A couple of weeks ago the New York Times ran a series of articles on what was wrong with the Village Courts of NY (See here and here.) One of the Times' complaints were that Village Justices use their power to wreak revenge on their rivals and otherwise misuse the office for their own agenda's.
Now comes the Village Justice of South Nyack the Hon. Dennis Lynch inthis decision. The case entailed the use of marijuana by one Slade Morrison in public. If the guy were prosecuted in the county court or in a district court, the case would be dismissed by an ACOD (an adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal which means that he has to behave himself for a year and the case is dismissed. It is reserved for people who have little or as in this case no record and for minor crimes such as open use Marijuana use. Its purpose is a good one. It requires the user to face his behavior and gives him a chance to avoid a criminal record if his act gets cleaned up. It also serves as a way to stop people with greater records from walking away from their behavior.
So what does judge Lynch do? He denies the ACOD even though both the prosecution and the defense agree on it and even though the law encourages it. Why? Is it because the guy involved is a bad guy? Is it because Mr. Morrison's attitude was so bad that there was a need to call attention to it so others might know he has an attitude problem? Was it because the court knew of a drug problem Morrison had that wasn't being addressed by the agreed disposition?
NO!! It was so the court could make a point about the "importance" of the village courts and to answer the NY Times. The Decision was not even requested. It was issued sua sponte (on its own.) So some guy has to face a lifetime criminal record that this self important lawyer/judge can make a point about village courts and his personal opinion that Marijuana is a gateway drug.
Now I am of the opinion that if the judge is unhappy with the law or the way that the legislature views the violation for marijuana, then RUN FOR LEGISLATURE. If he is unhappy with the way the prosecutor handles these cases (he regularly offers ACOD's to save the budget and promote the idea behind the legislatures rule for ACOD's)THEN RUN FOR DA. If the court is unhappy with the NY Times, GO WRITE FOR THE NY DAILY NEWS. But whatever you do, how about you not use your office to promote your personal agenda. Read the decision, you will see what I mean. Yeah the guy was arrested once before. He also was NOT CONVICTED. (The prosecution could not proceed in a timely manner.) So he has no record. The defendant is not a kid, and I do not think that marijuana being a gateway drug (which I agree it is) is an issue here. Nope, Judge Lynch you just proved the point of the TImes series. Too many Village Justices are abusive of their powers.
Now if the District attorney wants to send a message back to the judge, I guess he just refuses to answer ready for trial. As for me, I am thinking of sending a letter to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct...