Hanging Around in Times Square

Busted.  Only in New York could hanging around in Times Square end up being a crime.  Thanks to this New York Times article, a case that would otherwise make no one’s radar is now a cause.  How it made it all the way to the Court of Appeals without anyone noticing is anyone’s guess, but it’s out there now.

It seems that a Brooklyn guy was chatting up some friends in Times Square at around 2:00 am.  While this may be late in some latitudes, this is prime time in Manhattan, “the city that never sleeps.”  Matthew Jones was told by  one of New York’s Finest, Momen Attia, to move it along.  I know, it’s old school, but cops still like telling people to move it along.  It’s just their little way of reminding the natives that they are in control.

But Matt did the unthinkable.  He ignored the direction.  This miscreant refused a direct order from a cop.  If this sort of disobedience was allowed, New York City would fall into immediate anarchy.  We can’t have that.  So the police officer asserted his authority, and Matt decided to high-tail it back to Brooklyn.  Kids from Brooklyn learn early that wearing Keds helps you to jump higher and run faster.  He was testing the common wisdom.

Officer Attia nabbed the perp, but his “flailing” arms made it difficult to cuff him.  Ta da!  Resisting arrest.  Now it was getting serious.  If Matt could write a song, I smell another Alice’s Restaurant in our future.

Brooklyn’s favorite son ends up at 100 Centre Street, Manhattan’s tawdry version of the Palais de Justice, for arraignment.  His attorney argues that standing in Times Square talking to someone is not a crime.  The prosecutrix argues that he was blocking pedestrians, forcing them to walk all the way around him, and that the proof of the pudding was that Matthew caught the attention of Officer Attia.  If he wasn’t baaaad, why would the officer have noticed?  It was a compelling argument, and the arraignment judge refused to dismiss.

Matt, ever the pragmatic Brooklynite, copped a plea to time served and walk out.  But there was this nagging problem (problems tend to do that after you’ve gotten your “time served” sentence), and so he appealed.  The Appellate Term  ruled against him, holding that standing in Times Square was facially sufficient for a charge of disorderly conduct.  In a back slap, the court dismissed his detailed arguments by stating  they were “matters which were best left for the trial that defendant eschewed through his guilty plea.”  But one judge dissented.

So now the case of the Standing Gabber of Times Square has gone to Albany, where the State’s highest court heard argument yesterday.  Even the court’s newest judge from upstate, Eugene F. Pigott, Jr., pondered the obvious:

“All I could think of was a bunch of lawyers from the New York City Bar Association standing around trying to figure out where to have lunch,” Judge Pigott said. (The association has offices a block and a half from Times Square.)

Talk about a crime waiting to happen.  Is it just me, or does anyone else wonder why it takes three levels of courts and more than three (3) years for so many brilliant minds to finally see the obvious?  There has got to be a better use of all these resources than this.

As for Police Officer Momen Attia, rumor has it that he is being considered as the daytime host for the game show, “Deal or No Deal.”  Some new twists are being considered for the show.

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