The Legal Aid Society on Monday asked an appeals court to note that the city was wrong to claim the NYPD somehow didn’t know it had been releasing summaries of officers’ disciplinary records to the media.
The group, which represents people who can’t afford to hire a lawyer, is locked in a battle with the city to make public the summaries, which the city two years ago stopped releasing to the media on the grounds that doing so would be a violation of Section 50-a of the state’s civil rights code of 1976.
The NYPD had been releasing those summaries for four decades but stopped after the Legal Bureau learned from a Legal Aid Freedom of Information request that reporters had access to a clipboard hanging in the department’s press office that listed the summaries.
The Legal Bureau had been “unaware that this was happening,” said Aaron Bloom, a lawyer for the city, at an appellate division hearing last week.
But Legal Aid, in a letter to Bloom, noted that in 2016 ex-Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told the Daily News that he at one point tried to have the clipboard removed so reporters couldn’t see the summaries — only to be told by the Legal Bureau that it could not be done.
Legal Aid now wants the court to correct Bloom’s contention.
A Law Department spokesman said that Kelly’s comment “neither contradicts our statements made in oral argument nor establishes that NYPD lawyers were aware that information may have been posted in violation of 50-a’s prohibition against the publishing of police personnel records.”
Legal Aid and other groups have said the de Blasio administration has misinterpreted what 50-a applies to, and that the NYPD’s earlier practice of making disciplinary summaries available was correct.