They said Philly cops tried to stop them from photographing officers. Now the city is paying them $250,000

by Chris Palmer, Staff Writer  @cs_palmer  cpalmer@phillynews.com

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The City of Philadelphia has agreed to pay $250,000 to two people who claimed that police officers violated their First Amendment rights by blocking them from taking photos of police activity.

The settlements, announced Tuesday, ended years of legal wrangling over civil suits filed on behalf of Amanda Geraci, a local activist, and Richard Fields, formerly a Temple University student. The ACLU of Pennsylvania, which brought the claims for the pair, said it hoped their cases served as a “warning sign” against those who would seek to prevent recordings of cops.

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“Simply put, the First Amendment protects the act of photographing, filming, or otherwise recording police officers conducting their official duties in public,” the opinion said, calling such a view “a growing consensus.”

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A Teen-Ager in Solitary Confinement | The New Yorker

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In October, 2014, Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York reached a settlement with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (doccs) in Cookehorne v. Fischer, which stipulated that minors in restricted confinement should be allowed out of their cells for six hours a day on weekdays–two for recreation time, and four for educational programming–and for two hours a day on weekends. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against county jails in upstate New York: one in Onondaga County, which was settled in June and led to an end of solitary confinement for inmates under eighteen; and a second in Broome County, which was filed in July. In October, New York State’s Commission on Correction issued new standards for solitary confinement, which would mandate that local jails provide at least four hours of out-of-cell time for all inmates in isolation, including adults, and that jail officials notify the state when placing someone under the age of eighteen in solitary. Those rules, if approved, would not go into effect until January. So, for now, most county jails continue to determine their own rules for juvenile solitary confinement.
 
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Group Proposes Changes for How NY Courts Deal with ICE Arrests | New York Law Journal

By Josefa Velasquez and Colby Hamilton

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As arrests at courthouses by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers continue, a report released Tuesday by the Fund for Modern Courts suggests New York’s courts should limit their cooperation and assistance with civil immigration law enforcement.

So far this year ICE agents have arrested 52 people while they were in court in New York state, the majority in New York City, Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, told the New York Law Journal Tuesday. This is the first year the state’s court system has tracked ICE activities and arrests in courthouses. Expanded immigration enforcement actions under the Trump administration have resulted in increased arrests at courthouses nationally since the beginning of 2017, the report states.

The 24-page report issued by the justice system reform organization examined the impact of ICE arrests on New Yorkers’ access to state courthouses. It suggested actions that Chief Judge Janet DiFiore should take to mitigate the “negative impact on individuals and the courts resulting from ICE’s actions in courthouses.”

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Abelove charged with felony perjury, official misconduct – Times Union

By Brendan J. Lyons

 
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Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel E. Abelove was charged with felony perjury and two misdemeanor counts of official misconduct on Friday following a grand jury investigation into his controversial handling of the fatal police shooting of a DWI suspect.
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The indictment unsealed Friday charges Abelove with withholding evidence from the grand jury that investigated the fatal shooting. The Times Union reported last year that Abelove did not subpoena two civilian witnesses who were at the scene of the shooting and told investigators they did not believe the officer was in imminent danger when he opened fire on the motorist.

The second misconduct count accuses Abelove of unlawfully allowing the officer who fired the fatal shots to testify with immunity from prosecution when he appeared before the grand jury that cleared him. The perjury charge alleges that Abelove lied in front a special grand jury investigating his conduct when he testified that another Troy police officer was given immunity when that officer testified in front of a grand jury in an unrelated fatal police shooting.

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Read the Michael Flynn Plea Agreement, Statement of Offense | Law.com

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New Bankruptcy Form, Rules Take Effect | United States Courts

Individuals filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 must use a new form that presents their payment plan in a more uniform and transparent manner, and creditors will have less time to submit a proof of claim, under new bankruptcy rules and form amendments that took effect Dec. 1.

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Held for Months, Teens Accused of MS-13 Affiliation Start Returning to Long Island – WNYC News – WNYC

 by Sarah Gonzalez

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Over the summer on Long Island, immigration agents started picking up teens, known as “unaccompanied minors,” and accusing them of being members of the international gang, MS-13. Local police made many of the allegations based on the clothes they wore and who they spoke to in and out of school.

“It’s almost as though the police are saying we know [a gang member] when we see it, trust us. And the whole point is that’s not enough,” said William Freeman, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California who represented three teens in a class-action lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Justice, the Office of Refuge Resettlement and others.

The ACLU said at least 32 teens, mostly from Long Island, have been held in immigration detention over allegations that they are gang members.

According to court hearings attended by WNYC, immigration judges were saying over and over again that they were not convinced many of the teens were gang members. But they didn’t have the jurisdiction to release them from detention. Now, under a federal ruling, they do.

A federal judge in Northern California granted immigration judges temporary authority to release unaccompanied minors from detention if they are convinced they do not pose a danger.

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The Department of Justice declined to comment on the judge’s decision. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Suffolk County Police Commissioner, who has been collaborating with immigration agents to combat the presence of MS-13 on Long Island, did not respond to requests for comment. But police commissioner Timothy Sini told News 12 he stands by “every single detention” his department collaborated on, and said he makes no apologies for his strategy.

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