In February 2012, CPR member The Bronx Defenders and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP settled a federal class action requiring New York City to pay $15 million to approximately 20,000 New Yorkers who were illegally charged with violations by the New York City Police Department under unconstitutional “loitering” statutes between 1983 and this year. The NYPD continued to enforce these void statutes for decades after New York state and federal courts had struck down these laws in the 1980s and 1990s, on First Amendment and other constitutional grounds.
Background on the loitering laws
The unconstitutional loitering laws under which the NYPD illegally charged tens of thousands of New Yorkers are N.Y. Penal Law §240.35(1) (“loitering for the purpose of begging”), §240.35(3) (loitering in a public place for the purpose of engaging in “sexual behavior of a deviate nature”), and §240.35(7) (loitering in a transportation facility and “unable to give a satisfactory explanation of his presence”). Over a period of nearly 30 years, NYPD illegally charged many class members with these void statutes because of factors including their actual or perceived homeless status, poverty, sexual orientation, or race.
The settlement would entitle each class member to a share of the $15 Million Class Fund (after payment of administrative costs, service awards, and attorneys’ fees). The Summary Notice explains the rights and options of class members under the settlement. It also alerts class members that they must act by October 9, 2012 to file a claim or opt out. You can find all forms, the Notice packet, the Stipulation of Settlement, and other documents at http://www.nycloitering.com. The PDF of the Summary Notice can be found here. El PDF del resumen aviso en español está disponible aquí.