New York Daily News

November 15, 2007

Gov. Eliot Spitzer will fight felons' lawsuit

BY JOE MAHONEY
DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF

ALBANY— Gov. Spitzer has opted to fight a lawsuit that ultimately could have speeded up the release of some of the state's most violent criminals, the Daily News has learned.

"The state will absolutely litigate the case. The state has taken the position that the parole board has the right to reject parole for violent felons," Spitzer spokesman Paul Larrabee said.

State lawyers and attorneys for criminals who filed a lawsuit claiming they were systematically denied parole during the Pataki administration had been negotiating a settlement.

It would have provided new parole hearings for thousands of violent criminals and would have allowed their lawyers to select which board members would hear individual cases.

"I'm glad the governor is coming back to his senses because if he didn't the streets could have been flooded with thousands of parolees who belong in prison," said Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who led a City Hall protest against the potential settlement.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, whose union endorsed Spitzer last year, also hailed the move.

"The decision to fight this ridiculous suit by violent felons and killers is the right decision," he said.

jmahoney@nydailynews.com