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NYC NYC Newsletter Fall National Lawyers Guild

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					RNC
MASS DEFENSE                                                 NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD
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                      NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD – NYC CHAPTER                                                                                                       FALL 2004
 Photo: Jeff Senter




                                                                                                        Writ Squad Defends
                                                                                                         Detention Fines
                                                                                                                Margaret Ratner Kunstler, Liz Fink,
                                                                                                                 Norman Siegel, Susan Taylor, and
                                                                                                                  other Writ Squad attorneys following
                                                                                                                    November 23rd Appellate Division
                                                                                                                     argument defending contempt fines
                                                                                                                      against the City of New York.




                      Chapter’s excellent adventure
                      RNC MASS DEFENSE SUCCEEDS BRILLIANTLY!
                      BY BRUCE K. BENTLEY                        Throughout the protests, RNC       escalated as Administration poli-     modest Handschu limits on politi-
                         The “New York Model” for sup-       Mass Defense mobilized hundreds        cies embraced racial profiling of     cal surveillance and declared they
                      pressing dissent—thousands of          to provide legal support- “green       immigrants, pre-emptive war           could photograph anyone in pub-
                      police, millions spent on weapons      hat” legal observers in the streets,   based on what turned out to be        lic at anytime.
                      and surveillance technology, a cli-    arrest coordinators at the NLG         lies, and early summer disclosures         And into this mix, the NYC
                      mate of fear created by media-         office, lawyer liaison to the jails,   that torture had become an ele-       Guild Chapter eagerly embraced
                      driven stories of “anarchy and         arraignment attorneys, habeas          ment of government foreign poli-      its traditional responsibility to pro-
                      violence,” mass arrests of 1,800       writ team, and in the RNC’s after-     cy. What initially seemed would be    vide legal support to people’s
                      overwhelmingly lawful and peace-       math, pro bono lawyers for hun-        a tiresome irritant, became an        struggles against unjust war and
                      ful protestors who were literally      dreds of pending cases. This work      intense focus for creative expres-    repression. Our chapter created the
                      “netted”—failed to deter hundreds      was a remarkable collaboration         sions of protest.                     RNC Mass Defense Committee.
                      of thousands who came to New           among activist law collectives             The NYPD was planning as
                      York to protest against the Bush       from around the country, the           well. Thirty working committees       COMPONENTS TAKE SHAPE
                      Agenda during the August 2004          Association of Legal Aid Attorneys     coordinated with federal authori-         Beginning in Fall 2003, the
                      Republican National Convention.        (ALAA),      the     Center     for    ties, spent millions of dollars,      Guild held monthly planning
                      A wide spectrum of activists united    Constitutional Rights (CCR), the       including on the latest weapons       meetings with CCR, ALAA, the
                      to proclaim that this was made         New York Civil Liberties Union         and surveillance and security tech-   NYC Peoples’ Law Collective
                      possible by the extensive legal sup-   (NYCLU), the Legal Aid Society,        nology (e.g., helmets with cam-       (PLC), the NYCLU, and United for
                      port provided by hundreds of           and most of all, hundreds of Guild     eras). Ten thousand police were       Peace and Justice (UFPJ), a major
                      volunteers working with the NYC        and non-Guild volunteers.              assigned to Madison Square            coalition, to coordinate legal
                      Guild’s RNC Mass Defense                                                      Garden. New York County District      strategies. Last March, 80 people
                      Committee, whose signature             BUILD-UP TO RNC WEEK                   Attorney Robert Morgenthau and        attended an organizing meeting
                      “green hats” were a dramatic pres-        When the Republican Party           NYPD planners predicted to the        and created three working com-
                      ence on the streets of New York        chose to hold its convention in        media that there would be 1,000       mittees, led by a Steering
                      throughout RNC Week. A Village         New York City to be near Ground        arrests a day during the RNC.         Committee. The Guild secured
                      Voice headline early last August       Zero, giving “opportunism” new         Some media heralded “Anarchy &        two RNC summer law students,
                      said it well: “Protesting at the GOP   meaning, political activists started   Violence” to describe the coming      David Rankin of New York Law
                      convention? Legal observers have       months of planning. In the year        protests. FBI agents visited          School, and Christopher Rottler
                      your back”.                            leading up to the RNC, the stakes      activists. The NYPD rejected the                      continued on page 6
 New York City News             “Knock, knock, knockn’ on Corrections’ door…”
 Editorial Board
 Dana Biberman
 Joseph Lipofsky
                                THE 4:08 TEAM
 Bruce Bentley (this issue)     BY RICK BEST                                               24 hours. Bill Goodman, Danny Meyers, Susan Taylor
 Franklin Siegel (this issue)       Tuesday was “anarchist day” for the demonstrators      and Rick Best took the order down to the first floor of
 Designer: Judith Rew
                                at the Republican National Convention. For the             100 Centre Street and over to the entrance to the
 NEW YORK CITY CHAPTER          arraignment team that meant Wednesday there would          Department of Corrections holding pens at the north
 NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD         be many people to represent. The press reported that       end of the building. They were joined by a couple of
 143 Madison Ave, 4th floor     hundreds of people had been arrested. There were a         parents. Danny requested entrance and gave them a
 New York, NY 10016-6717        number of attorneys at the courthouse, and more            copy of the judge’s order. They waited outside the
 phone 212-679-6018             available by phone. Susan Taylor, co-chair of the          door for another two hours. Danny periodically
 fax 212-679-6178               immigration attorney outreach, and Marty Stolar had        requested permission to enter, but was told that high-
 email: nlgnyc@igc.org                                                                     er-ups had taken it under consideration.
                                been at the courthouse most of the day. Danny
 President                      Meyers was there, trying to reach legal observer Carol         At eight minutes after 4 AM the court guards came
 Martin R. Stolar               Dudek, who had been swept-up on Tuesday. There             down the hall and told the attorneys that the building
 Vice Presidents                were four court rooms ready to process arraignments.       was closing, they had to leave. If they did not leave
 Rachel Meeropol                There was only a trickle of protestors appearing for       they would be taken into custody. At that point
 Colin Starger                  arraignment. We knew that hundreds of people had           Danny scribbled a note giving the jail guards notice
 Treasurer                      been arrested on Tuesday. Detained people had been         that they were in direct violation of the Habeas order
 Debra Gordon                   calling the NLG hotline all day. There were scores of      and slipped it under the door.
 Executive Committee            distraught parents wandering the courthouse trying             The next morning, Thursday, the Habeas order
 Bruce K. Bentley               to get information on their children. The lawyers          had been combined with the Legal Aid motion to
 Rick Best                      knew that there was a 24-hour deadline for arraigning      release, and both were heard by Judge Cataldo.
 Dana Biberman                  people after arrest. The lawyers kept hearing rumors
 Robert Boyle                   of people coming for arraignment, but no one was           Rick Best is a criminal defense attorney in New York,
 Jessica Brown                  appearing.                                                 and is associated with the ACLU. He was National
 Julia Cohen                                                                               Executive Director of the NLG.
 Julie Dinnerstein              THE WRIT TEAM ARRIVES
 Dennis Donohue                     At about 10 PM a legal team of Danny Alterman,
 Elizabeth Fink
                                Liz Fink, Bill Goodman, Debbie Hrbeck, Margaret
 Aaron David Frishberg
 Risa Gerson                    Ratner Kunstler, and Norman Siegel descended on the
                                courthouse with a Writ of Habeas Corpus and
 William Goodman
 John Hirsh                     demanded that the city produce our clients. First the                    SAVE THE DATE!
 Deborah Hrbek                  city had to produce a courtroom. That took an hour
 Joni Kletter                   or more. The next problem was that there was no                          National
 Margaret Ratner Kunstler       court reporter. That stopped everyone for another
 Sarah Kunstler                 hour or two. Finally, well after midnight, the judge                   Lawyers Guild
 Joel Kupferman                 met with the city attorneys and the NLG team with no
 Yetta Kurland
 Ursula Levelt
 Joseph Lipofsky
                                reporter. At around 2 AM the judge signed the order
                                granting access to the clients in custody, and com-
                                pelling the city to process or release anyone held over         HOLIDAY
                                                                                                 PARTY
 Christopher Martin
 Sally Mendola
 Daniel Meyers
 David Milton                    THE ASSAULT ON
 Clare Norins
 Gideon Orion Oliver             FREE SPEECH,                                                          Honoring
 Ann Schneider
 Dorothy Shtob
                                 PUBLIC ASSEMBLY,                                                         RNC
 Michael Steven Smith
 Susan Taylor
                                 AND DISSENT                                                         Mass Defenders
 Michael Weisberg                An NLG Report by Heidi Boghosian
 Representatives from NYC        Foreword by Lewis Lapham
 Area Law Schools                                                                                        December 15, 2004
                                 “…the National Lawyers Guild performs a necessary
 COMMITTEE CHAIRS                service by publishing its report on the American
                                 Government’s attempt to preserve the American
                                                                                                            6pm-10:00pm
 Environmental Committee:
 Joel Kupferman                  democracy by destroying it.” — Lewis Lapham                           LGBT Community Center
 Labor and Employment            $10 including postage by check payable to                                208 W. 13th Street
 Committee:                      ‘NLG-National Office,’                                                  (bet. 7th & 8th Ave)
 Ursula Levelt                   143 Madison Ave, 4th Fl.,
                                 New York, NY 10016-6717 or order
 Mass Defense Committee:
 Bruce Bentley                   or order online from publisher: www.northriverpress.com


2 • NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD-NYC NEWS • WWW.NLGNYC.ORG                                                                                    FALL 2004
                                                                                                                                                                          Photo: Ursula Levelt
                Lessons from the Corridors of New York Criminal Court
                BY URSULA LEVELT
                1. There is air conditioning in the court
                   rooms. There are fans for court officers.
                   There is heat for family members and
                   Guild volunteers.
                2. Thou shalt not charge a cell phone in
                   the courthouse.
                3. The court’s arraignment coordinator is
                   God. God hides when over 2000
                   people are arrested.

                Ursula Levelt was the 6 pm to 6 am
                Arraignments Coordinator for the MDC dur-      Simone Levine discusses arrest processing delays with Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau (center) on
                ing RNC Week.                                  Saturday, August 28, in court corridor.



  Guest on national TV to guest of NYPD                                                                              ful Friday evening. The “Post RNC Committee”
                                                                                                                     had generated lists of lawyers, schedules of

  RNC Daze                                                                                                           arraignment parts, forms for attorneys to use,
                                                                                                                     and a system for keeping track of clients. The
                                                                                                                     system still needed work, but it looked pretty
  BY COLIN STARGER                                             rowdy protestors. Blame usually lies with the         good. All ready to go, I took off my suit and put
      On the Friday before the RNC, Bruce Bentley              police, I asserted, and police tactics like pre-      on bike clothes. My plan was to ride home to
  telephoned me and asked if I would appear for                emptive arrests or the use of aggressive under-       Queens.
  the NLG on Dan Abrams’ television show. After                cover agents.                                             I tried telephoning my wife Jessica who was
  some cajoling and then coaching, I agreed and                    When the green light went off, I hustled          riding in Critical Mass that night to tell her I
  quickly sped off in an MSNBC-provided car                    back downtown to my office. I needed to pre-          wouldn’t be joining her. She didn’t answer and I
  service towards a midtown television studio.                 pare for my meeting the next day with Ursula          left a message and then rode cross-town. Above
  Halfway there, I asked the driver to pull over —             Levelt and Dennis Donohue. We three were to           zoomed police helicopters and a police blimp.
  seconds later, NLG intern extraordinaire Dave                develop the final plans for coordinating NLG          The Mass had their attention! When I got to
  Rankin wheeled up on his bicycle and delivered               lawyers to cover arraignment shifts at 100            Second Avenue, streams of bike riders made
  a copy of Heidi Boghosian’s latest report, which             Centre Street during the RNC. We anticipated          passage across the street impossible. As I waited,
  I was to refer to if possible on the show.                   some possible arrests on Friday night or              my phone rang. It was Jessica, she was in the
      The spot went off without a hitch, though I              Saturday morning, and so had scheduled the            Mass just five blocks away. I explained where I
  did have to defend the very concept of legal                 first shift for Saturday evening, from 6 p.m. to      was and three minutes later, she rolled by.
  observers against my hyped-up host. I                        2 a.m. Sunday. Sabrina Shroff was to be the first         I joined the Mass, which by now was rather
  explained that the NLG believed that the reason              NLG attorney taking a shift.                          congested and slow moving. As we inched
  demonstrations went sour was rarely due to                       I laid out all the papers on my desk that fate-   along, I explained that I wanted to go home
                                                                                                                     and get some sleep and prepare for my meeting
                                                                                                                     the next day. Jessica suggested we get some-
                              FOREIGN BORN 68th Anniversary Dinner of the                                            thing to eat. I agreed and we dismounted and
                                                                                                                     walked our bikes towards the sidewalk. As we
                                           New York City Chapter of the                                              chatted and contemplated where to go (“I hear
                                                                                                                     Applebee’s is giving discounts to protesters!”),
                                           National Lawyers Guild                                                    three or four motorcycles suddenly pulled up.
DEFENDING THE RIGHTS OF THE




                                                                                                                     They were cops, in plainclothes. They grabbed
                                                                                                                     us and our bicycles and within seconds, over
                                                SEVEN DECADES OF IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS                                  my loud objections, we were under arrest.
                                                                                                                         They picked us off to send a message. Less
                                                & WORK OF CHAPTER MEMBERS                                            than two hours previously I had been on
                                                                                                                     national TV decrying preemptive arrests and
                                                                                                                     now I was preemptively arrested. It was enough
                                                Friday, April 8, 2005                                                to make a lefty paranoid. I started yelling to get
                                                                                                                     a legal observer — one appeared quickly. I
                                                Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers                                     explained who I was, that I was being arrested
                                                Seventh Ave. & 53rd Street, NYC                                      with Jessica and our two friends, and that it was
                                                                                                                     very important to get a message to Ursula and
                                                For information please call: 212-679-6018                            Dennis that I would not be able to make the
                                                or email nlgdinner@igc.org                                                                        continued on page 5

  FALL 2004                                                                                      WWW.NLGNYC.ORG • NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD-NYC NEWS • 3
              NOTES FROM AN INTERN’S SUMMER
BY DAVID RANKIN                          ters and put squarely on our heads.




                                                                                                                                                                       Photo: Steckley Lee
    The summer was a frantic                 As the summer progressed and
whirlwind of elation, fatigue, and       our new databases got filled with
suspense. When we started we had         names of attorneys and law students
an office that no one had been           from around the country, much of
using fulltime for a number of           everyday was spent answering
months. We took it as one of our         emails and phones. I figure we
first tasks to turn the space nor-       attempted to coordinate a little shy
mally used for meetings and trans-       of 1000 legal workers. We were able
form it into the headquarters for        to successfully respond and provide
the legal support center for mas-        legal support for over a week of anti-
sive protests a number of months         republican protests. We were able to
away.                                    provide legal observers to protests
    Under the guidance of Bruce          across the city for weeks.
Bentley and other more veteran               Our attorney recruitment
legal activists, Chris Rottler and I     efforts paid off. We were able to
set out to organize one of the           have Guild attorneys at arraign-
largest legal support efforts ever       ment parts for days. Even as the
mounted. Once the call was put out       end of year holiday season is in full
Guild and legal collective members       swing, we are sorting through
from across the country began to         hundreds of criminal cases ably
email and call. There was one            being handled by a huge assort-
moment where Bruce and I were in         ment of Guild attorneys. I find it       Dave Rankin being arrested on August 29.
a summer downpour trying to              really inspirational an organiza-
keep dry all the letters being sent to   tion can successfully provide such       my life. The explosion of love and         David Rankin, a third-year student
recruit 18 – B attorneys while shov-     a high level of legal support to the     dedication from so many amazing            at New York Law School, worked as
eling them into clogged mailboxes.       activists of this country.               people is something I’ll take with         a coordinator of RNC Mass Defense
If I recall correctly, most of the           This summer was one of the           me for years to come. It is a real         work throughout the summer of
water was carefully kept off the let-    most memorable experiences of            pleasure to get to know you all.           2004.

                                                                                                                             marches, and actions. A vital part
The system had worked!                                                                                                       of the Mass Defense Effort, the all-

Summer ends in a Sigh of Relief                                                                                              volunteer evidence crew worked
                                                                                                                             diligently and tirelessly, to create an
                                                                                                                             incredibly efficient and sophisti-
BY CHRIS ROTTLER                         working with dozens and dozens           had trained hundeds of legal               cated intake, processing, and track-
    Sitting on one side of the infa-     of individuals eager to get plugged      observers, doubling our goal by            ing system. It will no doubt
mous trapezoidal conference table        in to the Mass Defense effort. In        pre-registering over 600 legal             become the model for future Mass
which takes up half of the office        the process we discovered a coura-       observers. Yet, despite the num-           Defense efforts.
space in the NY City Chapter of          geous and committed community            bers, I couldn’t help but worry                Down on the street level,
the NLG, Bruce Bentley finished          of legal activists who gave gener-       about people not showing up.               things were working smoothly.
the interview by asking, “So do          ously of their time and energy to        However, by ten o’clock there was          Legal Observers met up with their
you have any questions for us?” to       the organizational efforts of the        a long line of legal observers             team leaders and headed into the
which I immediately responded            RNC Mass Defense Committee.              streaming out of the building and          streets. Hundreds of legal
“You are only getting one intern?!”.         Sunday, August 29th, the             down the sidewalk. There were so           observers had been dispatched in
At this early stage in the organiza-     United For Peace and Justice.            many people that we had to adjust          a short couple of hours. We all
tional beginnings of what was to         March had arrived after hundreds         our plans. Ian Head headed out to          breathed a deep sigh of relief, the
likely become the largest mobiliza-      of calls and thousands of e-mails.       the street to assemble groups of           system had worked! Now we just
tion of legal support in the history     Months of planning were coming           legal observers into teams. Inside         had to wait.
of the Mass Defense Committee, I         to a head and the outcome was as         the space people received their                By the end of the week, after
could not see how it would all           uncertain as was the initial organ-      green hats and badges.                     nearly 2000 arrests, we had collect-
come together in time for the            izing. The permit for a Central              On the third floor of the muster       ed hundreds and hundreds of
Republican National Convention.          Park Rally had been denied, and          space, Bo Davis and the I-Witness          pieces of evidence. Legal
    Luckily, they ended up bring-        there was tension in the air over        Video crew were finishing setting          Observers were a significant pres-
ing in two of us interns...not to        how it would all come out.               up the evidence collection system          ence at the protests.
mention a vast network of legal              Those of us working the              and the video logging stations. All
collective workers, activists, and       Muster Space, from which the             the evidence was to be labeled and         Chris Rottler, a chapter member
NLG members hailing from all             legal observers would be dis-            logged into a main database, which         who attends CUNY School of Law,
across the country. Indeed, in the       patched, waited anxiously on the         would allow instant searchable             worked as a coordinator of RNC
months and weeks leading up to           steps of Community Church for            access to all the evidence gathered        Mass Defense work throughout the
the RNC, we had the pleasure of          their arrival. Over the summer we        over the coming week of protests,          summer of 2004.

4 • NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD-NYC NEWS • WWW.NLGNYC.ORG                                                                                                     FALL 2004
                                                                                                                                             an officer who struck her on the leg with his
Who’s really afraid of the First Amendment?                                                                                                  baton.

‘Round up the usual suspects’                                                                                                                    Legal observers record arrestees’ information
                                                                                                                                             so they can be tracked in the system, in an
                                                                                                                                             attempt to ensure access to counsel and timely
– the Legal Observers!                                                                                                                       arraignment. The need for this became clear
                                                                                                                                             when over 1800 people were arrested and trans-
                                                                                                                                             ported to Pier 57, an oil-grimed temporary
BY SUZANNE SOLOMON                                                                      liaison between police and demonstrators to          detention center on the Hudson, partitioned
    Mayor Bloomberg’s absurd comparison of a                                            help avoid problems that may lead to unneces-        with razor wire spiked fencing and dubbed
group of Republican-heckling demonstrators to                                           sary arrests and to document those that do           “Guantanamo Lite” by detainees. Nearly a third
terrorists opposed to free expression reported in                                       occur. The NYPD has respected the role played        of those were held without being produced in
the media on September 2, 2004 is an ironic                                             by legal observers at past protests. Nevertheless,   court for arraignment within 24 hours as
exercise in finger pointing. The massive police                                         during the Convention police arrested over a         required by state law, some for nearly three days.
presence deployed by the city to control protest-                                       dozen legal observers simply for attempting to       The detainees were also denied access to lawyers
ers (a reported record 10,000 officers out of a                                         perform that same function. Officers process-        and medical care, until a judge finally lost
force of 37,000), the skillfully spun scare tactics                                     ing the arrests collected legal observer notes as    patience and in an initial ruling found the city in
casting civil disobedience as a violent anarchist                                       evidence and pored over one of the 25,000            contempt, fining it $1,000 for every protester not
threat, the indiscriminate arrest sweeps netting                                        “Know Your Rights” pamphlets the Guild dis-          processed by a set deadline. The final price tag
law abiding protestors, legal observers and                                             tributed during the protests.                        for the city’s intransigence, scheduled to be set at
unwitting pedestrians alike, the illegal detention                                          This material should already be familiar to      a later hearing, could reach half a million dollars.
of some 500 of those arrested, resulting in court                                       police. (Hint: it’s in the U.S. Constitution.)           The Guild’s Legal Observer program is an
ordered sanctions against the city: such dracon-                                        What is more disturbing, legal observers were        all volunteer, cooperative effort which, by mon-
ian efforts leave little doubt as to who in New                                         specifically targeted by the NYPD. One observ-       itoring the largest series of demonstrations ever
York is afraid of the First Amendment.                                                  er was engaged by a pair of officers, who, after     held at an American political convention, has
    One story that highlights the city’s repres-                                        examining her National Lawyers Guild legal           forced some degree of accountability on the
sive measures is the New York Police                                                    observer ID badge, seized it with no explana-        country’s largest and most powerful police
Department’s harassment of National Lawyers                                             tion, saying “You can keep the hat.” A law stu-      department. Rather than the mayor’s anarchist
Guild legal observers-lawyers, law students and                                         dent heading a team of observers was arrested        bogeymen, perhaps that’s what unnerves city
legal workers known as “green hats” for the                                             while riding with a group of bike demonstra-         officials most of all.
bright green caps worn to identify them to pro-                                         tors and heard an officer say, “We got one of
testers and police. The Guild sent 450 legal                                            their captains.” Another legal observer, a lawyer    Suzanne A. Solomon is an attorney in New York
observers into the streets to monitor the                                               attempting to negotiate on behalf of bystanders      and was Co-Coordinator for legal observer dis-
demonstrations at the Republican National                                               not involved with the protests but threatened        patch during the Republican National
Convention. Legal observers seek to act as a                                            with arrest, was shoved against a police car by      Convention.


RNC Daze                                                                                the unexpected Friday mass arrests. Graciously,      tant that day was a law school classmate of
continued from page 3                                                                   Ursula instructed me to go home and get some         mine. We had been in small section together;
                                                                                        sleep that night. I did so, but was up and at ’em    she used to throw crazy parties that ended with
meeting the next morning.                                                               early the following morning… it was a long           law students stumbling and singing around
    In plastic cuffs, they took us over to Pier 57.                                     week of protest and protest support!                 Morningside Heights. Before the judge came to
We were among the first arrivals. Outside, I saw                                            An odd post-script to my tale came two           the bench, my old friend ribbed me: “Colin,
Franklin Siegel and Simone Levine, who cheerily                                         months later. I met Jessica Brown, my NLG            what did you do this time?” Nothing! I swear
waved when they saw my face pressed up against                                          RNC lawyer, down at 100 Centre Street. She           I’m innocent! That’s why your office is drop-
the bus window. Hours later, I finally ended up                                         had heard from the ADA that my case would be         ping my case! We laughed because it was true.
in a holding cell at 100 Centre Street where there                                      dropped that day. When the part opened,              And now I’m free to help the NLG defend oth-
was a phone. A phone! Of course, I had no num-                                          Jessica went inside to confirm with the assistant    ers falsely arrested by the NYPD.
bers with me and, like most of those in the cell,                                       on duty that the DA’s office was sticking to the
had long since stopped memorizing people’s                                              plan. When Jessica asked the assistant about my      Colin Starger is an attorney at the Innocence
numbers since cell phones started doing the job                                         case, the assistant replied: “Colin? Oh yeah sure,   Project and was the “day” Arraignment
for you. In any event, after hours of intricate                                         we’re dropping it, I saw it this morning. Tell       Coordinator during RNC Week. He is a Vice-
games with answering machines and etching                                               him to come say ‘hi!’” Turns out the duty assis-     President of the New York City Guild Chapter.
numbers into cell walls, I was able to get the nec-
                                                      Photo: Courtesy of Clare Norins




essary papers delivered to Dennis and Ursula so                                                                                              GUILD HOLDS PANEL ON
they could coordinate arraignments. After all, I
was going to be arraigned soon!
                                                                                                                                             LITIGATING WOMEN’S RIGHTS
    And arraigned I was. In the holding pen, I                                                                                               The NYC Chapter and the NYU Law School
                                                                                                                                             Student Chapter co-sponsored “Litigating
met NLGer Jessica Brown, who had been called                                                                                                 Women’s Rights: Three Generations and
to duty at the last minute. When I finally got                                                                                               Counting” on November 17, 2004 at NYU Law
out, Ursula had the Arraignment System under                                                                                                 School. Panelists included: Prof. Elizabeth
control, although it was clear that there had                                                                                                Schneider, Patricia Allard and Katherine Roraback
                                                                                                                                             (former national NLG president, pictured at left
been many hours of chaos. She had made                                                                                                       with former NYC chapter president Dana
emergency calls and a number of selfless attor-                                                                                              Biberman).
neys had dropped everything to help out with

FALL 2004                                                                                                                 WWW.NLGNYC.ORG • NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD-NYC NEWS • 5
                                        on how to defend protest-related




                                                                                 Photos: Franklin Siegel
Mass defense                            prosecutions.
continued from page 1                       The NYC People’s Law
from CUNY School of Law. Both           Collective, which had brought
became human dynamos taking             their considerable organizational
up tasks, including each leading        abilities to setting up arrest hotline
one of the working committees.          procedures and a database during
    Liz Fink led the chapter in a       the February 2003 anti-war
major breakthrough, obtaining           protests,       again     mobilized.
grants from several foundations.        Throughout the summer, over
Her leadership helped raise over        forty volunteers from law collec-
$100,000 to meet necessary infra-       tives around the country, notably
structure and operating expenses,       the Midnight Special Law
from rent to additional phone           Collective, joined PLC in setting
lines, copies, mobile phones, com-      up and staffing the NLG office for
puter equipment, office and legal       processing reports of arrests.
observer supplies (500 green            Databases were created, with the
hats!), thousands of temporary          essential help of Bo Davis, to
tattoos and pencils with the legal/     record arrest details and collate the
arrest number, legal rights pam-        receipt of evidence (witness state-
phlets, and a full-time Coordinator     ments, photos, video).                                             Above: People's Law Collective team at operations headquarters dawn on Sept. 1.
in the peak months of activity.                                                                            Right: RNC Mass Defense Coordinator Bruce Bentley and volunteer defense
    An RNC website was created,         AN ARRAY OF RESOURCES                                              attorney Phil Stone.
www.nlgnyc.org/rnc. It featured             The NLG National Office con-
FAQ’s on protest-related legal          tributed enormous help. Executive                                  READY TO GO!                             Danny Meyers and others organ-
rights. The Guild published and         Director Heidi Boghosian pub-                                          Throughout RNC week Ian              ized what ultimately turned out to
distributed 25,000 “Know Your           lished her timely report “The                                      Head and Suzanne Solomon coor-           be a critical component of the
Rights” pamphlets during the            Assault on Free Speech, Public                                     dinated legal observer teams from        RNC Mass Defense effort: a Writ
protests (one arrested legal            Assembly, and Dissent” before the                                  the “muster space”, two floors in a      Legal Team, whose role was to
observer watched officers pore          RNC, and did work with the                                         rowhouse generously loaned by            challenge arraignment delays
over one of the pamphlets).             media. NLG National Office staff                                   the Community Church. Team               beyond the legally permissible
    The NLG/NYC provided infor-         Ian Head and Laura Raymond led                                     captains stayed in cell phone con-       “24-hour rule” of arrest to
mation to groups seeking permits        efforts to recruit, train, and super-                              tact with the dispatchers working        arraignment.
to rally in parks, march in the         vise legal observer teams. At least a                              out of the NLG office. A separate           Volunteer “Greeters” (embla-
street, and use sound amplifica-        dozen seasoned NLG veterans of                                     evidence database was established        zoned on a shirt) waited at jail-
tion. When the City denied UFPJ         legal support efforts in Los                                       at the muster space that was later       house doors, 24 hours a day, to
use of Central Park for a mass rally    Angeles, Miami and elsewhere,                                      merged with the arrestee database        meet arrestees as they emerged
on August 29th, Convention eve,         came to New York and spent the                                     developed at the NLG office.             from jail. Greeters obtained basic
CCR Legal Director and former           week as our eyes and ears on the                                       Simone Levine organized              information from arrestees
NLG/NYC president Jeffrey Fogel         streets.                                                           “lawyer liaison” shifts at the NLG       regarding their arrest and next
sued in state court. So did nation-         Media work was developed                                       office. She had panels of lawyers        court date; Greeters also provided
al NLG Mass Defense members             with the help of Riptide                                           ready to do precinct visits imme-        arrestees packets of necessities,
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and             Communications. Riptide’s Shonna                                   diately      after    an     arrest.     such as Metro cards, water, snacks,
Carol Sobel on behalf of the            Carter got the Guild public recog-                                 Unfortunately, lawyers were pre-         directions and other information.
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and the          nition for the amazing work we                                     vented by authorities from visiting
National Council of Arab                have so often not been given credit                                arrestees in Manhattan until just        RNC WEEK: “THE NEW YORK
Americans, which sought to use          for. In the weeks leading up to the                                before they were arraigned.              MODEL” IN OPERATION
Central Park for a rally on August      RNC, the Guild was noted in near-                                      Colin Starger recruited lawyers          The worst fears of protesters
28th .                                  ly all of the New York newspapers.                                 to cover arraignment parts               quickly emerged, beginning with
    The chapter’s MDC recruited         Once the protests started, media                                   throughout RNC week for ses-             the Critical Mass bicycle ride the
and trained over 600 legal              requests for information and inter-                                sions scheduled to run from 8:00         Friday before RNC week. As the
observers. I-Witness Video, a col-      views flooded in from all over the                                 am to 1:00 am. Colin, along with         RNC got under way, mass arrests
lective of videographers, lent spe-     country and abroad; the RNC Mass                                   Ursula Levelt and David Milton,          of peaceful protestors turned out
cial help by training legal             Defense was even mentioned in a                                    alternated shifts supervising the        to be the order of the day. Even
observers to document police mis-       Singapore newspaper!                                               whole process for the entire RNC         where the police had provided
conduct using video cameras.                City Council Members Bill                                      week. The plan worked so well            directions, even partially escorting
Their members also joined legal         Perkins, Margarita Lopez, Charles                                  that when arrests began Friday           groups of people protesting, scores
observers on the streets.               Barron, and Christine Quinn, pro-                                  night at the Critical Mass bike          of police would often move in,
    Over 225 lawyers volunteered        vided strong and generous politi-                                  ride, and Colin himself got swept        unrolling orange plastic netting, to
to follow-up arrests at jails, appear   cal support to the legal support of                                up, Ursula had the system working        literally round people up. People
at arraignments, and provide pro        the protesters, thanks to the efforts                              by dawn Saturday. (Read about            having nothing to do with the
bono representation to RNC              of Yetta Kurland. State Senator                                    Colin’s adventure elsewhere in this      protests—leaving work, running
arrestees. Simone Levine and            Tom Duane intrepidly sought                                        Newsletter!)                             an errand, going to dinner—were
Susan Tipograph conducted mul-          attorney access at the Pier 57 pro-                                    Liz Fink, Margie Ratner Kunstler,    swept up, and taken to Pier 57 on
tiple training sessions for lawyers     tester detention facility.                                         Danny Alterman, Debbie Hrbek,            the Hudson River, “Guantanamo-

6 • NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD-NYC NEWS • WWW.NLGNYC.ORG                                                                                                                            FALL 2004
                                                                                                           request under the watchful eye of          observer team leader, has been at
                                                                                                           chapter president Martin Stolar.           Criminal Court nearly every
                                                                                                           This had been an instance where            morning since the RNC. He coor-
                                                                                                           protestors following police direc-         dinates volunteer court watchers
                                                                                                           tions were snared by orange netting        who meet with arrestees appear-
                                                                                                           and arrested en-masse.                     ing at court for their arraignments
                                                                                                               At press time thirty others            to provide information and
                                                                                                           arrested elsewhere have had their          arrange for counsel, and he assists
                                                                                                           charges dropped. Over 775                  RNC lawyers in locating relevant
                                                                                                           arrestees, mainly charged with             witnesses and video for trials. His
                                                                                                           Disorderly Conduct, have accept-           own eyewitness testimony has
                                                                                                           ed prosecution offers to adjourn           contributed to acquittals.
                                                                                                           their cases for six months in con-             Civil lawsuits are being filed
                                                                                                           templation of dismissal (“ACD”).           through efforts of the Chapter’s
                                                                                                           Some charged with misdemeanors             RNC Affirmative Litigation
Lite-on-the-Hudson,” to be caged                                 and television trucks doing live          had them dismissed in exchange             Committee. On November 22,
for the night, left to sleep on a                                feeds on the evening news watched         for pleas to Disorderly Conduct, a         2004, Guild attorneys Jonathan
chemically stained concrete floor.                               in amazement as protesters                violation. Another 500 cases,              Moore, William Goodman and
Many suffered health problems                                    streamed out of 100 Centre Street,        mostly violations, await trial.            other Guild lawyers filed a class
due to the conditions at Pier 57.                                into the arms of supporters and               The Guild has been able to             action lawsuit alleging unlawful
(Photos and detailed accounts                                    admirers, who had food at the             recruit pro bono lawyers for the           arrest, excessive detention, and
from inside Pier 57 can be viewed                                ready, and even cell phones to call       80% of arrested protesters who             unhealthy conditions at Pier 57.
on www.2600.com/rnc2004)                                         worried family and friends. The           did not qualify for indigent repre-        Civil lawsuit details can be found at
    Tuesday August 31 was a day of                               City appealed the judge’s ruling,         sentation by the Legal Aid Society.        www.nlgnyc.org/rnc.
major legal events. Many hundreds                                and the matter is now in the appel-       A handful of arrestees retained
were arrested—the great majority                                 late courts. What began as a two-         private counsel. Many of the cases,        A JOB WELL DONE
for the minor offense of Disorderly                              day habeas action may now                 especially those involving mass                The goals of the RNC Mass
Conduct – and were held longer                                   become a two year legal battle.           arrests of people on sidewalks at          Defense have been achieved in
than 24 hours without being                                                                                different sites, may be consolidat-        nearly every respect the MDC
arraigned, in violation of court                                 THE RNC WEEK DOCKET                       ed into single trials. The “People’s       could have hoped for. Although
guidelines. Our Guild Writ Team,                                     Police had tried to intimidate        Lawyer Award for Most RNC                  individuals have been singled out
in coordination with the Legal Aid                               protestors through intensive sur-         Cases” goes to the chapter’s inde-         for thanks in this article, the MDC
Society, took action in filing a                                 veillance and threatening media           fatigable President, Marty Stolar,         cannot adequately express the
habeas corpus petition to get the                                campaigns. It almost seemed that          who has undertaken representa-             thanks due to literally hundreds of
arrestees out. Despite months of                                 when the police could not find            tion in over 200 cases.                    people who gave generously of
preparation by the City, millions of                             “violent anarchists,” they turned                                                    their time and effort. They enabled
dollars, and doubling the arraign-                               on the Guild, most likely because         GUILD OFFICE REMAINS                       the public to exercise their right of
ment parts, the NYPD claimed it                                  the “green hats” closely monitored        BUSY                                       expression last summer against an
could not process the arrests in a                               police misconduct with cameras.              Volunteers continue to work at          unprecedented campaign of gov-
timely manner, despite judges and                                Fifteen legal observers were arrest-      the NLG office, locating lawyers           ernment malignment and intimi-
attorneys standing at the ready                                  ed, including summer student              for arrestees with upcoming court          dation. All of us can be enormous-
into the overnight hours. One                                    David Rankin and arraignment              dates, providing information               ly proud of their work and the
excuse was to blame court process-                               coordinator Colin Starger.                about joining a civil suit, and            Guild’s role in this effort.
ing delays on the criminal back-                                     Of the 1,800 RNC Week cases,          responding to requests from
ground computers in Albany, a sit-                               227 involving a protest at the World      lawyers for help locating witness          Bruce Bentley, the RNC Mass
uation state criminal justice offi-                              Trade Center “ground zero” were           and video/photo evidence.                  Defense Coordinator, is chair of the
cials later denied they caused.                                  dismissed at the District Attorney’s         Jeff Senter, an RNC legal               chapter’s Mass Defense Committee.
    When the detention delays
                                       Photos: Franklin Siegel




stretched into a second day,
Thursday September 2, it became                                                                                                                           Number of current
apparent the delays were designed                                                                                                                           NYC Chapter
to keep people off the street until                                                                                                                          members
after President Bush spoke at the
RNC that evening. In response to                                                                                                                          July 2003.......................266
the Guild writ, a Supreme Court                                                                                                                           October 2003 ...............308
Justice directed the City to pro-                                                                                                                         April 2004.....................398
duce the arrestees for arraignment                                                                                                                        July 2004.......................366
according to a timetable. When                                                                                                                            November 2004 ...........343
the City failed to do so, he ruled
the City in contempt of his order,                                                                                                                            PLEASE PAY
levied fines of $1,000 for each                                                                                                                               YOUR DUES!
arrestee, and most dramatically,                                                                                                                           Your support makes our
ordered that those detained, many                                                                                                                          chapter’s work possible
in excess of 60 hours, be immedi-                                Los Angeles NLG attorney Carol Sobel, and Writ Squad attorneys Daniel Alterman             in these difficult times!
ately released. Court personnel                                  and Robert Boyle rejoice as protesters are released at Criminal Court September 2.

FALL 2004                                                                                                          WWW.NLGNYC.ORG • NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD-NYC NEWS • 7
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