As anyone who has ever seen a TV court drama knows, contempt of court is a charge that a judge can levy if he feels that he, or the court has been disrespected.
It can be leveled against a person who is legitimately being disrespectful/disruptive or it simply can be used by a judge to punish someone he doesn’t like or whose tone annoys him.
- Direct contempt is that which occurs in the presence of the presiding judge (in facie curiae) and may be dealt with summarily: the judge notifies the offending party that he or she has acted in a manner which disrupts the tribunal and prejudices the administration of justice. After giving the person the opportunity to respond, the judge may impose the sanction immediately.
Now, I have seen first hand a judge with a quick trigger finger on this for a person in the back of the courtroom who did not remove his hat quick enough. Not to say that abuse of the Contempt ruling is running rampant, but the opportunity for it do do so is there.
Now, New York State…it all its “wisdom” has decided to extend this arbitrary and subjective notion to the Police Officers of the State.
By doing this, the simple act of a person exercising their constitutional rights now runs the risk of being charged with a felony.
The politicians in Albany want to pull the wool over the public’s eye by stating that this bill S.2402 would make it a felony to physically attack a police officer while he is on duty. The politicians are hoping that we will apathetically swallow that BS and not ask any questions.
The first question being: Isn’t it ALL READY a felony to physically assault a police officer? The answer is obviously yes.
So what does S2402 actually say? For that, one must actually READ the bill, and since we all know politicians don’t have time to do such tedious things like read the bills they are voting on, I went ahead and read it.
I found this part especially interesting:
S240.33 Aggravated Harrassment of a Police Officer or Peace Office. A person is guilty of Aggravated Harassment of a Police Officer orPeace Officer when, with the intent to harrass, ANNOY, threaten or alarm a Person whom he or she knows or reasonably SHOULD know to be a Police Officer or Peace Officer engaged in the course of performing his or her official duties, he or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such person to physical contact.
So, since attacking an officer is all ready a number of crimes (Obstruction of Justice, Disorderly Conduct, Assault and Battery etc.), then why do Police Officers NEED this extra law?
The answer is they don’t. By allowing the breadth of what cops can do based on their opinion and own biases, the term harass and annoy can easily mutate to mean anything that the police don’t like.
One thing that cops don’t like? Being recorded. That annoys them and when they come to seize your phone or camera and you instinctively jerk away, well in NY you just committed a felony.
If there is a crowd looking onto a scene and a cop approaches you with his arms out wide trying to move the crowd back and you make contact because you can’t back up quick enough? If the cop is in a bad mood, THAT’s a felony.
At least with assault and battery their may be some evidence that you attacked an officer, a bite mark a bruise, something. But with annoying a police officer? What evidence would their be save a cop saying you’re guilty? And if that is all it takes in New York to become a felon then that state has bigger problems on the horizon.
Police Officers have been using “contempt of cop” unofficially for years as a reason to slap some cuffs on and to intimidate those that they have umbrage with yet with no overtly legal recourse. Recent history has shown this to be true with open carriers, people who are filming the police, or those who will not willingly hand over their papers without a reasonable articulated suspicion of a crime.
If S2402 passes then Contempt of Cop goes one step closer to being a reality, while the constitutional rights of New Yorkers take another step backwards.