New York Daily News

November 8, 2002

Judge nixed in cop-bar bid

By MICHELE MCPHEE
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF

Queens Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne - under fire from NYPD unions for releasing an alleged cop shooter without bail - tried to ban cops from a hearing for the suspect today, the Daily News has learned.

Police officers had vowed to pack the courtroom in protest against her no-bail ruling.

At first, Blackburne tried to keep cops out altogether - but that was vetoed by court administrators, sources said.

Then she argued that any police officers who did show up should be required to relinquish their service weapons, according to the sources.

"She is going to ban weapons from the courtroom as if we are going to shoot her," said Al O'Leary, spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "She is doing everything she possibly can to avoid trying to present her decision in view of a group of police officers, which is really outrageous."

But David Bookstaver, spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, said the courtroom is a public place. Cops will not be banned, he said, and will be allowed to carry their weapons.

"The only request we made was to have a ranking uniformed superior officer present from the NYPD," Bookstaver said.

But police officials denied the request. "There will not be a New York City Police Department supervisor in the courtroom," said Capt. James Klein.

Today's hearing is for William Hodges, 31, who allegedly shot rookie cop David Gonzalez in 1999.

On Oct. 16, Blackburne, whom The News reported is a member of the same chapter of the NAACP as the suspect's mother, Sandra Hodges, released the alleged shooter - and ordered a 13-count indictment dismissed because he was not granted a speedy trial.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown will argue that the delays were unavoidable or caused by the defense.

Hodges allegedly was carrying a loaded .38-caliber revolver and making a living as a small-time crack dealer when he shot Gonzalez in a Jamaica, Queens, building.