Mayor Rips Judge Who Freed Accused Cop Killer

The Daily News is reporting here that

Mayor Bloomberg blasted the Brooklyn judge who freed accused cop killer Lamont Pride without bail last month — saying one quick phone call could have prevented a tragedy.

When Pride was picked up for crack possession near Coney Island in November, he was wanted for a shooting in North Carolina.

Because of a mistake, the warrant did not specify he should be held for extradition.

Judge Evelyn Laporte, a former prosecutor with a reputation for toughness, allowed Pride to go free Nov. 4, brushing off a low $2,500 bail request from the DA’s office.

On Monday, Pride allegedly shot Officer Peter Figoski in the face during a botched home invasion.

This is the kind of thing that drives me nuts: politicians who stick their noses into criminal prosecution. Prosecution should be free from political taint, but here we have the mayor — a businessman, not even a lawyer — who sees fit to criticize a judge for doing a job Bloomberg knows nothing about. Why? Because he thinks he can make political hay out of being “tough.” As if.

The fact is Judge Evelyn Laporte (who is no raving liberal soft-on-crime judge by the way) did her job as any other judge would have done in the circumstances. As far as I know, Judge Laporte does not have a crystal ball that enabled her to see into the future and observe Mr. Pride killing a cop. Under the circumstances releasing Mr. Pride was quite usual and not at all outrageous. Why not blame the DA, Mr. Mayor? If the DA thought Mr. Pride was such a danger, why did they only ask for $2,500 bail?

Remember, bail is not intended to keep criminals safely tucked away in prison. Rather, it is intended to secure the presence of a criminal defendant in court. That’s all. It is not punitive in nature, and it is not intended to keep dangerous men off the street. The reason why the DA did not ask for higher bail is that they did not think he was a flight risk. Same for Judge Laporte.

Judge Laporte’s decision to release Mr. Pride did not provide a link in the causal chain that killed P.O. Figoski, and the Mayor should not make this situation worse by casting about for people to blame — particularly a judge, who by tradition is not ethically permitted to respond to this unwarranted, ill-informed, and politically motivated attack by a mayor who has so far shown nothing but disdain for New York’s criminal justice system.




  1. matthew says:

    Why are there judges in Manhattan who lack common sense? This Evelyn Laporte should not be in the bench at all — well, maybe at a bench selling hot dogs.

    • robert says:

      Please read Jim Dywer’s piece in today’s New York Times here. He really understands what this case is about, and why Bloomie was wrong to throw Judge Laporte under the bus.

      Even the Brooklyn DA has defended her conduct. See this article.

  2. robert says:

    The response from the Kings County Criminal Bar Association President Robert S. Gershon, published today in the New York Law Journal:

    The Kings County Criminal Bar Association wishes to show its support for Judge Evelyn Laporte. We are an organization of defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges. Many of our members have known Judge Laporte since her days in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. She is a knowledgeable and fair judge, who has always acted with the utmost professionalism. She has treated all parties and litigants in her court with respect, and is well liked by her staff and colleagues.

    We are disheartened that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and others, who have no personal experience with how a busy arraignment part works, have chosen to blame her for the actions of a defendant who appeared before her on an earlier arrest. Judges are prohibited from responding to such criticism.

    One of the most relevant factors to be considered when making a bail decision are the strengths and weaknesses of the case. In this matter, the defendant, who was charged with basic misdemeanor drug possession, was not found to have any controlled substance on him and the residence was not his home. Upon information and belief, he was not even the target of the search warrant.

    Cases with these set of facts most often result in a plea to a non-criminal offense or even dismissal of the charges. A review of all the facts available to Judge Laporte that busy night show that she properly exercised her discretion in releasing the defendant without bail.

    I want to add to this that I don’t believe Judge Laporte’s decision to ROR Mr. Pride resulted from being in a “busy arraignment part,” nor do I think that it is Mr. Gershon’s intent to excuse her on that basis. Rather, there is nothing to excuse. Her decision was correct.

    In any event, it is important to remember that if the arraignment courtroom was busy, as all criminal courtrooms now are in New York City, that fact has much to do with the budget cutbacks imposed on the entire criminal justice system by politicians, such as the mayor.

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