Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Red Tape Times (article 12)

The Scourge of the Police State on Small Scale Proprietors and Innocent Tenants

In NYC, police use nuisance abatement to shut down small proprietors and put tenants on the streets, without charging them with a crime or allowing them their right to a criminal trial. These jackbooted thugs simply have to allege three instances of a crime being committed on the premise of a person's home or business, within a year, before a civil court judge, without the tenant or landlord being present to contest the allegations. They are usually allowed to use temporary closing orders to lock people out of their home/business for three days (five days if it occurs on a Friday).

This is according to a Propublica article published on Nuisance Abatement Action in New York
In New York, the NYPD begins nearly every nuisance abatement action by making an emergency appeal to a civil court judge without the landlord or tenant present, alleging the dangers a residence poses. Affidavits detailing three instances of a particular crime, such as drug dealing or gambling, in a one - year period are enough for a judge to authorize an action. The allegations can be based entirely on the work of confidential informants or undercover officers and need not have led to arrests
When they file a case, the police always ask the judge for permission to lock out the occupants of the residence until the case is resolved. These requests for what's known as temporary closing orders state that the location is being used in an ongoing illegal manner, and that the public health, safety and welfare require immediate abatement of the public nuisance. Police filings described purported offenses that occurred, on average, at least five months earlier for businesses and six months earlier for residence. 
Even worse, the NYPD use the threat of temporary closing orders to coerce tenants into giving up freedom of association and freedom from arbitrary searches and seizures.
At the courthouse, the NYPD's attorney usually offers to settle the case without going to trial - often by requiring tenants to bar specific people from their homes or to give up their leases. If tenants decide to fight the case, they may not be allowed to go home until the case is resolved. 
The settlements often impose provisions that critics say erode tenant's constitutional rights. The Daily News and ProPublica identified 74 cases in which tenants or homeowners agreed to allow warrantless searches in order to get back into their homes. They routinely waive their right to sue, and promise to vacate the home immediately and surrender their lease without going before a judge if accused of wrongdoing in the future.
The Daily News and ProPublica also identified 64 nuisance abatement actions against businesses in which no arrests were documented. Most of the businesses are small ethnic grocery stores or liquor store. The original intent of nuisance abatement was to shut down brothels, but whatever good it may have served is supplanted by the fact that it abdicates a moral and constitutional principle for the sake of expediency. The unanticipated consequences of expedient policing measures are bore out over time as the potential for abuse is realized and opportunistic officers seize upon them for personal gain. The same is generally true of statutes and judicial rulings which deviate from moral and constitutional principles for the sake of expediency. Nuisance Abatement, as presently practiced, is a clear violation of the 5th amendment which states:
"NO PERSON SHALL BE HELD TO ANSWER FOR A CAPITAL, OR OTHERWISE INFAMOUS CRIME, UNLESS ON A PRESENTMENT OR INDICTMENT OF A GRAND JURY, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, NOR BE DEPRIVED OF LIFE, LIBERTY, OR PROPERTY, WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
Being locked out of one's own apartment or business for 3 to 5 days is a clear deprivation of liberty and property. If the NYPD were to lock residents out of their apartments and shut down proprietors after the conclusion of a criminal or civil trial in which the plaintiff and/or landlord is present, much less might be said against it.

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