UPDATED: Apparently, Punching a Restaurant Critic in the Face Is Not Against the Law (at Least in Albany)

Many, many moons ago (like back in March), I reported on the troubling story of Steve Barnes, the restaurant critic for the Albany Times Union who, following a bad review he wrote about a restaurant called Envy, was jumped by mixed martial artist Gerald H. Spiegel (an 11-24-1 pro MMA fighter for Extreme Fighting International).

At the time, the case against Spiegel had just been thrown out due to some legal technicalities:

"Despite the fact that Barnes had identified Spiegel (and the second attacker, who was never identified by police) in a photo lineup, Spiegel walked away a free man after the case was thrown out by Guilderland Town Justice Denise M. Randall. The reason for this? According to the Times Union, "Randall said the criminal information filed in court against Spiegel was legally insufficient because it was signed by a police investigator who was not a witness to the crime. The district attorney's office had argued in motions that Barnes signed a photo identification sheet indicating Spiegel as his assailant. The judge ruled that the signature was not enough and that Barnes should have signed a "sworn" statement."

Also, the judge was upset because Spiegel's right to a speedy trial had been violated--thanks to the prosecutor who managed to miss four court dates and a filing deadline.


And now, there's some more news about the case.

On Thursday, Timothy Rankins--the owner of the restaurant who was accused of hiring Spiegel and a friend to beat the crap out of Barnes--was acquitted by a jury in Albany. Here's what the Times Union had to say:

"Two brothers from Troy, Jason and Gerald Spiegel, a mixed martial arts fighter, admitted assaulting Barnes and Carr in the parking lot of Creo Restaurant. Jason Spiegel pleaded guilty to an assault charge and did not serve any jail time. Gerald Spiegel's criminal case was thrown out by a Guilderland town justice for what the judge said were procedural missteps by prosecutors.

Jason Spiegel testified he took part in the attack because his brother said they would receive "free drinks" at Rankins' downtown bar, Envy Lounge. Gerald Spiegel said the attack was his idea and that Rankins, his friend, had not asked him to do it, as prosecutors alleged.

The government's theory was that Rankins was angry about Barnes reporting on his restaurants, including the suspension of his liquor license, and a police raid for underage drinking. Barnes, in a blog, also criticized Rankins' decision to hold 'bikini contests' at Envy, which was billed as a fine-dining establishment."

The amazing thing here is, despite an admission by the attackers and threats made by Rankins, no one ended up going to jail for this. No one did time. Everyone is still walking around free. Which is just one of the many reasons why I'm glad I don't do this job in Albany.

Even if their white tablecloth restaurants do hold bikini contests.

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