Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney needs to do some trimming.
Those were the marching orders from the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court last week, after Carney turned in a 100-plus page brief rebutting defense assertions in the Steven Raucci appeal.
The prosecution’s response came in at 109 total pages, not counting the table of contents. The limit set by the appeals court is 70 pages.
Carney said Wednesday he was notified of the reduction request last week, two days after he submitted it. He now has until Nov. 7 to resubmit a shorter brief.
He noted the case involves multiple acts — Raucci was convicted of 18 of 22 counts he faced. Carney said he also had to respond to multiple arguments from the defense’s brief. Carney gave one example from the defense brief where there were two arguments in one paragraph. The prosecution can’t properly respond to those in the same amount of space, Carney said.
Also, the case itself was expansive, taking a month to try.
Nonetheless, Carney said he will have the amended brief refiled by the deadline.
Raucci’s attorney, Alan Pierce, will then get time to form his own response. The appeal had been expected to be argued in January. Carney was unsure how the delay would impact that estimate.
Raucci, now 64, is appealing his convictions on each of the 18 counts, including first-degree arson for detonating an explosive device at an occupied home. He is now serving 23 years to life in state prison.
Raucci served as the Schenectady City School District’s facilities manager and also led the union unit that represented the workers he supervised. It was a dual position that prosecutors said made him valuable to the school administration for his ability to keep labor peace.
In his appeals brief, filed over the summer, more than two years after the conviction, Pierce argued that Raucci’s convictions should be overturned on a number of issues. Among them is that 14 of the counts Raucci was convicted of should not have been tried in Schenectady County because the crimes happened outside the county.
Pierce also cited a host of other points of contention, including a demonstration video used by the prosecution, use of newspaper clippings the defense argued were inappropriately seized and ineffective assistance from his trial attorney.
Carney responded to each in his own brief, arguing Raucci got a fair trial, evidence was properly used and the trial judge’s rulings were correct.
Carney also pointed out that defense arguments overlooked “the most compelling evidence in this case” — recordings by police informant Keith McKenna, an old friend of Raucci who captured him discussing committing the crimes.