After successfully challenging a $50 ticket, attorney Leonard Kohen was feeling pretty good. The Administrative Law Judge hearing the case had agreed that the ticket — for running in a park after dark in February — was flimsy, and the New York City Parks & Recreation Department had to give up the ghost of collecting that $50 fine.

But no one screws over New York’s ersatz Leslie Knope and gets away with it.

New York City is appealing the ticket because there is absolutely nothing more important to spend time and money on than pursuing $50 tickets.

We have a copy of what passes for the appellate brief….

So Kohen was running in the park at some point after dusk, but before 7 p.m. In the initial proceeding before the ALJ, Kohen argued that there was no evidence of signs or barricades to prevent him from running in the park. Now Hudson River Park is kinds of a clusterf**k when it comes to closing — some areas close at 1 a.m., while others close at dusk. The ALJ must have actually been to the park before, because the ticket was dismissed.

Now the City is filing an appeal. Under the signature of Legal Intern Joseph Tuck and Supervising Attorney Sharmila Rampersaud, the Inspector Javerts of our story, the appeal accuses the ALJ of erroneously dismissing the ticket because the ticket itself claimed that there were barricades in place. Oh, well, so long as the ticket claims Kohen did something wrong.

At the May 10, 2013 hearing, the ALJ incorrectly dismissed the NOV. The ALJ erroneously agreed with the Respondent’s testimony that he did not see signs posting the closing time of the park nor barricades. The NOV clearly and correctly states that barricades were in place and that signs were posted throughout the Park.

The three-page brief does a fantastic job of establishing a prima facie case for the violation. What it does a tremendously lackluster job of doing is explaining why the ALJ was incorrect for recognizing Kohen’s defense against that prima facie case.

Kohen concurred, drafting a letter to the appeals unit:

(I) The City has not presented any evidence in support of its narrative in the brief: There is no sworn affidavit or any record of first-hand sworn witness testimony to support the following factual portion of its submitted brief: I/Respondent “was observed running through Hudson River Park (“Park”) adjacent to Laight and West Streets (“Location”) ….. [a]t that point in time, the section of Hudson River Park [sic] between Laight Street and North Moore Street, encompassing the Location where the IO [Issuing Officer] witnessed the Respondent, were dosed at all times to the public.”

****

I testified truthfully under oath before the Administrative Law Judge that the section was not “closed to the public,” but that it was partly barricaded in some parts and not in others, that I did not cross a barrier to enter and that I observed other runners/pedestrians within the Park and that no “closed” signs were visible.

Whether you think Kohen is right or wrong is not really the point. Why is New York City spending time and resources on a $50 ticket? Even using a legal intern to pursue the case doesn’t make it cost-effective when he (and his supervising attorney) could be pursuing other, actually valuable claims. It’s just fiddy bucks! They’re like the Loch Ness Monster of South Park fame:

The City’s appellate brief and the full response are reproduced on the next page….


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