On June 18, 2013, plaintiffs, a group of Muslim residents of New York City, as well as two mosques and a charitable organization located in New York City, filed this § 1983 suit in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU, sued the ...
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On June 18, 2013, plaintiffs, a group of Muslim residents of New York City, as well as two mosques and a charitable organization located in New York City, filed this § 1983 suit in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU, sued the New York City and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) alleging unlawful surveillance that targeted Muslims in violation of the Fourteenth and First Amendments and the New York state constitution.
The case was assigned to Judge Pam Chen. Discovery proceeded, and led to an opinion by Judge Chen on Nov. 22, 2013, Raza v. City of New York, 998 F. Supp. 2d 70 (E.D.N.Y. 2013). She explained that "Plaintiffs seek a wide range of documents and information relating not only to the NYPD's surveillance and investigation of Plaintiffs, but the NYPD's investigative policies and activities relating to all Muslim individuals and organizations, and relating to all non-Muslim individuals and organizations, where the policy or activity is or was based on the individual's or organization's religious speech, beliefs, practices, and activities." The city opposed these requests, arguing that only documents related to the particular plaintiffs should be discoverable. The court sided largely with the plaintiffs, ruling: "Because evidence of Defendants' intent with respect to their investigative activities of Plaintiffs is central to Plaintiffs' Equal Protection claims, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs are entitled to discovery regarding any NYPD policy or program involving the investigation of Muslims as a group based, in whole or part, on their religion. Without this discovery, Plaintiffs would be preemptively and irreparably prohibited from proving that Defendants' alleged discriminatory intent was a motivating factor in the investigation and surveillance of Plaintiffs. Contrary to Defendants' contention, this is more than a mere "fishing expedition." However, the Court denied discovery on all potential other investigations, which was sought to provide a comparison with the plaintiffs.
Litigation was stayed from July 22, 2014, to January 6, 2016, while the parties negotiated a settlement agreement. On January 7, 2016, the parties submitted an agreement for approval by the Court. The settlement dictated that the defendant would conform its investigations involving political activity to the Constitution, including the elimination of racial profiling as a motivating factor for investigation. The defendant also agreed to remove the "Radicalization in the West Report" from its website. In addition, the guidelines established in Handschu v. Special Services Division
limiting NYPD investigations of political activity were modified. The modified guidelines for reviews of ongoing investigations, establish the Handschu Committee to oversee investigations and set out the requirements for the appointment of a Civilian Representative, require that choices in investigation techniques take into account the effect on religious and political activities of individuals, including those not the target of investigation, and require that undercover investigations only be used when there is no less intrusive means to acquire the sought after information. They also dictate that investigations respect the constitutional right to be free of investigation in which race, religion, or ethnicity is a substantial or motivating factor. The defendant paid $1,671,686 in attorney fees and expenses. Approval of the agreement is still pending.Elizabeth Homan - 11/01/2013
Katherine Reineck - 04/10/2016