New York Daily News

November 17, 2004

Let-'em-go Laura is slapped again

BY SCOTT SHIFREL
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

An embattled Queens judge was dealt another blow yesterday when an appeals court overturned her decision to free an alleged cop-shooter.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne erred when she decided that William Hodges was denied his right to a speedy trial and released him Nov. 8, 2002, the appeals court ruled.

"Blind justice will not be blind anymore," said Detectives Endowment Association Vice President Vic Cipullo. "Finally, justice saw the light and saw that this guy should be tried for what he did."

"Today's decision by the Appellate Division corrects what would have otherwise been a gross miscarriage of justice," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who appealed Blackburn's decision to free Hodges.

Blackburne declined to comment when contacted by the Daily News yesterday.

If convicted, Hodges, 32, faces 25 years for allegedly grabbing a rookie cop's gun during a struggle in a Jamaica hallway in 1999 and shooting the officer in the leg.

The case was delayed repeatedly and Blackburne ruled that Hodges' right to a speedy trial was compromised. The appeals decision says many of the the delays were caused by the defense and therefore should not have counted against the speedy-trial time.

After his release, Hodges was arrested for biting an officer in the leg during a scuffle at a Queens hospital. He was convicted in June and later sentenced to a year in jail.

"We are gratified by the judges' recognition of the serious miscarriage of justice," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch. "We won't rest until this would-be cop-killer gets all that he deserves."

Blackburne also is being investigated by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct for letting a robbery suspect walk out a back door rather than face arrest.

Because Blackburne has been temporarily assigned to civil cases pending that investigation, Hodges' case will be assigned to another judge to try.

Hodges' attorney said he would appeal the decision.

With Michele McPhee