Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today blasted Village of Westbury Justice Thomas Liotti's decision to dismiss a case against an unlicensed driver because the driver was an illegal immigrant and unable to obtain a license in New York State.
The decision was, according to various news sources, an effort by the justice to reopen the discussion about Governor Spitzer's recently abandoned attempt to provide driver's licenses to those in the country illegally.
STATEMENT BY SENATOR JOHN FLANAGAN:
Justice Liotti should be removed from his position if is unable to follow the laws of our state. In his misguided decision, he has willingly dismissed those laws and basically ignored the voice of the majority of New Yorkers who opposed Governor Spitzer's plan.
Even more astonishing is that he allowed an unlicensed driver to return to the road to make his point. If the defendant was an unlicensed legal resident, Justice Liotti would have been duty bound to adhere to state law to protect other motorists. But, due to a personal political belief and in the face of tragedies involving unlicensed drivers, Justice Liotti ignored the safety of other motorists to make his point.
We expect judges to decide cases based on the laws that we all must abide by. When the ignore the law and disregard their constitutionally defined role, they weaken the entire justice system.
Justice Liotti has an obligation to uphold the laws, regardless of who is before his bench, and he should be removed from his position if he is unable to do so. His actions in this case call for swift disciplinary action.
Senator Flanagan was instrumental in getting the Spitzer plan withdrawn and has worked to strengthen New York State laws to ensure that this plan is not revisited in the future.
In June, he sponsored and gained Senate passage of legislation that would have strengthened the identification requirements for obtaining driver's licenses and permanently established this important regulation in state law.
And during a special session of the Senate in October, Senator Flanagan joined with Senator Frank Padavan (11th Senate District), Chair of the Senate Majority Task Force on Immigration, to pass legislation requiring applicants for driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards to provide proof of citizenship or lawful presence in the United States.
Both pieces of legislation were sent to the Assembly but are still awaiting action.
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