-- Loser Judge Pickholz, left, With A College Classmate
For Indian-American Falsely Incarcerated
"She Had No Interest
In The False Arrest."
-- Poet & Professor Ravi Shankar,
Central Connecticut State University
Criminal Court Of The State Of New York
Docket No.: 2009NY05478
Presiding, Judge Ruth Pickholz
By ANDY THIBAULT
The Cool Justice Report
Sept. 9, 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
Poet Ravi Shankar was profiled, wrongly arrested and locked up for 36 hours in New York City. Even after cops called Shankar a "sand nigger" and hummed "Here Comes The Bride" as he walked in a manacled procession at 100 Centre St., the Central Connecticut State University professor had yet to endure his greatest indignity.
During his incarceration on a weekend in July, Shankar slept upright on a bench in perhaps several 20-and 30-minute interludes. There were fights among the many bodies on the floor in the holding tank. Shankar notice that virtually all of those held were minorities, some of them accused of petty crimes such as loitering, walking through a park at the wrong time [trespassing] or operating without a peddler's license.
Everyone shared the stench of the open-air toilet. Then, it got worse.
Shankar met Judge Ruth Pickholz.
Shankar's public defender, Victor Castelli, had reached an understanding with the prosecutor, Matthew Montana. There was a big mistake. Charges would be dropped.
"The warrant is not him, judge," Castelli said. "It says it's a 5' 10" white male [weighing 140 pounds] on the description that the police showed him …"
Shankar stands 6' 2" and weighs 200 pounds. His skin is dark, dark enough to be stopped in New York and elsewhere when Driving While Brown.
"Yes," Pickholz said. "They say he's a white male. This doesn't look like him."
The public defender and the prosecutor tried to tell the judge about their agreement, which would have ended the matter.
"I don't care," Pickholz said.
When she found out Shankar was a professor, Pickholz didn't want to hear anything from a public defender.
Castelli tried to tell the judge about Shankar's bogus arrest: "He's been in jail for a couple days on a mistaken warrant …"
Pickholz revved up her tin ear and turned a blind eye to justice.
"Sir," she told Shankar. "I'm not listening."
A diligent judge who enforced the Constitution might have done some fact-finding or made the prosecutor produce the cops who wrongly arrested Shankar. Pickholz, devoted to bureaucracy rather than justice, pretended she was doing her job by making sure the right boxes were checked on court documents.
"She had no interest in the false arrest," Shankar said Tuesday.
Earlier in her career, Pickholz might have followed up on issues such as civil rights violations and accountability. She might have noticed or even cared about the theft of 36 hours of liberty from a citizen's life.
A former legal aid lawyer, Pickholz told The New York Times some years ago: "I consider arraignments the E.R. of the court system. We triage. Some cases need a Band-Aid. Some of them need major surgery."
Some triage for the poet wrongly held in lock-up.
Pickholz, besides evolving into a hack or apparatchik, demonstrates compelling signs of robitis. Typically, judges suffering from this malady lose touch with common sense and become arrogant from aggrandized self-perception. Given the incestuous nature of the court system, they are rarely held accountable for negligence, malpractice or failure to administer justice.
Meanwhile, Shankar is in New York this week meeting with several attorneys regarding a possible civil rights lawsuit.
He told The New Britain, CT Herald, in a story published Tuesday, he believed he was pulled over for "Driving While Brown." He passed a Breathalyzer test but was arrested on the false warrant.
Lawyers advising Shankar include: Brooklyn litigator Bruce Baron who, among other accomplishments, won reinstatement for a New York social worker who dared to investigate Woody Allen for child abuse.
Andy Thibault, author of Law & Justice In Everyday Life, blogs @ http://cooljustice.blogspot.com/
Atty. Bruce Baron
Of New York Social Worker Paul Williams