Private Restaurant Allowed in Union Square Park

, New York Law Journal

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The pavilion at the north end of Union Square Park
The pavilion at the north end of Union Square Park

In an amicus curiae brief in support of the plaintiffs' position, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said the contract with Chef Driven Market would "fundamentally transform one of New York City's most iconic parks."

Thursday's ruling affirmed a determination by the Appellate Division, First Department supporting the city's contract in Union Square Park Community Coalition v. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, 107 AD3d 525 (2013).

Acting Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had ruled in the plaintiffs' favor, finding that the restaurant project would be an impermissible use of parkland for non-park purposes.

Grand Jury Testimony

In another ruling Thursday, the court upheld the conviction of Paul Thompson for murder despite his stringent objections that prosecutors refused to call a woman to testify before a grand jury who witnessed the crime and could have bolstered his defense.

In a 4-3 ruling in People v. Thompson, 10, the majority said the prosecutor was not "motivated by bias or a desire to deceive the grand jury" when he tried to discourage grand jurors from calling the alleged witness to Rasheem Williams' 2003 slaying in Staten Island.

"At most, the prosecutors made isolated missteps that could not have affected the outcome of the grand jury proceedings," the majority said in a decision written by Abdus-Salaam. "We do not endorse the prosecutors' actions as the preferred way to present a case to the grand jury, but we decline to dispose of the well-founded prosecution here as a result of their handling of the matter."

Graffeo, Read and Pigott joined in the majority ruling.

According to briefs in the case, a prosecutor presenting the matter to grand jurors declined Thompson's request to call the woman and, later, strongly urged the grand jury not to do so when pressed by one juror.

"It's up to you whether to have that witness, but I'm telling you that it is not relevant to this proceeding," the prosecutor said. "You have to take our advice, as your legal advisors, that it is not relevant to the situation at hand."

Asked by the juror why Thompson was so insistent that the woman be called, the prosecutor responded that it was not necessary for the grand jury to hear from "every witness known to mankind relevant to this proceeding" or "everybody in society that was on the face of the planet that day."

The grand jury voted against calling the woman and indicted Thompson for second-degree murder and on a related weapons possession charge.

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