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


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


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.

#LawStrikesBack on F17

25 Legal Organizations to Hold #LawStrikesBack Actions at Courthouses Nationwide During F17 General Strike


February 13, 2017

Contact: Tasha Moro, NLG Communications Director
212-679-5100, ext. 15 | [email protected]

NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is organizing a day of action for the legal community to express our solidarity with the growing movements against the new regime and its white supremacist agenda. On February 17 at 1 PM EST, lawyers, legal workers, law students, and law professors will gather in front of courthouses across the country in coordination with the nationwide #GeneralStrike planned for the same day.

“We are facing unprecedented attacks on our most fundamental human rights and are seeing the unfolding of authoritarianism before our eyes. The legal community has no choice but to show up, to defend our communities and to fight back by holding our institutions accountable,” said NLG President and LatinoJustice PRLDEF Associate Counsel Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan.

In the three weeks since Donald Trump has taken office, we have seen a flurry of executive orders targeting immigrants and intensifying law enforcement; racist, unqualified millionaires appointed to the nation’s highest positions; assaults on the press, and “alternative facts” presented as truth. However, we have also witnessed communities engaging in profound organizing and direct action—from the streets to airports and schools—to reject the current administration and disrupt business as usual. On February 17, we’re taking the resistance to courthouses.

“It is crucial for the legal community to come together to provide support for resistance movements against the current administration. We must fight back against the legitimization of racial and religious bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny that violate the core principles of democracy,” said NLG Executive Director Pooja Gehi.

A total of 25 legal organizations are participating in the event as cosponsors, representing diverse fields including immigration, racial justice, mass incarceration, LGBTQIA rights, and civil liberties and human rights. Thus far, #LawStrikesBack actions have been planned at courthouses in 10 cities, with more expected in additional locations. Check our website or Facebook event for an updated list of co-sponsors and local events throughout the week.

If your legal organization would like to co-sponsor, email NLG Research and Education Director Traci Yoder at [email protected].

#LawStrikesBack Local Actions
Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Detroit, MI
Harrisburg, PA
New York, NY
Portland, OR
Philadelphia, PA
Providence, RI
St. Louis, MO
Tucson, AZ

#LawStrikesBack Sponsors
National Lawyers Guild
Abolitionist Law Center
Black and Pink
Black Movement Law Project
Center for Constitutional Rights
Civil Liberties Defense Center
Defending Dissent Foundation/Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Human Rights Defense Center
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Law at the Margins
National Conference of Black Lawyers- Michigan Chapter
National Conference of Black Lawyers- NYC Chapter
National Immigration Project
National Jericho Movement
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
Palestine Legal
People’s Law Office
Sugar Law Center for Social and Economic Justice
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
TGI Justice Project (TGIJP)
UAW Local 2325-Assoc. of Legal Aid Attorneys
Water Protector Legal Collective
Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center


NLG-NYC Attorneys to Argue in Federal Court in lawsuit over NYPD uses of LRAD sound cannons against protesters 1/26/17



WHAT: Oral arguments in Federal Court before Hon. Robert W. Sweet in lawsuit over NYPD uses of LRAD sound cannons against protesters

WHEN: 1/26/17 at 12:00pm

WHERE: US District Court – 500 Pearl Street, NY, NY – Courtroom – 18C

CONTACT: Gideon Orion Oliver, [email protected], 646-263-3495

On December 5, 2014, the six Plaintiffs in Edrei, et al. v. City of New York, et al. were participating in or observing and documenting Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality in the wake of a December 2014 Staten Island Grand Jury’s decision not to indict New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officer Daniel Panteleo in the death of Eric Garner, and police response to those protests, when NYPD officers injured Plaintiffs byfiring the so-called “deterrent” pain compliance/area denial tone of a military-grade LRAD sound weapon at them repeatedly, from an unsafe distance, at an unsafe volume.

When lawyers for the Plaintiffs associated with the National Lawyers Guild – NYC Chapter  demanded that the NYPD refrain from using the LRAD for crowd control purposes without first conducting thorough, independent testing, and developing appropriate written and public guidelines for LRAD-related training, use, reporting, and oversight requirements, the NYPD said that the LRAD had been used appropriately, and refused to take any of the steps demanded.

In March of 2016, the Edrei Plaintiffs filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in US District Court for the Southern District of NY, challenging the NYPD’s LRAD use policies and practices as violating the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the NY State Constitution, and on other grounds, and seeking to enjoin the NYPDfrom using LRADs for crowd control purposes unless the NYPD designs and implements appropriate LRAD-related policy changes, as well as damages and attorney’s fees.

In moving to dismiss the case, the City of New York and NYPD have argued, among other things, that LRAD uses are not uses of force that can cause injury within the scope of Fourth Amendment protections because sound is “not a substance but a physical phenomenon, such as light or gravity”; that LRAD uses cannot constitute seizures within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment because they do not render a person unable to leave the area; and because the LRAD uses at issue were, according to Defendants, objectively reasonable.

In December, Plaintiffs filed the attached and other opposition papers, arguing, among other things, that sound is a physical phenomenon and that the LRAD exerts force (for example, on eardrums) by emitting soundwaves, causing molecules to vibrate, and as suchLRAD uses are uses of force that can cause injury (and did injure Plaintiffs); that LRAD uses for area denial/pain compliance purposes are seizures within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, which restrict peoples’ freedom to remain in a particular area and force them to flee or otherwise relocate on threat of pain and/or injury; that the LRAD uses against Plaintiffs violated their First Amendment-protected rights to assemble and to gather and disseminate information (among other rights); and that the City and NYPD’s policies and practices regarding LRAD uses led to Plaintiffs’ injuries and were likely to cause Plaintiffs and others similarly situated injuries in the future unless the City and NYPD conduct appropriate LRAD-related testing and develop appropriate LRAD-related training, use, reporting and oversight requirements.

Tomorrow, 1/26/17, at 12:00pm, in Courtroom 18C at the US District Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street in NY, NY, Hon. Robert W. Sweet will hear oral argument on the City’s and NYPD’s motion to dismiss the case.

Members of the public and the press are invited and encouraged to attend.

Other relevant papers filed in the case can be found here: (Link to expire 2/1/17).



#J20 Online Legal Observer Training: 1/14/17

Join the National Lawyers Guild for our online Legal Observer (LO) training in preparation for the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC, Jan. 19-20! Will webinar will be hosting by NLG-DC  Chapter Mass Defense Chair Maggie Ellinger-Locke and NLG-DC Co-Chair Caleb Medearis. The online training will be presented in a webinar format, taking place this Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST.

The NLG DC Chapter will be coordinating on the ground legal support for #J20 (Presidential Inauguration) demonstrations—we are seeking volunteer LOs who will be on the ground in DC for at least some portion of #J20 related events, Jan 19 -21.

IMPORTANT: Registration is required at After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. NOTE: This training is for #J20 (2017 Presidential Inauguration) in Washington, DC only and does not qualify volunteers for Legal Observing at any other event.

The NLG Legal Observer program was established in 1968 in NYC in response to protests at Columbia University and city-wide antiwar and civil rights demonstrations. The NLG LO program is part of a comprehensive system of legal support designed to enable people to express their political views as fully as possible without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the police and with the fewest possible consequences from the criminal justice system. LOs are typically law students, legal workers and lawyers.

Handshu Class Action Settlement – Comment Period Extended

U.S. District Judge Charles S. Haight, Jr. has extended the comment period on the proposed Settlement Agreement amending the Modified Handschu Guidelines to 11:59 pm on May 26, 2016.

He has also added a final in-court hearing date on June 1, 2016.

All class members who wish to comment in support or in opposition to the proposed Settlement may register to present comments in person on June 1, or may submit written comments without appearing, but must submit the comments or register to address the in-court hearing by 11:59pm on May 26, 2016.

Requests to speak or submission of comments may be done via email to [email protected], or by writing to the Clerk of the Court at the address:

Handschu Settlement
c/o Clerk’s Office
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
500 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10007

The June 1 additional fairness hearing session will be held at 10 am in the United States District Court, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY  10007.

Read Judge Haight’s order extending the comment period and adding the additional June 1 fairness hearing session here

Read the Hearing Notice here

Read the text full of the proposed modified Handshu Guidelines here

The following documents contain additional information about the settlement:

Memo in Support of Motion

Notice of Motion