More than a dozen New York City Police Department officers from the Bronx who are accused of fixing parking tickets, moving violations and other summonses were back in State Supreme Court on Thursday, but it could still be a while before the large amount of defendants go to trial. NY1's Criminal Justice reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.
At State Supreme Court in the Bronx, the district attorney's office and lawyers for the police union are gearing up for what may be a long and drawn-out court battle.
On Thursday, 15 of the 16 officers accused of various crimes including fixing tickets for family, friends and VIPs were back in court.
"We are looking forward to the truth coming out and these police officers having their rights protected in court and moving forward," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch.
But the case will probably not move forward soon, given the number of defendants, all of them with their own lawyers.
The Bronx district attorney says there are 450,000 intercepted messages of city police officers allegedly talking about ticket fixing, including nearly 150,000 of them from wiretapped phone calls.
There are also 20,000 pages of grand jury transcripts to go through.
Judge Steven Barrett told all of the lawyers standing before him on Thursday that he thought this was a very straightforward case and that the wiretaps were very clear as to what the officers were saying.
But he also told the lawyers he knows they will have varying views on exactly what the officers did.
Defense lawyers said nothing is straight-forward, and they asked the judge to issue a protective order barring any lawyers or prosecutors from passing information from the wiretaps to the media.
"It's so that the tapes aren't disseminated and so that we can get a fair jury to try this case," said defense attorney Richard Schaffer.
The judge said he knew some police officers may choose to have a judge rather than a jury decide the case, or even cut a deal with the district attorney.
PBA officials continued to say officers who put their lives on the line did nothing wrong by fixing tickets for their loved ones and contacts.
"We believe, when the evidence is presented and the picture becomes clear, it will not be what was leaked to the press throughout this process," said Lynch.
The judge continued to stress he is hoping for a speedy process now, but that could be wishful thinking. Most of the police officers are due back in court in April.