By SHIRLEY WITHERSPOON
Kenneth Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival (“HIFF”) – called by FOX, Time Warner and other major media “One of the 10 biggest film festivals in the world” – which is now being held in Greenwood Lake, New York. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker, who has written/directed/produced over 30 movies that star several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His movies are distributed by industry giants, such as NBCUniversal, Anchor Bay, Millennium Entertainment, and Cinedigm. He is a best-selling criminal suspense novelist, penning his first book as a 24-year-old law student. Additionally, Del Vecchio is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books – including the New York Code of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, and a national criminal codebook – published by the largest of publishing companies (Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New York & New Jersey Law Journals).
Are you tired yet?
Kenneth Del Vecchio’s Renaissance Man list of accomplishments continues:
Del Vecchio is also a former New Jersey judge and prosecutor. As a practicing criminal attorney, he has tried over 400 cases and handled literally over 20,000 others. He has taught a few thousand police officers and lawyers criminal law at seminars. And he has been a frequent legal analyst on Fox News and other leading networks; Del Vecchio also has regularly served as a legal analyst for Empire State News.
All of Del Vecchio’s movies have central themes of law. His novels are crime thrillers (he was tagged as the “Young John Grisham” when his first novel became a best-seller). And he has a special series of criminal law-related movies every year at HIFF. In short, Del Vecchio is not just one of the top two or three criminal law experts in New York and New Jersey – but he is one of the top two or three in the country.
Now, in addition to having an HIFF office at Village Hall in Greenwood Lake and a newly-christened office on Main Street in Warwick, Del Vecchio may be seeking to hold court in the Village. Del Vecchio may be running for Justice of the Village of Warwick (the election is on March 21). If so, this small Hudson Valley village would be getting not only THE giant of criminal law, but a guy who is a giant in seeking justice – after all, the name of his production company is Justice For All Productions.
“I’m strongly considering running for village justice. I may decide as early as tomorrow and begin knocking on doors,” Del Vecchio said. “This is a position that needs to be void of politics. A judge’s only job is to seek justice. There’s no room for people who get carried away with themselves as judges and abuse power. As Warwick’s Village Justice, I would be fair – and I would do only one thing in that role: dispense justice.”
For those who hate judges who are bullies:
“I bully the bullies,” Del Vecchio stated. “A courtroom I preside over is one that is even-handed. Everyone must be treated politely by the court staff, and that staff includes the judge. And everyone must be treated equally: police officers, attorneys, defendants, witnesses, and members of the public. A court of law is supposed to be blind – until the case is presented to that court – and then the case must be carefully and fairly scrutinized. Win or lose, no one will ever leave a court that I am presiding over thinking anything but this: ‘I was treated with respect – and justly.’”
This seems to be the case. This 2010 article in one of New Jersey’s largest newspapers profiled Del Vecchio in his capacity as a judge at that time.
Del Vecchio, no stranger to the media, has had his accomplishments extensively profiled over the last 20 years. Some notables include the following highlighted feature articles and television appearances: “The Colbert Report”, The Daily Beast, FOX, CBS, CNN, NBC, Radar Online, The New York Daily News, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, who wrote “As usual, Mr. Del Vecchio was larger than life.”
A highlights reel on the home page of his production company website, Justice For All Productions, provides clips from all of his movies—and the website also features a “Judge Show” sizzle reel, which shows him in robed action, as well as several legal clips from Fox News Channel, CNN, and other networks.
The news segments often show a combative, opinionated, perhaps very hard-punching Del Vecchio; the man takes on legal legend Alan Dershowitz without fret. Accordingly, not everyone sees Del Vecchio as that respectful, polite gentleman. Some characterize him as bold, even conceited. Others have called Del Vecchio obnoxious and bombastic. Still, his foes seem to be greatly outweighed by his fans.
Legendary actor Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas; Nixon) called Del Vecchio “an extraordinary man.” Two-time Academy Award nominee Charles Durning (Tootsie; The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) exclaimed that “Kenneth Del Vecchio would make a great president!” Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts (The Expendables; The Pope of Greenwich Village) stated that “Kenneth Del Vecchio is the only judge I ever agreed with in personal conversation. He’s got some great views about freedom and liberty.” TV star Joyce DeWitt (”Three’s Company”) declared that Del Vecchio has “a vision and concept based on excellence and integrity.” Academy Award nominee Robert Loggia (Scarface; Big) said of Del Vecchio: “The man is honest. Hard-working. Talented. And oh so intelligent.” And U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer proclaimed, “Del Vecchio is a man you can see, with the movies he is involved with, with the friends he has, he has a great mind and he also has a big heart.”
So Del Vecchio is indeed that modern-day Renaissance Man – and he has all the assets to afford him the legitimate title of the nation’s top criminal law expert. Now, who is his opponent for this village justice contest?
A real estate-type lawyer, Jeanine Wadeson, who serves as an associate for the law firm, Blustein Shapiro. Associate lawyers are usually lesser experienced practitioners, those who haven’t been able to reach partner status for other reasons, or those who cannot sustain their own law practices. Nonetheless, an associate can be an experienced, skilled attorney.
The Blustein website provides that Wadeson has been practicing law for “nearly 20 years” but it doesn’t indicate any private practice experience in criminal law (which is the primary and most important function of a municipal court justice). Instead, Wadeson’s bio on the firm’s website includes that she “focuses her practice on residential and commercial real estate, business acquisition, leasing, planning and zoning, municipal law, elder law, and estate planning and administration.”
Wadeson’s bio also announces that she “was elected to serve as the Village of Warwick justice in 2009.” This fact is a point of great controversy and contention for many who reside in the village, a Hudson Valley community noted for its great artistic and social flair—and for its residents’ pride in community integrity.
In 2009, Wadeson “beat” then-village justice Richard Farina. But she wasn’t on the ballot. That’s because she never gathered the necessary 100 signatures to legally get onto the ballot. Instead, many say, she waged a secret write-in campaign that duped many people to not show up to vote (as they thought Farina was running unopposed). The result: a mere 66 people voted. Wadeson swiped a microscopic 39 write-in votes, but it was enough to defeat Farina’s even smaller 27 votes. This drew the anger of many Warwick folks, who found the affair shady and deceptive.
“Bravo to Ms. Wadeson on that political coup,” Del Vecchio said. “But this is why politics needs to be taken out of the judiciary. I can see why the masses of voters are troubled by her holding this very important position; they were basically disenfranchised in 2009 and, simply, the vast majority of people who live here have never voted for Jeanine Wadeson. These secret games are disconcerting, to say the least.”
“Secrecy” may turn into the overall branding terminology for a Wadeson court.
Del Vecchio advised that late this past fall, he tried to enter the Village of Warwick courtroom, which was presided over by Wadeson, but he – and his 8-year-old son – were forbidden entry. According to Del Vecchio, a court staff employee who was guarding the court’s entranceway demanded to know his name as he was about to go through the metal detector. Del Vecchio responded that he didn’t need to provide his name because he was a member of the public who just wanted to show his son the local court.
“The woman then asked, ‘you’re not on the list?’ And I said, ‘no, we’re not on any list.’ She then said something like ‘Sorry, you have to wait downstairs. Only those on the list can come in now. If the court frees up, then other people can come in,’” Del Vecchio said. “I was astounded. I looked at her and said, ‘the court seems pretty empty.’”
But, Del Vecchio said, the court staff member was intent on her mission to refuse entry, saying that it would likely fill up soon. And to make matters worse, it wasn’t just Del Vecchio who was not permitted inside the supposed hall of justice. “Right behind me was a woman with her 16-year-old daughter. The court staffer let the daughter in because she was a defendant, but disallowed the parent! I couldn’t believe it, this violated the most fundamental tenets of juvenile justice. It’s worse than a court stomping someone’s constitutional right to an attorney. This is just a kid! The mother was sent downstairs with me and my son.”
Once downstairs, Del Vecchio was met by multiple other angry, dejected court-goers. One of them was a retired New York City police officer, who was there intending to watch proceedings related to an assault case.
“After about 45 minutes and watching at least 15 people leave the courtroom, my son and I left. The retired officer left with me. The court was clearly nowhere near fire code limits, as so many people left. We couldn’t believe what we had witnessed. This took the term ‘kangaroo court’ to a new, more frightening definition. I just kept thinking that I was actually a victim of tribunals being held in secret.”
A few new beginnings came from the incident.
The retired officer’s daughter is a budding filmmaker and actress – and Del Vecchio added her to his prestigious HIFF Screening Committee.
And, Del Vecchio, said, “That night I decided I needed to give strong consideration to run for village justice.”
Do the voters of the Village of Warwick want court proceedings held in secret?
Do they want one of the leading criminal law experts in the United States to be their justice?
Do they want their vote to be part of this decision-making process?
Well, the election is on March 21 – and if Del Vecchio decides to run, assuredly there will be no secret election this time. This time, it will be up to the masses of the village voters to decide what they want in justice.
COMMENTS DISABLED BY SITE.
YOU MAY, HOWEVER, COMMENT THROUGH FACEBOOK.
This article passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Recommended article: The Guardian’s Summary of Julian Assange’s Interview Went Viral and Was Completely False.