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NEW YORK v. WOOD

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


February 15, 1966

The PEOPLE OF the STATE OF NEW YORK, Respondent,
v.
Lawrence WOOD, Petitioner

The opinion of the court was delivered by: BONSAL

BONSAL, District Judge.

 On October 7, 1965, petitioner Wood filed a petition pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 1443 *fn1" for removal to this court of proceedings against him in the Court of Special Sessions of the Town of Clarkstown, Rockland County, New York. Respondent moves that the proceedings be remanded to said Court of Special Sessions.

 Petitioner was to be tried before Judge William E. Vines, Justice of the Peace of Rockland County, on charges of violating the New York Penal Law, McKinney's Consol.Laws, c. 40, Art. 88, § 986 (engaging in bookmaking) and § 986-b (possession of bookmaking records). In his petition for removal, he contends that trial before Judge Vines, who has no formal legal training, would violate his rights under the 14th Amendment.

 Petitioner has failed to show any basis for removal under § 1443. *fn2" His contention that he will be denied due process if he is tried before a lay judge does not entitle him to invoke federal jurisdiction. As stated in People of State of New York v. Galamison, 342 F.2d 255 (2d Cir. 1965) at p. 271:

 

"(5) When the removal statute speaks of 'any law providing for equal rights,' it refers to those laws that are couched in terms of equality, such as the historic and the recent equal rights statutes, as distinguished from laws, of which the due process clause and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are sufficient examples, that confer equal rights in the sense, vital to our way of life, of bestowing them upon all."

 Also, see Peacock v. City of Greenwood, 347 F.2d 679, 682 (5th Cir. 1965) ("* * * the due process clause is not a law providing for equal rights within the contemplation of the removal statute.").

 Petitioner's claim that trial before Judge Vines would violate his right to equal protection is also insufficient as a basis for removal under § 1443. Petitioner argues that under Art. 6, § 20, subd. c of the New York Constitution, Justices of the Peace need not be lawyers but have the same criminal jurisdiction as judges in the Criminal Court of the City of New York who must be lawyers admitted to practice in the State for five years (Art. 6, § 20, subd. a). But under § 57 of the New York Code of Criminal Procedure, petitioner for good cause shown, may have the proceedings against him removed from the Court of Special Sessions and certified to the Grand Jury of Rockland County and, in the event of indictment, have a trial in a court of record of that county where the judge would be a lawyer.

 To justify removal under § 1443, petitioner must show that a State statutory or constitutional provision on its face deprives him of equal protection, Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Powers, 201 U.S. 1, 26 S. Ct. 387, 50 L. Ed. 633 (1905), or that State law has been applied to deprive him of equal protection. Rachel v. State of Georgia, 342 F.2d 336 (5th Cir. 1965). Moreover, not every denial of equal protection will justify removal, but petitioner must show that he is deprived of his "equal civil rights" such as would be the case where he is discriminated against because of race. Peacock v. City of Greenwood, 347 F.2d 679, 682 (5th Cir. 1965); Steele v. Superior Court of California, 164 F.2d 781, 782 (9th Cir. 1948). In view of the provisions of § 57 of the New York Code of Criminal Procedure, petitioner has failed to show a denial of equal protection, much less a deprivation of equal civil rights.

 Therefore, the court grants respondent's motion that the criminal charges against the petitioner be remanded to the Court of Special Sessions of the Town of Clarkstown for further proceedings.

 It is so ordered.


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