Concerned about the number of federal civil rights lawsuits filed against New York City police officers, a subcommittee of judges in the Southern District of New York adopted a temporary set of rules two years ago “designed to promote the just, speedy and inexpensive resolution” of many of those lawsuits.
That sounds so wise, doesn’t it? Until you catch up to reality:
But several lawyers who regularly handle civil rights cases say the plan favors the City of New York, which represents most police officers — so much so that some of the lawyers have tried to avoid filing such suits in the Southern District.
Debate over the rules has intensified recently as judges have pondered the plan’s future. The court invited lawyers to submit letters about the plan and held a forum last month to hear from some of them. Court officials said that the plan, part of a pilot program, could be altered, abandoned or made permanent.
“I find the present plan profoundly disturbing,” wrote Joel B. Rudin, a lawyer. “It makes the Southern District a hostile forum for plaintiffs.”
Mr. Rudin wrote that he had filed lawsuits in state court to avoid the rules, only to see lawyers for the city file papers to have the cases moved to federal court.
Then you learn that:
Under the plan, which was created by a subcommittee overseen by Judge Paul A. Crotty, a former head of the New York City Law Department, the city has been given 80 days to respond to lawsuits, rather than the 21 days allowed by standard federal rules. While the city is required to produce some evidence quickly, most of it is postponed, and all discovery can be halted if a defendant moves to dismiss the suit.
Did you get that? The plan was created by a guy who was for quite a long time the chief defender of the City in lawsuits like these. So he’s created a plan that will make defense of these cases against cops much much easier.
Those people at Corp Counsel (the short name for the New York City Law Department) have been working way too hard trying to avoid handing over discovery to civil rights lawyers, so why not just change the rules to make it harder for civil rights lawyers to get discovery?
Oh pooh. The City lawyers are losing the game so they’re taking their ball and going home. (I used to play canasta or gin or something with a cousin who always won, except when I was on the verge of winning … and then he’d mess up the cards so we never finished those games.)