A friend writes:
It was during night arraignments Wednesday that I met our client, who has a 29-cycle RAP sheet consisting of Crimes While Homeless. This time it wasn’t the usual open-container or turnstile-jump or lying-down-on-a-park-bench but a violation of NYC Traffic Rule 4-04(e)(5), “Unlawful Hailing of a Taxicab.”
I pictured various ways of hailing a cab unlawfully, some plausible, some ridiculous, some X-rated. All were wrong. Turns out, it’s against the law for someone to hail a cab for another person “not in his or her social company,” i.e., unlawful for a homeless person to make an honest buck helping someone procure a cab.
To add to the stupidity of my client’s arrest and subsequent 30-hour pre-arraignment detention, he was also charged with Disorderly Conduct because, according to the complaint written by the cops, his hailing of the cab “caused disruption of the normal flow of traffic.” During the Midtown rush hour, yet.
Usually these arrests are just excuses to quarantine the homeless for a day or so before they’re given time served, are released, and await their next BS arrest. Not this time. The prosecutor demanded a guilty plea and the maximum sentence of 15 DAYS JAIL TIME.
“But wait!” you say. “Surely even the most unreasonable of judges would knock this ridiculous recommendation down to the expected plea to a violation and time served!”
Well, the judge knocked it down all right: to a mere 7 days in jail. He explained that he’s concerned with the scamming of hailers by those promising to get a cab for them, taking a couple bucks and then running off.
But the complaint in this case clearly stated that our client hailed the cab, helped the woman into the cab AND placed her bags into the trunk. Hell, he was assisting her AND the cabdriver!
If the judge wants to be anti-scam, fine. But how dare he dump that pet peeve on the back of my client who, by the clear language of the complaint wasn’t scamming anybody! Who made a sweet $1.50 tip from the lady before being hauled off in handcuffs to be locked up for 30 hours in a cell with few dozen other guys, at least some of whom might have done something really bad.
On a barely brighter note, my client will be released today, and he did fill out the form to let us represent him on appeal.
A-S adds: And think of all those doormen and hotel concierges running around hailing cabs without getting arrested. An equal protection claim if there ever was one.