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IJPM, College of Law host defense and prosecuting attorneys, local newspaper columnist on Nov. 4 to discuss Lake Pleasant murder case

October 28, 2010

Jaime Winne Alvarez
(315) 443-3784

The Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics and the Media (IJPM) and Syracuse University College of Law will host “The Toughest Call: The Lake Pleasant Murder Case,” a panel discussion on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 4 p.m. in Room 104, College of Law. Paid parking is available in campus lots. The event is part of the College of Law’s professional responsibility curriculum.

Panelists are the case’s court-appointed defense attorney, Frank H. Armani ’50 L’56, prosecutor from the District Attorney’s Office, the Hon. Norman A. Mordue ’66, L’68, and current Post-Standard columnist Dick Case ’56. This is the first time, since 1973, that Armani and Mordue will discuss the case together.

Armani stands as a role model for legal ethics and is widely regarded within the legal profession for his work on the Lake Pleasant, N.Y. murder case. In 1973, he was one of two lawyers assigned to defend Robert Garrow Sr., the accused murderer. The other lawyer was Francis Belge. Garrow went on trial in June 1974 for the murder of Phillip Domblewski in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County. The trial lasted 15 days and ended with a guilty verdict.

During interviews with Garrow, Armani and Belge learned of the location of additional victims murdered by Garrow, even as the families of those victims searched for their loved ones. As a result, Armani was torn between his concern for the victims’ families and his attorney-client obligation to Garrow. The attorneys were bound by law not to reveal information uncovered in Garrow’s testimony to them, as it would represent a breach of confidentiality and violation of the code of legal ethics.

Armani made an immeasurable personal sacrifice during his representation of Garrow and in the face of inconceivable opposition, strengthened the legal system by personifying what it means to be a lawyer. A state court directed the New York State Bar Association to investigate Armani and Belge’s behavior, not only for ethical violations but for criminal conduct. The press followed the story and the issue became part of a national dialogue on the ethics and morals of defense attorneys.

A sole practitioner for many years, Armani has received numerous awards, including a distinguished lawyer award from the Onondaga County Bar Association and a nomination for the Michael Franck Award presented by the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility. Mordue is currently Chief Federal Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Previously, he was appointed justice of the New York State Supreme Court in the Fifth Judicial District. Mordue began his legal career with the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office. Case has written about Armani’s personal sacrifices as a result of the Garrow case and trial.

For more information, contact Miles Bottrill at the College of Law, (315) 443-1094 or

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