A grand jury delivered the punchline for a senior citizen charged with disorderly conduct after telling lawyer jokes outside a Long Island courthouse: charge dismissed. No kidding.
Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon said Tuesday that a grand jury considered the evidence in the case and voted to dismiss.
On Monday, Harvey Kash, 70, testified before the grand jury that he was expressing his First Amendment rights in sharing a few lawyer jokes with a friend, Carl Lanzisera, 65, as they stood on line waiting to get into the Nassau County courthouse last month. It was alleged the two men had been abusive and caused a disturbance.
"How do you tell when a lawyer is lying?" Kash had asked Lanzisera.
"His lips are moving," they howled in unison.
They say a lawyer farther up in the line told them to "shut up" and reported them to court officers who arrested them.
Kash and Lanzisera, both of Huntington, are founders of Americans for Legal Reform, a group that uses confrontational tactics to urge greater public access to the courts. They conceded they have stood outside courthouses on Long Island and mocked lawyers for years.
Ron Kuby, Kash's lawyer and a radio talk show host, said his client was delighted with the grand jury's dismissal.
"It's still legal in America to tell jokes - even about lawyers," Kuby said.
The charges against Lanzisera had been dismissed after he was subpoenaed to testify with immunity in the case.
"Maybe they will have to put Lanzisera in a federal jokesters protection program, give him a new identity in Las Vegas, perhaps at some comedy club," Kuby quipped.
By Pat Milton