Judge OKs Monserrate Expulsion

By LARRY NEUMEISTER
|  Friday, Feb 19, 2010  |  Updated 1:00 PM EDT
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Ousted state Sen. Hiram Monserrate says he's not going anywhere.

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Sorry, Hiram. Looks like you may be out of a job.

A federal judge Friday rejected an effort to block the Senate's expulsion of a Queens Democrat Hiram Monserrate, saying the issue will be properly decided by a special election next month.

Colleagues voted to remove the embattled pol because of a misdemeanor assault conviction. Monserrate and several voters from his district sued the state, seeking to stop enforcement of his expulsion and a special election set for March 16.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III noted in his written opinion that no legislator had ever contested his expulsion in New York.

"The question of who should represent the 13th Senatorial District is one for the voters, not this court,'' Pauley wrote.

The judge said "expulsion of a sitting legislator is infrequent and the power of a body to determine the fitness of its members is embedded in American democracy.''

He noted that Monserrate was expelled only after a specially-formed committee investigated his actions and an overwhelming majority of the Senate authorized expulsion.

"Similar processes to discipline have long existed in deliberative bodies at all levels of government,'' Pauley said.

Monserrate had argued that the state Senate denied him due process and his constituents their right to representation when senators voted 53-8 last week to remove him.

Judge Pauley let the motion stand. Monserrate's lawyers are expected to immediately appeal the ruling, reports The New York Times.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo commended the decision and said his office would continue to represent the Senate in the matter.

"We are gratified that the Court has confirmed our position that the Senate had the authority to expel Mr. Monserrate," Cuomo said in a statement. "The time for changing the culture of Albany is long past due. Today's ruling is a step in that direction."

Monserrate's expulsion occurred after he was convicted of a misdemeanor for dragging his girlfriend through his apartment lobby.

At a non-jury trial last fall, a judge acquitted the former New York City policeman and councilman of felony assault. A felony conviction would have automatically cost him the Senate seat.

A message for comment left with Monserrate's lawyer was not immediately returned.

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