Paul Calabro did not trespass on Christine and Richard Rivera’s beach on two occasions in August of 2008 and 2009, says the civil jury charged with deciding Ms. Rivera’s lawsuit against her 78-year-old neighbor.
The six-member jury reached its unanimous verdict in less than 10 minutes, after nearly three days of testimony in the trial, which was heard before Justice Joseph Pastoressa in New York State Supreme Court in Riverhead.
As he left the courtroom, Mr. Calabro said he hasn’t slept in three days, after hearing three days of what he said were lies that disparaged his character.
Mr. Rivera testify that Mr. Calabro shook his fist in his face on one occasion and grabbed his crotch and said “take a picture of this” when Mr. Rivera tried to take a picture of Mr. Calabro on the beach in front of his house.
Mr. Calabro maintained throughout the trial that he was below the mean high water mark and was seaward of the Riveras property on the dates they allege the incidents took place.
He said he was “not really surprised” that the jury made its decision so quickly.
“I don’t think they wanted to come back Monday,” he said. “I had a feeling they’d decide in my favor. I don’t think the jury would buy everything they [the Riveras] said. It was easy to know they were lying.”
In the end, the case did come down to the Riveras’ word and the word of two of their friends, who said they witnessed Mr.Calabro on the beach, against Mr. Calabro’s word that he was not on the Riveras’ property. Neither side presented physical evidence of where Mr. Calabro was on the dates in question. The trespasses were alleged to have occurred on Aug. 30 2008 and Aug. 23, 2009.
Ms. Rivera said as she left the courtroom that she and her husband are disappointed in the result of the case, but “that still doesn’t change the fact that if someone trespasses on our property we will respond accordingly.”
Mr. Calabro’s attorney, David Raimondo, said he often sees juries return verdicts this quickly “when the evidence is so overwhelming.”
“The Riveras could not convey exactly what property they owned and their recollection of the trespass was completely faulty,” he said.
“This verdict by the people sends a message that the public has a right to walk the shores of Long Island, as is their right to do so, as long as they’re not on private property,” he added. “The fishermen of Long Island and the residents of Long Island have obtained a victory today. Enjoy the beaches.”