Neulander appeals to the court: Matt's Memo

Leslie Neulander

Lawyers talking to lawyers. When a legal case reaches the Appellate Division, 4th Judicial Department in Rochester it is all about the law. Was procedure properly followed in the lower court? Does case law support a key ruling by a judge on the trial level? Did the instructions to the jury give the lay people the proper foundation to reach a verdict? The judges will decide the appeal on the basis of law.

What can too easily be lost on that level is the person victimized by the crime. An Onondaga County jury found Dr. Robert Neulander guilty of murdering his wife Leslie Neulander. They also found him guilty of tampering with the evidence. His defense team claimed Leslie fell and bumped her head in the shower. The Prosecution said the well known ob/gyn struck his wife with an object so violently that blood spattered in the bedroom. He then dragged her through the master suite and into the shower.

District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick told the jury during trial that Dr. Neulander then cleaned up the mess, took a jog at Green Lakes State Park and returned home. The prosecutor said Neulander than fooled his adult daughter into thinking he had just discovered her mother dead in the shower. The daughter called 911. Her emotional call for help played out on tape in court during the trial.

As I listened and watched the oral arguments made in the Appellate Division courtroom the justices I did not hear Leslie Neulander's name mentioned. That is the nature of lawyers talking to lawyers on this level. The judges poke and probe at the briefs and arguments made by the attorneys bringing the appeal and the others defending the conviction.

What they don't do is talk about the warmth and the smile remembered by friends of Leslie Neulander. They don't talk about her commitment to helping others in the community. They don't mention her intelligence of her love for her children. That's the nature of appeals after the trial. A dispassionate approach to the law.

Watch "The Doctor's Daughter" 48 Hours broadcast.

Robert Neulander has the financial resources to hire high level representation in his attempt to get a new trial and be freed from prison. In the meantime, he serves his sentence in Elmira Correctional. He continues to hope somewhere wrapped in the details of the law the judges will see their way to set his verdict aside. He would like a second chance, something his wife Leslie cannot have.

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