Disqualification case involving Soares heard at state's highest court

Posted at: 10/16/2012 5:16 PM
Updated at: 10/16/2012 9:04 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY - Although some defendants have pleaded guilty, the case against five principals with Florida's Signature Pharmacy still hasn't gone to trial.

Four times Albany County Judge Stephen Herrick had dismissed indictments against the five. The fourth time he ruled the District Attorney could not try again.

At that point the Signature five defendants sued D-A Soares in Florida federal court for, among other things, defamation and injurious falsehoods.

Soares had compared the five to fictional villain Tony Montana in Scarface.

Then Soares appealed and was able to reinstate the criminal charges against the Signature five for a fifth time.

At that point the Signature five argued Soares had a financial conflict of interest in prosecuting them because they were suing him and got Soares and the whole Albany County D-A's office disqualified.

It is that action that the seven member Court of Appeals is considering.

"I need to illustrate for the Court just how dangerous this precedent really is," said Assistant Albany County District Attorney Christopher Horn.

The judges had tough questions for both sides.

"Just intuitively if you were designing a system, when a judge does something as unusual as this you would think there ought to be at least one level of appellate review," said Associated Judge Robert Smith.

Typically the Court of Appeals takes about six weeks to issue its decisions.