Brian Levine, a traffic court judge in Staten Island for the Department of Motor Vehicles, is back and neither lawyers nor drivers appear thrilled. Levine was dispatched to take anger management and “human relations” classes two years ago, but reports indicate that he still has a bit of a sharp edge in dealing with traffic violations.
Levine was the traffic court version of a hanging judge — racking up the highest conviction rates of any traffic court judge in New York and producing $1 million in fines for the DMV. Despite continued objections to his abusive behavior and arbitrary rulings, DMV supported Levine as a cross between Robespierre and Judge Roy Bean.
In one notable case, Levine refused to accept a photocopy of a permit for a Metropolitan Transportation Authority mechanic to road test a bus stating “Not that I’m telling you that you guys would have the audacity to make phony photocopies. I’ll be very blunt with you. I think you guys would. OK. I don’t trust the MTA. I don’t trust any government agency.” He then reportedly unleashed a tirade about how he sees TA bus drivers “on that parkway every day, and I’m fed up with seeing your buses on there.” Levine is also known for allegedly ignoring drivers by doodling on a pad while they speak in court.
The DMV has fought efforts by journalists to uncover complaints about Levine. There is a curious relationship between the DMV and these judges. It is in the interest of the DMV to keep judges like Levine as “good earners.” There is little reason to keep a problematic traffic court judge, which is an extremely low-level judicial position that is largely administrative in nature. The failure to remove Levine is reminiscent the record-setting DUI state trooper who was recently fired after years of alleged false arrests.
Levine has been given written reprimands and placed under supervision.
These judges are DMV employees, which raises a bit of an appearance of a conflict for drivers. I am not sure why such positions are not part of the standard court system. If the DMV is to operate its own court system, it should guarantee greater transparency as well as competence in its administration.
14 thoughts on “New York Traffic Court Judge Returns To The Bench After Classes On “Anger Management” and “Human Relations””
All judges in this system are lawyers. All are full time employees of the department of motor vehicles. There are no black robes. There are no prosecutors in this system, only the issuing officer stating his/her own case, and the motorist (represented by counsel, if the motorist chooses)
Photocopies have long been ruled legal documents with few exceptions.
My father who has been gone for 50 years, now regularly got speeding tickets taken care of by a friend who was a Police Sargent.
Washington has a statute that criminalizes that type of behavior.
An excerpt: (basic traffic tickets are Infractions)
(3) It is unlawful and is official misconduct for any law enforcement officer or other officer or public employee to dispose of a notice of civil infraction or copies thereof or of the record of the issuance of the same in a manner other than as required in this section.
(5) Any person who cancels or solicits the cancellation of any notice of civil infraction, in any manner other than as provided in this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Many years ago I had to point this statute out because a certain LEO manager on an occasion stated he was going to do just this on another officer’s ticket. Luckily he saw the error of his ways and didn’t follow through.
I of course knew it was illegal. The LEO used to hang out in my Father’s car dealership and I think he did a lot of illegal things. He was high up in the NYPD’s Highway Patrol. Now that was 50 years ago and I’m sure that type of thing doesn’t happen in NYC anymore. 🙂
This would be like if a criminal judge was an employee of the police department. The qualifications on many judges is absurd. Some don’t even have law degrees, some barely seem to have a grasp of the law, any law. Then again, police are often ignorant of the law and ignore it when they choose. Prosecutors and judges and their superiors don’t disclipine them for it.
NYC sees traffic violations as a cash cow and not as a system to protect the public.It has always been that way and always was corrupt. My father who has been gone for 50 years, now regularly got speeding tickets taken care of by a friend who was a Police Sargent. So it was back then, so it is now. The “suckers” who have to pay are the general public being fleeced by taxes masquerading as safety laws and by enforcement people who have unspoken quotas. BTW I have no personal animus in this statement since I’ve only gotten two speeding tickets in 51 years of driving.
Great song Dredd.
Levine was dispatched to take anger management and “human relations” classes two years ago …
He is much nicer during injustice episodes now:
I thought all lawyers were looking for ‘rain makers’, now they have found one & all they want to do is whine!
This seems to be much like what doctors have been going through for the lat 30 – 40 years. It suddenly occurred to people that the skills and personalities most likely to gain entrance into the profession may not be the ones most ideally suited to do the job properly.
Med schools have been trying to teach humanity and humility to their students along with diseases, maybe law schools will have to try the same thing. The real fix would be to alter the selection process to find those qualities over high GPAs and type A personalities, but thats not likely to happen
What Mespo said. This “judge”is a shill for the DMV. He must be on a commission!
I believe the DMV judges are part of New York’s notorious ‘justice court’ system. Most of the judges aren’t even attorneys.
Not a judge; mere fund raiser.
Black robe fever….
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