Judge says juror having heart attack ‘can wait’: witness

by | Feb 27, 2014 | Press

Article from NYPost.com By Christina Carrega-Woodby and Erin Calabrese

February 27, 2014 | 3:37am

Now that’s bad judgment.

A Queens father-to-be is lucky to be alive after a judge allegedly ignored his pleas to be excused from a jury pool when he complained about searing pains in his chest, court documents reveal.

Nyima Dorjee, 39, of Woodside was sitting in a jury pool on a gun possession trial last week when he told a prosecutor that he was having chest pains and difficulty breathing, according to a report filed by the officer.

But when the court officer informed Justice Joel Blumenfeld of the emergency, the judge insisted to him and his supervisor that the prosecutor had to finish his round of questions.

“There’s a few more minutes left,” the judge said, according to a witness. “They can wait.”

The officers removed the juror anyway, and called for help. Dorjee was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, where doctors determined he was having a heart attack.

Ten minutes had passed before the ambulance was called. The ambulance arrived another 15 minutes later.

“All I could think was I want to get out of here,” Dorjee, a nursing student whose wife is pregnant, told The Post Wednesday from his home.

“I raised my hand and said, ‘I’m having a hard time breathing.’ I’ve never had anything happen like this.”

Dorjee said he was not aware of the judge’s remarks, but said he was grateful for the officers who got him help just in the nick of time.

“It’s pretty egregious what happened, to have a total disregard for the jurors and public safety,” said Patrick Cullen, president of New York State Supreme Court Officers Association.

“I’m disturbed by the continued extreme ignorance of the court administration for the public’s safety.”

Blumenfeld, who has sparred in the past with Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, declined to comment on his exchange with the court officers.

Despite the ordeal, Dorjee said he wouldn’t hesitate to return to court for another jury session.

“Jury duty is one of those things you have to do,” Dorjee said. “It’s part of a democracy.”