The Journal News by LAUREN STANFORTH AND PAUL NELSON - June 22, 2009
SCHENECTADY, NY -- A judge is temporarily blocking the public from attending the disciplinary hearings for two Schenectady police officers who face internal affairs charges. Acting state Supreme Court Justice Barry Kramer this afternoon issued a temporary injunction until he completes research on whether the hearings for officers John Lewis and Darren Lawrence should be public. Kramer said he would issue his ruling on July 16. Lewis' hearing was supposed to start Tuesday. Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden said he will consult with Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett before the city decides whether to start a secret hearing Tuesday or wait for the judge's ruling. The officers face hearings on internal affairs charges that could lead to their dismissals and the city contends the hearings are open to the public. Attorneys have filed the injunction on behalf of Lewis and Lawrence. Both officers also face criminal charges for alleged off-duty misdeeds stemming from domestic issues and drinking problems. The police union has fought against the disciplinary hearing process, which will have Bennett presiding over the officers' cases at open hearings. The city decided to open up the disciplinary hearings amid scrutiny from residents and the media.