Judge dismisses charges against Voiths

by Cindy White, New York Cuba Patriot

ANGELICA—On December 31, town justice David C. Brautigam of Rushford dismissed 7 charges against Stephen Voith and canceled the January 9, 2003 court date scheduled for further action. Voith had been cited by the village of Angelica for keeping farm animals at his Main Street home. Brautigam was assigned to the case after an Angelica justice, who had signed a petition against the Voiths, recused himself.

The Voiths are followers of the Krishna Consciousness movement. They keep and protect animals, especially cows, as part of their religious observances. Charges against Stephen Voith included violating the village ordinance prohibiting the keeping of farm animals in the village without a permit unless “the owner's property comprises 10 or more acres in the village or is adjunct to a farm outside the village comprising a total acreage of 10 or more acres.”

Justice Brautigam noted in his decision that all 7 charges appeared to be identical, except for the dates of the violations alleged.

Voith's attorney, W. Ross Scott, moved for a dismissal of the charges against the Voiths, claiming that the supporting deposition of Jan Aylor was factually defective. (Even if the charges were true, there was insufficient information presented to prove them.)

The village of Angelica could refile its charges against Stephen Voith, but Scott says that he would consider such a lawsuit as malicious prosecution.

Prosecuting attorney Raymond Bulson had “no comment.”