In two outrageous acts of unwanted justice, Judge Leticia Ramirez freed a man who was allegedly caught in the Bronx with a rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition the same day she set $5,000 bond for a murder suspect. Consider this further proof that New York needs not just better laws, but better lawyers.
Bronx prosecutors requested that accused rifleman Matthew Velardo be held on $50,000 bail, but Ramirez released him. She also refused to return accused killer Vernon Gowdy – who has already been arrested 15 times as well as a stint in jail in the 1990s – to Rikers, setting a low bond instead.
Ramirez, a civil court judge presiding in Bronx Criminal Court, was hit with an ethics reprimand in 2017 for using her position to try to bail her son — a convicted murderer — out of state prison. She had also abused her position to help a friend fight a gambling charge by writing to the judge in the case.
Her defenders say she was simply obeying the state’s anti-lease law. “With recent criminal justice reform laws, a judge must consider the least restrictive form of bail to secure the return of defendants,” said Lucian Chalfen, a spokesperson for the Office of Court Management in the state – a day before Gov. Kathy Hochul insists the laws are now set.
Indeed, setting a high bond for Velardo and Gowdy seems at Ramirez’s discretion, albeit limited. Why is she even on the bench?
Well, Manhattan voters elected Ramirez to a second 10-year term in civil court in November 2020. But the system often uses civil court lawyers to help out in criminal court, even in other boroughs.
Of course, it’s usually a county committee that chooses judicial nominees, and the Democratic pick is a shoo-in through most of the city. Which means the same Democrats who pass the No Bail and Raise the Age laws in Albany play a big role in selecting lawyers like Ramirez.
And, no, it’s not just her: Last April, The Post uncovered that a Bronx gang member who had been freed by a single judge for allegedly murdering an innocent man months earlier later had been released once again by another judge.
Hochul suggests that it will take just a few “ongoing training programs” to get judges “to do their job” and start jailing more culprits. In fact, Ramirez and others are all too likely to hide behind the “least restrictive terms” mandate until the law is further clarified.
Again, it was the New York Democrats who gave us the whole “let them loose” system, complete with bad laws and bad judges (and also awful district attorneys). Voters’ best hope for change is to send a clear message to these Democrats by voting against everything of them in November.