Legal Aid Society


LAS Files Emergency Lawsuit to Free 108 New Yorkers Illegally Detained Pre-Arraignment by NYPD

The Legal Aid Society filed an emergency lawsuit against the New York City Police Department (NYPD) tonight in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of 108 New Yorkers currently detained illegally, many since this past Saturday, in Manhattan in violation of New York’s 24-hour arrest-to-arraignment requirement, as reported by THE CITY.

The 24-hour arrest-to-arraignment requirement, which Legal Aid secured in the landmark lawsuit Roundtree v. Brown, challenged the protracted delays newly arrested persons experienced prior to being brought before a judge and resulted in significant improvements in the criminal justice system by setting a 24-hour standard from arrest to arraignment.

The NYPD’s behavior is reminiscent of the 2004 Republican National Convention when officers detained and illegally held thousands of protesters. The Legal Aid Society filed a similar lawsuit then and successfully secured the protesters’ release. The current situation is an even greater concern, as every individual detained and held by the police is at risk for COVID-19 exposure.

“The reason why 24 hours from arrest to arraignment is important, besides the fact that somebody has a right to that due process, is [so] that people don’t fall through the cracks,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice. “There’s a process that the time pressure allows the people to not languish in the holes and the cracks of the criminal justice system.”