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Federal Court Rejects NYPD Effort to Rely on Secret Testimony in Dispute Over Political Surveillance Operation

A federal judge has strongly rejected an attempt by the NYPD to rely on secret testimony from the head of its Intelligence Division in an effort by the department to keep secret various reports produced during the nationwide political surveillance operation the NYPD ran before the 2004 Republican National Convention.

In a decision released today, federal District Judge Richard J. Sullivan ruled that New York City could not submit an affidavit from David Cohen, the NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence, that would be kept from the plaintiffs’ lawyers and not be made public. The City had sought to use the secret affidavit to argue why it should not have to produce to the New York Civil Liberties Union reports created by NYPD undercover officers who spied on groups planning Convention protests.

“We will continue to fight to assure that our courts remain open to public scrutiny,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director. “It is encouraging that the courts continue to reject the City’s effort to litigate the Convention cases behind closed doors.”

NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who is lead counsel on the NYCLU’s RNC cases, said “The NYPD needs to face the fact that it is not going to be able to rely on secret testimony and secret documents to defend its actions during the Convention.”

This decision is the latest ruling in the cases the NYCLU brought after the Convention challenging the mass arrest, prolonged detention, and blanket fingerprinting of protesters.

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