All There Except Defendant

    On Tuesday, minutes after East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana issued an arrest warrant for a Coram woman, the woman’s son was arraigned in Southampton Justice Court and a friend of his was arraigned here on charges of driving while intoxicated.

    The woman’s attorney, Patrick Kerr, was in court that morning with Dan Cronin, an assistant county district attorney,  for the scheduled trial of Heidi A. Kulp, 44, who was arrested in February for alleged drunken driving. Prospective jurors filled the courtroom, Mr. Cronin and Mr. Kerr sat in their respective places, and everybody was there, Justice Rana later remarked, except for the defendant.

    After a roll call attendance of the prospective jurors, while they were being shown an instructional video on jury duty, the attorneys left the courtroom. Mr. Kerr paced in the hall, trying without success to reach his client by cellphone.

    At the same time, James D. Selberg-Stross of East Hampton was brought in to the courthouse to be arraigned. East Hampton Town police said he had been pulled over Monday night on Route 114 for  speeding, and had failed roadside sobriety tests. While he was being arrested, a second officer was checking a passenger in the car, the son of the missing Ms. Kulp, who officers said was wanted in Southampton, having failed to appear there on charges of criminal possession of a weapon and menacing.

    He too was arrested and taken to town police headquarters in Wainscott, where he was picked up by Southampton police.

    The video over, the prospective jurors here were given a break, and Mr. Selberg-Stross was brought in to be arraigned.    Mr. Kerr had agreed to stand in as his attorney.

    The arraignment was complicated. Mr. Selberg-Stross, 22, had been arrested in Southampton in April on a drunken-driving charge, which is still open. In that case and Monday night’s, he reportedly refused to take the stationhouse breath test. In addition, he has a conviction for driving with ability impaired, a lesser charge but still alcohol-related. His right to drive in New York State has been suspended and revoked multiple times.

    Both the Southampton arrest and Monday night’s therefore had charges added of felony driving with a suspended license.

    Mr. Kerr asked for low bail. “He lives with his girlfriend, who has a 5-year old child, who he takes care of when she’s at work,” the attorney told the court.

    Justice Rana set bail at $5,000, agreeing with Mr. Cronin, the prosecutor, who argued that Mr. Selberg-Stross was a significant flight risk given his record.

    At about the same time as Mr. Selberg-Stross was being arraigned, Mr. Kulp was, too, in Southampton, where he was released without bail, and scheduled to return Nov. 13.

    With Mr. Selberg-Stross’s arraignment over, the prospective jurors filed back in. It was now 11 a.m., two hours after Ms. Kulp’s trial was to have begun. Justice Rana gave the jurors what all took to be good news: they were being dismissed, exempt now from jury duty for the next two years.

    After the jurors cleared the room, the court issued an arrest warrant for Ms. Kulp, who will not be eligible for bail if and when found, and will be held until a trial can begin.

    An East Hampton man who was picked up on Oct. 12 during a Columbus Day weekend police sweep targeting drunken drivers was re-arrested six days later, again charged with D.W.I. This time, though, Howard A. Dunn, 51, could be facing a felony charge.

    He had had “at least a dozen beers,” Mr. Dunn reportedly told a Sag Harbor Village police officer after being stopped on Route 114 early Friday. Fifteen minutes before, a vehicle said to be matching the description of his 1993 Chevrolet was reported by Southampton Town police to have been in a hit-and-run crash on Scuttlehole Road, Bridgehampton.

    Back at the station house Mr. Dunn was given a breath test, which police said resulted in a reading of at least .18, the trigger point for an elevated charge of aggravated D.W.I.

    Mr. Dunn stood in Sag Harbor Village Court before Justice Rana, who does double duty in that jurisdiction, later that morning. Six days earlier Justice Catherine A. Cahill had set bail for him at $500 after reviewing his record, which included a couple of non-alcohol-related convictions.

    Friday morning, Justice Rana weighed bail on the new set of charges. Because his license was suspended following the Oct. 12 D.W.I. charge, and he’d been rearrested on a new D.W.I. charge, the Sag Harbor charge of driving with a suspended license, initially pressed as a misdemeanor, will likely be raised to the felony level.

    Justice Rana set Mr. Dunn’s bail at $7,500, which has since been posted.

    Victor Dominguez of Sag Harbor, 34, was charged with drunken driving by East Hampton Village police early Sunday morning and was in court a few hours later to be arraigned. With no lawyer there to defend him, however, confusion reigned and the arraignment never took place. The Suffolk County Legal Aid Society does not send an attorney to East Hampton for criminal arraignments except on Thursdays.

    It was clear that Mr. Dominguez spoke little English, so Justice Rana called Language Line Solutions and asked for a court translator. One was put on speaker phone, but the confusion continued. Where there is no defense attorney, the justice starts off with a basic question: “Do you want to call an attorney, or do you want to proceed on your own, and have an attorney with you for your next court appearance?”

    “I want to know if I can pay a fine,” Mr. Dominguez responded.

    “I don’t believe you’re going to be released today,” Justice Rana said. “There is an [immigration department] hold on you.”

    She repeated her question about an attorney.

    “Someone else will have to call the lawyer,” he answered.

    After several more attempts to get an answer, Justice Rana set bail at $5,000 and put the arraignment off until today, when Legal Aid will be in the court.

    The justice tried to explain his predicament to Mr. Dominguez. Because of the immigration detainer, the bail amount is moot. “If you post the bail, you’re not going to be released.”

    “Okay. Perfect,” the man answered. He was taken to county jail to await his day in court.

    Also arraigned Sunday morning was Alexander McGugan III, 56, of Moorestown, N.J., whom town police said had been speeding, narrowly missing a parked car, when he was stopped on Main Street in Amagansett. Mr. McGugan, whose blood-alcohol level was reportedly .23, faces a charge of aggravated drunken driving.

    Bail was set at $600.