Social Host Trial Against Kinsella Adjourned to May

Former Sag Harbor School Board President Susan Kinsella.

By Christine Sampson

The Southampton Town Justice Court bench trial of Susan E. Kinsella, the former Sag Harbor School Board trustee accused of violating Suffolk County’s social host law, was moved from April 27 to May 11 last week.

According to Ms. Kinsella’s attorney, Daniel Rodgers of Southampton, the case was adjourned two weeks “with no real expectation or certainty that it’s going to go to trial that day” because “the prosecution was still not ready to proceed.”

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, said in an email that more time was requested, “to more fully investigate the alleged violation of the social host law.”

Regarding Mr. Rodgers’s claim that there is no certainty of a trial on May 11, Mr. Clifford said, “That is speculation on his part, and our investigation is going forward.”

Prosecutors say Ms. Kinsella allegedly allowed underage drinking at a party at her North Haven home on January 27. Following an investigation by Southampton Town Police, which was prompted by at least one anonymous tip through the New York State Police’s 866-UNDER21 hotline, Ms. Kinsella, 54, was arrested at her home on February 17.

She pleaded not guilty in March to one misdemeanor count in violation of the social host law, for which a first-offense conviction carries a fine of up to $500. According to Mr. Clifford, the charge is an unclassified misdemeanor, which means the case must be brought to trial within 90 days.

“We’re taking a very aggressive approach to this case,” Mr. Rodgers said Friday. “We are continuing to announce our readiness for trial and maintain her innocence. We need to get our day in court to prove that. We will accept nothing short of a complete dismissal.”