Judge Throws Out Lawsuit against NYPD for Spying on Muslims, Faults the Press for Reporting It

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Judge William J. Martini

A New Jersey federal judge who’s been kicked off cases and criticized by federal prosecutors has thrown out a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for spying on Muslims.


The decision of U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini also garnered attention because he criticized the Associated Press (AP) for exposing the illegal and unconstitutional actions of the NYPD.


In the opinion of Martini, a former Republican politician appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, the only one at fault was the AP for doing its job.


“None of the Plaintiffs’ injuries arose until after the Associated Press released unredacted, confidential NYPD documents and articles expressing its own interpretation of those documents. Nowhere in the Complaint do Plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior to the unauthorized release of the documents by the Associated Press. This confirms that Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press’s unauthorized disclosure of the documents. The harms are not ‘fairly traceable’ to any act of surveillance,” Martini wrote.


The AP won a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into the NYPD’s spying on hundreds of mosques and Muslim groups and neighborhoods. In New Jersey alone, the AP found that the police snooping involved at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools, and two Muslim student associations.


The plaintiffs, represented by Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights, intend to appeal Martini’s ruling (pdf).


“In addition to willfully ignoring the harm that our innocent clients suffered from the NYPD’s illegal spying program, by upholding the NYPD’s blunderbuss Muslim surveillance practices, the court’s decision gives legal sanction to the targeted discrimination of Muslims anywhere and everywhere in this country, without limitation, for no other reason than their religion,” Baher Azmy, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement. “It is a troubling and dangerous decision.”


Dan Froomkin at The Intercept noted Martini has been repeatedly rebuked by appellate justices for his actions, including being removed from a criminal trial after expressing bias in favor of the defendant.


The judge’s opinions also have been described as “misguided” and “irrational” in court filings by prosecutors in the office of U.S. attorney Paul J. Fishman.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Judge Tosses Muslim Spying Suit Against NYPD, Says Any Damage Was Caused by Reporters Who Exposed It (by Dan Froomkin, The Intercept)

Highlights of AP's Pulitzer Prize-Winning Probe into NYPD Intelligence Operations (Associated Press)

Syed Farhaj Hassan, et al, v. The City of New York (U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey) (pdf)


Reality 10 years ago
FREEDUMB?? Does anyone in the US have the intellect and the balls to stand up and demand change, "oh wait American Idol is on" distracted yet again.

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