Statement by New York State Bar
AssociationOn the Death of New York
City Police Officer Peter Figoski
The recent shooting of New York City Police Officer
Peter Figoski is a horrific tragedy that strikes at the heart of our
Some elected officials have questioned the actions of a criminal
court judge, who previously released the suspected shooter rather than
set bail on a misdemeanor charge. These officials have suggested that
the judge’s discretionary decision on bail was an error.
Under our democratic system, people are entitled to express their
opinions about judicial decisions, and even criticize those decisions on
the merits. The public expression of such opinions is protected by the
First Amendment to the Constitution.
Ironically, this right, as well as all the other rights the
Constitution guarantees – including the right not to have
excessive bail set – are protected by judges making the same type
of discretionary decisions as the judge made in this case. These
decisions are made based on the information available to the judge at
the time, utilizing the judge’s best wisdom, and respecting the
constitutional rights we all expect our judges to uphold.
While elected officials and others have the right to express their
opinions, their comments should be tempered by respect for the important
and difficult role the judiciary plays in protecting all of our
Our deepest sympathy goes to the family, colleagues and friends of
New York City Police Officer Figoski.
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 SECURE FX: (518) 463-5993