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Back on the ballot

A candidate hoping to unseat Bed Stuy Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. had to go to court last month to make sure that his name was on the ballot — a name that the Board of Elections removed believing that he did not have enough signatures, according to recently released court documents.

Officials said that Royston Antoine had barely enough petition signatures to be put on the ballot, but had his chances to be in the Democratic primary shot down through a clerical mistake.

Apparently, a Board of Elections evaluator found a defect with a cover sheet that was connected to a list of petition signatures and decided not to count any of the Democratic voters indicated on the list.

The decision was made after questions about the validity of the signatures were made by qualified objectors Ruby Boyland and Barbara Hawkins.

Royston had to ultimately petition the court to see through the mistake and get back on the ballot. Boyland’s team filed a motion of their own, demanding that Royston’s petition be denied.

But Judge David Schmidt found in favor of Royston, claiming that “the confirmed clerk’s report indicates that the Board of Elections found, after reviewing the specifications filed by the objectors, that the candidate had 526 valid signatures – 26 more than needed to qualify for placement on the primary ballot.”

Judge Schmidt also charged that the Board of Elections “made an independent determination that the designating petition was fatally defective inasmuch as petitioner failed to include an identification number on his cover sheet in violations of New York State Board of Elections regulations and the petitioner failed to cure this defect within three days.”

Not seeing this as grounds enough to wipe him from the ballot, Schmidt ordered that Royston’s name should be placed on the ballot in the 55th Assembly District.

“Getting” to the heart

of the matter

A father’s excited utterances that he was going to “get” a school principal who had told him that his son had been suspended may have been rude — but it wasn’t criminal, a judge determined last week.

Getting to the heart of the matter in a bizarre case in which suspect Larry Behlin was arrested for allegedly threatening his son’s school principal after receiving the not-so-happy news, Judge Michael Gerstein threw out the charges, finding that what Behlin said did not qualify as a threat — and that school principals should have a much tougher skin.

According to court papers, Behlin was charged with aggravated harassment earlier this year after school principal Dakota Reyes called him to inform him that his son had been suspended.

During the phone conversation, Behlin told Reyes that, in substance, that she had better “watch it” and that he was going to “get” her.

Surprised by Behlin’s words and tone, Reyes called the cops.

Behlin’s attorney petitioned the court to have the charges dropped because the so-called threats were “too vague and remote to establish a prima facie case.”

Kings County prosecutors asked Gerstein to deny Behlin’s motion stating that the defendant’s statements constitute “unwanted speech that threatens, alarms, harasses or annoys an individual may be proscribed without violating the speaker’s right to free expression.”

After reviewing the arguments, Gerstein decided that prosecutors were putting too much power in a few little words, which were more excited utterances than anything else.

“[The principal’s] complaint here fails to allege a clear, unambiguous and immediate threat,” he wrote in his findings. “During a brief telephone call, initiated by the complainant, the defendant allegedly responded to the school’s suspension of his son by telling Ms. Reyes, in substance, that she better watch it and that he was going to get her. Although it is not clear exactly what defendant intended, there is certainly no imminent threat of a specific physical harm.”

“[Behlin’s] response, while perhaps rude, is hardly shocking and certainly should not have alarmed an experienced school principal,” he continued, before dismissing the aggravated harassment charges. “Common sense tells us that the defendant’s alleged outburst was not the first, and will likely not be the last time that parents will react sharply to being told that their child is suspended or perhaps is not doing as well in school as a parent might like.”

“A school principal, like many other public servants, is required to accept a certain amount of rudeness from the public, without turning her displeasure into a criminal case,” he said.

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