June 14, 2004

Bloomberg Criticizes Judge After Suspect's Escape

Staff Reporter of the Sun

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday blasted a Queens judge who let a robbery suspect escape from police officers by letting him out the back door of her courtroom last week.

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,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. “I thought what she did was an outrage, and she should be ashamed.”

On Thursday, Judge Blackburne ordered convicted drug dealer Derek Sterling escorted out the rear of her courtroom while a detective waited for him out front. According to a transcript of the hearing, the judge accused the officer of using a “ruse” to try to make the arrest. Sterling was arrested the next day.

The Office of Court Administration is investigating the incident.

Mr. Bloomberg wouldn’t say if he thought Judge Blackburne should be sanctioned, but that her actions were inappropriate.

“That’s for the courts and the review process to decide,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Here was a guy who police had come to arrest for a crime. She deliberately tried to keep that person from getting arrested and to get that person back out on the street where they can commit more crimes. I don’t know why anybody that understands the judicial process thinks that conduct is appropriate.”