Judges don't have to ask to dismiss health violations: Court
Judges don't need permission from their bosses to toss out health violations they think were inappropriately dished to restaurants, a state judge ruled Wednesday.
The city's judges who rule on health violations sued earlier this year to overturn rules enacted by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings in November that forced them to see Sharon Lewis-Williams, OATH's managing attorney, before they dismiss violations -- even when they were "defective."
Lewis-Williams sent two emails outlining the new rules after amNewYork reported that most eateries who fought violations got at least some of them tossed by judges and that some had all of their violations dismissed.
Besides having to pay fines, the number of violations a restaurant gets determines the letter grade it is required to post in its window.
At the time, some judges said they felt discouraged to throw out violations, but OATH denied the accusation, saying it was trying to make the grading more consistent.
Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez sided with the judges, saying OATH's rules "do not have a rational basis and are arbitrary and capricious." The department was ordered to stop enforcing the rules and to agree to do so in writing, court documents show.
An OATH spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment last night. The United Federation of Teachers, which represents the judges, lauded the decision.
The United Federation of Teachers, which represents the judges, lauded the decision.
"When the city seems to be setting up a policy that could possibly put a thumb on the scales of justice, you've got to stop that," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said Wednesday night.
The city says it's appealing the ruling.