Saturday, January 2, 2010

Make the case against Hiram: Senate panel has plenty of reasons to expel Monserrate

Daily News

Saturday, January 2nd 2010, 4:00 AM

A state Senate committee's draft report on Hiram Monserrate, unfortunately leaked rather than openly shared with the public, confirms what we already knew: He is a lying brute unfit to stay in the Legislature.

The panel starts with Monserrate's misdemeanor assault conviction, for manhandling his girlfriend after her face was slashed, then highlights other wrongdoing.

It faults him for not calling 911. For needlessly dragging her to a hospital 37 minutes away instead of to the nearest emergency room. For telling flagrant lies about what happened.

At his trial, Monserrate was acquitted of a felony because the judge found reasonable doubt that he had intentionally cut Karla Giraldo's face. Had that verdict gone the other way, Monserrate would have automatically been ejected as a felon.

Foolishly, in appointing a committee to study the case, the Senate chose not to reexamine how Giraldo's face came to be injured. Yes, Monserrate may have been acquitted using the high standard of proof in criminal court - but it would have been fair and proper to ask whether he is guilty based on a preponderance of the evidence. We believe he is.

Still, focusing on lesser offenses, the panel is expected to recommend either removal from office or a serious censure. If so, it must explain why - clearly and rigorously. Using standards that can be defended in this and future cases.

The precise offense must be thought through and thoroughly articulated, lest this be dismissed as another sloppy act of petty, personal politics. Then, the full Senate must hold an up-or-down vote on all options - starting with expulsion.

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