Sunday, July 22, 2012
Judge Noach Dear has been booted from Brooklyn Criminal Court a month after his bizarre ruling barred police from ticketing public drinkers unless cops lab-tested their booze.
The ouster comes amid outrage over his June 14 decision, which dismissed a case against a Brooklyn man, Julio Figueroa, who admitted he was sipping a beer on the street.
The judge concluded that enforcement of laws on drinking in public is racially biased.
Dear, 59, a scandal-scarred ex-city councilman elected to the bench in 2007 and relegated to hearing low-level debt disputes in recent years, had volunteered to take criminal cases on the weekends in a bid to get promoted, courthouse insiders said.
“Somebody here messed up,” a court source said. “He never should have been given that assignment.”
The state acknowledged that Dear’s part-time gig was over.
“The judge was, in fact, volunteering on the weekends because of a resource shortage, but at this point his services are no longer needed,” said courts spokesman David Bookstaver.
Dear’s ruling nullified a long-accepted police practice — sniffing a suspect’s beverage — and meant police would be required to conduct a chemical analysis to make their cases stick.
Open-container summonses are a widely used policing tool, resulting in more than 12,000 arrests for other crimes in 2011, by one police supervisor’s estimate. Cops wrote 124,498 drinking tickets during the year.
“I’d say 10 to 15 percent of the time we issue a violation, we find they’re wanted for something else,” a NYPD source said.
Legal experts slammed Dear’s ruling for going well beyond the scope of a judge’s authority.
“He’s legislating from the bench,” said legal analyst Arthur Aidala. “He’s saying we’re not going to enforce the law even though people of color violate the law. That’s ludicrous.”
The ruling raised memories of how Dear got his gavel — in a backroom deal orchestrated by Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez.
Dear, who spent 18 years as a Democratic city councilman before being term-limited out in 2001, was dogged by scandals, many involving improper overseas junkets paid for by charities. When he ran for Congress in 1998, his staff allegedly forged signatures to duck campaign-donation laws.
In 2003, after two years as TLC commissioner, he tried to run again for City Council but was knocked off the ballot for accepting campaign financing from taxi companies.
Because he had nearly defeated Kevin Parker in a state Senate race in 2002, Lopez saw him as a threat to the party’s candidates.
So the boss backed him for judge — even though Dear was never a practicing lawyer and got a thumbs down from the Brooklyn Bar Association.
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