Mimesis Law
8 August 2020

Justice Edward McLaughlin Isn’t Responsible For Randolph Holder’s Murder

Oct. 22, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — It’s not enough that a police officer is murdered and his killer is caught.  To the insiders, there has to be a greater message, a measure of systemic blame because it would otherwise be a waste of a cop’s life.

Police said Tyrone Howard, 30, shot Officer Randolph Holder in the head around 8:30 p.m. in the city’s East Harlem neighborhood on a pedestrian walkway above the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive, which runs along Manhattan’s east side.

It’s not enough that one bad dude killed a cop. And so New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, with his sidekick, Mayor Bill de Blasio, sought out a scapegoat for the murder of Officer Holder.  And they found one.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton questioned whether Howard should have been permitted to enter a drug diversion program after a felony arrest last October for selling crack cocaine, instead of being sent to prison.

“The perpetrator involved here was obviously a hardened, violent criminal and should not have been on the streets,” de Blasio said.

Bingo!  Blame the liberal, commie, pinko criminal-coddling judge who could have taken this killer off the streets, but instead set him free to murder a cop. The perfect scapegoat.

Except the judge who put Tyrone Howard back on the street wasn’t some criminal-coddling feel-good judge. It was Justice Edward McLaughlin. To try to express this in the kindest possible way, he’s a friggin’ hardass. He’s tough. He’s stern. No criminal defense lawyer yells “yippee” when they learn they’ve been wheeled to Justice McLaughlin’s courtroom.

And more importantly, Justice McLaughlin wasn’t about to take the blame in silence.

Justice Edward McLaughlin, who transferred Howard’s case to drug court, said he was “certain” he had made the right call given the information at the time.

“If there’s a way to recapture a guy’s life, isn’t that an appropriate thing to try?” McLaughlin said in an interview with Reuters. “It’s not like I flipped a coin. I didn’t have a crystal ball, and I did not know what would happen a year later.”

It’s easy to say after a person commits murder, assuming Howard is the guy who did so, that one should have seen it coming. After all, parsing the details, both real and imagined, of a defendant’s life makes them all look like potential killers. Except almost none of them are.

Howard avoided jail in that case as part of a drug diversion program, which he did not complete.

“He would have been the last person in New York City I would have wanted to see in the diversion program,” Bratton said.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, whose office handled that case, said in a statement the judge granted Howard’s request for diversion over prosecutors’ recommendation that he be sent to prison.

Amazing how smart Bratton turns out to be after the fact, and how Vance gets to shed responsibility because his prosecutor didn’t get his routine, inexplicable, knee-jerk way. But Justice McLaughlin has answers.

“I’m certain that I made the correct decision,” he said. “I’m glad that in 33 years, this is the first tragedy that occurred in any way remotely connected with something that I did.”

Under the law, if Howard had any violent felony convictions his case would have been ineligible for drug court.

Howard had been charged in connection with a 2009 shooting that left an 11-year-old and a 78-year-old wounded, police said, among nearly a dozen other nonviolent drug arrests.

But McLaughlin said prosecutors had not pursued those charges in court. Therefore, he said it would not have factored into his decision.

Peel away the malarkey and you end up with a heavy dose of reality: Howard’s record was the typical low-level drug busts that comprise the rap sheets of so many New Yorkers who have the misfortune to live in certain neighborhoods where the cops get most of their stats.

But cheap talk about violent crime isn’t a substitute for Vance’s people getting a conviction.  They can allude to his bad conduct as much as they want, but it’s convictions that count.  Justice McLaughlin may be a tough judge, but he’s still a judge. If cries of a violent history don’t end in a conviction, they didn’t happen. That’s how the law works.

Robert Levy, who represented Howard in last year’s case, said officials who questioned the diversion were engaging in “Monday-morning quarterbacking.”

“All the diagnostic tools available in the system were used in his case,” he said. “It’s a tragic circumstance … but to start blaming the court system is crazy.”

This isn’t just Monday-morning quarterbacking, but a trick called “presentism,” the recreation of past reality based on things that happen afterward.  Sure, we now know that Tyrone Howard is a bad dude, assuming he murdered Police Officer Randolph Holder. But obviously, Justice McLaughlin couldn’t know what Howard would do a year in the future, and instead dealt with what was before him at the time.

If there was something that would have prevented Howard from getting drug diversion, it would have been a conviction for a violent crime.  And that never happened in the real world, where Justice Edward McLaughlin presides.

H/T Cristian Farias

8 Comments on this post.

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  • Richard G. Kopf
    22 October 2015 at 9:25 am - Reply


    The sweet irony, of course, is that both Bratton and Vance are all for sentencing reform for low level drug offenders except when they’re not.

    All the best.


  • Richard G. Kopf
    22 October 2015 at 10:47 am - Reply


    Of course, that’s where I got the idea. Out here we call the cross-fertilization (but not in the way some of your dirty-minded readers may think).

    All the best.


  • Bryan Gates
    22 October 2015 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Most of these reforms promise some level leniency or diversion provided that prosecutors get unlimited discretion to decide (based on policies they make up and refuse to disclose) who gets leniency.

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