By Diane Madigan
Independent Court Reporter
John Delaney’s jury trial is set for 9 a.m. Friday, May 24, before 34th District Court Judge Brian A. Oakley.
Delaney was issued a misdemeanor ticket for disrupting a Van Buren Township board meeting after he was removed from a meeting by police on Sept. 18 at the order of Township Supervisor Paul White.
Delaney, who says Van Buren Township is his legal address, hired a lawyer, pled not guilty, and demanded a jury trial on the ticket.
On May 15, Judge Oakley ruled on a 404(b) motion made Feb. 28 by Delaney’s attorney James Fifelski that would allow Delaney to show the jury video recordings he made of past VBT Board meetings.
After an hour-long, private conversation off the record between Judge Oakley, attorney Fifelski and Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Lukiewski, Judge Oakley said in open court that he is willing to give the defense certain leeway.
Oakley said he would allow the defense to reference two prior arrests of Delaney by Van Buren Township that did not result in convictions.
Also the Sept. 18 videotape would be allowed, but no prior recordings.
The defense can explore these incidents through two or three witnesses, allowing cross-examination to explore the alleged “disparate treatment of the client.”
The prosecution will also have a cap of three witnesses, but will be able to have rebuttal witnesses if necessary.
Judge Oakley said he does not want a parade of witnesses at the jury trial, which he ruled will be no longer than one day.
Fifelski said there are hundreds of hours of videos and Delaney’s arrest in 2011 is foundational in terms of the “differences between Mr. White and Mr. Delaney.” He argued that a seven-minute video made up of meetings leading up to the present charge is key to Delaney’s case.
Assistant Prosecutor Lukiewski argued that the prior incidents should have no bearing. The video will be overboard and could be prejudicial, he said.
Fifelski said the 2011 arrest is the first of several that shows differences in the individuals, “one in authority and one is a citizen in the township.”
“I think we could stipulate that … they didn’t see eye to eye and possibly had animosity,” Lukiewski said.
Oakley said he would allow the incidents to be discussed during cross-examination, but no prior videos will be shown.
“I’m not going to allow video for anything prior to the meeting,” Judge Oakley stated.
Judge Oakley said that any suggested instructions to the jury by the attorneys should be sent to him ahead of time.
He asked the attorneys to be at court at 8 a.m. on May 24 so all the preliminaries can be handled and will be out of the way so the jury trial can begin as scheduled at 9 a.m.
Former VBT Supervisor Paul White was in the courtroom for the May 15 session.
Delaney left the courtroom after the May 15 session, loudly complaining about Judge Oakley’s decision not to hear his video recordings of incidents at VBT meetings. In the hallway outside Oakley’s courtroom he loudly stated he would be contacting the state to complain about Oakley.
At the May 7 meeting of the VBT Board of Trustees, Supervisor Linda Combs called in police to stand by at the meeting after Delaney got into a loud argument with CeJay Marshall, disturbing the meeting. Nobody was arrested.
Additional information supplied by Independent Editor Rosemary K. Otzman.