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February 20, 2012

Cheers and Jeers: Feb. 20, 2012

CHEERS to Franklin County Chief Assistant District Attorney John Delehanty as he wraps up his distinguished career. Delehanty, who will retire May 31, was one of the first prosecutors in the state to present evidence at a Frye hearing to establish that a certain procedure is generally accepted in the scientific community as common practice. Delehanty's case involved an HGN test, which police administered to a suspect in a vehicular-manslaughter case. In it, a machine records involuntary eye movements made when an object passes in front of the eyeball. Delehanty successfully argued that eye movements can't be controlled if a person's blood-alcohol content is at or above .08 percent, which is the legal limit for drunken driving in New York. Our reporters have covered him for almost two decades and have found him to be knowledgeable, responsive to questions and sensitive with victims. Delehanty was recently recognized by the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, which bestowed on him the Robert M. Morgenthau Award, which recognizes one assistant district attorney from each of four regions of the state whose professional accomplishments, honesty, integrity and commitment to justice exemplify the high standards Morgenthau set during his tenure as New York County DA. Delehanty was chosen in the largest geographic region, which includes the state capital. District Attorney Derek Champagne said in his nomination that Delehanty "treats victims and their family like he would want his own child treated, yet consistently has been quick to turn over Brady material or acknowledge to the court when the law did not support our position. His honesty and integrity was and will always be beyond reproach." He noted the Frye-hearing accomplishment, but added of Delehanty, "at the end of his career, it is simply his dedication to doing what is right and fair which makes him deserving of the award."

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