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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ticket-Fixing Corrupts Our Courts

Ticket-fixing corrupts our courts: Juries distrust crooked cops
The New York Daily News  by Steven Epstein and Adam Perlmutter  -  OP-ED  -  June 9, 2011

Last week, a Bronx jury acquitted Stephen Lopresti of felony DWI charges, deeming that the two police officers responsible for his arrest were profoundly corrupt for having been part of the ticket-fixing scandal that has spread all across the city.  After the Bronx district attorney granted immunity to the police officers, Julissa Goris and Harrington Marshall, they claimed in court that fixing tickets for friends and family was mere "professional courtesy." This disgusted the jury - which found the officers a disgrace to the badge. The resulting acquittal of the man they collared should send a powerful signal to the NYPD and prosecutors: A troubling culture of dishonesty and corruption among the reportedly 400 police officers involved in the ticket-fixing probe has seriously shaken public confidence, and it could undermine more criminal cases going forward.

"Professional courtesy" may fairly describe the custom of granting privileges between police officers when pulled over for speeding or other minor traffic offenses. It does not come close to describing the type of conduct at the heart of this mushrooming scandal. For example, Marshall, a 20-year veteran of the department, admitted offering to "get something" for a Patrolmen's Benevolent Association delegate in exchange for that individual fixing two pending Department of Motor Vehicles summonses. Rewarding official misconduct is a class E felony offense.  Ticket-fixing can also involve destroying summonses prior to their being entered into the NYPD's tracking system, which a new electronic program seeks to prevent. Even worse, as in the Lopresti case, it can involve encouraging officers to not appear for court or throwing a hearing by lying under oath.  In a chilling exchange on cross-examination, Marshall testified that he was unfamiliar with the section of the NYPD Patrol Guide that required officers to be incorruptible. That is a sad statement that does a disservice to many good people serving the NYPD with honor and integrity.  And after the Bronx DA granted immunity to Marshall, the officer proceeded to lie under oath about that fact - forcing the DA's office to divulge the immunity agreement to the court.

Going forward, prosecutors should pause before making offers of immunity to officers whose actions threaten the public's confidence in the justice system. The reaction of jurors in the Lopresti case shows the risk of ignoring the spreading cancer of distrust.  "They don't even deserve a badge," said juror Isaac Johnson. Another juror, Hector Cora, said, "Ticket-fixing played a big role. You don't lie under oath. You tell the truth." Another, Guadalupe Torres, said the ticket-fixing showed the cops to be "crooked and completely corrupt."  Police officers have a difficult job and must make split-second decisions about whether or not to make an arrest. But their work will hold up in court only if they are scrupulous in their dealings and tell the truth under oath.  This will not be the last case to come to trial with officers embroiled in this scandal. Rather than continuing to try to cast ticket-fixing as a mere professional prerogative, the NYPD must learn from its mistakes. Top brass and police unions must work in an open and transparent manner to restore integrity.  Prosecutors also need to give careful consideration to the cases that require the testimony of ticket-fixing officers. They have no good options: Either they cut sweetheart deals to get rid of these cases, give officers a free ride through a grant of immunity or prosecue the officers and have them enter cooperation agreements in exchange for testimony.  Each of these choices has a serious cost. But by not acting, many more cases will result in acquittals, which will serve only to undermine public confidence to an even greater degree.

Epstein and Perlmutter are the criminal defense attorneys who won an acquittal for Stephen Lopresti.


fighter said...

The real problem is our acceptance of the connected insiders who have corrupted everything. STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR JUSTICE!

victim said...

THe whole injustice system is "profoundly corrpt!" These facts have been covered up for far too long by the Commiss Ray Kelly and his protectors. The media knows this stuff but have been part of the coverup! Will no one stamd for JUSTICE AND THE TRUTH?

wil galison said...

The only way change will happen is media coverage. That means exposing cases like the Sunny Sheu case, and it means HITTING THE STREETS.

Frank Brady is against both, because he is a tool of the corrupt system, fishing to see who is a threat and reporting back to his masters.

My expose of the Sheu case has received 500,000 views in the past week. I urge you all to do the same.

If you are interested in attending a legal rally in front of the DA's office and getting SERIOUS press, please contact me at

Frank has had this blog for five years now- and access to the biggest community of anti corruption activists in New York, yet he has never once tried to organize a demonstration.

Why would that be?

Let;s do it soon, while the DA is still reeling and is in the news



Anonymous said...

There are great informants known to this blog and the FBI..but neither have ever attempted to develop their confidence..and that is troubling if you are in the business of exposing corrupt courts in NY.
OCA uses this blog to view the information they call threats, against them and the people whom they are tracking are never informed that OCA is doing so, as this blog tracks everyone and everything...which thus has the opposite affect on corruption, as it harms the activists at their core...knowledgable writing.
Curious blog...but always posting for the greater good and the universal cause...not the agenda of those who seek the approval of a syndicate court system that will someday see it's punishment!

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