ROCHESTER — Just a week after a state Supreme Court judge ruled Todd Casella could be on the Republican line in the testy race for Yates County district attorney against incumbent Valerie Gardner, an appeals court has overturned that decision.

In a press release sent to media outlets Thursday, Gardner said a four-judge panel from the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department of state Supreme Court has directed the Yates County Board of Elections to remove Casella’s name from the Republican line for the Sept. 12 primary. The panel posted the decision on the court’s website Wednesday.

The ruling negates an Aug. 16 decision by Justice John Ark over a residency issue on Casella’s Republican petitions. Attorney John Ciampoli, representing Yates County Republican Committee member Penelope Marchionda, argued that Casella listed three different Hammondsport addresses on his petitions, including one that appeared to be a vacant lot.

Casella is a Steuben County assistant district attorney. During a hearing before Ark earlier this month, he testified that he has lived on Shethar Street from November 2016 to the present, and some of his petitions listed an address on Pulteney Street, his former home.

Ark ruled there was no evidence on the part of Casella or those who solicited signatures on his petitions to mislead or confuse people about his residency. The four judges from the appeals court cited case law in overturning Ark’s decision.

“We agree with Marchionda that she established that Casella did not reside at the address that he listed as his residence on his designating petition. As used in the Election Law, the term ‘residence’ is synonymous with ‘domicile’ ... the crucial determination whether a particular residence complies with the requirement of the Election Law is that the individual must manifest an intent [to reside there], coupled with physical presence ‘without any aura of sham,’” the judge wrote. “Here, the evidence adduced at the hearing established that Casella had moved from the address listed on his designating petitions months prior to the petition’s circulation.”

The appeals court did rule in Casella’s favor on another issue regarding his petitions for the Independence and Reform parties. Marchionda had challenged those petitions as well, saying Casella’s notary public acknowledgments were improper, but Ark ruled the failure constitutes “inconsequential error.”

The appeals court backed that ruling.

Casella made the following statement by email on being taken off the Republican line:

“I strongly disagree with the court’s change of ruling, but will abide by it. I respect our legal system, even though in this case I believe they got it wrong,” he said. “I’m disappointed but I won’t back out of this fight. The stakes are too high for the people of Yates County.”

“I remain on the general election ballot on the Independence and Reform lines and will continue running a vigorous campaign from now until Nov. 7. The nearly 1,000 voters who signed my petitions deserve nothing less than my best effort. And all of the people of Yates County deserve new, stronger leadership in the district attorney’s office than what Valerie Gardner has delivered for the past four years,” Casella added. “People need to understand that Valerie Gardner and her high-priced downstate lawyer have deprived voters from having a choice in the Republican primary election. Her campaign spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees because she doesn’t want to face the voters. Anyone who truly loves democracy should be appalled by her actions. I have faith that the voters will set aside party labels and vote for the best person for the job.”

In an earlier press release, Casella claimed Marchionda is a “close associate” of Gardner, and Gardner was the driving force behind the challenges to his petitions.

In her press release Thursday, Gardner said her designating petitions were ruled valid by the Board of Elections despite challenges lodged — but not substantiated — by the Casella campaign.

“I am honored that the good people of Yates County value my years of service and am proud to represent them as the only Yates County resident seeking the office,” Gardner said.

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