ECBA has filed a “friend of the court” brief in the federal appeals court in Manhattan urging the full court to reconsider a recent decision that affects how much time victims of police misconduct have to file civil rights claims in court. The amici curiae brief was filed on behalf of a coalition of organizations that defend indigent people accused of crimes, work to correct wrongful convictions, and protect civil rights. It argues that when someone alleges that police fabricated evidence used to charge him with a crime, the statute of limitations on his civil claim should not start running until the criminal case against him is resolved in his favor. As the brief explains, the recent decision, if not corrected by the full court, could hurt criminal defendants’ ability to defend themselves against charges and lead to the dismissal of valid civil rights claims for technical reasons, even if the plaintiff is the victim of egregious misconduct or has served years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
The groups represented by ECBA in the case are the American Civil Liberties Union, Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Center for Appellate Litigation, Connecticut Innocence Project, The Innocence Project, The Legal Aid Society, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, New York County Defender Services, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Office of the Appellate Defender, and Vermont Office of the Defender General. ECBA attorneys Sam Shapiro, David Lebowitz, Doug Lieb and Ashok Chandran worked on the brief.
On April 17, 2018, ECBA filed an Article 78 and Declaratory Judgment Petition in New York County Supreme Court on behalf of the Council of the City of New York, Council Member Ritchie J. Torres, Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, and Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, and against Zachary W. Carter, the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York. The Petition challenges the Corporation Counsel’s assertion that only that office can represent members of the City Council who wish to file friend-of-the-court briefs in their official capacities as Council Members. The City Council and the Council Members allege that both the separation of powers and the First Amendment allow them to retain their own lawyers for purposes of filing friend-of-the-court briefs in their official capacities.
The City Council and the Council Members are represented in this matter by ECBA attorneys Andrew G. Celli and Sam Shapiro.
For more information, read coverage from the New York Times and the New York Post.
The City of Stamford and two of its employees, Ernest Orgera and Robert DeMarco, have agreed to pay $6.65 million to settle wrongful death claims by the Estates of Lily Badger, Sarah Badger, and Grace Badger. The settlement includes a $250,000 annuity to the Stamford Chapter of the Girl Scouts of America to fund scholarships for young girls. Previous settlements with other defendants in the case totaled over $6 million, for a total settlement of over $12.7 million.
The case arose from a tragic house fire in Stamford, Connecticut on Christmas Day, 2011. Lily, 9, and Sarah and Grace, each 7, all died in the fire, as did their grandparents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson. The settlement marks the end of more than five years of investigation and litigation. Matthew Badger, the girls’ father and the original administrator of their estates, brought the case in June 2012.
ECBA attorneys Richard D. Emery, Ilann M. Maazel, Sam Shapiro, Jessica Clarke, Vasudha Talla, and Jennifer Keighley represented the Badger estates at various stages of the litigation.
On March 3, 2017, the American Bar Association published an article by Sam Shapiro examining organizational standing for groups that have been adversely affected by government policy. Mr. Shapiro’s analysis details the circumstances in which aggrieved organizations have legal standing to bring suit, and argues that a creative understanding of these circumstances is necessary in order to expand the pool of potential plaintiffs and counter unlawful conduct and policies.
To read Sam Shapiro’s article, “A Refresher on Organizational Standing,” click here.
The City of New York has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle an excessive force lawsuit brought by ECBA and the Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project for the assault and beating of Michael Cruz. In June 2014, multiple officers beat Mr. Cruz so badly that they broke his rib, which eventually pierced his spleen and led to massive internal bleeding. The assault and resulting injuries were life-threatening. Mr. Cruz, who was only 20 years old at the time, was forced to undergo emergency surgery to remove his spleen.
ECBA attorneys Jonathan Abady, Ali Frick, and Sam Shapiro represented Mr. Cruz together with Jonathan S. Chasan and Mary Lynne Werlwas of the Legal Aid Society.
ECBA won an important victory on January 27, 2016 in a partnership dispute that is pending in New York Supreme Court, NWM Capital v. Mark Scharfman, et al. ECBA represents the defendants in the case, the general partners in four real estate partnerships and the managing agent of apartment buildings in Washington Heights, among others. Plaintiff is a limited partner in the partnerships. The Court granted ECBA’s clients’ motion for summary judgment on the most significant claims in the complaint, finding that there was “no basis for these claims.” The Court also denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in its entirety. The value of the dismissed claims, according to plaintiff, was tens of millions of dollars. ECBA attorneys Dan Kornstein and Sam Shapiro represent the defendants.
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady (ECBA), together with The Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project, has agreed to settle the individual claims for compensation for the named plaintiffs in the class action Nunez v. New York for a total of over $3.5 million. Each of the twelve men was severely injured as a result of beatings by guards in the City jails. All twelve were named plaintiffs in the class action, which was filed in 2012 to halt excessive force by City jail staff. To read the New York Post’s coverage of the settlement, click here.
This settlement follows on the heels of the major reforms announced last month as part of an agreement with New York City to reform the widespread abuse of prisoners by correction staff on Rikers Island.
Together with the Legal Aid Society, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Michael Cruz, who was beaten by correction officers at Rikers Island so brutally that he suffered massive internal bleeding and was required to undergo emergency surgery to remove his spleen. Cruz, who was only 20 years old at the time, was assaulted by multiple correction officers after asking for a mental health evaluation prior to being sent into solitary confinement. Apparently annoyed by his request, multiple officers–with the tacit approval of a captain–repeatedly kicked and punched Mr. Cruz, leaving him with a fractured rib. After weeks of complaints about his pain, Mr. Cruz was finally taken to the hospital, where his massive internal bleeding was discovered. Hospital staff informed him that if he had been left in his cell untreated much longer, Mr. Cruz could have died.
Mr. Cruz is represented by ECBA attorneys Jonathan Abady, Samuel Shapiro, and Ali Frick, and by the Legal Aid Society. Read the New York Post’s coverage here. To read the full complaint, click here.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a second petition brought by Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady to secure materials relating to the Madoff fraud for use in a Swiss criminal proceeding. Based on ECBA’s December 12, 2014 victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Court held that the materials sought were appropriately subject to disclosure under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a statute that permits discovery in the United States for use in foreign or international proceedings. The Court ordered immediate production of the materials, and a motion for a stay in the Second Circuit was denied. ECBA attorneys O. Andrew F. Wilson and Sam Shapiro litigated the case on behalf of a Swiss national.
In a matter of “first impression” in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady successfully obtained materials concerning the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme for use in a Swiss criminal proceeding. The Court held that the materials sought were appropriately subject to disclosure under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a statute that permits discovery in the United States for use in foreign or international proceedings. Rejecting arguments that the Swiss proceeding was not a “foreign or international tribunal” as that term is defined in the statute, the Court held that the Swiss proceeding is “exactly the type of proceeding” that the statute is intended to reach. ECBA attorneys O. Andrew F. Wilson and Sam Shapiro litigated the case on behalf of a Swiss national.