Cabbies Refuel in Fight Over Due-Process Rights

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal judge may have to reconsider his decision to let New York City suspend cabdrivers charged with criminal offenses, new revisions to a 2nd Circuit ruling show.

     Facially, the appellate court’s third amended decision – like its prior revisions – upholds the District Court’s decision allowing the Taxi and Limousine Commission to suspend the licenses of New York City cabdrivers charged with a felony or certain type of misdemeanor, whether the alleged crimes were committed on or off duty.
     According to the 27-page ruling, a suspended driver currently can insist on a post-deprivation hearing, but in practice, taxi licenses are never reinstated unless the driver beats the charges.
     The ruling also states that no more than a quarter of cabdrivers suspended for criminal charges are ultimately convicted of their alleged crimes.
     The appellate court said that it was “troubled” that the drivers’ post-suspension hearings “does nothing more than confirm the driver’s identity and the existence of a pending criminal proceeding against him.”
     If the District Court finds that the post-suspension hearing does not afford due process for the cabdrivers, however, it must revisit its original ruling, according to Tuesday’s amended decision.
     “In the event the court determines that the post-suspension hearing does not comport with due process, the court is instructed to reconsider its ruling in its entirety,” Judge Peter Hall wrote for the three-judge panel Tuesday.
     Another clause that once read “no pre-suspension hearing is required” in the original appellate ruling now bears the disclaimer “insofar as the post-suspension hearing affords adequate process.”
     This new language echoes a point the cab drivers made in a petition to rehear their case in the 2nd Circuit.
     “Without deciding that there was a meaningful hearing, the panel, by its own reasoning, should not have affirmed on the pre-deprivation [hearing] issue,” the motion said.
     The cabdrivers’ attorney Daniel Lee Ackman told Courthouse News in a phone interview that he believed that these changes reflected his clients’ arguments.
     “They are a significant acknowledgment of our point,” Ackman said.
     A city spokeswoman pointed out that this decision had been amended several times and said she planned to review the latest filing.
     At the time of the original ruling, the chief of the New York City Law Department’s administrative law division said he expected the District Court would find that the post-suspension hearings are sufficient.
     “We are confident that the more detailed information sought by the Court about the hearings provided by the TLC will conclusively demonstrate that they are adequate and lawful,” Gabriel Taussig stated at the time.
     The 2nd Circuit has not indicated whether it would rehear the case.

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