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Case Name Clark v. City of New York PN-NY-0052
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-02334 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP
Case Summary
On March 16, 2018, the nonprofit Turning Point for Women and Families and individuals who were forced to remove their religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in the custody of the New York Police Department filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the ... read more >
On March 16, 2018, the nonprofit Turning Point for Women and Families and individuals who were forced to remove their religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in the custody of the New York Police Department filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued the City of New York under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), § 1983 for violations of plaintiffs’ right to freely exercise their religion under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and New York state law. The plaintiffs, represented by Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP and the Council for American-Islamic Relations New York Inc., sought injunctive relief against the challenged policy, an order stipulating the adoption of non-discriminatory post-arrest photography policy, declaratory judgment, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. The plaintiffs also asked the court to certify the class as all individuals who were forced to remove their religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in NYPD custody. Judge Robert W. Sweet was first assigned and then replaced with Judge Analisa Torres.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that the NYPD enacted and maintained a policy of forcing individuals who wore head coverings as part of their religion to remove these coverings in order to take booking photos after being arrested and that these photos were then stored in and easily accessible NYPD database. The plaintiffs claimed that this policy violated RLUIPA and the Free Exercise Clause because it placed a substantial and undue burden on protected religious practices. In addition, they said that the forced removal of religious head coverings could be a distressing experience, and, in some cases, required individuals to violate their own religion. They further claimed that these policies were not only discriminatory and unnecessary, but that they were out of step with nationwide policies regarding post-arrest photographs.

The City of New York filed a motion to dismiss on June 13, 2018, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing and failed to state a claim. Both parties filed supplemental points regarding the motion, but oral arguments were delayed based on talks of settlement agreements between the parties. On January 23, 2019, the court opened discovery and approved the parties’ jointly submitted discovery plan on February 1, 2019.

On March 24, 2019, the presiding judge passed away and the case was reassigned to Judge Judge Analisa Torres, with all urgent and routine case management matters assigned to Magistrate Judge Kathrine H. Parker. Discovery resumed on June 19, 2019. During this time, settlement talks were still ongoing. On January 16, 2020, this case was related to Elsayed v. City of New York, No. 18-cv-10566, another case involving forced removal of religious head coverings while in NYPD custody proceeding in the Southern District of New York.

The court largely denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss on September 30, 2020. However, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims for punitive damages because the plaintiffs conceded that the City is immune from punitive damages. One of the plaintiff’s claims for compensatory damages was dismissed for failure to file a timely notice of claim.

The parties reached a partial settlement agreement in late October, and the court approved it on November 5, 2020. This settlement included the plaintiffs and defendants both in this case and in Elsayed. Under the agreement, the City agreed to make changes to its Patrol Guide regarding its post-arrest photography policy. The agreement also awarded reasonable fees to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. It did not resolve the monetary claims of the organizational or personal plaintiffs in this case, although the parties in the Elsayed case came to a separate settlement agreement concerning monetary damages.

On February 16, 2021, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion for class certification as "a class consisting of all persons who were required to remove religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in NYPD custody". The case is ongoing.

Michael Cronin - 03/07/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
State law
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description All persons who were required to remove religious head coverings for post-arrest photographs while in NYPD custody
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2020 - 2023
Filed 03/16/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Jamilla Clark and Arwa Aziz on Behalf of Themselves and Others Similarly Situated, and Turning Point for Women and Families -AGAINST- The City of New York
https://www.stopspying.org/hijab
Date: Mar. 11, 2019
By: Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, Inc. (The Urban Justice Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D.N.Y.
01/06/2021
1:18-cv-02334-AT-KHP
PN-NY-0052-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D.N.Y.
03/16/2018
Class Action Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 1]
PN-NY-0052-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
09/30/2020
Order [ECF# 144]
PN-NY-0052-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
11/05/2020
Stipulation and Order of Settlement [ECF# 153]
PN-NY-0052-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
02/16/2021
Order [ECF# 157]
PN-NY-0052-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Parker, Katherine H. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001 | PN-NY-0052-9000
Torres, Analisa Nadine (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0002 | PN-NY-0052-0004 | PN-NY-0052-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aboushi, Tahanie (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001
Arena, Marc (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001
Brinckerhoff, Matthew D. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-9000
Cahn, Albert Fox (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001 | PN-NY-0052-0003 | PN-NY-0052-9000
Droubi, Luna (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001
Fraser Wilson, Ogilvie Andrew (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001 | PN-NY-0052-0003 | PN-NY-0052-9000
Freeman, Emma L. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001 | PN-NY-0052-0003 | PN-NY-0052-9000
Moore, Jonathan C. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Depoian, Carolyn (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001 | PN-NY-0052-9000
Dervin, James Monroe (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-9000
Haider, Bilal (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001 | PN-NY-0052-9000
Mettham, Suzanna Publicker (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-9000
Millar, Samantha Rena (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-9000
Seligman, Rachel Amy (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-9000
Weiss, Rachel Seligman (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0052-0001

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