Court: Use of Force Cases Against Correction Officers Must Proceed

The Legal Aid Society announced a court order in Nunez v. City of New York – litigation brought by The Legal Aid Society in 2014 to challenge the systemic brutality by staff against people incarcerated in New York City jails – requiring the City to augment capacity to address the egregious backlog of disciplinary cases involving New York City Department of Correction (DOC) staff. The order comes after years of non-compliance findings by the court-appointed federal monitor, as reported by the New York Daily News.

Per the order, the City must develop, within 30 days, a list of no fewer than 400 cases involving allegations of excessive force against DOC staff members for expeditious resolution.

The order also requires the City to triple the number of monthly pre-trial conferences before the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings for disciplinary cases involving charges related to use of force violations, and further mandates that the City develop and implement plans and procedures to more expeditiously prosecute such cases.

Lastly, the order requires that the Department of Correction hire additional attorneys and support staff to meet its obligation to impose timely and appropriate discipline. 

“The culture of impunity that permeates the Department of Correction will never change until misconduct is met with timely and appropriate discipline,” said Mary Lynne Werlwas, Director of The Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project. “These are necessary steps toward addressing yearslong, egregious non-compliance by the City, and we will continue to vigilantly enforce the relief to which our clients are entitled.”