The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) joins the New York County Lawyer’s Association in their support of New York’s judiciary, judicial independence, and against the improper personal attacks leveled by the New York Post and the Daily News against judges for their decisions in recent stop and frisk cases.

In recent weeks, judges who have ruled on stop and frisk cases have been derided, vilified, and subjected to improper personal accusations. In the face of the judiciary’s attempt to meet its constitutional responsibilities, the New York Post and Daily News have described the decisions as “judicially mandated lawlessness,” accused the judges of bias against the NYPD, called certain judges “insane,” and engaged in fear-mongering tactics such as asserting a descent into “anarchy.” In particular, Justices Peter Tom, Nelson Roman, and Karla Moskowitz, as a result of their Appellate Division decision in the Matter of Darryl C., have been the subject of repeated, unfair, and jarring personal attacks. One Daily News, July 4, 2012 editorial headline went as far as calling the decisions a “death sentence for N.Y.” Furthermore, a July 16, 2012 Daily News editorial suggests that a dissenting opinion, written by Justice Peter Tom, in a stop and frisk judicial decision, urged individuals to “punch a cop, win case.” This is simply a misrepresentation of the opinion cited by the editorial and omits many important facets to the logic and reasoning behind the dissenting opinion. While the issue is hotly contested and reasonable minds will differ with the judicial decisions rendered in the area, these inflammatory attacks are unfair, baseless, and threaten judicial independence.

An independent, well-functioning judicial system, accessible to all, is a bedrock principle of our democracy. Personal attacks against judges, distortions of the facts and context of judicial decisions, and sensationalistic journalism designed to inflame the public threaten judicial independence and the credibility of our democracy. Judges make difficult decisions everyday and while public criticism of the judiciary is an integral part of our democratic society, attacks of this nature threaten the integrity of the
judicial system and our government as a whole.

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) is a professional membership organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is the New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). To learn more about AABANY, visit www.aabany.org.

© 2012 Asian American Bar Association of New York. All rights reserved.