There it was, a 2007 silver Toyota Camry XLE parked on the south side of Houston St. just west of Suffolk St. on the Lower East Side.
The day was a Wednesday. The time was shortly before 7 p.m. Parking rules were in effect.
Uh, oh, there was no white paper receipt on the Camry’s dashboard showing that the driver had paid the Muni-Meter parking fee.
Not to worry. This car had something much better: a laminated placard from the state Office of Court Administration.
The placard blared: THIS VEHICLE IS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, plus OFFICIAL BUSINESS in bright red capital letters.
For the further edification of traffic agents who might happen by, the license plates read, “Supreme Court 54.”
The placard, No. 16-1268, was issued to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Martin Schoenfeld only so that he could park in a judges’ zone outside the courthouse at 60 Centre St. Which is a nice perk in and of itself.
Contacted about Schoenfeld’s placard abuse, a court spokesman asked the public to believe that:
a) Schoenfeld forgot to remove the placard when he left the courthouse and drove his parents to a Lower East Side diner, and
b) that he didn’t pay the meter because it was close to 7 p.m.
Under both lame excuses, Schoenfeld not only was wrong, he broke very clear rules.
When granted the placard, he signed a document stating: “The use of this placard for parking at locations not connected to Official Business, including parking at home, is not authorized.”
His failure to feed the Muni-Meter was a violation that carries a fine of $65, as tens of thousands of drivers painfully learn every year.
Then again, who knows how many agents gave him a break while ticketing others cars in the supposedly teeny-weeny time that Schoenfeld beat the city out of, in his telling, a quarter or so.
It’s too bad that we can’t swear the witness.