040908lirr.jpgSome funny new details emerged yesterday in the trial of the retired cop infamous for aggressively silencing noisy passengers on the Long Island Railroad. John Clifford stood accused of assaulting a woman whose hand he twice slapped in March 2007 after she tried to intervene in his scolding of cell-phone talker Nicholas Bender. And if Jerry Seinfeld is looking for material for his new TV series, he’s got all the fodder he needs in yesterday's courtroom farce:

  • We already knew that in trying to shame Bender into getting off the phone, Clifford called him a “f—king faggot.” But what was so important that Bender had to prattle on despite Clifford’s admonishments? Just his cousin's kidney failure is all.
  • Frequent LIRR commuter Donna DeCurtis testified against Clifford yesterday, telling the judge she’s "petrified" of him. In 2006, when DeCurtis brushed off Clifford’s instructions to pipe down, the former private eye said, “I know who you are. I know you have a daughter. I know where you live. I can make your life hell.”
  • Clifford knows for certain when other passengers are being too loud because he brings a noise meter with him on the train. He says the MTA is supposed to restrict any noise above 70 decibels, but “when you’re talking across the car it goes to 80 decibels.”
  • LIRR conductor David Carliovoch is well familiar with Clifford and testified that he’s “a pain in the ass.”
  • In the end, the judge acquitted Clifford of all charges, dismissing most of the testimony against him because all but one of the witnesses had "an ax to grind."
  • But before the ruling, the prosecutor said Clifford's behavior is like "a dog marking his territory. He is not a white knight. He is Darth Vader.”

Clifford says he’s more like Rosa Parks. Smoking a celebratory cigar outside the court, he compared himself to the civil rights trailblazer and told reporters, "I don't think I should be punished for maintaining my rights to be alone.” An LIRR rep expressed disappointment with the ruling, but the obvious solution here is for the railroad to provide Clifford with his own private soundproofed train car, where he won’t be subjected to any disruptions from the lower orders.

Photo: threecee