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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Real Judge Reverses Fake Judge's Fixed Ruling

Justice Finds Law Judge Coached Police, Cancels Suspension of License for Refusal to Take Test
The New York Law Journal by Brendan Pierson  -  December 6, 2011

A Manhattan judge has reinstated the driver's license of a woman who was arrested for drunken driving but later acquitted, finding that an administrative law judge had asked leading questions of a police officer and wrongly ruled that the woman had knowingly refused a sobriety test.  Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings handed down a sharply worded ruling in Prince v. Department of Motor Vehicles, 403039/10, in which she said that an administrative law judge with the Department of Motor Vehicles had "coached" a police witness in order to reach the conclusion that the woman, Natacha Prince, had refused a sobriety test knowing that it would cause her to lose her license.  According to the decision, Ms. Prince was stopped by police while driving erratically. She volunteered to take a test to determine her blood alcohol level, but soon began suffering from an asthma attack. When police asked again if she would take a test, she refused, saying, "No I'm not giving nothin'," according to the opinion. However, after she received medical treatment, she again volunteered to take a test, but was not given one.  Ms. Prince was charged with driving while intoxicated but acquitted. However, in August 2010 the Department of Motor Vehicles suspended her license for one year for refusing to take a blood-alcohol test, and a DMV administrative law judge denied her petition challenging the suspension.  Though the suspension has now ended, Ms. Prince must pay $750 to renew her license. She cannot afford the fee, partly because losing her license caused her to lose her job, according to Justice Billings' opinion.  In appealing to the Supreme Court, Ms. Prince said she had not known, while she was having her asthma attack, the kind of test she was refusing. She also said that the police did not tell her that refusing the test would cause her license to be suspended, and that she would have taken it if she had known.  She further said that the administrative law judge coached the officer who stopped her to say that he had warned her, and that the officer never would have offered such testimony if he had not been coached.  In reversing the administrative law judge's determination, Justice Billings pointed to several problems with the result.  First, she said, Ms. Prince had not persistently refused the test, and had in fact volunteered to take it when she was first stopped.  "While a driver initially may consent to a chemical test and then definitively refuse when actually administered the test, petitioner affirmatively volunteered to submit to a test, but only later, at her most heightened point of distress and agitation, was she asked to submit to a test," the judge said.  "Moreover, even if a single refusal by itself were enough, petitioner's single refusal was flanked by prior and subsequent consents, which the police ignored," the judge wrote.  Justice Billings said that the evidence suggested Ms. Prince did not understand what was being asked of her, since her response, "No I'm not giving nothin'," "indicates no understanding of either the type or the purpose of any requested test."  Justice Billings then said that the administrative law judge had assumed, before hearing any evidence, that Ms. Prince had been warned of the consequences of refusing a test and had coached the DMV's witness accordingly.  "Of course the ALJ at the hearing did not know the eventual verdict of innocence, but given that distinct possibility, he was obligated to accept the concomitant possibility that she was never warned of her refusal's adverse consequences equally with the possibility that she was so warned," Justice Billings wrote. "His conduct of the hearing demonstrates his ready assumption that she was warned and closedmindedness to any other set of facts. His affirmative assistance and advocacy on the police's behalf and lack of evenhandedness toward petitioner's presentation taints what evidence of a warning the record contains."  The administrative law judge's conduct effectively shifted the burden of proof from the DMV onto Ms. Prince, Justice Billings said.  "Respondent agency offered no evidence that petitioner's refusal was predicated on a warning of the consequences until the ALJ offered it and developed it through his pointed questioning of respondent's witness," Justice Billings wrote. "Although the burden to produce that evidence rested on respondent, the ALJ's conduct effectively shifted that burden to petitioner, unschooled in the issues to be explored in the hearing, to produce evidence and prove that she was not warned."  Justice Billings reversed the law judge's decision rather than remanding it, because "a remand would not undo the coaching of respondent's witness."  The New York Attorney General's Office, which represented the DMV and the administrative law judge, Robert J. Krengel, declined to comment.  Ms. Prince appeared pro se.  Brendan Pierson can be contacted at bpierson@alm.com.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to look into the "Acting" judge status. It's a total sham.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing that allows an "administrative law judge" to act as a real, constitutional judge, in NYS.

It's a scam and all the judges know it. It's how the chief judge buys loyalty, but it isn't legal or constitutional.

Anonymous said...

Suffolk county surrogates court has an extra avenue.Someone with federal govt.access is preparing phony military discharge papers on the deceased vets.Pigging out on proceeds of military life insurance fraud. Oink oink.

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
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