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Case Name Datz v. Suffolk County PN-NY-0021
Docket / Court 12-CV-1770 ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On April 4th, 2012, a professional video journalist filed a lawsuit in the United States Eastern District of New York against Suffolk County and one of its police officers, alleging violations of the plaintiff's rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the Privacy Protection Act, ... read more >
On April 4th, 2012, a professional video journalist filed a lawsuit in the United States Eastern District of New York against Suffolk County and one of its police officers, alleging violations of the plaintiff's rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the Privacy Protection Act, and state law. The plaintiff, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union and private attorneys, asked the court for a declaratory judgment, compensatory damages, punitive damages, injunctive, and attorney's fees.

Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that while filming a police proceeding, the defendant police officer ordered him to "go away." The plaintiff then moved to another public area farther away and continued filming, at which point the defendant police officer drove his car towards plaintiff, allegedly causing plaintiff to fear for his safety. The defendant police officer then arrested the plaintiff and confiscated his camera and other belongings. The plaintiff was detained for approximately two hours at the police station. The complaint also argued the defendant police officer's actions were the result of a department policy to engage in such unconstitutional behavior.

The parties engaged in discovery throughout 2012 and 2013, and a trial was scheduled for June 9, 2014. Before trial could take place, the parties reached a settlement agreement. The parties presented the proposed settlement agreement to the Suffolk County Legislature, as required for municipal settlements by local rules, and the Legislature authorized the settlement and payment on May 8, 2014. The parties executed a stipulation of dismissal without prejudice on May 15, 2014.

In consideration for the plaintiff’s release of all claims against the defendants, Suffolk County paid $200,000, including attorney’s fees and costs. The agreement also outlined Department General Orders issued by the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), including one relating to interacting with and releasing information to the media, one relating to bystanders at police incidents, one relating to recorded media in the possession of bystanders and media personnel, and one relating to dispute resolution between SCPD and members of the media arising out of or in connection with news media coverage at scenes of police activity. The SCPD also instituted a video training module addressing the rules and procedures of the SCPD and the constitutional right of the public and press to observe, photograph, and record police activity in locations open to the public. Suffolk County, through SCPD, was also to form a Police-Media Relations Committee to enhance communications between the SCPD and the media.

Magistrate Judge William D. Wall entered the stipulation and order of settlement on July 22, 2014. The case is now closed.

James Herr - 02/24/2014
Sarah McDonald - 08/13/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
Failure to train
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
State law
Defendant(s) Suffolk County
Plaintiff Description A professional photojournalist was filming police activity. After being told by defendant to "go away," plaintiff moved down the street and continued filming, at which point defendant arrested plaintiff and seized his camera and video tape.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2012
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Datz v. Suffolk County (Defending First Amendment Right to Film Police Activity in Public in Suffolk County)
NYCLU Cases
Date: Jul. 1, 2014
(NYCLU)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:12-cv-01770 (E.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/22/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [Trail by Jury Demanded] [ECF# 1]
PN-NY-0021-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/11/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Settlement [ECF# 42] (E.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0021-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/22/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Wexler, Leonard D. (E.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0021-0001 | PN-NY-0021-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Balin, Robert D. (New York)
PN-NY-0021-0001 | PN-NY-0021-0002 | PN-NY-0021-9000
Bayard, Samuel (New York)
PN-NY-0021-0001 | PN-NY-0021-9000
Osterreicher, Mickey H. (New York)
PN-NY-0021-0001
Schary, Alison Brooke (New York)
PN-NY-0021-0001 | PN-NY-0021-9000
Stoughton, Corey (New York)
PN-NY-0021-0001 | PN-NY-0021-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Davis, Brian J. (New York)
PN-NY-0021-0002 | PN-NY-0021-9000
Dunne, Richard T. (New York)
PN-NY-0021-9000
Flynn, Susan (New York)
PN-NY-0021-0002 | PN-NY-0021-9000
Zwilling, Arlene S. (New York)
PN-NY-0021-9000

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