N.Y. Police Chief Criticizes
Judge Over Robbery Arrest
NEW YORK -- The head of the New York City Police Department publicly rebuked a judge for helping a man wanted in a violent robbery to elude arrest in her courtroom.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly called on the Office of Court Administration to punish Judge Laura Blackburne. Police unions said she should resign.
"This is outrageous conduct by any measure and beyond the pale for a sitting jurist," Kelly said in a statement Thursday.
Office of Court Administration spokesman David Bookstaver would not comment. The courts were closed on Friday, and telephone calls to the judge's home went unanswered.
The incident began Thursday while Derek Sterling was appearing before the judge in a hearing on drug charges. A police detective arrived and notified the court that he planned to arrest Sterling in the robbery case once the drug hearing was over.
While the detective waited in the hallway, Blackburne indicated she was upset because he had arrived without an arrest warrant. She also alleged that he tried to set a trap by saying he was there only to question Sterling.
"I'm not trying to keep you from being arrested," the judge told Sterling, according to a court transcript. "I'm trying to keep you from being arrested today in my courtroom based on obvious misrepresentations on the part of the detective."
She ordered Sterling to return to a halfway house for recovering drug addicts and directed a court officer to escort him out a rear door. Sterling was arrested about 12 hours later.
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-- From News Services