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ECBA Represents New York City Council in Stop & Frisk Civil Remedy and Affordable Housing Disclosure Cases

ECBA has been selected to represent the New York City Council in two cases where Mayor Bloomberg has challenged the legality of duly-enacted local legislation.

In Mayor v. City Council, # 451543/2013, the firm is defending the constitutionality of the Community Safety Act (Local Law 71), which creates a civil remedy for persons subjected to bias–based policing. The Act, which allows private suits against the New York Police Department for injunctive relief, was enacted in the wake of a federal court finding that the NYPD’s “stop & frisk” activities violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the legislation, but the City Council voted to override the Mayor’s veto. In the lawsuit, the Mayor alleges that the Act is preempted by state Criminal Procedure Law. Unions representing NYPD sergeants and line officers have joined the suit against the City Council. ECBA lawyers Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Elizabeth Saylor, and Vasudha Talla are handling the case.

Separately, in New York State Association for Affordable Housing et al. v. City Council, # 158093/2013, a trade organization of real estate developers has sued to invalidate Local Law 44, an amendment to the City’s Administrative Code that requires developers to report the wages of workers employed on City-financed housing construction projects. The Bloomberg Administration, joining with the plaintiff trade group, alleges that the law is preempted by state minimum wage and housing finance statutes. ECBA lawyers Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Elizabeth Saylor, and Debra Greenberger are handling the case.

 

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Federal Suit Claims Police Manufacture Misdemeanors

Today, ECBA and The Bronx Defenders filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of five Bronx residents, charging the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) with targeting Black and Latino communities for marijuana arrests and “manufacturing” misdemeanor crimes against residents in order to meet departmental quotas. All five plaintiffs were falsely accused by NYPD officers of possessing marijuana in “public view,” arrested, held in custody, and charged with misdemeanors. In fact, however, each man possessed only a small amount of marijuana for personal use in his pocket — discovered after an illegal stop and search — for which each should have received a simple ticket under New York law. By lying about the facts, and claiming the marijuana was in “public view,” the NYPD officers turned what would have been, for most New Yorkers, a minor incident, into a full-blown ordeal.

The plaintiffs are represented by Katherine Rosenfeld and Sam Shapiro.

To read the complaint, click here. To read the New York Times article about the case, click here.

 

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Civil Rights Case Filed Against NYPD Alleging Failure to Provide Interpreters

Today, a lawsuit was filed in federal court against the NYPD on behalf of five limited English proficient (LEP) New Yorkers. The plaintiffs, all crime victims, were denied the services of an interpreter by the officers handling their cases, in spite of official City and NYPD policies to provide translation assistance and federal and City laws defending access to police services. As a result, the lawsuit claims, LEP individuals often find themselves unable to report crimes and unable to rely on the NYPD for protection. In some instances, LEP victims of domestic violence with English-proficient abusers were unable to communicate their situation to the responding officers and received no assistance. In addition, the complaint alleges that NYPD officers not only fail to provide translation services, but also degrade and demean LEP individuals because of their language skills.

The plaintiffs in the case are represented by Legal Services NYC. ECBA’s Matt Brinckerhoff is co-counsel on the case. To read more about the case, click  here. To read the complaint, click  here.

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