By Tom Tracy
With all of his delays, stays and attempts to quash the charges against him exhausted, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere left for fallen Assemblymember Clarence Norman, Jr. to go but back to court. That was the grim reality Norman and his attorney Edward Rappaport faced this week after the state Court of Appeals turned down requests to appear before their bench in a last-ditch attempt to strike down an indictment that Norman had bilked Albany out of over $5,000 in travel expenses while knowing full well that the Kings County Democratic Party was footing the bill. Rappaport had hoped that the Appeals court would see his reasoning: Kings County has no jurisdiction over the case, since the vouchers were filed in Albany, and Albany is not pursuing a case against Norman. Instead, the Appeals court killed his last chance to have the charges wiped away Tuesday. Officials from the Kings County District Attorney’s office said that they were prepared to go to trial on March 6. The “voucher case” will be the third trial for Norman since last September, when he was found guilty for violating election law by accepting campaign contributions far beyond the legal limit from an upstate lobbyist. In December, he was found guilty for pocketing a $5,000 check that was meant to his 2001 campaign. With the first conviction, Norman lost his Assembly seat, his lofty position as chair of the Kings County Democratic Party and license to practice law. Following the second conviction Judge Martin Marcus sentenced Norman to two to six years, stating that the disgraced legislator was a “devious and manipulative man” who “betrayed those who admire and support him.” Norman is currently free on bail, pending the outcome of his two remaining trials. Once the voucher case is over, Norman will be tried for coercion. Prosecutors allege that Norman and Kings County Democratic Party Executive Director Jeff Feldman forced judicial candidates to use costly vendors of their own choosing and threatened to pull the party’s support if they opted against using the vendors.