When Kimber VanRy sat down to have a frosty Sierra Nevada on the stoop of a four-story, 20-unit building in Prospect Heights where he lives, he had little idea that a $15 fine would turn into months of court appearances, delays, and a judge excusing himself from the trial.
"I didn't really think it was going to last this long; you know the bureaucracy is just crazy," he said. "Most people just go and pay their fine and walk away and plead guilty … I didn't want to do that."
On Monday, Judge Jerome Kay took himself off of the summons case, citing familiarity with the proceedings. He justified to the court, "I know that building, I know that stoop, so remaining on the case would give the appearance that I could not be fair, pro or con." He then added, "I do have an opinion – but I'm not going to share it with you."
VanRy, who like many Brooklynites values his space in the outer borough, explained that the stoop is one of the Brooklyn benefits, and when police start enforcing quality-of-life crimes that take place up there, things start to get really uncomfortable.
"This is why you live in Brooklyn," VanRy explained, "so you can hang outside and have a drink, say hey to people walking by, create a neighborhood."
When Kimber chose that fateful afternoon to grab a Sierra Nevada, he painted his own portrait as a man of the craft. Following his encounter with a police officer eager to bust a person for drinking on their stoop, VanRy stands now on the foothills of the Rights of the Dude (lady drinkers included).
He told me that after the New York Times story first hit, the original founder of Sierra Nevada gave him a call to offer his support. VanRy said the foundertold him that he checked with his lawyers, but couldn't offer any legal help. He could, however, send along a few cases of beer and a handful of T-shirts – with love, from Sierra Nevada.
But even the beer company couldn't foresee a trial lasting this long ... and the freebies never came. Regardless, Kimber VanRy marches on, fighting the good fight to enjoy a frosty beverage on the privacy of his stoop. He is a true beer lover's hero.