Call Off the Lawyers, Except About Ravitch

The lawyers are standing down, mostly.

"Most of the cases have been rendered moot after the agreement reached yesterday and the resulting regular session of the Senate," Austin Shafran, a spokesman for the State Senate Democrats, said.

There have been six lawsuits filed in connection with the now-resolved leadership struggle in the chamber (I detailed each one here), of which four are outstanding. Two of those dealt with bills that were passed early this morning; another dealt with how Democrat-designated Senate Secretary Angelo Aponte was conducting himself in the chamber. All are expected to be dropped or fizzle in some other legal way that I won't pretend to understand.

Dennis Tompkins, a spokesman for State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, said attorneys from his office will drop a legal action seeking judgment as to whether he could withhold the pay of feuding senators. In a statement issued earlier this morning, DiNapoli said he has "received certification from President Pro Tem Malcolm Smith, and my office will now begin processing Senators' paychecks, vouchers and per diems."

That leaves just one big case: the Republican-brought suit over the validity of Richard Ravitch's appointment as lieutenant governor. A spokesman for Senate Republicans said lawyers for both sides are in court this morning arguing over David Paterson's ability to appoint Ravitch—he rushed him to sign an oath of office Wednesday night—even if his role is somewhat diminished now.

I caught Ravitch in the Capitol Thursday as news of a deal to return Democrats and Pedro Espada Jr. to power was breaking.

"It doesn't change my view. I have always said I'm going to do this in order to help Governor Paterson with the problems of the state, and if there are fewer problems, I won't have to work as hard," he said. "Obviously I didn't go into the chamber because there is no urgent need for my presence, and until I hear from the governor's counsel about the outcome of the appeal of the temporary restraining order that the judge issued at 2:30 this morning, I don't want to; it's not necessary to confront a judicial decision even though, in my judgment, it isn't going to survive an appeal."

Paterson was asked whether he still would have appointed Ravitch if a deal had broken a few days earlier.

"Absolutely," he told reporters at a press conference late Thursday. "I would say that the Senate has resolved its conflict, but it is fragile. The majority is 32 to 30. I'm sure there are quite a few people that don't like the way things turned out today. I'm sure that tension will exist even though today everybody seemed quite accommodating, and we have a problem in this state: We have no lieutenant governor."

Paterson was asked what role his appointment had in breaking the stalemate. "I have no comment," he replied.

Call Off the Lawyers, Except About Ravitch