Attorney says village’s prosecution faulty

PHOTO: One of the Voith children with animals that have stirred up controversy in Angelica.

by Cindy White,  New York Cuba Patriot

ANGELICA—Attorney W. Ross Scott, of the Ross Scott law firm in Andover, issued a press release on January 2, regarding the people versus Stephen Voith lawsuit that was dismissed by Rushford town justice David C. Brautigam on December 31, 2002. Voith had been charged with harboring farm animals without a permit.
“Angelica deputy mayor Dana Guinnip, the complainant, had failed to allege facts necessary to prove that Angelica’s farm animal permit law had been violated. One cannot just claim that someone broke a law. The claim must be backed up by sworn allegations of the facts necessary to establish that a violation occurred, and this was not done,” the release stated.
“Because of the dismissal it was unnecessary for the court to address the question of whether the village’s application of its farm animal permit law overrides the Voith’s first amendment right to practice their Krishna Consciousness religion, which involves keeping and protecting cows.”
“The case was transferred to the Rushford town court after Angelica village justice Joe Schmitt first denied the motion to dismiss, then admitted he had signed a petition urging the village board to deny the Voiths a permit for their four cows and one goat. The petition also complained that, ‘the chanting or singing is also very disruptive when they walk by playing their drums and videotaping everyone on the street.’ Schmitt had also entered a court order prohibiting Stephen Voith from videotaping members (or the property) of a family across the street that had been harassing and assaulting the Voiths,” says Scott’s statement
It added, “The village officials have the right to refile the charges, but they also know the Voiths are in full compliance with the animal permit law by having enough acreage under lease so as to exempt them from the permit requirement. Refiling would thus be an exercise conceived in malice and destined to fail, which is the legal definition of malicious prosecution. The Voiths very likely would have been willing to sell their property to the village and move away for less than the village has spent on attorney fees to date,” said Scott.