In early December 2018, New York State Attorney General-elect Letitia James appointed ECBA co-founding partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr. to her Transition Committee and selected him to lead the Committee’s working group on civil rights enforcement. Celli, who served as Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in the Office of the Attorney General from 1999 until 2003, convened a group of 35 leading civil rights lawyers to generate ideas and comment on priorities for the new Attorney General. He presented the group’s findings to General James and the full Transition Committee at the Committee’s final meeting on January 23, 2019.
ECBA client Jazmine Headley gave powerful testimony to the New York City Council at a City Council hearing on February 4, 2019. Ms. Headley spoke to lawmakers about her experiences in December 2018 when she was attacked, arrested, and forcibly separated from her one-year-old son, after sitting on the floor in an HRA office as she waited for her appointment. Ms. Headley advocated for a number of reforms, including “social workers not security officers” and more on-site staff at HRA offices. Ms. Headley told the Council, “We need to change the way HRA provide services to people when they are most in need.” Members of the Council commended Ms. Headley for her important testimony, and called her treatment “painful and heartbreaking,” acknowledging that it reflected a “system-wide issue.”
Ms. Headley is represented by ECBA attorneys Katie Rosenfeld and Michele Yankson.
Watch Ms. Headley’s testimony here. Additional press coverage of Ms. Headley’s testimony can be found here, here and here.
Sociologist Shamus Khan, Chair and Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, praises the work of ECBA in a forthcoming article in Sociological Forum magazine. The article, entitled “The Subpoena of Ethnographic Data,” describes the ethical and legal challenges faced when Prof. Khan, a renowned scholar of gender, sexuality, and cultural elites, received a document subpoena seeking the production of ethnographic data. The data in question was collected by Prof. Khan at St. Paul’s School, an elite prep school which Khan profiled in his ground-breaking book Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School. The subpoena arose from a civil suit brought by a young woman who, as a student at St. Paul’s, alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by another student. The case gained national attention and the accused young man was found guilty of statutory rape. The subpoena sought, among other things, copies of Prof. Khan’s contemporaneous field notes of observations he had made of students, faculty and administrators while living on the campus of St. Paul’s in 2004-2005. Describing ECBA as a “powerful law firm” and thanking ECBA partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr. for “his counsel,” the article details the firm’s successful effort to force the withdrawal of the subpoena. The firm invoked case law that extends the First-Amendment-based “journalist’s privilege” to academic researchers like Prof. Khan. In addition to Mr. Celli, firm associate David Lebowitz handled the matter for Prof. Khan.
Click here to read Prof. Khan’s article in Sociological Forum.
On January 11, 2018 the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted ECBA client Equan Yunus a preliminary injunction removing his unconstitutional designation as a sex offender. Although Mr. Yunus has never committed sexual misconduct, he had been forced to register as a sex offender under New York’s irrational and overbroad offender registration laws. Because of this designation, Mr. Yunus was subject to numerous overbearing parole conditions designed to deter sex offenses that bore no relation to his crime of conviction, including limitations on his ability to access a cell phone or computer and to interact with minor members of his own family.
While the New York Court of Appeals had upheld this law as rational years earlier in another case, the federal court agreed with Mr. Yunus and ECBA that this treatment as a sex offender violated his constitutional right to substantive due process. Mr. Yunus’s designation and its accompanying oppressive restrictions must be removed as a result of the Court’s ruling.
ECBA Attorneys Andrew G. Celli, Jr. and David Berman represent Mr. Yunus. To read the Court’s opinion granting Mr. Yunus a preliminary injunction, click here. To read the Guardian’s profile of Mr. Yunus’s case, click here. To read coverage of the case in the New York Law Journal, click here.