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Case Name Raza v. City of New York NS-NY-0005
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-03448 ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) National Security
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
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 ... read more >
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, established the Handschu Committee to oversee investigations and set out the requirements for the appointment of a Civilian Representative, required 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 required that undercover investigations only be used when there was no less intrusive means to acquire the sought after information. They also dictated 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.

On February 2, 2017, a Muslim individual filed a letter to the Court (Judge Chen) and sought instant intervention because the NYPD allegedly violated the Handschu guidelines during its investigation. Both parties filed responses and argued that intervention was not proper because there was no common interest and it was untimely. The Court did not rule on this motion for instant intervention as of March 2017.

On March 6, 2017, plaintiffs and defendants submitted a letter on behalf of both parties on the proposed settlement and on March 16, 2017, they updated the letter to reflect the recent revisions made to the Handschu Guidelines, which enhanced overall protection from NYPD surveillance for New York’s Muslims. The revisions strengthened the rules that NYPD must follow when investigating political and First Amendment activity in New York City, and required the installment of a Civilian Representative, a lawyer who was never previously employed by NYPD, to serve as the watchdog of NYPD’s surveillance operations. This Civilian Representative has to be appointed by the Mayor and could not be taken off the committee without a judge’s approval. The approval of the proposed settlement is still pending.

Elizabeth Homan - 11/01/2013
Katherine Reineck - 04/10/2016
MJ Koo - 03/18/2017

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
National origin discrimination
Religion discrimination
Racial profiling
Religious programs / policies
Search policies
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
National Origin/Ethnicity
Arab/Afgani/Middle Eastern
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of New York
New York Police Department
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are a group of residents of New York City who are Muslim, as well as two mosques and a charitable organization located in New York City.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PN-NY-0007 : Handschu v. Special Services Division (S.D.N.Y.)
1:13−cv−03448 (E.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/16/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
ECF Case Complaint
NS-NY-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/18/2013
Source: ACLU
Memorandum & Order (998 F.Supp.2d 70) (E.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0005-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/22/2013
Source: Bloomberg Law
Stipulation of Settlement and Order, and Exhibit (Modification to Handschu Guidelines) [ECF# 121-1]
NS-NY-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Party's Request of Instant Intervention [ECF# 123]
NS-NY-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Revised Handschu Guidelines [ECF# 128-1]
NS-NY-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/13/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Azrack, Joan Marie (E.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
Chen, Pamela K. Court not on record
NS-NY-0005-0003 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bhatnagar, Chandra S. (New York)
Choudhury, Nusrat Jahan (New York)
NS-NY-0005-0001 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Eisenberg, Arthur (New York)
NS-NY-0005-0001 | NS-NY-0005-0002 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Fletcher, Kiersten Ann (New York)
Gallegos, Hector (District of Columbia)
NS-NY-0005-0002 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Gorski, Ashley (New York)
Haroules, Beth (New York)
Hartman, Joshua A. (District of Columbia)
Hirose, Mariko (New York)
NS-NY-0005-0001 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Hunt, Adam J (New York)
Kassem, Ramzi (Connecticut)
NS-NY-0005-0001 | NS-NY-0005-0002 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Mooney, Kyle W.K. (New York)
Scannell, David (District of Columbia)
Shamas, Diala (New York)
NS-NY-0005-0001 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Shamsi, Hina (New York)
NS-NY-0005-0001 | NS-NY-0005-0002 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Toomey, Patrick Christopher (New York)
NS-NY-0005-0001 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers DiSenso, Anthony M. (New York)
Farrell, Peter Girard (New York)
NS-NY-0005-0002 | NS-NY-0005-9000
Farrell, Odile Maun (New York)
Leist, Alexis L. (New York)
Shammas, Cheryl Leah (New York)

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