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Join Us for NLG-NYC Spring Fling 2017!

Please join us for the NLG-NYC Chapter’s annual fundraiser Spring Fling 2017!

Come celebrate the Chapter’s 80th year and salute the extraordinary work of this year’s honorees with ample food, music and camaraderie.

Support the Chapter’s visionary work by purchasing a Sponsorship, Tickets and Journal Ads, and joining us on June 9! Details and bios below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honoree Bios

Justice Lucy Billings received her B.A. magna cum laude from Smith College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1970 and received her J.D. with honors from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 1973. Justice Billings was a staff attorney at Vermont Legal Aid, a Senior Attorney at Utah Legal Services, Director of Legal Support for Legal Services for New York City, Staff Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union Children’s Rights Project, and Director of Litigation for Bronx Legal Services. She handled class actions and other complex civil rights litigation to establish and enforce rights for minority, disabled, and low-income persons in housing, environmental justice, including prevention of lead poisoning, public health, child welfare, education, and employment.

Justice  Billings was elected to the Civil Court in 1997, appointed a Supreme Court Justice by designation in 2004, and elected to the Supreme Court in 2009. As a Civil Court Judge, she also served in the Criminal Court. She has presided over complex, high profile class actions and proceedings, including election proceedings. Those actions involved, for example, State agencies’ procedures for collecting debts, Mayor Giuliani’s attempts to prohibit street artists from selling their work, a teacher’s repeated sexual abuse of children at their public school, corruption and unsanitary conditions in the public markets, and major construction site disasters. Her published decisions have reformed the standards and procedures for employed public assistance recipients, for issuing business licenses, and for granting and revoking parole; in 2008, recognized same sex marriages; and found new avenues of recovery for injured construction workers, pothole victims, and families of infants who die at birth due to medical malpractice. Justice Billings is an avid skier and tennis player.

Alan Levine began his civil rights career representing activists in Mississippi and Alabama during the Freedom Summer of 1964. He remained in the south for the following year, then returned to NYC where he worked as a New York Civil Liberties Union staff lawyer for the next 13 years. During that time, he represented anti-Vietnam War protesters, directed NYCLU’s students’ rights project, co-authored the book, The Rights of Students, and litigated cases, including in the US Supreme Court, involving a broad range of civil rights and civil liberties issues. He was also an active participant in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville struggle for community control of the schools. He has taught constitutional litigation at NYC law schools and for five years directed Hofstra Law School’s Constitutional Law Clinic. 

During two years when he lived in Costa Rica, he worked with an indigenous rights organization to establish the right of Costa Rican Indians to choose traditional forms of self-government.

For more than ten years, Levine has been Special Counsel to LatinoJustice PRLDEF, for which he has successfully fought efforts of local communities to keep day laborers from gathering in public places. He also worked with local activists on the Lower East Side to keep the Giuliani administration from selling a building housing CHARAS, a flourishing community arts center.

He served as the Chapter’s counsel representing activists during Occupy, and in recent years he has written, spoken, and litigated in the struggle against Islamophobia and on behalf of Palestinian rights. He also was a member of the Chapter-led team that successfully sued the NYPD for its mass arrest operation during the 2004 RNC.

 

Handschu Judge Approves Strengthened Spying Rules

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

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.

 

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