They stop. They grope. They release. No, they aren’t the men in Super Mario and Elmo costumes in Times Square. They are the boys in blue, the NYPD. You’re probably tired of hearing about Ye Olde Stop and Frisk. We certainly are. However, this lawsuit deals with more than pat-downs; it deals with individuals’ personal information and privacy.
You may have forgotten about this entire issue. We wouldn’t blame you. In 2010, New York passed a law that prohibited the NYPD from storing individuals’ information who were stopped and released after finding no wrongdoing. Prior to the law, not only were these individuals being (arguably) unconstitutionally stopped and searched without reason, but the department was storing their names and addresses for future use.
What the law didn't address, and what the New York Civil Liberties Union hopes to stop, is the storing of individuals' information who were stopped, charged with a crime, and later had those charges dropped, reports The New York Times. They were innocent, yet their information now sits in a police database. The NYPD refers to it as an "invaluable" tool (isn't everything?). The NYCLU argued that it was unconstitutional (isn't everything?).
The lawsuit was initially tossed due to questions of standing. One can only bring a lawsuit if they they are directly impacted by the outcome of the suit. For example, a New Yorker couldn't sue over an oppressive Missourian tax scheme, unless, of course, they did business in Missouri. An appeals court overturned the dismissal on Thursday, citing the possibility that the plaintiffs in this case could be impacted by future investigations.
You're probably thinking, "Big deal. Another S&F lawsuit. Who cares?" That's a fair attitude for the everyday citizen of Gotham. At a certain point, it all becomes a blur of legal jargon and white noise. However, to the city, the more the litigation costs, the more likely they are to concede the point and move on from the era of unjustified stops and searches.
- Speak to a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Lawsuit over NYPD's "stop and frisk" data can move ahead (Reuters)
- What is Standing to Sue? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Another Stop and Frisk Lawsuit, Harder to Prove Than the Last (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)