Feb 032011
 February 3, 2011  Posted by  Court, Surveillance

Adam Klasfeld reports on a case that started with my generation and continues and continues and continues….

A federal judge denied the New York City Police Department’s attempt to dismiss a landmark 1971 class action limiting its surveillance of private citizens. And, in the case originally brought by Abbie Hoffman, Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Haight Jr. awarded plaintiffs attorney’s fees for the NYPD’s “indulgence in meaningless litigation.”

The class action, which opposed the NYPD’s practice of maintaining videotapes and photographs of private citizens, was originally filed by attorney Barbara Handschu.

The original plaintiffs, who included Abbie Hoffman and Anette T. Rubenstein, settled with the Police Department, which agreed to abide by rules governing its surveillance of private citizens that came to be known as the “Handschu Guidelines.”

In 2007, Judge Haight allowed police to modify the guidelines, citing new security concerns after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“The plaintiff class and the NYPD dwelt together under the Original Handschu Guidelines with a degree of amity and a lack of acrimony that, I am frank to confess, I had neither anticipated nor hoped for. But then the dreadful and tragic events of 9/11 occurred. The NYPD, viewing the circumstances in respect of intelligence gathering as having been materially changed, moved this Court for a modification of the Original Handschu Guidelines,” Haight wrote in his Feb. 25, 2007 opinion.

In that document, Haight allowed the NYPD to videotape and photograph political demonstrations, so long as the department’s methods conformed to the Handschu Guidelines.

Well, you can probably imagine what happened next. Give ’em an inch and….

Read more on Courthouse News.

Related: Opinion and Order in Handschu v. Police Dept. City of New York

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