Judiciary

Traffic court judge completes anger management; did it help?


A New York traffic court judge was ordered to take anger management classes two years ago, but he still has a bad attitude, some observers allege.

Brian Levine, a traffic court judge in Staten Island for the Department of Motor Vehicles, was ordered to attend a monitored counseling program to focus on “human relations” and “anger management,” the Staten Island Advance reports. The Advance obtained the March 2011 arbitrator’s order after the DMV had denied a freedom of information request by the newspaper.

Levine has the highest conviction rate of any traffic court judge in New York City, according to the newspaper. He raised $1 million in fines for the DMV in 2011. The arbitration ruling concerned a 2009 incident in which Levine refused to accept a photocopy of a permit indicating a Metropolitan Transportation Authority mechanic had the authority to road test a bus in a parkway.

“No photocopies,” Levine said at one point during the 2009 hearing. “Not that I’m telling you that you guys would have the audacity to make phony photocopies. I’ll be very blunt with you. I think you guys would. OK. I don’t trust the MTA. I don’t trust any government agency.” Later, Levine said he sees MTA bus drivers “on that parkway every day, and I’m fed up with seeing your buses on there.”

One anonymous lawyer and two traffic court defendants told the Advance that Levine still has a bad attitude in court. The lawyer told the Advance that the DMV backs Levine, for the most part, “because of the money he brings in.”

The New York Post apparently agrees with the critics. Levine “flashed his trademark bile” during a recent court session, the Post says. Levine had asked a cab driver if he saw the signs indicating a lane was for buses only, and the driver replied that there was a sign—but it was faded.

“That’s not what I asked you!” Levine said. “You’re giving me a Bill Clinton answer, and I don’t appreciate it.”

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