Attorneys in our Impact Litigation Practice collaborate with all other practice areas at The Bronx Defenders to litigate challenges to systemic violations and injustices that affect larger groups of our clients, including racially-discriminatory policing, unequal access to housing and employment, government seizure of property, curtailment of parental rights in family court proceedings, immigration abuses, and other government misconduct. Our success in these complex cases is influenced by our community engagement efforts and our client base; we leverage the knowledge we gain from direct representation into critical policy changes that benefit the communities we serve in the South Bronx.
- Ligon v. City of New York. Filed on March 28, 2012, this federal class action lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Operation Clean Halls, a part of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program that allows police officers to patrol thousands of private apartments buildings across New York City. Learn more.
- Trowbridge v. Cuomo. Filed on May 10, 2016, this federal class action seeks to end the massive court delays which violate the constitutional right to a speedy trial, the right to a trial, and the due process rights of thousands of people facing misdemeanor charges in the Bronx. Learn more.
- The Bronx Defenders v. NYPD. Filed on August 4, 2016, this freedom of information lawsuit asks the Supreme Court of the State of New York to order the NYPD to comply with its legal obligation to disclose information pertaining to its policies and procedures regarding, and accounting for, millions of dollars in cash and property seized during arrests each year. Learn more.
- Procedural Due Process Concerns in the Bronx Family Courts. In this report issued in August 2017, the Impact Litigation Practice identifies a widespread practice of protracted hearings under Section 1028 of the Family Court Act, which results in the prolonged and unwarranted separation of families. Members of the Impact Litigation team are working to advance reforms that resolve the statutory and constitutional violations identified through their investigation. Read the report here.
- Casale v. Kelly and Brown v. Kelly. In early 2012, The Bronx Defenders and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLC secured a $15 million settlement on behalf of nearly 20,000 New Yorkers whom the police had charged using invalid loitering statutes. Judges in both state and federal courts had struck down the disputed laws as unconstitutional on the grounds that they violated the First Amendment and unfairly targeted poor, gay, and minority citizens. The NYPD, however, disregarded the court rulings and continued to charge tens of thousands of New Yorkers using the unconstitutional statutes. The final settlement in the case not only required New York City to pay out $15 million dollars, but also achieved the crucial measure of directing that thousands of unconstitutional convictions be expunged.
- Torres v. City of New York. On August 15, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the City of New York challenging its pattern and practice of charging people for misdemeanor marijuana possession for what was really non-criminal conduct. The parties reached a favorable settlement on June 28, 2015. The Torres litigation followed Felix v. City of New York, brought by The Bronx Defenders and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLC, which raised similar claims on behalf of a six additional plaintiffs. Both Torres and Felix were cases that culminated from, and were a part of, the advocacy and research conducted by The Bronx Defenders Marijuana Arrest Project. Co-counsel was Fisher & Byrialsen, PLLC. Attorneys in the Impact Litigation Practice include Johanna Steinberg, Jenn Rolnick Borchetta, Scott Levy, Niji Jain, and Mary Anne Mendenhall.
- Encarnacion v. City of New York. Filed on January 8, 2016, this federal class action challenges the NYPD Property Clerk’s policy and practice of retaining personal property seized in connection with an arrest long after the criminal case is over. Learn more.