New York Post
December 7, 2002

NYPD BLUE SEEING RED

By JESSIE GRAHAM

  
FREE MAN:
William Hodges leaves Queens court yesterday after a judge opted not to reinstate an attempted murder rap.
- NYP: J. Alcorn
 
 
DAVID GONZALEZ:
Wounded cop.
 

Dozens of angry cops called for the resignation of a Queens judge yesterday for freeing an accused cop-shooter.

State Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne refused to reinstate charges of attempted murder against William Hodges, despite pressure from police union leaders who accused her of bias in the case.

"This judge today proved that she has a prejudice," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "She went to great lengths to let this potential murderer onto the streets."

The PBA launched a campaign against Blackburne after the judge sprung Hodges without bail on Oct. 17, determining he was denied his right to a speedy trial for the 1999 shooting of Officer David Gonzalez.

At a hearing last month, prosecutors argued that Blackburne erred when she dismissed the indictment.

Police union leaders claim the judge showed favoritism to Hodges, 31, saying the defendant's mother and Blackburne were members of the same NAACP chapter - though the organization's leaders said Sharon Hodges has never been affiliated with the group.

In yesterday's decision, the judge held the DA responsible for Hodges' freedom, showing prosecutors exceeded by 26 days the six months the law provides before a trial.

"The court has no choice but to dismiss the indictment and release the defendant," Blackburne read from the 21-page ruling.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said through a spokesman that the judge miscalculated the math on the number of adjournments his office took and vowed to appeal the ruling.

At the hearing, Blackburne - who quit as the city's housing chief in 1992 after using the agency's funds to buy a $3,100 pink leather couch for her office - filled the front of the gallery with her supporters and family members along with Hodges' relatives, infuriating police relegated to the back rows.

Lawyers, NAACP members and Queens clergy said they came to court not to support Hodges - whom most said they didn't know - but to support the judge.

"Thank God there is a judge in this court that's willing, able and has the temerity to hold up the law," said Florence Morgan, chairwoman of the Queens chapter of the National Conference of Black Lawyers.

After the judge issued the decision, court officers quickly whisked Hodges out of the building, away from a throng of infuriated cops.