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Judge dismisses harassment charges against free-lance reporter

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    NMU         NEW YORK         Newsgathering         Sep 13, 2001    

Judge dismisses harassment charges against free-lance reporter

  • A New York state judge determined that Buffalo, N.Y., official couldn’t prove intent against a journalist accused of “faxual harassment” and other misdemeanors.

A free-lance journalist based in Buffalo, N.Y., survived his 11th prosecution in four years after a state judge threw out a variety of harassment charges against him.

Richard Kern faced charges of harassment, stalking and aggravated harassment in his coverage of Charles J. Flynn, chairman of the Erie County Independence Party and director of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. Kern was alleged to have barraged Flynn with repeated phone calls, faxes and personal confrontations at Flynn’s home and work for more than a year.

Kern claims he was working on a story. Michael Kuzma, Kern’s attorney, said his client believes public officials are trying to avoid tough reporting and hard questioning.

The judge threw the case out on Sept. 7 on the basis that the charges were legally insufficient because Flynn could not prove Kern had an intent to engage in “faxual harassment”and other charged activities.

This was the 11th prosecution Kern faced over the past four years, and the 11th dismissal, according to his attorney. Kern has faced similar misdemeanor charges, including burglary and harassment, filed by other members of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority and Buffalo Niagra District Council.

Kern will return to court on Oct. 9 to ask a federal judge to permanently bar Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark and his prosecutorial staff from pursuing further action against him.

(New York v. Kern; Media Counsel: Michael Kuzma, Buffalo) HP

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