Handschu Judge Approves Strengthened Spying Rules

By Executive Director, March 16, 2017 2:56 pm

Late Monday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Judge Charles Haight approved revised guidelines to strengthen oversight of NYC Police Dept. investigations and surveillance of First Amendment activity of New Yorkers.  The ruling was the result of a joint settlement process in Handschu v. Special Services Division, the longstanding class action, and Raza v. City of New York, a case brought by members of New York’s Muslim community.  The net result is a strengthening of rules the NYPD must follow when investigating political and First Amendment activity in New York City, rules the court now calls the “Revised Handschu Guidelines”.

Media reports on Monday’s ruling:

New York Times Editorial

“A Way to Control Police Spying”
Wednesday March 15, 2017, pg. A22:
New York Daily News
“Judge approves settlement to install civilian watchdog on NYPD surveillance of Muslims”
Wednesday March 15, 2017, pg. 2:

Judge Haight’s March 13, 2017 ruling


The March 6, 2017 court submission (See Tab C for revised guidelines)


Media Report explaining the March 6, 2017 submission the court ruled on:

New York Times
“Police Agree to More Oversight After Surveillance of Muslims”
Tuesday, March 7, 2017, pg. A21:


The Handschu case’s name comes from the lead class plaintiff, NYC chapter member Barbara Handschu.  Barbara was a leading defense lawyer in the Attica criminal prosecutions, and is a former national NLG Vice President.  Three of the five class counsel are former NYC chapter presidents, Martin Stolar, Jethro Eisenstein and Franklin Siegel.  Two others are NYU Law professor Paul Chevigny and NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg. 

Marty, Jed, Paul, Franklin and Art sincerely thank NYC Chapter members and members of the Class who shared their views with the court during the Fairness Hearing process last spring.  It is apparent that Judge Haight was listening carefully, and as he said in Monday’s opinion, ”edged” the parties to what he viewed might be a more fair result.

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