NYCLU v. New York County District Attorney (Seeking access to records concerning the D.A.'s Trespass Affidavit Program)

State Supreme Court, New York County, Index No. 12/100682 (direct)
This lawsuit challenges the refusal of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to disclose public records concerning a program that allows NYPD officers to regularly patrol privately owned apartment buildings.

Landlords can enroll their buildings in the District Attorney’s Trespass Affidavit Program, which permits police officers to patrol the premises. The NYCLU has received numerous reports that police officers make unconstitutional, suspicionless stops – and even trespassing arrests – of TAP building residents and their invited guests.

In the course of investigating residents’ complaints, the NYCLU filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the District Attorney seeking TAP policies, a roster of buildings enrolled in the program and information about trespass arrests during 2009 and 2010.

The District Attorney refused to disclose the buildings roster, claiming that disclosing it would be an invasion of the landlords’ privacy.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 20, 2012 in State Supreme Court for New York County, maintains that the District Attorney’s privacy argument has no merit given that a building’s enrollment in TAP is not secret. In fact, the District Attorney requires all buildings enrolled in TAP to post signs publicly announcing their participation in the program.

TAP is a component of Operation Clean Halls, a citywide NYPD, a citywide NYPD program designed to combat illegal activity within residential apartment buildings.

In 2010, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a city agency that investigates complaints of police misconduct, reported a spike in complaints concerning officer misconduct in buildings enrolled in Operation Clean Halls.

The NYCLU has received numerous reports of illicit police tactics being used in Operation Clean Halls buildings throughout the city, including locations enrolled in TAP.

NYCLU Senior Staff Attorney Alexis Karteron and Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn are the attorneys on the case.