On May 18, 1971, plaintiffs, a group of citizens, filed a civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging that the NPYD was conducting surveillance and intelligence-gathering activities against plaintiffs and the political action groups to which they belonged in violation of plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitution. Plaintiffs were represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and private counsel. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief.
The NPYD moved to dismiss the complaint. The District Court (Judge Weinfeld) denied that motion. Handschu v. Special Servs. Div., 349 F. Supp. 766 (S.D.N.Y. 1972) (“Handschu I”). Settlement negotiations followed.
Oversight of the case was transferred from Judge Weinfeld to Senior United States District Judge Charles S. Haight, Jr. On May 24, 1979, Judge Haight certified the plaintiff class. Thereafter class counsel and the Corporation Counsel for the NYPD negotiated a proposed settlement of the class action which was approved by the District Court on May 14, 1985, Handschu v. Special Servs. Div., 605 F. Supp. 1384 (S.D.N.Y. 1985) (“Handschu II”), and affirmed by the Second Circuit. Handschu v. Special Servs. Div., 787 F.2d 828 (2d Cir. 1986) (“Handschu III”). The Settlement Agreement called for the NYPD to adopt guidelines governing future police conduct in the areas of videotaping surveillance, and intelligence-gathering activities. (“Original Handschu Guidelines”).
There was no recorded case activity for the fifteen years following approval of the settlement.
After 9/11, the NYPD sought a court modification of the Original Handschu Guidelines to more effectively combat terrorism. Over plaintiffs’ objection, the District Court granted the NYPD’s motion to modify the Original Handschu Guidelines. Handschu v. Special Servs. Div., 273 F. Supp. 2d 327 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (“Handschu IV”). The District Court’s order required that the NYPD revise its patrol guidelines in accordance with guidelines issued by the FBI after 9/11. The “Patrol Guidelines” specified how NYPD was to conduct investigations involving political activity.
Following the arrest and interrogation of individuals protesting President Bush’s plan for Iraq in February and March of 2003, plaintiffs sought modification of the District Court’s order and Judgment. The District Court issued a Second Revised Order and Judgment which formally incorporated the “Patrol Guidelines” and Modified Handschu Guidelines. Handschu v. Special Servs. Div., 288 F. Supp. 2d 411 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (“Handschu V”).
On September 10, 2004, the NPYD issued and distributed a new “Order 47” to all commanders for implementation. Order 47 revised the Patrol Guidelines regarding the use of photographic and video equipment by officers at political demonstrations. The plaintiff class moved to enjoin enforcement of Order 47. Prior to ruling on the motion, the District Court requested that the parties file position statements about a “Note” appearing on page 2 of Order 47 Handschu v. Special Servs. Div., 2006 WL 1716919 (S.D.N.Y. June 21, 2006) (“Handschu VI”).
On February 15, 2007, the District Court (Judge Haight), ruled that the videotaping or photographing by the NYPD of any individual engaged in political activity must be conducted in accordance with the Modified Handschu Guidelines. The Court ruled that to the extent that Order 47 was inconsistent with the Modified Handschu Guidelines, the NYPD would be enjoined from implementing it.
On April 13, 2007, the NPYD issued and distributed a new “Order 22” to all commanders for implementation. Order 22 revoked Order 47 and put in place new guidelines for the use of video/photographic equipment by operational personnel at demonstrations.
On November 7, 2008, the plaintiff class filed a motion requiring the defendants to give the plaintiff class council advance notice of any efforts to alter or revoke Order 22. They asked the court to declare the plaintiff class to be the prevailing party on its motion for injunctive relief, and they asked the court for permission to file a request for attorneys' fees.
As of the date of this summary, the case was still active.Kristen Sagar - 11/12/2008