With several judges out of their chambers and away on vacation, several courtrooms in the Queens County criminal courthouse remained quiet on Wednesday.
Justice Gregory Lasak, who recently decided to retire effective Sept. 14 and who presides over the court’s homicide part, was one of the absent judges. Cases scheduled for TAP D were moved to K22, along with the calendars for several other judges who were also away.
It remains unclear who will take over Lasak’s calendar, which includes high-profile homicide cases like that of Chanel Lewis, the man charged with killing Karina Vetrano, 30, while she was jogging in Howard Beach.
Carlos Genno and Nestor Rodriguez were set to appear before Lasak Wednesday. The two men are charged with second-degree murder for allegedly killing Bangladeshi leader Nazrul Islam, 55, in Richmond Hill in 2014.
Their hearing was moved to K22, where court officials said it would be adjourned.
As Newsday reported Monday, Lasak was known as “Mr. Murder” when he served as prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office and he has a reputation for tough sentencing. In a 2016 editorial, the New York Post commended him for demonstrating the “ best . . . judicial wisdom” in New York City after he sentenced a man convicted of shooting at a police officer to 55 years in prison.
But David Cohen, who represents Genno, said it makes no difference who takes over Lasak’s calendar.
“I don’t think it will have any impact on the case,” Cohen said.
Genno’s mother Gail, who said she travels from Long Island for each of her son’s court appearances and visits him at Rikers Island almost every week, said she does not have an opinion about who the new judge is.
“It is what it is. A judge is a judge,” Gail Genno said. “My son is going to fight for his rights.”
Queens Criminal Courthouse // Eagle photo by David Brand