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Federal Court Rejects City Effort to Use Secret Testimony in Dispute Over RNC Intelligence Documents

A federal judge today rejected an effort by New York City to use a secret affidavit from the head of the NYPD’s Intelligence Division as part of the ongoing NYCLU litigation over police tactics at the Republican National Convention. The City had sought to use the affidavit from Deputy Commissioner David Cohen in its challenge to an August 2007 order directing the NYPD to turn over to the NYCLU hundreds of documents detailing NYPD undercover surveillance of political groups planning Convention protests.

In rejecting the City’s request, federal Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV recognized that secret submissions are rarely appropriate in this country: “It is the rare case where the very arguments presented to the court in order to influence its decision may justifiably be shielded from opposing counsel and from the public. This is not that case.”

Today’s ruling is the most recent in a long-running dispute between the NYCLU and the NYPD arising out of a political-surveillance operation the Department ran before the Convention. The City has claimed that the operation produced information that justified two extraordinary policies used during the Convention that resulted in protesters being held in jail for as long as three days and in all arrested protesters being fingerprinted, no matter how minor their alleged offense. Since learning of the political-surveillance operation early last year, the NYCLU has obtained a series of court orders mandating release of the operation’s details and has publicly released hundreds of pages of NYPD documents about the operation.

Click here to read the order (PDF).

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