Gothamist has been following the tempest-in-a-policeman's-coffee-mug story of Justice Laura D. Blackburne since late last week, when it turned out that Justice Blackburne let a drug dealer evade arrest. A detective was waiting to arrest Derek Sterling for a robbery case after Sterling's routine update hearing; Justice Blackburne stated:
"I understand that there is a detective on the premises who has some reason to believe that he ought to arrest you...I resent the fact that a detective came to this court under the ruse of wanting to ask you questions when, in fact, he had it in his head that he wanted to arrest you. If there is a basis for him arresting you, he will have to present that in the form of a warrant. I'm not trying to keep you from being arrested. I'm trying to keep you from being arrested today in my courtroom based on obvious misrepresentation on the part of the detective."
And then she allowed the suspect to leave through a side door (he was arrested the next day). That just seems...nutty. But we think we see the judge's point. Then again, we do feel the police were trying to do their job, so we don't know! The police union, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, the detectives' union, court officer's union, all had a fit, asking for her to removed and for an investigation to occur, and yesterday, Justice Blackburne agreed to be transferred to from criminal court to civil court. The judge, though, has many supporters, including Lt. Eric Adams from 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care and Ron Kuby, who feel that the judge is simply doing her job and not cowing to the police. Kuby also points out "This is a complete failure of the judiciary to preserve its own independence in the face of an attack by the police union and the court officers' union. Typically, my clients are first charged, then tried, then punished if found guilty. Apparently there's a new system for judges, where they get punished first as long as the P.B.A. is demanding it." Ah, Ron Kuby - he's one tenth the man William Kunstler was, but Gothamist still enjoys his flamboyance.
Part of the problem for Justice Blackburne is that she has a history of aggravating the police. The Daily News details some of Blackburne's political missteps, including the $341,000 in decorations of her offices at the Housing Authority. Plus a profile of Blackburne and some her notable cases. Anyway, we'll wait for this to be ripped from the headlines to be a Law & Order episode. Gothamist isn't too familiar with judges aside from Judge Judy or Judge Harry Stone from Night Court; we're pretty sure Judge Stone wouldn't let a suspect evade the police, considering how scary Bull could be.