New York City reaches $75 mln settlement over police summonses

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By Nate Raymond | NEW YORK

NEW YORK New York City has agreed to pay up to
$75 million to resolve a class action lawsuit accusing its
police of engaging in a widespread pattern of issuing criminal
summonses to individuals without probable cause in order to meet
minimum quotas.

The deal, announced on Monday by the city’s Law Department,
would resolve a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court brought
by several plaintiffs who claimed they were issued summonses without probable cause that were later dismissed.

Under the settlement, the New York Police Department will
issue guidance to reiterate that the department does not use
quotas to mandate that officers make a particular number of
arrests, summonses or stops, a Law Department spokesman said.

The city will set aside $56.5 million to pay a maximum of
$150 per person covered by the deal per incident, the Law
Department said. Another $18.5 million would go towards paying
attorneys’ fees.

Any amount not claimed will revert back to the city, meaning
the total payout could be significantly less, and the settlement
must be approved by U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet. The city
also continues to deny the allegations about a quota system.

The deal came on top of other reforms enacted under Mayor
Bill de Blasio, who in June signed a law that would give the
NYPD the ability to issue civil rather than criminal summonses
for certain quality-of-life offences.

“This settlement reflects the remarkable progress the NYPD
has made to ensure that summonses are properly drafted and
include sufficient details to document probable cause,” New York
City Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter said in a statement.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to a
request for comment.

Filed in 2010, the lawsuit alleged that the NYPD officers
engaged in a pattern and practice in which they stop, searched,
arrested and issued summonses to individuals regardless of
whether a crime or violation occurred.

Of the 2.29 million summonses adjudicated in the city’s
criminal courts from 2004 to 2009, nearly 1.19 million were
dismissed, the bulk of which the plaintiffs said were dismissed
after a judge found they were legally insufficient.

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