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Brooklyn judge apologizes to murder victim’s sister after declining to hear her testimony

April 18, 2019 Noah Goldberg
Brooklyn Supreme Court. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

A Brooklyn judge apologized Thursday to the sister of a murdered woman for moving ahead with a sentencing last week without hearing her statement — but he didn’t apologize to the prosecutor who he briefly jailed over the incident.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice William Harrington sentenced Dorothy Curry to 20 years in prison on April 12 for stabbing Liza Millet more than 80 times at the Brooklyn YWCA in 2016 and killing her. He declined to hear the victim impact statement of Orchid Warren, Millet’s sister.

“I apologize unreservedly to Ms. Warren and to her family,” Harrington said Thursday.

Judges routinely hear victim impact statements before they issue sentences.

Assistant District Attorney Leila Rosini pleaded with Harrington on April 12 to wait for Warren — who was a few blocks away on Fulton Street – before sentencing Curry, but the judge wanted the court to go on lunch break, according to the Daily News.

When Rosini asked the judge to put on the record that she requested he wait for the victim’s sister, Harrington held her in contempt of court. Rosini was taken out of the courtroom by court officers and into the area where defendants are held.

It was not immediately clear if Rosini was held in a cell or not. She was detained for about 10 minutes before returning to court.

“It is unfortunate that the judge chose to throw his weight around by jailing a hardworking Assistant District Attorney for insisting that he hear from the family of the deceased victim who was stabbed over 80 times,” said Helen Peterson, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn District Attorney.

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Curry’s defense attorney, Lawrence Fredella, said they waited for the victim’s sister for hours and that Rosini was being obstinate. “Sometimes you have to pay the price for what you do,” he said.

“Defense attorneys have been thrown in the back, why can’t ADAs?” he asked.

Fredella worked as an assistant district attorney for the Brooklyn DA in the 1990s and early 2000s. “You don’t sit in a cell. You sit in a chair,” he said of lawyers who are held in contempt.

Michael Farkas, a former ADA who now works in criminal defense, said he’s never heard of a prosecutor being held in contempt — only defense attorneys.

These attorneys are held in holding cells adjacent to the courtroom while judges determine whether or not to pursue the charges, Farkas said.

“I do not know of any attorneys in Kings County who have actually been found guilty of contempt and sentenced, which I presume would result in their incarceration,” he said.

Harrington scheduled Thursday’s hearing specifically to hear Orchid Warren’s testimony.

She cried as she spoke Thursday.

“She was the best,” Warren said of her sister. “She was my best friend and you took her away from me.”

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