New York – Judge Noach Dear has been booted from Brooklyn Criminal Court a month after his 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, an ex-city councilman elected to the bench in 2007 and relegated to hearing debt disputes in recent years, had volunteered to take criminal cases on the weekends.
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 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.
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.”
Dear spent 18 years as a Democratic city councilman before being term-limited out in 2001.
In 2003, after two years as TLC commissioner, he tried to run again for City Council.