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New York - Judge Noach Dear: Sniff Test Does Not Prove Public Drinking

Published on: June 14, 2012 10:07 PM
By: Read full article at NY Times
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(AP Photo / Matt Dunham)(AP Photo / Matt Dunham)

New York - The police in New York City wrote 124,498 summonses last year for drinking in public — far more than for any other violation. After having to adjudicate so many of these public drinking cases, a Brooklyn judge has decided he has had enough.

The sniff test, judge, Noach Dear wrote, was not enough.

Judge Dear made his intentions known in a written decision released on Thursday in a run-of-the-mill Criminal Court case: Julio Figueroa, 38, was cited for illegally drinking a cup of beer on a city sidewalk near his home in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn.

It was not sufficient, the judge wrote, that a police officer had smelled the contents of Mr. Figueroa’s cup and detected beer. Nor was it enough that Mr. Figueroa had told the police officer that, yes, the liquid was indeed beer.

In dismissing Mr. Figueroa’s case, Judge Dear wrote that the police should be required to adhere to a higher standard of certainty that the drink’s alcohol content exceeded 0.5 percent, the threshold under the city’s open-container law, before issuing a court summons. One way to do that, he suggested, would be for the New York Police Department to have a laboratory test conducted.

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Judge Dear made it clear that he hoped his interpretation of the city’s public drinking law would persuade the Police Department to reconsider its enforcement of the ordinance. In his experience, he wrote, the department singled out blacks and Hispanics when issuing public drinking summonses.

“As hard as I try, I cannot recall ever arraigning a white defendant for such a violation,” wrote Judge Dear, a former city councilman who has handled mostly civil cases since his election to a judgeship in 2007.

Read full article at The New York Times


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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »

2

 Jun 14, 2012 at 10:35 PM Facts1 Says:

Thanks Noach for finally standing up to our Freedoms.

What a breath of fresh air you are!

3

 Jun 15, 2012 at 01:13 AM not_suprised Says:

Maybe the overwhelming majority of public drunks are Hispanic and/or black? Oh, am I not allowed to say that?

4

 Jun 15, 2012 at 08:37 AM vitriol Says:

People don't really understand what is going on in New York. Cops sieze on one revenue producing violation (parking, etc) and just keep writing tickets. This is because the cops have so many distractions that they cannot perform their jobs properly. They lack the ability to analyze any situation so they become like robots and just write and let the Judge sort things out. Apparently, Judge Dear is sorting pretty well.
Much of the distraction which prevents cops from doing their jobs well comes from the fact that there are women on the force who do little, speak much, and have nasty attitudes. The addition of women on the force was the demise of policing. It is degrading to men that they receive the same pay when it is usually the men who place themselves in harms way.

5

 Jun 15, 2012 at 08:49 AM rationalman Says:

what an idiot....what happened to reasonable procedures in police work.....this is not a case of possibility but rather reasonable. and in the case cited the defendant admitted to the police officer that it was beer. Not sure if I should thank god he is not in the legislator branch of government where he could apply his logic to the passage of laws - or as a judge where he can issue ruling that defy logic.

perhaps we can convince him to run for office giving up his judgeship - and then watch him get pummeled in an election

nice guy - but he hasn't gotten any smarter in 40 years

6

 Jun 15, 2012 at 08:51 AM Anonymous Says:

In dismissing Mr. Figueroa’s case, Judge Dear wrote that the police should be required to adhere to a higher standard of certainty that the drink’s alcohol content exceeded 0.5 percent...why should they....there is absolutely no reason that this should be required. if it smells like alcohol that should be enough - especially when the defendants tells the officer it is beer

7

 Jun 15, 2012 at 09:23 AM blahblah Says:

Look, it's a stupid law that should be changed. But that's a matter for City Council. Judges should not be making up new and ridiculous rules to make enforcement more difficult just because the law is outdated.

8

 Jun 15, 2012 at 11:03 AM Phil E Stein Says:

Reply to #7  
blahblah Says:

Look, it's a stupid law that should be changed. But that's a matter for City Council. Judges should not be making up new and ridiculous rules to make enforcement more difficult just because the law is outdated.

Let's hear you say that after some avreich or under-age yungerleit are caught with a drink in his hand next Purim.

9

 Jun 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM jay Says:

post 4 and 5 in your rush to defend your friends the NYPD you totally ignored
the Law please read the article again

“0.5 percent the threshold under the city’s open-container law”

if you drink less than 0.5 percent you did not break the law
please tell your friends to be more educated on our laws they will not have there cases dismissed

10

 Jun 15, 2012 at 12:10 PM woofer Says:

About blacks and latinos being singled out he is 100% correct. I once tried an experiment. I took a beer and walked down Fulton street in Manhattan, taking sips as I walked, right past dozens of cops who were around because of some demonstration. Nothing happened.

11

 Jun 15, 2012 at 12:39 PM Unasked_Question Says:

Kol hakavod!

Finally someone to stand up for humanity.
Thanks.

12

 Jun 15, 2012 at 12:27 PM Voice-of-Reason Says:

NYC has 35,000 cops. Triple the amount the next largest police force in the USA Who needs so many cops? All they do is write tickets and and stop n frisk. Then we are stuck paying their salaries. What a charade.

13

 Jun 15, 2012 at 02:01 PM blahblah Says:

Reply to #8  
Phil E Stein Says:

Let's hear you say that after some avreich or under-age yungerleit are caught with a drink in his hand next Purim.

A black person should not get arrested for drinking a beer on his stoop. A bochur should not get arrested for drinking a beer in his neighborhood on Purim. It's a dumb law that should be changed. But that's what legislation is for.

I also think the drinking age should be lowered to 18. But until that happens, we're stuck with the law, and should either follow it, or be prepared to deal with the consequences of getting busted.

14

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