At their arraignment on fishery violations in on Thursday morning, of Amagansett pleaded not guilty before an audience of about dozen supporters.
The brother and sister accused of violating state environmental law with regards to running a self-serve clam stand on Abraham's Path. They claim State Department of Environmental Conservation officers illegally raided their property on July 8, when they weren't present, and took fish that was being filleted for their dinner.
Daniel G. Rodgers, the Lesters' attorney, requested an immediate trial. "The judge has, unfortunately, not given us a new court date," he said. "We would much prefer a very fast trial date, this afternoon if necessary," he said.
However, Rana said she would look at her trial calendar and inform the Lesters by mail.
While Kelly was initially charged with a misdemeanor for the alleged sale of shellfish to the public without a permit, the charge may be reduced.
At arraignment, Justice Lisa R. Rana said that a detailed complaint against her was for a similar charge, but as a violation, not a misdemeanor. Violations are not considered a criminal offense under the statute.
The initial ticket Kelly received, which reflected the misdemeanor charge, had things crossed out and was scribbled on, Rana commented.
Paul was charged with possession of untagged fluke and possession of over the limit fluke, which are violations.
Supporters, many fellow fishermen, turned out, including Stuart Vorphal, whose is where DEC officers took the confiscated fish and sold it, Rodgers said.
"I'd like to prove Paul and I are right. We did nothing wrong," Kelly said outside the courthouse.
Paul just wanted to get back out on the water. "Let's go fishing now," he said.
Their defense is that the Dongan Patent of 1686, a royal writ that has been upheld in state court, gives them rights, as town residents, to fish without a state license.
"I'm surprised, knowning that they're going to get a fight . . . that they prepared such sloppy work," Rodger said outside the courthouse.
Just last year, Paul Lester and Danny Lester were charged with similar crimes. They fought the charges initially, but faced with a $45,000 fine on felony charges, they took a plea bargain and paid a $5,000 fine on a misdemeanor charge each.
Even with the affidavit that only charges Kelly with a lesser offense, Rodgers said he isn't convinced she won't be charged with a crime at a later court appearance. "We're still ready to defend the case," he said.