By TRACEY BRUNECZ
I feel compelled to write to you regarding the article you ran (Sept. 16) regarding William Coughlin's background. I am writing to provide your readers with what I know of Mr. Coughlin.
At the outset, your readership must know that this letter is not an endorsement by me to vote for Mr. Coughlin. I am currently employed as an assistant district attorney with the Schenectady County District Attorney's Office as the bureau chief for the Special Victims Unit. As such, by law I am not allowed to endorse candidates for public office. This letter is simply to let others know about other aspects of Mr. Coughlin's character that were not apparent from your article.
I have known Mr. Coughlin for 16 years. I worked with him as a co-worker in the district attorney's office and as opposing counsel when he was with the public defender's office. During that time I saw Mr. Coughlin interact with many individuals. Mr. Coughlin respects people who use their intelligence, work ethic and God-given talents to get ahead in this world. He does not suffer fools lightly and abhors those who rely on their sex, race, handicap, money or social status to obtain a free ride. Mr. Coughlin also respects honesty. He speaks his mind and expects the same from others.
Mr. Coughlin is also compassionate. While at the district attorney's office Mr. Coughlin tried a very difficult kidnapping and assault case. During that case I saw Mr. Coughlin treat the female victim with respect and compassion and spend hours preparing and trying the case to a guilty verdict.
Through continued hard work Mr. Coughlin was able to obtain a life sentence for that defendant; a sentence that was discretionary with the judge, but allowed under law if the prosecutor proved certain criteria. If Mr. Coughlin had not pursued the matter, that individual would have been out of prison within seven years and back on the street today victimizing someone else.
I have seen Mr. Coughlin try several other cases, all with the same passion. Mr. Coughlin is amongst the most talented courtroom attorneys I've seen.
Mr. Coughlin says he has changed and credits that fact to having taken anger management classes. It is correct, Mr. Coughlin has changed. However, I also credit his wife and other strong female role models who recognized Mr. Coughlin's attributes and helped him realize that he could handle situations differently.
In short, as with most people, Mr. Coughlin has matured and has learned from his mistakes.
I believe no person is without their faults. I also believe all people have their merits as well. Mr. Coughlin has merits.
Tracey Brunecz is former first assistant and acting district attorney for Chautauqua County.