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Federal Court Bars Police Commissioner Kelly from Testifying in Defense of RNC Mass Arrests

A federal judge today ruled that NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly may not testify in defense of the NYPD’s treatment of protesters during the Republican National Convention. The ruling came in two cases brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union challenging the mass arrest of protesters, their prolonged detention, and the blanket fingerprinting of protesters.

Today’s ruling arose from an effort by the NYCLU to depose Commissioner Kelly about the NYPD’s actions during the Convention after other pretrial testimony from NYPD officials established that Mr. Kelly had personally decided to implement the arrest policies the NYCLU is challenging.

In response, the City moved to block the deposition. Federal Magistrate Judge James Francis IV today granted the City’s request. In doing so he ruled that Commissioner Kelly “may not, however, submit any affidavit in connection with a dispositive motion or testify at trial.”

“Because Commissioner Kelly personally decided the NYPD would use the mass arrest practices we challenge, we thought it appropriate to question him about those policies,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who is lead counsel in the NYCLU’s RNC cases. “Nonetheless, because today’s ruling bars any testimony from Commissioner Kelly, we are perfectly satisfied with this outcome, as it will be even more difficult for the City to defend its outrageous treatment of protesters at the Convention.”

Added NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman: “No government official, including Commissioner Kelly, is above the law. If the City wants to shield him from questioning about his decisions during the Convention, the only fair thing to do was to block him from trying to defend those decisions at trial. We are pleased with today’s ruling.”

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