New York Daily News

November 14, 2002

NAACP Backs Judge in Bail Furor


The NAACP came out in force yesterday to defend Queens Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne, who has been under fire since she released a suspected cop shooter without bail.

The organization also blasted NYPD unions, which have been critical of the judge's decision, and the Daily News, which was the first to report the story.

NAACP officials claimed that attacks against Blackburne are an attempt to "racially divide New Yorkers."

"We are certain that Mrs. Blackburne's relationship with the NAACP has no bearing on her judicial decisions," the Metropolitan Council of the New York City NAACP wrote in a released statement, distributed during a press conference on the steps of City Hall.

"The News . . . seems to insinuate that the NAACP is an enemy of the Justice system, particularly the Police Department and members of the PBA, which is furthest from the truth." News report Last week, The News reported that Blackburne was a member of the same NAACP branch as Sandra Hodges, the mother of a Brooklyn man who allegedly shot a rookie cop in November 1999.

The women's membership in the Jamaica chapter was confirmed by its vice president, Leroy Gadsden. Gadsden also said that the NAACP filed complaints against the shot cop, David Gonzalez, and other officers involved in the arrest.

Yesterday, Daily News Editor in Chief Edward Kosner defended the Blackburne stories.

"We reported the story fairly and accurately with no implication that the NAACP acted improperly," Kosner said.

The alleged shooter, William Hodges, 31, was released from jail on Oct. 16, after Blackburne ruled he had not been granted his right to a speedy trial. Blackburne's ruling was appealed by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who called it "mathematically incorrect" and argued that most of the delays were, in fact, caused by Hodges' lawyers.

Blackburne heard prosecutors' arguments on Friday, when her courtroom was crammed with livid cops. She released Hodges again without bail, saying she will render her final decision on Dec. 6.

Yesterday, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association spokesman Al O'Leary pointed out that Hodges has a long rap sheet and was allegedly carrying a loaded gun and making a living as a smalltime crack dealer.