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NYPD ordered to release surveillance records from run-up to 2004 RNC

[JURIST] The US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday ordered [PDF text; NYCLU press release] the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department (NYPD) [official website] to redact and turn over hundreds of field intelligence reports containing information the NYPD gathered through covert surveillance of organizations planning demonstrations at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, IV found that it is "feasible to redact the field intelligence reports as to permit the plaintiffs to review them without revealing the identities of undercover officers or disclosing confidential NYPD tactics and strategies," rejecting the NYPD's blanket assertion that the any release of its field reports would hurt the NYPD's ability to conduct law enforcement in the future. Francis ordered the city to produce the redacted documents and designated the documents as "attorneys'-eyes-only."

The litigation [JURIST report] stems from the New York Civil Liberties Union's efforts to review the NYPD's tactics during the convention, where protesters were fingerprinted and many held in custody until being arraigned instead of the being issued summonses as is customarily done. The NYPD justified its tactics based on information gathered through pre-convention surveillance, but has previously refused to disclose the documents relating to the surveillance. In April 2005, New York City agreed to pay $150 each plus legal fees [JURIST report], totaling approximately $215,000, to 108 protesters who were held after a judge ordered their release. The NYCLU has also forced the NYPD to destroy hundreds of fingerprint records [JURIST report] obtained from peaceful protesters arrested en mass. The New York Times has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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