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Putting Traffic Ticket Fixing And Other Recent NYPD Issues In Perspective

The NYPD traffic ticket fixing scandal continues as 16 officers were arraigned on criminal charges last month in the Bronx. An officer convicted just a few days ago of planting crack on innocent people in Brooklyn. Five Staten Island officers were arrested last month in a federal gun-running sting.

There’s a lot of bad news recently surrounding the NYPD and I’ve had a few clients ask me about it.  I get mostly either a question about specific Bronx traffic tickets or just general commentary and grumbling about bad officers issuing bad tickets that may or may not have been justified.

1.  Will the Bronx TVB ticket fixing scandal affect my already closed or still open traffic violation matter in the Bronx?  Start with the premise that only tickets issued by the officers who have been either criminally or administratively involved in the scandal are in play.  Just because your ticket was issued in the same borough does not automatically raise questions about it.  From there, realize that it’s incredibly unlikely for any action to be taken on closed cases.  There are a number of legal and administrative reasons why that’s highly unlikely.  So we’re only talking about active/open TVB traffic tickets issued by officers involved in the scandal and with respect to those the answer is yes–your case may very well be affected.  If the officers are temporarily or permanently banned from testifying in traffic court, you may get lucky and an officer won’t appear in court on your hearing date.  If you have reason to believe a ticket you are currently fighting was issued by an officer named in the ticket fixing scandal, set a hearing date and go to court.  Don’t delay.

2.  Other clients while discussing their traffic tickets with me have either said it outright or insinuated that these multiple scandals are “proof” that that cops lie and do bad things and a judge should and will dismiss their ticket.  It’s here where we need a little perspective.  First, many just express their displeasure with their issuing officer to me but never really bother to tell me they didn’t do what they were accused of doing.   It’s unfair just because you are annoyed you got busted to make the jump and connect officers simply doing their jobs and issuing traffic tickets with an officer planting crack on an innocent person.   Second, even if you really didn’t go through that red light or speed as fast as an officer charged you, it doesn’t mean the officer intentionally or negligently wrote a bad summons.  The officer may have made an honest mistake and again, this is very very far from corrupt behavior.  Finally, you shouldn’t assume the officer you encountered in a traffic stop has any inclination towards corruption just because he’s a police officer.  There are scandals in every profession and clearly that does not make everyone in that profession corrupt.

On that last note, a recent quote from Justice Milton Mollen, a former deputy mayor and longtime judge who explored police corruption two decades ago.  “These are isolated individuals. The vast majority of police are not corrupt,” he said. “If you have 35,000 police officers … think 35,000 clergymen, 35,000 lawyers, 35,000 ditch-diggers, you’re going to find X percent are going to be corrupt.”

Scott Feifer

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