Alex Constantine - June 29, 2010
By John Del Signore
The Gothamist | June 10, 2010
A surprising legal victory has ended in idiotic failure for a school safety officer who refused to wear her ID because she believes that computer chips in the card were "the marks of the beast." You may recall that Velma Craig, 48, represented herself in a lawsuit against the city, arguing that when she was assigned to PS 235 in Crown Heights, her NYPD supervisors violated her religious beliefs by requiring her to wear a new high-tech identification card.
Craig resigned after being brought up on departmental charges, and sued the city in 2004 without legal representation. Three years later, Judge Brian Cogan got so fed up with the city's failure to explain why they couldn't just let Craig use her old, non-Satanic card, that he ruled in her favor without even sending the case to a jury. All that remained was for another judge to decide how much taxpayer money Craig would receive. That process was supposed to begin yesterday, but then it all fell apart.
Craig stunned the courtroom yesterday by suddenly dropping her suit, because she realized she could not proceed without an attorney, and her last lawyer quit the case because she was so difficult to work with, surprise surprise. Judge Roslynn Mauskopf refused to grant Craig a delay to seek counsel, so instead of the millions she sought, Craig was awarded just $1. As City Room puts it, "It's as if Ms. Craig picked up a lottery ticket with guaranteed winnings and then tossed it aside without ever scratching it off to reveal the cash prize." Which is maybe for the best, because gambling's the devil's work, too.