The harassment toward Jeff perpetrated by the prison guards started shortly after he arrived at Auburn Correctional Facility. It seemed to start with chronic verbal abuse at every opportunity. It has escalated to the prison guards letting other prisoners into Jeffs cell and stealing his belongings whenever Jeff left his cell. Jeff then had to remain in his cell to make it more difficult for further theft to occur. The latest sadistic persecution has taken the form of one of the guards, or other prisoners at the guards bidding, planting a small piece of glass in his cell so that Jeff could be charged with having an object that could be used as a weapon. Now Jeff has to be subjected to a hearing to explain a situation that was fabricated by his persecutors.
Suzanne Nickel (Jeff's Sister)
Sent February 1, 2011
A Letter to the Editor of the Albany (NY) Times Union Newspaper
I was simply stupefied when I recently read in the Times Union (Torncello to depart public defender's office) by Robert Gavin, Wednesday, January 19, 2011. wherein it was stated that Peter Torncello will soon become the chief attorney for the Committee on Professional Standards, the group which monitors attorney ethics. Back in 2001, when he was an assistant district attorney in Albany County, he prosecuted my son, Jeffrey Nickel, in an alleged child sexual abuse case. In that trial, he withheld evidence that showed Jeffrey was innocent. Moreover, because the case was a weak one, instead of trying to get a conviction based on what Jeffrey allegedly did, he sought --and obtained -- one based on who he supposedly was; i.e., a 'pedophile.'
This is exactly what Torncello did in the Philip Riback case. The Court of Appeals reversed his conviction back in 2009, largely because Torncello solicited testimony in an attempt to show that Riback was a pedophile. Here is part of what the Court said about Torncello's actions: "[ T ] his testimony became a springboard for the prosecutor to venture well beyond the evidence and the bounds of fair comment during his summation ...[ He also ] suggested to the jurors that defendant had sexually abused dozens of victims ...No evidence supported this suggestion, which was irrelevant to the charges against defendant even if true...[ Other comments of his ] potentially diverted the jurors from their obligation to consider defendant's guilt or innocence as to each crime charged with respect to each child...Given the inflammatory nature of the charges in this case, there was a reasonable possibility that the prosecutorial misconduct contributed to the verdict."
And this person is going to be the head lawyer for the ethics committee? Is this a joke?
I would urge your readers to please check out the website we have set up for our son's case, which includes the full trial transcript: www.twominuteverdict.org. There is also a Comments section; please let us know what you think.
Received December 13, 2009
We have read through everything on this web page except that we have not completed the entire transcript of the trial. We have seen enough, and heard enough over the last few years to be convinced that you have been unfairly judged. Worse, we believe that the sentence you received, even in its reduced term, is unbelievably disproportionate to any possible conclusion of guilt that could have been reasonably derived either the testimony or the actual "evidence". We read almost every day of people who carried out far more serious crimes, including murder, that even the sort of which you were charged, yet their sentences are very often much lighter than you received, even in case where the evidence of guilt was clearly "without doubt".
Knowing you and your family as we do, we still believe, despite repeated court denials, that you are the victim of two nightmarish scenarios: first, complaints filed by one or more persons whose own personal backgrounds leave ample room for substantial doubt regarding their testimony; and second, judgment and sentencing by an individual whose behavior we witnessed in the courtroom on the day you were sentenced was appalling and anything but professional. Your treatment by the courts leads us to question how long New York can leave the profession of law as the only self-governed profession in the State. There needs to be better ways to deal with people who abuse the privilege of the bench to serve their own personal philosophies or beliefs, with reckless disregard for the evidence or for the often inhuman impact their decisions and actions have on the lives of those they judge and their families.
GOD BLESS YOU JEFF. MAY YOU FIND THE STRENGTH TO SEE THIS THING THROUGH AND SURVIVE WITH YOUR HEAD HELD HIGH, KNOWING THAT GOD KNOWS YOU TO BE A BETTER PERSON THAN THOSE TO WHOM YOU HAVE FALLEN PREY.
All the Best!
Marilyn and Doug Hasbrouck
Received March 17, 2009
We can only hope that the societal hysteria which had so much to do with the unreasonable sentence you were given - for something which it has not been adequately proven that you even did - will begin to abate one of these days. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but I see a few glimmers of hope in some of the articles that are beginning to show up in the journals.
Received March 6, 2009
This is an excellent site that makes a number of points that are important for anyone who is concerned about our "justice" system. One thing that becomes very clear is the degree to which our "justice" system is far from "blind" to many facts that are extraneous and are supposed to be excluded from consideration. The processes of "justice" are highly political in nature, and the actors in it are motivated by many things other than securing a fair outcome. Also the transcripts make it very clear that Jeff was being tried for being a "boy lover" and not for specific infractions of the law. That, in fact, was the first thing out the mouth of the prosecutor. In addition he was being punished for not accepting a plea bargain, and instead demanding a trial. The outcome was an absolute outrage.
Received February 22, 2009
Hi Uncle Jeff
I miss you soooooooo much and Love you more ....Everything that has happened to you is so unfair and EXTREMELY FALSE. I wanted to let you know that I havent forgot about you and I just want you to get out as soon as possible. Dont let this get you down, God will find his way to fix this Trust Me. Alright well I LOVE YOU SOOOOO MUCH AND MISS YOU, IM KEEPING YOU IN MY PRAYERS SO DONT GIVE UP!...............lOVE (your neice) MEGHAN
Received February 4, 2009
Jeff it sounds very much as though you are a victim of our incredibly flawed justice system. In your case I wonder how the Dishonorable Judge Czajka can sleep at night.
[Received from Ernie Tetrault, former anchorman for the local channel 6, and the founder of www.JusticeNow4.com]
Received December 3, 2008
I know that it is difficult to serve time when you are innocent. My hope is that justice will prevail and you will be released, email us at anytime.
Janet and Jimmy Cook
Received September 21, 2008
Yet another example of a power-hungry politician trying to score political points by satisfying the mobs who think that everyone accused of sex abuse is guilty. It's clear that his motivation is not protecting children. Just look at the examples where he's destroyed children's and adults' lives; do a google or youtube search on this judge, and you'll find all kinds of complaints about this guy.
Received September 10, 2008
As you well know now, the wheels of justice move far too slowly most of the times. I have also experienced the wrath of this corrupt judge, Paul Czajka in Albany, NY who has wreaked havoc in my own family by his outrageous 'judicial' practices as well as the equally corrupt prosecutorial tactics by those also charged to dole out justice in a fair and honorable way. As a former resident of NY State I'm also learning that there are those in the legal profession who are genuinely attempting to ferret out the massive corruption in New York state that may well reach into the levels of the NY State supreme court system. How, in this great country "where we are proud of a fair legal and judiciary system" can this be allowed to go on like this? It appears that the entire judicial system in NY state must be investigated from top to bottom. I predict it will happen and sleaze bags like Paul Czajka and most likely other judges may well be reacing for their butts with both hands - in handcuffs!! Vermin like Paul Czajka have to be removed - forcibly if necessary.
Please keep the faith as there is a judge, our Almighty God, who will be the final arbiter of what happens to snakes like Czajka.
Received July 28, 2008
From Jeff's Dad
My son, Jeff Nickel, is another victim of severe, unethical, illegal, prosecutorial and horrendous judicial misconduct perpetrated on him by a Columbia County judge, Paul Czajka. This judge is not deserving of any position where justice and fairness must prevail. It is imperative he be removed from the bench to avoid damaging/ruining more lives of the innocent he prefers to try by disallowing evidence and hasty wrongful decisions just because my son is gay. He and the prosecutors just needed to 'get their man' at any cost. The police and prosecutors were all of the same ilk. We need some fairness and honesty in [the] justice system.
Received July 17, 2008
You know that I and many others support you. And God bless the people who are helping you with this web page. Justice is rather like a dying language. We can't blame those that don't learn it, rather those that don't speak it. Justice will die in many cases like Jeffrey's, not for those that don't know about the injustice, but rather those who do nothing about it. Speak out. Use the web. Learn what we all can do to turn around so many judicial injustices.
Received July 14, 2008
We have never met, but I am a member of your Dad's Emmaus Reunion Group "Basement People" and you know that he has spoken of you many times to us.
Keep strong in your faith and never lose your trust in God. He will sustain you and will see that justice is done.
Know that many of us are supporting you in prayer.
God bless you.
Received July 3, 2008
I am an Emmaus brother of your father and want you to know that we are praying for you. I know that it is difficult to remain hopeful that you will receive a fair hearing but we continue to trust God that this judge will have a change of heart to be fair.
Know that no matter what the judge says, God still loves you. We love you too.
Received June 26, 2008
Hi Jeff, my brother in Christ. Keep the faith, and stay strong in the Lord my friend. Don’t give up or get discouraged. Justice will indeed prevail. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
After reviewing the facts of Jeff’s case, the only definite thing that can be ascertained with certainty is, what a travesty of justice Jeff has been subjected to. And not only to Jeff, but also his family, friends, and all who love him, and know for a fact that he’s innocent of the charges that were brought against him, and he is definitely wrongfully accused. “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” Now there’s a giant loophole you could drive a truck through and one which is subject to the widest interpretation of the law possible. It’s in this area that judges, whom we trust to render fair and just decisions based on careful examination of ALL available evidence which may prove a person’s guilt or innocence, should be carefully examined. This has not been done in Jeff’s case, and no doubt, in countless other cases. I shudder to think of all the wrongfully accused souls who spend years and years of their lives, if not an entire lifetime, in prison based on hearsay and circumstantial evidence. In particular, Judge Paul Czajka, seems to operate and pass many judgments on truly innocent people, based on a “PRE-DETERMINED” set of standards that are justifiable only to him. He’s in a position of authority whereby he has the liberty to allow or disallow evidence to be presented, which may disprove his pre-determined opinion of guilt. Such is the case with Jeffrey Nickel. Judge Czajka, based on the bogus charges brought against Jeff, pre-determined that Jeff was indeed guilty, before any evidence was presented that would prove otherwise. In Judge Czajka’s “kangaroo” court, relevant evidence which clearly proved Jeff’s innocence was not allowed to be presented. In essence, in Jeff’s case, he was pre-determined by Judge Czajka to be guilty, until Jeff was proven innocent. It’s supposed to be the other way around in this country, or so I thought. We’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Judge Czajka didn’t allow evidence to be admitted, which clearly proved Jeff was innocent of the charges brought against him, and that’s a total travesty of justice, and a betrayal of the trust of the people who elected him. A further substantiation of Judge Czajka’s habit of pre-determining guilt is based on a statement he made at Jeff’s trial. Character witnesses testified on Jeff’s behalf, any church going friends, and I believe a pastor of our church as also in attendance. When all was said and done, Judge Czajka told the character witnesses that HE, Judge Czajka, knew Jeff better than his own family and friends did! How could that be possible? Jeff was never on trial before Judge Czajka before. Jeff doesn’t have a criminal record. How do you figure, and justify, Judge Czajka’s claim to know Jeff better than members of his own family, or his friends? Unless of course, Judge Czajka had already pre-determined Jeff’s guilt of the bogus charges brought against him, which is obvious to me, and many other people as well, is exactly what happened. Why would Judge Czajka render the travesty of justice he rendered? Quite simple I think. Seems to me, Judge Czajka’s gauge as to how good a judge he thinks he is, is by how many people he puts behind bars. After all, when we watch the evening news, or read our newspapers, how often do you hear about an acquittal? Not very often. It’s the cases whereby a person is convicted of a crime and sentences are passed, that make the news and headlines. Those are the instances that put the presiding judges in the spotlight and gain them attention. And you don’t usually get re-elected to judgeships by not making news. I’m not saying most judges operate and run “kangaroo” courts as Judge Czajka does, matter of fact, and hopefully I’m not in error, judges such as Judge Czajka are in the minority. However, one wrongfully accused person is one too many. I don’t know how Judge Czajka lives with the way he operates his court, or how he sleeps at night knowing for a fact that he’s sent innocent people to prison based on his own personal prejudices, and/or manipulating evidence to support what he makes a habit of pre-determining. He will, however, have a “higher source” and the one and only TRUE Judge, to answer to at some time. How, Judge Czajka, are you going to give an account to our Lord Jesus Christ, for all of the wrongfully accused people whose lives you’ve destroyed? Not to mention the anguish you’ve caused so many family members and friends of those you’ve wrongfully accused. And how can you possibly deliberate, for a mere couple of minutes, before passing the maximum sentence, on an innocent man? Judge Czajka should be removed from his judgeship, charged with misconduct, and his cases re-reviewed. If there’s anything criminal with regard to Jeff’s case, it’s the way in which Judge Czajka operated. May God have mercy on all who have to come before him.
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