An arraignment Friday on a three-year-old drunken-driving case exposed a little-known loophole in Niagara County's criminal justice procedures.
County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. hinted he might be willing to dismiss the felony driving while intoxicated indictment against Guy H. Glass, a former Buffalo resident, because the district attorney's office had repeatedly refused to spend money to transport the fugitive defendant from other states to face the charges.
But Broderick advised the prosecutor to look into bail-jumping charges against Glass.
Glass, 43, was arrested Aug. 4, 2004, in Devil's Hole State Park, Niagara Falls, and indicted on Dec. 21, 2004. However, Glass had left for California by then.
Glass told Broderick that he was picked up on Niagara County's warrant half a dozen times, and each time he was released because the county wouldn't pay to extradite him, which would mean sending an officer or two to pick him up.
"Niagara County said it doesn't extradite past Ohio," Glass said. Assistant District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner confirmed in the courtroom that the county had declined to extradite Glass.
He was arrested recently in Erie County. Glass said he returned from Florida, where he ended up after being sent out of California, to argue a workers' compensation matter in Buffalo. Glass said he was disabled because of a work-related injury.
District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III said he has to make a judgment in each fugitive case because the county budgets so little money to pay for travel for extraditions. According to the county budget book, it's $6,000.
"We generally give a priority to violent criminals. It's a function of the limits of our budget," Murphy said. "A lot of our warrants say [the county will extradite only from] New York State, adjoining states or eastern Ohio."
Murphy added, "I can't justify spending $2,000 to bring somebody back from Florida on a DWI charge. . . . If it's the end of the year and we have money left, we might extradite a DWI suspect."
He couldn't confirm Glass' story that Niagara County declined to take him even after Santa Barbara County, Calif., offered to pay the extradition costs.
Glass said he ended up homeless in California and was arrested repeatedly for vagrancy. He said the California authorities eventually put him on a bus out of the state.
Broderick told Glass he might have a case if he seeks to have the charges dismissed, but Glass annoyed the judge by insisting on not having a lawyer.
Despite Broderick's repeated urgings, Glass refused public defender service and said he would represent himself. "I don't have much faith in attorneys," Glass said.
Broderick set bail at $10,000 and gave Glass 45 days to file a dismissal motion. But the judge warned, "I'm not going to hear any motions from you that aren't in proper form."
Glass was arrested while sitting in a car drinking beer with a woman in the park after hours. He reportedly told State Parks Police he had driven the vehicle there.
He was charged with DWI, first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, having an open container of alcohol, unlawful possession of marijuana and trespassing on closed park property.