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.

Lynne Stewart Presente

By Executive Director, March 8, 2017 3:47 pm

On March 7, 2017, our sister and comrade Lynne Stewart made the transition peacefully at her home in her beloved Brooklyn with her family at her side.   As many in the NLG know, Lynne was ordered released from federal prison on December 31, 2013 after a legal and political campaign to win her compassionate release due to her on-going battle with breast cancer.  Doctors from both behind the wall and in the street predicted she would succumb to the disease in 6-18 months.  Through strength and determination, she lived for over 36 months and was able to spend time with family and, of course, continue the work for justice that characterized her entire life.

I first came to know of Lynne in the 1980’s when she defended one of several Black and white activists charged with violating RICO laws.  Her skill won an acquittal for her client, Bilal Sunni Ali. In 1985, we both were part of a defense team for a group of white activists who became known as the “Ohio 7”.  Working with Lynne and the other members of the team, including Bill Kunstler and Liz Fink, both also gone, was for me an education that no amount of law school or CLE’s could come close to duplicating.

What many do not know was that Lynne was a “full service” lawyer.  If you were her client, she not only fought brilliantly in court, she felt it was her responsibility to take care of her client’s needs: clothes, making sure the clients had commissary money, facilitating visits with family.  On more than one occasion she hired former clients or members of their family to work in her office when they lacked income.  On other times she took clients and/or the children of clients into her home when they had no place to go.  Lynne had a big heart.

Since her release and especially in the last few months of her life, Lynne and her husband and partner Ralph Poynter, increasingly urged those of us in the activist-lawyer community to dedicate ourselves to fighting racism and injustice, particularly to work for the freedom of political prisoners in US jails.  Our finest tribute to Lynne would be to make that a reality.

Bob Boyle, 3-8-17

 

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Robert J. Boyle has been a solo practitioner for most of his career specializing in criminal defense, civil rights and habeas corpus cases.  Much of his political/legal work has been devoted to working for the release of political prisoners in United States jails, particularly those who were targeted many years ago by the FBI’s counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO.  In 1990 he and other NLG lawyers won the release of former Black Panther Party (BPP) leader Dhoruba Bin Wahad who was imprisoned for 19 years and in 2014 he won freedom for BPP leader Marshall Eddie Conway who had been incarcerated for 44 years.

Bob was also one of the attorneys who won freedom for attorney Lynne Stewart.  He is currently representing Mumia Abu Jamal in his effort to obtain necessary medical care and continues to represent still-incarcerated BPP members.

Bob has been an NLG member since 1977 and has often served on the NLG-NYC’s Executive Committee.

 

Proposed Revisions to Handschu Settlement Filed March 6, 2017

By Executive Director, March 7, 2017 3:44 pm
PROPOSED REVISIONS TO HANDSCHU SETTLEMENT ON MUSLIM SURVEILLANCE FILED  – RESPONSE TO JUDGE’S SUGGESTIONS IN OCTOBER

Counsel for the Handschu class filed proposed revisions reached with the New York City Police Department, responding to concerns of a federal court judge who reviewed a January 2016 settlement of a Handschu case enforcement motion.  The enforcement motion was made in response to disclosures by the Associated Press that the NYPD conducted a Muslim Surveillance program, and sought remedies to address violations of the Handschu decree.  (The settlement was part of a “joint settlement process” with plaintiffs in Raza v. City of New York, filed by members of the Muslim community in June 2013 concerning the NYPD Muslim Surveillance Program.)

The January 2016 settlement strengthened the “Modified Handschu Guidelines”, adopted when the federal court relaxed a longstanding decree in 2003 following the 9/11 attack at the World Trade Center.  On October 28, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Charles S. Haight rejected the settlement, indicating he would approve it if the NYPD agreed to strengthen certain oversight provisions of the settlement.

New York Times article on the filing:

The March 6, 2017 filing:

The U.S. District Court’s October 28, 2016 opinion:

The Associated Press on the NYPD Muslim Surveillance Program:

Barbara Handschu, one of the class plaintiffs, is a longtime social justice lawyer who was active in the criminal defense of the Attica Brothers, and is a past national Vice President of the NLG.  Three of five counsel to the Handschu class are former NYC-NLG chapter presidents, Martin Stolar, Jethro Eisenstein and Franklin Siegel.  Class counsel also include NYU Law professor Paul Chevigny and NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg.

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