, the Rye Police Association accused Chittenden, then treasurer as well as president, of stealing $179,000 from the association’s bank account. The District Attorney’s Office is still looking into the matter. The lawsuit filed in Westchester County Court three years ago is still pending.)
Attorney Bartlett had asked for more time to get a more detailed medical report. In the courtroom, Judge Hansbury said, “Nowhere in this letter from the doctor does it say that Mr. Chittenden is not fit to stand trial.”
Bartlett also asked for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that his client wasn’t served any of the summonses. The City’s attorney, Kristen Wilson, who has shown up at all of the scheduled trial dates, confirmed that the tickets were mailed to Chittenden, because upon his arrival home on January 1, 2012, he did not stop to speak to the Rye Police officer who pulled up right behind him but went inside before he could be served.
Officer Christine Incalcatera was the officer on duty that morning who observed Chittenden breaking a number of traffic laws from Glendale Road to North Street to his home on Hammond Place, and followed him into his driveway. When Chittenden, who was accompanied by his wife, wouldn’t look at the officer and immediately went into his house, Incalcatera called for backup. Officer Franco Compagnone and Sergeant Robert Vogel arrived shortly. “As the officers knew who lived there, they didn’t see any need to arrest him that morning,” explained Wilson.
Officer Incalcatera has testified and been cross-examined by the defendant’s lawyer. Judge Hansbury and the defendant have both received all police radio transmissions.
While Chittenden has yet to appear in court, he did send Police Commissioner William Connors and Corporation Counsel Wilson a letter asking to bring Officer Incalcatera up on perjury charges. He has also, according to Wilson, submitted FOIL requests regarding every job she has held. She is also senior counsel at the firm of Harris Beach PLLC in White Plains.
Initially, Chittenden was mailed 11 tickets. One for speeding was dismissed by Rye City Court Judge Joe Latwin because he determined the supporting description was not sufficient. Judge Latwin later recused himself because he received an email from Chittenden. Rye City Judge Richard Runes also recused himself because he knew some of the police officers involved. At that point, the head judge of the Superior Court appointed Judge Hansbury.
Attorney Bartlett claimed in court on January 16 that no plea offer was made to his client. Wilson stood up and vociferously protested, stating: “Chittenden was offered a plea bargain and he refused.” Once trial began, the deal was off the table.
If convicted of all ten violations, Chittenden would receive 19 points on his driver’s license. In New York State, your license is revoked after receiving 11 points.
Wilson has submitted a short post-trial brief to Judge Hansbury. It’s likely the judge will come down with a ruling on January 24. “This is a traffic case dating back to January 1, 2012 with two lawyers, two judges, and numerous starts and stops. I advised the defendant he had to be here,” said Judge Hansbury in Rye City Court last week.