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New York Police Department Accused of Violating Civil Rights

A New York Appellate court recently reinstated a class action lawsuit against the New York Police Department. The lawsuit claims that hundreds of thousands of people were stopped and frisked by New York police. Though those individuals were never convicted of a crime, the New York Police Department still maintained personal information about those persons in their databases.

The "stop and frisk" tactic in New York has been widely criticized and is the subject of other pending lawsuits as some claim that it unfairly targets minority groups. Currently, nearly 680,000 people have been subject to a "stop and frisk", and only 12 percent of those stops have resulted in arrest with even less resulting in a conviction. Under New York law, when a case is terminated in favor of the defendant all official records must be sealed and not available to any person or public or private agency. Despite this, the NYPD has still maintained these records "for use in further criminal investigations."

The New York Appellate court found that people whose records have not been properly sealed have standing to bring suit as they are at "imminent risk" of stigma and being targeted by police in the future. By allowing the lawsuit to move forward, the parties affected will be able to not only seek that their records be sealed to prevent any further stigma, but can also seek damages suffered as a result of this policy. Another suit in federal court is challenging the general validity of the "stop and frisk" policy and is set to go to trial in March of 2013.

If you or someone you know has had their constitutional rights violated by a police department or other state agency, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584.

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