Administrative Law

No Fifth in this Courtroom, Where NYC Cops are On Trial

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It looks like an ordinary courtroom. But there’s no jury box, because there are no juries. And the Fifth Amendment doesn’t apply.

That’s because those put on trial are New York City police officers, facing potential administrative penalties up to termination from their jobs for violation of their professional responsibilities, reports the New York Times.

Trials are held about once a week at One Police Plaza, and are open to the public, as are trial records, the newspaper writes. A preponderance standard applies, as in civil trials, and officers cannot take the Fifth Amendment—if they refuse to testify, as members of a paramilitary organization they can be ordered to answer.

A panel of administrative law judges reaches a verdict and recommends a penalty, if applicable, but the police commissioner makes the final call.

Rae Koshetz, who served as an administrative law judge in police trials for 14 years, as the deputy commissioner for trials until 2002, says you have to have a thick skin to do the job. “In order to be independent, you have to be willing to have people mad at you some of the time,” she says.

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