University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Stinson v. City of New York PN-NY-0012
Docket / Court 10-cv-04228 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On May 25, 2010, Plaintiffs -- the class of those arrested without probable cause by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) -- filed this class action lawsuit in the United States Court for the Southern District of New York, against the City of New York under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, ... read more >
On May 25, 2010, Plaintiffs -- the class of those arrested without probable cause by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) -- filed this class action lawsuit in the United States Court for the Southern District of New York, against the City of New York under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought compensatory, injunctive, and declaratory relief, claiming that they had been deprived of their First and Fourth amendment rights. Specifically, plaintiffs claim that an unwritten 'summons quota' drives NYPD officers to arrest individuals without probable cause, and in violation of the federal and state constitutions.

In 1994, the NYPD instituted the COMPSTAT system, which records the statistics of arrests by type and the amount of summonses issued. Summonses are tickets written by police officers in lieu of arrest for a crime that directs the recipient of the summons to appear in court to face charges. Marijuana violations, disorderly conduct, and obstruction of governmental administration (OGA) are crimes for which summonses are typically issued. Plaintiffs allege that since the institution of the COMPSTAT system, the number of summonses issued has increased of 500%, and that more than half (50.5%) of these charges are dismissed later on.

Plaintiffs allege that the NYPD employs an illegal quota system for summonses, arrests, and quality-of-life violations. An officer's ability to meet quotas, plaintiffs claim, is linked to officer promotion and demotion. This scheme was found by an arbitrator to be illegal under New York labor law.

As part of an effort to meet the quota system, plaintiffs allege, NYPD Precinct commanders ordered officers to issue summons in cases in which there was no probable cause of a crime being committed, plaintiffs claim. They introduced tape recordings of two precinct commanders issuing orders for officers to issue summonses and 'articulate' violations of the law after-the-fact. The plaintiffs further allege that this policy was disproportionately enforced in minority communities in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. They allege that as a result, they have been falsely arrested and denied their right to peaceable assemble in their own communities.

On April 23, 2012, after hearing the parties on the matter of class certification, the Court (Judge Robert W. Sweet) issued an unpublished Opinion and Order certifying the class as "includ[ing] individuals who were issued summonses that were later dismissed upon a judicial finding of facial insufficiency and who were ticketed without probable cause." The defendants filed a motion for reconsideration on the issue of class certification, but were denied on July 19, 2012.

For the next three years, the parties engaged in discovery and litigated many issues regarding access to evidence during discovery. As of February 15, 2016, this case is still in the discovery phase.

Blase Kearney - 06/19/2012
Erin Pamukcu - 02/15/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Failure to supervise
False arrest
Pattern or Practice
Racial profiling
Record-keeping
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Race, unspecified
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description Those arrested by the NYPD and charged who had their charges dropped at the 'defect' stage for lack of probable cause or had their charges found to be facially insufficient.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
10-cv-04228 (S.D.N.Y.) 03/01/2016
PN-NY-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint Jury Trial Demanded 05/25/2010
PN-NY-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Class Action Complaint 08/31/2010
PN-NY-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 04/23/2012 (282 F.R.D. 360) (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0012-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 07/19/2012 (2012 WL 2952840) (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0012-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Mandate 12/12/2012
PN-NY-0012-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Freeman, Debra Carol (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
PN-NY-0012-9000
Sweet, Robert Workman (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0012-0002 | PN-NY-0012-0004 | PN-NY-0012-0005 | PN-NY-0012-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bishop, Jennifer Deanne (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Cohen, Gerald M. (New York)
PN-NY-0012-0001 | PN-NY-0012-0003 | PN-NY-0012-9000
Cook, Christopher Thomas (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Fitch, Joshua Paul (New York)
PN-NY-0012-0001 | PN-NY-0012-0003 | PN-NY-0012-9000
Gildin, Benjamin Joseph (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Janus, Kevin Antoni (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Lingard, David (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Neuwirth, Stephen Randall (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Norinsberg, Jon Louis (New York)
PN-NY-0012-0001 | PN-NY-0012-0003 | PN-NY-0012-9000
Olson, Steig (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Sutton, Elinor Catherine (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Beck, Curt Peter (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Friedman, Bryce Leigh (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
McLaren, Joanne Maureen (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Mettham, Suzanna Publicker (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Passeser, Daniel Louis (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Richardson, Lisa Marie (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Silverberg, Steven Mark (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Smith, Qiana Charmaine (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Weinstein, Sheila (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Other Lawyers Gilbert, Michael J. (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
Kurtz, Lauren (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000
McDonald, Edward A. (New York)
PN-NY-0012-9000

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