A judge overruled the firing of New York City school teacher who was arrested last October for bringing 20 baggies of heroin into a courthouse, on the grounds that the arrest "was not for conduct at the school site, or involving any of its students."
Judge Manuel J. Mendez ruled this week that Damian Esteban, a former social studies and Spanish teacher at Williamsburg School of Architecture and Design, was unfairly discharged from his job, since there was no evidence that Esteban had ever brought his favorite after-school
snack smack to campus.
The decision argues that an arbiter failed to consider "mitigating factors" like Esteban's "unblemished criminal record, his outstanding record as a teacher, and that the conduct at issue was off-campus, involved no students and was highly unlikely to be repeated." Well, yes, with that logic, Jeffrey Dahmer was a pretty nice guy, except for his occasional habit of murdering people. No one ever stops to appreciate all the times Jeffrey Dahmer wasn't murdering people, and all the quiet moments he invariably spent relaxing at home, just nibbling a Caesar salad on the sofa.
Also, a note on heroin: If the Wire has taught us anything, its that recidivism is common—expected, even. Oh, you mean about the courthouse? As in, the next time Esteban is called to jury duty, he will opt to leave his small mountain of heroin at home? Okay, yeah. No, you have a point.
Mayor Bloomberg was appalled by the decision, saying he "could not disagree more strongly" and plans to issue an appeal.
"The judge ruled that the termination ‘shocks the conscience,’ which shows a callous indifference to the well-being of our students," he said. "That truly shocks the conscience and boggles the mind."
Esteban had been a juror in the murder trail of Jamal Armstead, who was accused of killing a teen on the Upper West Side in 2008. But Esteban was quickly replaced by an alternate after he set off the metal detector in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan on October 17, 2012. Because when a court officer checked the cigarette box that was setting off the alarm, she allegedly found the baggies.
Esteban was charged with possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, though these charges were dismissed after Esteban "agreed to stay out of trouble with the law and complete a one-day substance abuse education program," the Times reports.
“He’s fed up with the bureaucracy and the fact that they would do this to him,” Esteban's attorney told the paper. “He wants to pursue other avenues and he does want to make sure his name is cleared. Right now, his name is cleared.”