New York Civil Rights And Criminal Defense Lawyers

Civil Rights

New Supreme Court case explores a frontier of police brutality law

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides the people with some of the most important protections against police misconduct. Among other things, it prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. While courts have long disagreed about what counts as "unreasonable" behavior on the part of the police, it is well established that police brutality during an arrest can be a violation of a person's Fourth Amendment rights. But what if the person is not arrested? Is police brutality still a violation of that person's Fourth Amendment rights? A case headed to the U.S. Supreme Court could...

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Police misconduct continues to plague New York City

Police brutality and misconduct has become an all too common occurrence across our country, but it is just now getting the attention it deserves. For years, innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to unfair, discriminatory, and hurtful practices that jeopardize their rights. One would think that the magnifying glass that is currently hovering over the issue of police brutality would deter officers from acting in an unjustifiably violent fashion, but this sadly isn't the case. You don't need to look outside of our city for an example. Mere weeks ago, two New York City police officers took...

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Chief judge orders racial inequality probe of union leader

The national turmoil sparked by the apparently racist killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers has resulted in a number of inquiries into alleged racism by municipal and police department officials across the country. One such inquiry has erupted inside the New York state court system. An e-mail to Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has caused the Judge to order an investigation into alleged “racial inequality and brutality” against black court officers. According to a report in the New York Post, Judge DiFiore received an e-mail signed by three black police officers accusing James...

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NYPD disciplinary records will no longer remain in the dark

The New York Police Department will no longer be able to hide records of officer misconduct from the public. The state’s governor recently signed into law a bill repealing 50-a, a decades-old policy that let police departments keep discipline and misconduct records secret. This repeal was effective immediately upon its signing on June 12, 2020, and was brought forward as part of a larger law enforcement reform package. “We know this isn’t a cure,” said one of the state senators behind the repeal bill. “We know that this is the beginning, but it’s a move to bring justice to a system that has...

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What are your rights when stopped by the police?

Being stopped by the police can be overwhelming and alarming which is why it is essential for anyone stopped by police officers to be familiar with their rights. By being familiar with  their rights, those who have been stopped by police will have the knowledge they need to  protect themselves in a difficult situation. Citizens in New York have important protections and rights when encountered by police including: The right not to speak to police officers – when an individual has been stopped by police, they are not required to answer questions the police ask them and in New York are not...

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New York State Repeals Civil Rights Law 50-a

On June 9, 2020, New York State lawmakers moved history forward by voting to repeal Sec. 50-a of the New York Civil Rights law, a state law that enabled police departments to withhold officers’ disciplinary records from public view. The vote came in response to the horrific death of George Floyd, a nationwide movement for police reform and accountability, and the general sentiment that systemic change is necessary to redress a systemic problem – namely, the violence perpetrated against minority communities and people of color. The repeal of 50-a was among numerous other calls for change as...

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New York law protects police disciplinary records

Recent events have raised concerns about police discipline all across the country. New York City has seen its share of police misconduct cases, including cases resulting in one or more deaths. A key difference between the Floyd case and analogous New York cases is the fate of the officers’ disciplinary records. In Minnesota, the records are public; in New York, the records are confidential. The key statute is Sec. 50-a of the New York Civil Rights law. This statute says that “all personnel records used to evaluate “performance . . . or promotion” shall be considered to be “confidential and...

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Police Misconduct Threatens Individuals’ Civil Rights

Encounters with law enforcement officials can be intimidating, no matter the circumstances. When New Yorkers are faced with explaining themselves to badged and often armed officers, they may feel threatened or even scared of what may happen if the officers’ suspicions are raised. When police encounters turn aggressive, individuals’ civil rights may be threatened. That is because in New York and states throughout the nation police brutality and misconduct can run unchecked by local and state governments. The bad actions of some law enforcement officials can jeopardize freedoms and even the...

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Unlawful arrests and lack of probable cause

Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a police officer can only arrest someone if the officer has a valid arrest warrant, or the officer has probable cause to do so. The purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to protect citizens from unlawful search and seizure by police. Arresting someone without probable cause is a violation of their civil rights and the arresting officer and police force may be civilly liable for damages. What is probable cause? Generally, a police officer has probable cause to arrest you if he or she has a reasonable belief that you were involved in a crime....

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Class-action law suit challenges ICE no-release policy

Imagine an immigrant family in which the father has been arrested and incarcerated by federal immigration authorities for alleged immigration violations. Prior to the beginning of the Trump administration, most immigrants detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office were released if they posed no threat to the community. For example, from 2013 to 2017, 47% of detainees who were deemed to be low risk were released automatically. Following June 2017, the percentage of detainees released without a trial dropped to 3%. That change has caught the attention of the New York Civil...

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