Judge temporarily blocks GOP takeover of Senate

An appeals judge is issuing a temporary restraining order to prevent a new coalition from taking control of the New York Senate at least until

THE BRONX - An appeals judge is issuing a temporary restraining order to prevent a new coalition from taking control of the New York Senate at least until Friday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, the doors to the New York Senate chambers were finally opened again, but the coalition of Republicans and two dissident Democrats were unable to conduct any official business.

The coalition members said the Democratic conference they overthrew Monday had locked away bills and withheld the official stenographer essential to carrying out legislative business.

Throngs of Democrat-aligned groups were also seen in Albany Thursday, protesting against the new Senate leadership.

State Sen. Malcolm Smith, who was seemingly ousted from his majority leadership perch Monday, and other Senate Democrats had worked through the night Wednesday filing a temporary restraining order to prevent a legislative session from occurring.

But state Supreme Court Justice George Ceresia rejected the Democrats' request, prompting the abbreviated Senate session.

State Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., of the Bronx, who was the Senate president until Thursday's restraining order was issued, says Monday's political coup was lawful and will benefit New Yorkers.

"We know that what we did Monday was lawful and this is just another attempt to really derail progress and reform," Espada says.

Espada and state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, of Queens, joined with Republicans Monday to seemingly seize control of the Senate. Shocked Democrats walked out and have since been throwing up roadblocks, even holding onto the keys to the chamber.

AP wire services were used in this report.

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