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Man protests court decision by demanding his arrest

By SHAUN T. KOH Finger Lakes Times


A Lyons native vho now lives in Baldwinsville in Onondaga County wanted to be arrested. While local sheriffs deputies could see no reason to do so initially, John Murtari gave hem one in the end. Murtari walked into an Onondaga County Sheriffs substation in Salina Friday and demanded to be arrested. When deputies refused to do so without any reason, Murtari refused to leave. In a statement he released that day, Murtari said his action was one of civil disobedience, a form of protest used by that Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Murtari is protesting the legal process that turned down his request for joint custody of his 6-year-old son, Domenic, following a legal battle culminating in a nasty divorce. The son was subsequently moved to San Diego, Colo. Murtari said the state's Family Court System is based on the judgment of an all-powerful judge after hearing information from a single, court-appointed investigator. Murtari said parents should have at least the same rights as a criminal, who is entitled to a jury trial.

Murtari, a former Air Force pilot and a graduate of Syracuse University, is president of the Software Workshop, a small Internet service company started in 1995. Onondaga County Sheriffs deputies said that Murtari was charged and was to be released on his own recognizance with an appearance ticket, but Murtari refused, preferring to stay in jai. Murtari is refusing to be released until an investigation of his case is undertaken by state law makers to whom he has written. Representatives of some are lawmakers contacted Monday said the demand sounds almost like blackmail, but agreed that the system may have to be examined a little closer.

Murtari is a former Democratic committee chairman in Lysander, and briefly in 1994 sought the party nomination to run against Rep. James Walsh for Congress.