Barbara Handschu barely gave it a thought 45 years ago when she was listed first among plaintiffs in a Vietnam-era lawsuit challenging how New York City police officers conducted surveillance of political activities.
“It was a joke. They put me first,” she recalls, chuckling. “I don’t think they thought I’d be the one person they’d get in touch with for all these decades.”
Then, she was a plucky, young activist lawyer. Now, she’s a plucky 73-year-old divorce lawyer proud of her place in the fight against illegal surveillance with a name destined to live on long after she’s gone.
That lawsuit with her name on top led to a consent decree and what became known as the “Handschu Guidelines,” restricting how the city conducts surveillance.
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