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UB out as site for assault trial

The courtroom at the University at Buffalo Law School someday might become available for civil or criminal trials from throughout the state's eight-county Western New York judicial district -- but not this month.

After almost two days of procedural wrangling, State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia on Friday abandoned his plans to use the courtroom for a jury trial over a Buffalo assault because the state appellate tribunal in Rochester might not be able to definitely resolve the legal dustup for months.

Buscaglia, who emphasized that his "paramount" concern has been providing a fair and speedy trial for both the defense and prosecution, will begin jury selection in his downtown Buffalo courtroom on Delaware Avenue.

The judge said officials of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester told Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III, who opposed using the campus courtroom, the panel could not hear the case before mid-October.

That means a ruling probably would not be issued until late November at the earliest, a delay that Buscaglia said would be unfair to both sides in the criminal case.

The case involves Michael A. Pratchett, 30, of Summer Street, charged with first-degree assault in an attack on Ryan Camman, now 29.

Camman suffered a fractured skull when he was hit on the side of the head with a pint shaker glass at about 1 a.m. June 7, 2008, in the Stillwater, a restaurant at 481 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo.

Buscaglia, a UB Law School graduate just like Sedita, said he will continue to work with Administrative Judge Paula L. Feroleto and other state court officials to get the UB Law School courtroom designated as a courtroom available for all state criminal and civil cases.

At a court session held Thursday before Buscaglia, Sedita personally argued against moving the trial to the UB North Campus in Amherst.

Sedita complained about security at the law school location, but Buscaglia said he found the courtroom, which already has been the site of appellate court proceedings, to be a proper courtroom.

Amherst Town Justice Mark G. Farrell regularly uses the room for Drug Court sessions.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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