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Thursday, June 8, 2023
Home Government Holding Court: Stupidity

Holding Court: Stupidity

Holding Court is a new series by retired Rye City Court Judge Joe Latwin. Latwin retired from the court in December 2022 after thirteen years of service to the City.

What topics do you want addressed by Judge Latwin? Tell us.

By Joe Latwin

Where I Work showcases people who work in Rye. The feature is inspired in part by exploring how the pandemic has impacted our work environment and part by wanting to understand how and where people work inside the City of Rye. Today we meet library director Chris Shoemaker. Do you know someone we should interview for Where I Work? Tell us!
(PHOTO: Judge Joe Latwin)

You’re not going to believe this, but . . ..

When I met people who discovered I was the Rye City Judge, I was often be asked, “Rye is a quiet community.  What kind of crimes happen there?” My usual response would be, “we only have one type of crime – stupidity, and it is only a question of the degree of stupidity.” I would then follow with this story.

A few years ago, every Summer a guy would think it would be a grand idea to take his wife and his girlfriend to Playland with his child. In the late afternoon, about three or four p.m., often fueled by alcohol, the wife and girlfriend would get into a fight with each other. The husband/boyfriend (in football, he would be known as a double threat) would try to intercede. The County Police would see a melee and go in and arrest everyone.

They would all be transported to County Police headquarters in Hawthorne to be processed.  (Do you need tickets for this ride?). By the time the fingerprinting and paperwork was completed it would be 7 p.m. The crew would be transported back to Rye for arraignment. By the time they got back to Rye it would be 8 p.m. I would get called at home and go to Court.

When I got to Court, I would ask the Police officers to bring in the husband/boyfriend first.  My first question to the husband/boyfriend would be “what made you think it would be a good idea to bring your wife and your girlfriend to Playland?” The universal response was a palm to the forehead and a side-to-side head shake. I would then ask if the husband/boyfriend had read the “guy” manual that very strongly advises never having your wife meet your girlfriend. The universal response was a head nodding acknowledgment of stupidity. He must have read the manual but chose to ignore the sage advice.

Knowing that neither the wife nor the girlfriend would testify against the husband/boyfriend and that it was unlikely that the County Police had seen enough to establish they had seen a crime, I would adjourn the case. I was faced with a problem: if I released the husband/boyfriend, his property (including his money, wallet and car keys) would be in Hawthorne and his car in Playland’s parking lot. He couldn’t drive without the keys and couldn’t take a cab to Hawthorne without money. I started to set $1 bail so the husband/boyfriend would remain in custody and the County Police would have to take him back to Hawthorne where he could get his stuff. Paying the dollar in Hawthorne would get him released with his stuff and save him a $50 cab ride!

When the ladies were arraigned, I would adjourn their cases to the same date as the husband/boyfriend. On the adjourned date, often the District Attorney would dismiss all the charges since there were no witnesses.

The happy ending is that the County adopted a wise policy. Instead of arresting everybody in these circumstances, the Police would invite them all to leave the park instead of being arrested. The choice was easy. After the change in policy, there were no more cases like this.

The lessons learned include: (1) don’t be stupid; (2) don’t have a wife and a girlfriend, but if you do, keep them well separated; & (3) where there are no serious consequences, a measured response will protect the public and the involved parties, and permit the police to concentration on more serious matters.


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