In a very interesting article in the New York Times on August 1, 2011, Joseph Goldstein and Al Baker reported on an NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau investigation launched after the ticket fixing scandal that has been in the news recently. The article notes that 40 officers are facing criminal charges, with files opened on up to 60 officers. Apparently, the focus is on cops who would fix New York traffic ticket cases by failing to show up, or give testimony claiming that they had forgotten important details in the case, leading to acquittals.
When officers testify in these cases, they are often referencing a traffic stop that occurred long ago, and using notes that might have been written from memo books or even on the back of tickets. Since officers write a large volume of tickets, it is hard to fathom that they would have any specific recollection about a traffic stop, particularly if it happened several years previously. According to the article, summonses for moving violations in the Bronx, where the scandal is focused, have declined 11% to 75,437 in 2011 from 85,132 in 2010. Citywide, there were 557,015 summonses issued in 2010 and 512,286 this year.
New York City traffic courts, in my experience, have always been difficult places to win your cases, as the officers show up ready to testify, the judges are very much on the side of the prosecution, and plea bargaining is not an option–it does not exist in these Courts. Now, investigators are “roaming the halls and breathing down officers’ necks”, according to one lawyer quoted for the article. Edward Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, in discussing the IAB investigation, stated: “Is IAB inadvertently creating an atmosphere of perjury, where an officer can’t remember but, because of fear of disciplinary action, creates that memory?” An important question, indeed. We will continue to follow the NYPD ticket fixing scandal as it proceeds and report on its progress.
When charged with a crime or traffic infraction, contact the Westchester County Traffic Ticket Defense Lawyers online or toll free at 914-224-3086, for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case, and your legal rights and options.