Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

April 25, 2013

Mongielo a no-show for court

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — If David J. Mongielo doesn’t show up to Lockport Town Court on May 7, a bench warrant will be issued for his arrest, Town Justice Raymond Schilling ruled Wednesday.

The auto shop owner was due to appear in court Wednesday but did not show. So, Schilling said, a criminal summons would be sent to Mongielo ordering him to appear in court May 7. 

By phone Wednesday night, Mongielo said he didn’t show because he claimed the town court didn’t have jurisdiction. He had filed a motion to dismiss the charges he’s facing based on that argument, but the motion was denied last month.

Mongielo said the court’s authority isn’t based on constitutional law. He cited Schilling’s written decision on the motion, which said the court’s jurisdiction over Mongielo was based partially on a plea that was entered and the fact Mongielo showed up to court.

Mongielo said he only showed up to court in order to argue for his rights. 

“And I never entered a plea,” Mongielo said.

A not guilty plea was entered on Mongielo’s behalf by Schilling, according to court documents. A judge entering a not guilty plea on behalf of a defendant who refuses to answer is allowed by law.

But, Schilling’s written decision also said the court’s jurisdiction was based on the creation of the state’s court system, which was done in the state constitution and with the Uniform Justice Court Act. State criminal procedure law says town courts have trial jurisdiction over misdemeanors and violations.

Town Prosecutor Bradley Marble told Schilling that Mongielo had informed the town court staff he would not appear Wednesday.

”The defendant seems to have issues with this court’s jurisdiction,” Schilling said from the bench.

Mongielo is charged with violating the town’s electronic sign ordinance that prohibits them from changing the format or message more than once every 10 minutes. It’s the second time Mongielo has faced such a charge.

For his second violation, Mongielo was sentenced to 15 days in Niagara County Jail and fined back on April 17, 2012 in Lockport Town Court by Schilling. The jail sentence was the result of the violation coming within the one-year conditional discharge Mongielo received on Sept. 14, 2010 for his first violation of the sign ordinance.

The condition for the discharge was that Mongielo could not break the sign ordinance again. Nearly a year after the first conviction, Mongielo’s sign was videotaped advertising a fundraiser for an injured Niagara County Sheriff’s deputy during which the image changed every few seconds.

But, Niagara County Judge Matthew Murphy’s ruled in October the second conviction had to be overturned and a new trial given.

Wednesday’s hearing would have decided whether or not Mongielo’s prior sign ordinance convictions could be used in a trial and whether or not a violation of the discharge took place. The May 7 appearance is just to reschedule the hearing. 

That’s if Mongielo shows.

“I’ll never show up there again,” he said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.