ECBA files a housing discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the Village of Great Neck Plaza and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (NCIDA)

ECBA filed a housing discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the predominantly white Village of Great Neck Plaza and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (NCIDA). The suit alleges that the Village zoning code discriminates against African Americans by imposing eligibility criteria for affordable housing that gives a preference to local residents. The complaint also alleges that the code excludes certain applicants for affordable housing based on age and disability. Finally, the complaint alleges that the NCIDA provided financial assistance for affordable housing in the Village subject to the zoning code’s discriminatory requirements and preferences. The two non-profit plaintiffs, Long Island Housing Services and Fair Housing Justice Center, are represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk and David A. Lebowitz.

To read the complaint, click here.


ECBA files a race discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the owner and manager of two Bronx apartment buildings

ECBA filed a race discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the owner and manager of two Bronx apartment buildings on behalf of the Fair Housing Justice Center and three African American testers. The FHJC conducted a testing investigation which the complaint alleges shows that in 2013 and 2014 white testers were told about and shown vacant apartments for rent, while African Americans were told that no apartments were available. The plaintiffs are represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk.

To read the complaint, click here.


Duke University Lacrosse Players Settle with the City of Durham

After being wrongfully accused of rape in 2006, three Duke University lacrosse players have reached a settlement with the City of Durham. Under the agreement, the City agreed to pay $50,000 to the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, a state agency dedicated to investigating and evaluating post-conviction claims of factual innocence. Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady founding partner Richard Emery represents Reade Seligmann, one of the three lacrosse players.

The circumstances surrounding the original criminal case revealed a determined attempt on the part of Durham police officers, prosecutors, and government officials to incriminate the three young men on charges they knew to be fraudulent. As Mr. Emery said, this case is “one of the most vile and abusive acts by government officials . . . and prosecutors in the history of the United States.” Mike Nifong, the District Attorney who was in charge of the original case, has since been disbarred for his actions during the investigation and trial.

To read more about the settlement, click here.


ECBA files a federal lawsuit in Albany on behalf of a disabled woman raped by a fellow resident at a New York State group home

ECBA has filed a federal lawsuit in Albany on behalf of a disabled woman raped by a fellow resident at a New York State group home. The suit, against four employees of the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, alleges that staff turned a blind eye to the disabled woman’s prior complaints of sexual abuse and failed to take basic steps to protect her. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. ECBA attorneys Ilann M. Maazel, Diane Houk, and Sam Shapiro filed the suit.

To read more click here. To read the Complaint, click here.


ECBA and John Liu Challenge Constitutionality of New York City’s Campaign Finance System

Former New York City Comptroller and candidate for mayor John Liu, represented by Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, filed suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of New York City’s campaign finance system. The suit asserts that the rules governing the public financing system for City elections violate candidates’ First Amendment rights by giving the Campaign Finance Board, a City agency composed of five political appointees, unfettered discretion to arbitrarily determine which candidates receive significant public funding. This scheme allows the Board to censor candidates’ speech on a whim and grants it the authority to give preferential treatment to certain campaigns at the expense of others. The suit also alleges that the Board violated Liu’s Equal Protection rights when it preemptively excluded him from the public financing process based on mere suspicion and unproven allegations, even though in the past it has disbursed public funds to campaigns that have been caught breaking the law. Liu, whose 2013 campaign for mayor was denied all public matching funds just weeks before the Democratic primary election, noted that the Campaign Finance Board “is in dire need of reform.”

To read the complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York click here. To read the press release, click here.


ECBA Files Lawsuits On Behalf of Two Wrongfully Convicted Men

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, together with Romano & Kuan, PLLC filed lawsuits in the Southern District of New York today on behalf of Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez, who spent almost 18 years in prison for two murders they did not commit. The complaints allege that the two lead detectives manufactured the entire prosecution by coercing and bribing two “witnesses” to give false testimony and that the detectives suppressed evidence – including surveillance footage that undermined the testimony of a third “witness” and phone records that would have implicated the real murderers. Had the detectives followed up on basic leads instead of intentionally framing six innocent people (who collectively spent 100 years in jail), they would have caught the real murderers (who have since confessed) and prevented several heinous murders that those individuals instead remained free to commit. ECBA attorneys Earl Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, and David A. Lebowitz, along with Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan, PLLC represent Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez, as well as one of the other co-defendants whose case is already pending in federal court.

To read the New York Times’ article, click here. To read Mr. Perez’s complaint, click here and for Mr. Cosme’s complaint, click here.


ECBA’s Defense of City Council Racial Profiling Law

Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday that he would drop the lawsuit brought by former Mayor Bloomberg against the New York City Council to challenge the validity of Local Law 71, which bars racial and other bias-based profiling. Local Law 71 was enacted in the wake of a federal court finding that the NYPD’s “stop & frisk” activities violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Former Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the legislation, but the City Council voted to override the Mayor’s veto. Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady was selected to represent the City Council and defend the constitutionality of the law when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg first challenged it and still represents the Council. New York City’s police unions, who intervened in the case, stated that they would continue fighting the law. ECBA partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr. told the New York Law Journal that Mayor de Blasio’s decision to drop the lawsuit “shows that this mayor respects the democratic process and the New York City Charter.” In addition to Mr. Celli, ECBA lawyers Elizabeth Saylor and Vasudha Talla represent the City Council.

To read the New York Times’ coverage, click here. To read the New York Law Journal’s coverage, which quotes extensively from ECBA’s briefs in the case, click here.