Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, September 26, 2021

The current Times three-parter about New York State’s crooked-as-can-be Justice of the Peace system undoubtedly has merit in exposing the judicial system as a dysfunctional mess, in severe need of overhaul.

But I’m amused, sort of, by the Third World-like picture it paints of the upstate landscape. A sampling:

Several justices have threatened to arrest litigants in small-claims cases, showing they do not understand the difference between civil and criminal cases. Others have told the judicial conduct commission that they disagreed with the constitutional guarantee that a defendant is entitled to a lawyer.

John D. Cox, a quarry manager in Le Ray, near Watertown, summarily jailed people who were unable to pay fines, the commission said. But he received the lightest public penalty, an admonition, in 2002 after he explained that in 22 years in office, he had never been taught that state law allows defendants a new hearing and a lawyer when they say they cannot pay their fine…

In 20 years in office in Haverstraw, north of New York City in Rockland County, Justice Ralph T. Romano drew attention for his opinions on women, state files show. Arraigning a man in 1997 on charges that he had hit his wife in the face with a telephone, he laughed and asked, “What was wrong with this?” Arraigning a woman on charges that she had sexually abused a 12-year-old boy, the justice asked his courtroom, “Where were girls like this when I was 12?

And on and on, slight variations on the same theme. I don’t know why this story needs three parts to it — the specifics hardly matter.

Really, this reads exactly like a confirmation of most City-dwellers conception of the land outside the five boroughs and Long Island: Full of yokels on the make for extortion plays. The message is clear: Drive north of the Bronx, and you’re in a practically law-by-fiat hinterland. Enter at your own risk — or better yet, never leave Manhattan.

I guess the City psyche needs a refresher course in upstate-snubbing every so often. Probably fuels the infrequent calls for NYC to split from Albany and set up the 51st State of Gotham.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/26/2006 11:42pm
Category: New Yorkin', Society
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