A case of railroad rage

April 8, 2008 9:22:31 AM PDT
A Long Island Rail Road commuter fed up with his fellow riders' manners is arguing that he was justified in cursing at a passenger who was talking on his cell phone and in slapping another rider's hand when she intervened.

John Clifford's trial opened Monday in Manhattan. He's charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment in the March 2007 dispute.

Clifford has acquired a reputation as a self-appointed etiquette enforcer on the commuter railroad. He maintains he had a right to tell off the cell-phone chatterer, and he says the woman he slapped hit him first.

The woman testified that Clifford's antics "violated (her) space."