QUEENS — Prosecutors will appeal a judge's June ruling that a key part of the mayor's landmark traffic safety initiative is unconstitutional, a spokesman for the Queens District Attorney said Tuesday.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has moved to appeal Queens Supreme Court Justice Gia Morris' ruling that the misdemeanor charge in Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan violates the constitutional right to due process and the presumption of innocence, according to spokesman Kevin Ryan.
Ryan didn't elaborate on what argument they'd pursue in the appeal effort, but said DA Brown had assigned a senior assistant district attorney in his appeals bureau to the case and filed notification with appellate court.
Morris dismissed Vision Zero charges against MTA driver Isaac Sanson, who fatally struck an 85-year-old woman with his bus in 2015, saying the misdemeanor charge put the onus on defendants to prove to the court that they were not driving recklessly, instead of the other way around.
Morris' decision drew outcry from City Hall and traffic safety advocates who worried Morris' decision would have a "chilling effect" on Vision Zero prosecutions going forward.
The judge said she was dismissing the earlier opinion of Manhattan judge Ann Scherzer, who in January said the Vision Zero law withstood the constitutional right for defendants to be innocent until proving guilty.
"To successfully challenge [the Vision Zero charge], defendant would have to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the statue is unconstitutional by imposing an unacceptable and unjustified restriction on a constitutional right, failing to provide notice of what conduct is prohibited, or by encouraging or permitting arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement," Scherzer wrote in her decision to allow charges to stand against MD Hossain, the first driver hit with the charge after he killed a woman on the Upper East Side.
"None of defendant's arguments come close to meeting that heavy burden," she added.