New York Daily News

June 14, 2004

Bloomberg rips jurist's judgment

By LISA L. COLANGELO
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU

     Laura Blackburne
 
Blackburne

Mayor Bloomberg lashed out yesterday at the Queens judge who helped a robbery suspect dodge an NYPD detective waiting to arrest him.

"Judge [Laura] Blackburne seems to have stopped being the neutral court officer that she was elected to be and seems to think that she is a police officer," Bloomberg said. "I thought what she did was an outrage and she should be ashamed, but that's for the courts ... to decide."

Blackburne has a long history of infuriating the NYPD.

Her latest clash with cops came Thursday, as she was conducting a hearing on drug charges against Derek Sterling in Queens Supreme Court. Told police were waiting to arrest Sterling in connection with a brutal mugging, she had court officers spirit Sterling out a side door.

Although Sterling was picked up later, Blackburne's actions drew harsh rebukes, first from Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, then from Bloomberg yesterday.

"Here was a guy who the police had come to arrest for acrime," Bloomberg said. "She deliberately tried to keep that person from getting arrested and to get that person back out on the streets where they can commit more crimes. I don't know why anybody that understands anything about the judicial process thinks that conduct is appropriate."

In 2002, Blackburne enraged cops when she dismissed attempted murder charges against William Hodges, who had been accused of shooting a cop.

Blackburne, who belonged to the same NAACP chapter as Hodges' mother, ruled that he had been denied his right to a speedy trial.

Hodges was subsequently charged with biting a police officer last year outside the emergency room at Jamaica Hospital.

In November 1998, Blackburne ruled that Alvina Toombs was justified in biting Police Officer Wayne Brooks on the thumb because of alleged brutality by the cop.

In 1992, Blackburne resigned as Housing Authority chairwoman. She had come under fire for spending more than $300,000 to furnish her executive office. The most infamous purchase was a $3,000 pink leather couch.