Law? I don't need to know no stinkin' law, I'm a police officer!
Via the New York Times:
As they often do, Andrew Rausa and a few friends spent the evening of July 4 lounging barefoot on the front stoop of a friend's brownstone home in Brooklyn and enjoying a few beers. Escaping the indoor heat, Mr. Rausa and two friends sipped cans of Brooklyn Summer Ale; his girlfriend held an unopened bottle of a blueberry ale.The group has apparently decided to risk it and is going to attempt to fight it out in court. Hopefully, they don't get screwed by some power mad bureaucrat in a robe who also "doesn't care what the law says."
When an unmarked police car pulled up and two officers got out, Mr. Rausa and his friends worried that the charcoal grill that was set up nearby had gotten them in trouble.
"You're all getting summonses for drinking in public," Mr. Rausa recalls one of the officers announcing from the other side of the wrought-iron gate in front of the brownstone, on Douglass Street in Boerum Hill.
"We were all kind of stunned for a second," Mr. Rausa said in an interview on Tuesday. "It happened over the gate. It was a very tangible physical divide -- when they said the words 'public property,' it just didn't make any sense."
Besides, Mr. Rausa said, a fifth person on the stoop who received a summons wasn't drinking alcohol at all. She was holding a red plastic cup filled with soda.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rausa, who will enter his third year at Brooklyn Law School this fall, had pulled out his iPhone to study the New York administrative code, which defines a public place as one "to which the public or a substantial group of persons has access, including, but not limited to," a park, sidewalk or beach. Exceptions include drinking at a block party or "similar function for which a permit has been obtained" or places with liquor licenses.
Holding his phone, Mr. Rausa approached the officer, who had returned to his car, and said that because he was sitting on a private stoop behind a gate, he was not breaking the law.
"I don't care what the law says, you're getting a summons," the officer said before rolling up his window, according to Mr. Rausa.
At first, the group planned to simply pay the $25 fines. But they decided otherwise when they realized that the summonses, though relatively low-level violations, would become blemishes on their personal records.