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Citizens Union

Public Safety

City Settles Discrimination Lawsuit By Black And Latino Officers


 A long anticipated trial over discrimination at the New York City Police Department was averted when the Latino Officers Association, the City of New York and the department reached a settlement shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin.

The lawsuit, commenced in 1999 by 22 individuals and the association, was certified as a class action three years later by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The class includes all African-American and Hispanic police and certain civilian employees of the New York Police Department from 1995 on.

Charging that the police department violated their city, state and federal civil rights, the plaintiffs alleged a hostile work environment where they were subjected to derogatory remarks, racist graffiti on lockers and similar conduct which was often tolerated by superiors. One of the worst problems was retaliation against officers who complained, according to the plaintiff's lead counsel, Richard Levy, who said the officers became "outcasts in many precincts." The plaintiffs also alleged disparate and discriminatory application of disciplinary rules and procedures. The lawsuit maintained that disciplinary charges were brought against blacks and Hispanics more often than against white officers and that more convictions were returned and more serious penalties were imposed for departmental convictions resulting in transfers, denials of benefits, suspensions and terminations. The charges against the officers ranged from rudeness to murder. Most fell into a generic category of conduct prejudicial to the NYPD.

Statistics relied on by plaintiffs indicate that when civilian charges against police officers originated at the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent non-mayoral agency cited for comparison purposes, disparities based on race or ethnicity were minor or non existent. In complaints filed by the public, blacks were charged at the same rate as whites; the figures for Hispanics were slightly more. However, when charges originated internally at the New York Police Department, overall disparities increased enormously with blacks and Hispanics much more likely to be charged than their white counterparts.

Similarly, when departmental trials were held, blacks were much less likely to be acquitted and have their charges dismissed, than whites. In fact, if the case, Latino Officers Association against City of New York and NYPD, had gone forward, the plaintiffs expected to prove that blacks were 60 percent more likely and Hispanics 30 percent more likely to be found guilty at departmental trial than whites. In terms of overall dispositions, charges against whites were more often dismissed, or resulted in findings of not guilty, while African-Americans and Latinos were far more often found guilty. In addition, when findings of guilt were handed down, blacks and Hispanics were terminated from the police force with greater frequency than white officers, who received lesser penalties.

If the settlement is approved by the court as expected, the class, which includes approximately 12,000 members, and their lawyers, will share a monetary settlement of $26.8 million of which 20 million is dedicated to claims and two million to administration. A panel is to be created to decide how many of the Hispanic and African-American members of the police force who served since 1995 may be eligible to share in the settlement and to what extent. It is not known how many claims will be submitted, or how many members will "opt out" and settle, litigate or withdraw their own cases. Claims may also be filed for lost benefits, but there are no provisions for reinstatement of individuals whose employment was terminated. The awards can range from $3,500 to $400,000.

In addition to the monetary provisions, the settlement includes an injunction against discrimination by the police department. While the defendants do not admit any wrongdoing, they accept that the police department is enjoined from discriminating based on race, color, national origin or ethnicity in the future. "The injunction outweighs individual recoveries," said lawyer Richard Levy. "It opens the door to a new day when black and Latino cops are not mistreated."

The settlement also requires the establishment of a review unit to analyze the NYPD's disciplinary process regarding discrimination and retaliation and whether African American and Latino/Hispanic members of police service are being investigated, charged or penalized in a discriminatory manner. The proposed order which is being submitted to Judge Kaplan for his approval and signature details the steps the police department will take to establish procedures to prevent discrimination.

All members of the certified class can apply for awards from the fund which is to be held by the New York City Comptroller; payment is to be administered by the Special Masters Kenneth Feinberg and Peter Woodin. Mr. Feinberg also heads the federal program of compensation to families of victims of the September 11th attacks. According to plaintiffs' attorney Richard Levy, "the case would not have settled without the Special Masters. We couldn't have achieved the results," he said. "But Feinberg had immediate access to Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly, and Mike Cardozo [Corporation Counsel]. No one would meet with us at this level before."

Emily Jane Goodman is a New York State Supreme Court Justice

Operation Impact And The Shooting Of Timothy Stansbury, Jr.


 Atop a Brooklyn roof, a single bullet from one cop’s gun pierced the chest of a nineteen-year old last month, ending his life and sparking yet another firestorm over police tactics. Timothy Stansbury, Jr. was armed only with a stack of CDs, on his way to a party via a rooftop shortcut, when he was shot at the top of the stairwell in his building, a public housing project in Bedford-Stuyvesant, by Officer Richard Neri.

Neri and other officers were patrolling the rooftop of the building, reportedly trying to open the door to go downstairs at the same time Stansbury and his friends were trying to use the same door to reach the roof. Whether Stansbury, Jr., was the victim of an accident or something criminal, a grand jury will decide. But while some focused on the swiftness with which Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly condemned the shooting as unjustified, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s quick arrival on the scene to comfort a grieving family, on the streets the story was about the police.

“The police see you and think you’re a suspect,” said Samuel Jackson, 20, of Crown Heights, calling police in his neighborhood disrespectful and overly aggressive. Jackson was reacting not only to the Stansbury shooting, but to a police effort widely hailed as a triumph by city leaders.

Last January, the story in Crown Heights was Operation Impact, a police effort involving bulked-up patrols in high-crime neighborhoods, in some cases, areas as small as a subway station or housing project. The police effort reduced total felony crimes in the targeted areas by 33 percent, from 11,033 to 7,421.Those numbers probably contributed to an FBI rating announced in December that put New York City among the safest cities with a population of 100,000 or more. City officials proudly trumpeted the success of Operation Impact when announcing last month that the program would be expanded. Operation Impact II will involve more police officers and stretch across more police precincts.

Crown Heights was where the original Operation Impact was first announced, and the increased police presence has not gone unnoticed. But while no one denied the need for police in their neighborhood, police tactics were openly questioned.

Jackson described tales of harassment that ranged from the trivial (he was told to go inside while drinking a beer on a stoop) to something more than that (he was pulled over while in a cab, searched and then “left like a dog.” )

He is not alone in expressing concerns about police conduct. Across the city, 5,581 people issued complaints about New York police last year, a 21 percent increase from 2002 and the highest number since 1995, according to a report by the Civilian Complaint Review Board released last month, as reported in Newsday.

Nevertheless, shooting incidents have decreased substantially for the police precinct, the 77th, which includes Crown Heights. Shootings numbered 64 in 2003, a reported 15 percent decrease from 2002. Police had reported a 41 percent increase in shooting incidents from 2001-2002. Homicides, however, remained unchanged, numbering 15 in 2002 and 2003.

Zeroing in on the impact areas, the numbers are rosier for the city overall. Shooting incidents in the impact zones decreased 30 percent, from 184 to 128. Homicides decreased 39 percent in the troubled areas, from 49 to 30.

Operation Impact II will send more than 1,000 police officers to 52 so-called impact zones, each chosen based on a statistical analysis of crimes. The officers, fresh graduates from the police academy, will join about 700 officers already working in the impact zones. Many of the new officers will be on foot patrols, and they will work with more veteran officers.

With public safety one issue where New Yorkers seem satisfied with city officials (Police Commissioner Ray Kelly had an approval rating of 70 percent in one poll)

Mayor Bloomberg mentioned three other recent police initiatives in his 2004 State of the City address:

Brooklyn Gun Court

Brooklyn Gun Court began last April. One judge was assigned to hear only felony gun possession cases from five of the most violent police precincts in Brooklyn, following each case from arraignment to sentencing. The results have been more convictions and lengthier sentences. Of the first 97 cases heard in the court, 99 percent resulted in convictions. The court has also largely done away with strictly probationary sentences, and the median jail time increased from 90 days to a year.

 

Mayor Bloomberg announced an expansion of the program in December, with similar courts now established in Bronx and Queens. An estimated two-thirds of all felony gun prosecutions will be funneled through the gun courts, with the Bronx Gun Court expected to process approximately 270 cases per year and the Queens Gun Court expected to handle about 175 cases. The Brooklyn Gun Court will now hear cases from seven police precincts.

“Gun cases are processed quickly, adjudicated fairly, and are sentenced in accordance with the state mandatory minimum laws,” Bloomberg said in a press release announcing the expansion of the program.

Operation Spotlight

Operation Spotlight established specialized courts designed to speed-up the handling of what Bloomberg called career misdemeanor offenders at a press conference announcing the initiative.

 

The program began in July of 2002. Even as the city struggles with the financial burden of housing inmates at Rikers Island, that seems to be the destination for criminals going through the spotlight courts, though offenders can also be sent to drug treatment through the program.

The percentage of defendants receiving jail sentences has increased 48 percent, with sentences of more than 30 days increasing 75 percent.

Operation Silent Night

Launched in October 2002, Operation Silent Night initiative identified 24 high noise neighborhoods throughout the City based on the number of complaints. More than 30,000 more quality of life police summonses have been issued in the first four months of the fiscal year (July 1 through Oct. 31) than those same months in 2002, and city officials have pinned the increase in part on Operation Silent Night and Operation Impact. Newsday reportedthat noise violations rose 31 percent to 4,648 in fiscal year 2003.

 

“I think from a public perspective it is terrific,” said Arline Bronzaft, a consultant to The Council on the Environment of New York City. However, Bronzaft questioned whether the city was any less noisy. Bronzaft said she was optimistic about a revision of the noise code, which she said has the support of the mayor’s office. Bronzaft said a draft of the code could be made public this month if approved by city officials, and brought before the City Council soon after.

Crackdown In The Schools

City officials have cited Operation Spotlight and Operation Impact as the model for the program in place to clamp down on violent crime in schools, according to articles in the Times and Gotham Gazette. Like Operation Impact, the school program uses statistical analysis to decide which school is an “Impact School.” Chronic troublemakers with two or more principal or superintendent suspensions within a 24-month period will be dubbed “Spotlight Students” and subject to more stringent punishments for subsequent misbehavior.

Civil Liberties And Police Surveillance


Critics of New York Police Department policies instituted in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks ended the year with a sense of anticipation-and disappointment.

A new, non-binding City Council resolution seeking to reaffirm the importance of civil liberties for New Yorkers became the victim of bad timing, as a vote on the resolution scheduled for December 15 was postponed until January following the capture of Saddam Hussein by military forces. (See December Lawtopic page)

Leaders from the New York Civil Liberties Union anticipate that the resolution will be passed when the council resumes in January. The resolution includes strong language against New York Police Department surveillance policies and also calls for the department to release statistics involving the number of searches done under the U.S. Patriot Act (under the law, such searches are done without the knowledge of the person being investigated).

The resolution, if passed, would be among scores of others passed nationwide in response to the Patriot Act. But in New York, there have already been several complaints about police practices that have left many civil libertarians disappointed with New York police.

Handschu Gone, But Not Forgotten

A 1971 class-action lawsuit forced the department to adopt guidelines in 1985 that require proof of an actual or imminent crime before investigating political activities. Those guidelines, known as the Handschu guidelines, were criticized by police as a roadblock to gathering information about potential terrorist organizations post-September 11. For example, a complex money trail potentially leading to and from potential terrorist organizations, or speech inciting people to "rise up" against the United States could not lead to further police investigation, as long as such actions remained within the letter of the law.

The city fought successfully to repeal the Handschu decree, reportedly at the urging of Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen, who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for 35 years. Federal Judge Charles S. Haight ruled last January in favor of the police, relying on affidavits from Cohen that testified the Handschu decree was not workable in the "context of terrorism."

However, the same judge reprimanded the police for their interrogation of protestors arrested at a February anti-war rally. Though police claimed that they asked questions from a "debriefing" form (which itself drew a raised eyebrow from Haight), 12 protestors signed affidavits saying that they were asked such questions as "Do you hate George W. Bush," and "Don't you think it was necessary for us to get involved in World War II?"

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Cohen both said they did not know about the "debriefing" form, raising questions voiced by attorneys about whose orders some of the 37,500 police officers seemed to be following.

For his part, Judge Haight said that he thought his original ruling struck a proper "balance between the legitimate demands of public security and individual freedoms." But after reviewing the complaints from protestors, Haight said, "I no longer hold that confidence."

What's Next?

For all the bad publicity and harsh words from Haight, the only change following the February incidents was that the police's surveillance policies were themselves placed under court supervision, a hand slap viewed by police as inconsequential.

And while the resolution before the City Council seems to show that civil liberties can be made into a citywide political issue, the idea that the so-called New York Bill of Rights will affect change in police policy-or even lead to the release of information such as how often education or library records have been pulled by law enforcement, as called for by the resolution-seems a dubious proposition.

Looming this year is the Republican national convention, a good bet to draw some sort of rally against Republican policies. Should any protestors be arrested, the courts and civil liberties groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union will be watching to ensure that no inappropriate questions are asked by police.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bill Of Rights Resolution


Q. What do Albany, Ithaca and Syracuse have that New York City does not?

A. A Bill of Rights Resolution.

Immediately following the September 2001 acts of terrorism, with little public debate, the U.S. Congress enacted the USA Patriot Act, and then the Homeland Security Act, followed by new federal orders, rules and regulations. Critics say many of these contain provisions infringing on civil liberties and civil rights. In response, three states, Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont, and, as of this writing, 227 cities and towns including 13 in New York State, have adopted resolutions in support of individual Constitutional rights. On the anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights (December 15, 1791), despite the urging of a coalition called the New York City Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, the City of New York failed to join the list.

"The protection of civil rights and civil liberties is essential to the well being of a free and democratic society," the proposed resolution begins. "The members of the Council of the City of New York believe that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty. Americans can be both safe and free."

The Bill of Rights Resolution, or Resolution 909, was introduced last May by Councilmember Bill Perkins, and cosponsored by 32 out of 51 members of the council. But it failed to come to a vote; support eroded on the last possible day because many members felt that the public would misunderstand its passage coming so soon after the arrest of Saddam Hussein. Speaker Gifford Miller has promised to bring the resolution back before the full council in January.

"We, as a city of eight million, can make a statement about federal law that speaks out against aspects of the Patriot Act, certain injustices and violations of civil rights and civil liberties, of Americans and immigrants," Perkins said in a telephone interview "The NYC Council must take a stand and go on record against secret detentions without charges or access to counsel; spying on lawful political and religious speech; and ethnic and religious profiling."

Udi Ofer, an attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union, adds that "fighting terrorism does not mean conceding our freedoms, and Resolution 909A gets that message across loud and clear."

The new federal legislation and companion policies vastly increase the investigatory and surveillance powers of law enforcement, making enormous changes in the areas of privacy, and the rights of persons investigated or accused, or merely under suspicion in connection with alleged terrorism or based upon ethnic, religious or political grounds. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are given unprecedented access to personal medical, financial, library and educational records, as well as Internet habits, search warrants, electronic surveillance. The new legislation also authorizes indefinite incarceration without counsel of non-citizens and those designated as "enemy combatants."

David Cole, Georgetown University Law School professor of constitutional law and author of ENEMY ALIENS, said that the Bill of Rights is not limited to citizens, the way voting is.

Because 909a is a resolution rather than a statute or ordinance, it would not have the force of law, nor the power to undo what Congress has enacted. However, the resolution would require federal authorities to disclose the circumstances surrounding New Yorkers arrested or detained in connection with terrorism investigations. It would also express support for the rights of immigrants, and express opposition to investigations based on activity protected by the First Amendment; to racial, religious or ethnic profiling; to unreasonable camera surveillance and searches; and to secret detention without charges nor access to a lawyer. The resolution would have called upon federal, state and local officials and New York City agencies and institutions to affirm and protect civil rights and civil liberties.

"I think the movement to pass these resolutions is the single most effective tool to raise the consciousness about the importance of civil liberties in the USA that has been undertaken since September 11th," Professor Cole said. "There is a real shift in public attitudes about the importance of protecting civil liberties and it's not because of the courts or Congress or executive orders, but what people around the country are saying in adopting these resolutions."

The resolution, which was endorsed by most of New York City's congressional delegation, also urges New York's Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton to take leadership roles in preventing passage of the pending Domestic Security Enhancement Act, or Patriot II.

Emily Jane Goodman is a New York State Supreme Court Justice.

 

After Rikers


An ambitious new city plan to help ex-offenders find jobs, affordable housing and drug treatment probably wouldn't have meant much to Clifton Murrell -- not when he was at Rikers Island, serving a yearlong sentence on charges of possessing cocaine and weapons.

Murrell remembers getting a booklet outlining existing programs designed to help prisoners plan their future on the outside - how to line up work, stay sober, and so on. Murrell never signed up for help; planning for his future seemed laughable to him while he was incarcerated. "You're in survival mode," he said. Rikers Island is "not really a place of" -- he pauses, a slight smile on his face -- "rehabilitation."

But now Murrell is out, and along with a dozen men and women early on a Monday morning, he is seeking help in the offices of The Fortune Society, a non-profit that has been helping ex-offenders since 1967. Some in the office profess confidence that they will find the job or education they need to keep from returning to old ways; others, like Murrell, admit to nervousness about what their future holds with a checkered past behind them.

City officials must be a little nervous, too. They are banking on a new program, funded by a $7.5 million federal grant and unprecedented interagency efforts, to help ex-offenders stay straight.

"It's something I really applaud. It's long overdue, badly needed and a real start in the right direction," said JoAnne Page, executive director of The Fortune Society. The new city efforts, however, are very much a work-in-progress, and the challenges are many in helping ex-offenders find success.

NEEDY POPULATION

Rikers Island, a little more than half a square mile of land sitting in the East River between the Bronx and Queens, has been the site of the city prison since 1935. Today, Rikers Island consists of ten separate jails, which together house about 13,900 prisoners.

Most inmates are in for only a few weeks as they await court dates; the maximum stay at Rikers is one year. (Longer sentences are served in state prisons.) The new city program seeks to help prisoners getting out after at least three months.

The Rikers' population isn't filled with violent criminals, but it poses a huge challenge to city social services. According to The New York Times, 80 percent of inmates have drug problems, 30 percent have no home, and 15 percent are mentally ill. The city's Department of Correction "runs some of the most expensive housing in the city," said Page. It reportedly costs about $50,000 a year to house each prisoner, a cost widely publicized as justification for the expensive new city program.

Prisoners with AIDS and mental illness already get substantial city help, though it took a class action lawsuit to loosen city purse strings for mentally ill ex-offenders. A judge ruled against the city earlier this year in a lawsuit filed in 1999 alleging the city was negligent in helping mentally ill ex-offenders find treatment upon their release.

The city fought the lawsuit, known as the Brad H. lawsuit, and appealed a state trial court decision, but in January settled, agreeing to provide services.

"I think if the Brad H. lawsuit hadn't happened we'd be way farther behind," said Page.

Page and others, however, credit the new commissioner of the Department of Correction, Martin Horn, as a driving force behind the new program. Horn was appointed to the post in January by Mayor Michael Bloomberg after serving a one-year stint as Commissioner of the Department of Probation.

"I've known the commissioner of corrections for a long time," said Page. "I've got a lot of respect for him.” Horn has organized daylong meetings with officials from various city departments, with the Department of Homeless Services expected to play a big role in whatever solutions the city comes up with. But the details of the program remain largely unresolved. Of the three main areas of city efforts -- drug treatment, housing and jobs -- so far, only the jobs portion is up and running.

JOBS AND BEYOND

Existing employment services for ex-offenders have differing philosophies. For example, at the Fresh Start program, run by the Osborne Association, "the basic idea is to get them excited about something," said Leigh Owens, a case manager. That program offers mini-courses in computer journalism or culinary arts, which might seem overly ambitious but often result, according to Owens, in Microsoft certification or a food handler's license, all paid for by The Osborne Association.

That philosophy contrasts sharply, however, with the main goal of the new city jobs effort, which is basically a jobs creation program offering immediate work and immediate pay for ex-prisoners, including ferrying newly released offenders from Rikers Island directly to work sites scattered across the city.

The first day out might be a job lasting from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Work includes grounds-keeping and litter removal on state highways in the Bronx and Queens, as well as work in and around housing projects in Upper Manhattan and Brooklyn such as whitewashing and clean-up. The work is typically done in groups of about six, with one on-site supervisor. Workers earn federal minimum wage but get a check at the end of each day, usually about $30.

The city program has two tracks, a two-week track and a six-week track, with ex-offenders with the least work history going on the six-week track. Ex-offenders will work four days a week, with one day of job counseling.

The idea is to try and simulate a real job situation, which means participants in the program might have long commute times. This way, former inmates can prove that they can show up for work on time every day, perhaps the most important trait employers look for when hiring new workers. The program includes an aggressive outreach program that seeks out employers willing to hire ex-offenders.

The Center for Employment Opportunities, a non-profit that has been offering similar programs for about two decades, won a three-year contract with the city to provide the job services. The method works, according to the organization, as in the past more than 60 percent of its "graduates" have been placed in full-time jobs within three months of finishing the program.

So far, only about 300 ex-prisoners have gone through the new city program, which began in August. The jobs program aims to help 2,800 prisoners by June, 2004 and about 5,000 prisoners once the program is at full-capacity. Expansion will likely involve more outdoor worksites.

WILL IT WORK?

Jobs are important, but they are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to what experts call "discharge planning." Page notes that there are "so many things working against good discharge planning." Nationally, two out of every three ex-offenders are rearrested within three years of release.

Housing is a huge issue in New York, Page stressed, adding that the new city program must overcome existing laws and regulations targeting those found guilty of crimes. People that have certain criminal records can't live in public housing.

"Some of it is law and some of it is administrative practice," said Page, explaining that federal restrictions are really primarily about sex offenders and people who manufacture drugs. New York City has tighter guidelines, for example excluding ex-offenders from public housing for drug offenses.

"The consequences are devastating," Page said.

Owens agreed that environment plays a big role in whether or not an ex-con can stay an ex-con.

"One of the biggest problems is the surroundings, them going back into the same settings …it kind of negates your progress sometimes," said Owens.

Of course, attitudes of ex-offenders must be changed, as too many see their criminal record as an insurmountable obstacle in finding steady work. Who will hire an ex-con? But Owens, like many on staff, did his own stint behind bars, serving a yearlong sentence at Rikers Island for felony gun possession, he said. Another ex-prisoner is Maria Perez, a counselor at The Fortune Society for almost seven years. She first came to The Fortune Society because she was mandated to attend substance abuse counseling after serving time on a drug charge.

"We are living proof that it works," said Perez.

There have been no comprehensive studies that see whether recidivism rates change as a result of careful planning for discharged inmates, according to Nicholas Freudenberg, a professor and director of the Program in Urban Public Health at Hunter College. Freudenberg has worked with prisoners in city jails for more than a decade and serves on advisory boards to the new city program.

He sees the program as a good start, but also said it will need to be judged by the resources that are put into it, and can only be judged over time.

"In watching city government for 25 years," he said, "the city can lose track of a problem, especially when it's a complex problem that requires collaboration over different city agencies."

A Case Of Rape And Murder


Keila Pulinario testified at her 1997 murder trial that Imagio Santana had raped her and then bragged about it to his friends. When she confronted him some days later about it, he laughed and threatened to rape her again. That is when she shot and killed him. She was convicted by a jury and is serving a sentence of 25 years to life, the maximum sentence, at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.

The conviction was affirmed by two New York State appeals courts, but now, five and a half years after the trial, federal Judge Jack Weinstein of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn has granted a writ of habeas corpus -- literally, “release the body” -- ordering New York authorities to either release or retry Pulinario.

The case offers yet another glimpse into the crime of rape, which is the most under-reported crime in the United States. According to Department of Justice figures, two thirds of all rapes are not reported. In New York City last year, according to the New York Police Department, 2,013 rapes were reported, which represents an increase, while most other crimes have decreased.

At the time of the shooting, Pulinario was a 21 year old victim of childhood sex abuse. She could neither read nor write, and had an I.Q. of 70. She had no criminal record, though she admitted she had used and sold drugs in the past. Santana, who had a sex offense charge pending involving a 14 year old girl, was a drug dealer and user; an autopsy identified the presence of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methadone in his body.

While the prosecution’s theory was that there was no rape and that the defendant was guilty of murder in the second degree, the defense to the shooting was that Pulinario was raped and suffered rape trauma syndrome (RTS) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The defendant’s legal position was that she was not criminally responsible because of mental disease or defect; that an emotional disturbance caused the defendant’s actions. The defense also claimed that the shooting was a justified act of self-defense.

The defendant’s expert witness, Dr. Linda Ledray, a clinical psychologist, had been prepared to testify that Pulinario was frightened, severely depressed, and suicidal following the rape, and that shooting Santana was a reaction to extreme trauma. But two weeks into the trial, after her lawyer conceded that his client had indeed shot Santana, the district attorney objected to having psychologist Ledray testify.

The trial judge refused to allow this expert testimony as a way of penalizing her for having been untruthful when she had been interviewed by the prosecution’s psychiatrist. She had not disclosed to this psychiatrist that she had had a prior sexual relationship with Santana. (She had disclosed this earlier to officials when reporting the rape).

Federal Judge Weinstein found that this extreme penalty violated Pulinario’s constitutional rights to a fair trial. It prevented Pulinario’s trial counsel, John Ray, from presenting evidence that because of his client’s reaction to the rape she could not have formed the intent to kill, and that, in fear of Santana, she acted in self defense. Ledray would have testified that Pulinario’s conduct including the shooting, her delay in calling the police, the omissions in her statements to the state psychiatrist, her calm demeanor were completely consistent with trauma. The prosecution’s argument that she did not act traumatized was never explained to the jury as being part of the reaction to rape. “The defense was thoroughly sandbagged,” said Barry A. Bohrer, her pro bono counsel, who handled her federal appeal along with David Crow of the Legal Aid Society.

Judge Weinstein wrote, “studies have shown that a rape victim who has a prior sexual relationship with her attacker is less likely to be believed and she may be blamed for having brought the rape upon herself.” If allowed to testify, Ledray would have explained that it is typical of rape victims to blame themselves especially if they know their rapists. Ledray would have testified that it was the defendant’s extreme fear of Santana that caused her to shoot him. The jury would have heard that she lacked criminal responsibility by reason of mental disease or defect or suffered from an extreme emotional disturbance at the time of the shooting, or that she was justified in shooting this man as an act of self defense. The self defense argument was supported by evidence that an open knife was found near Santana’s body.

In addition to omitting the extent of her prior relationship with Santana in her interview with the prosecution’s psychiatrist, the defendant appeared too calm, the prosecution argued, which caused the doctor to conclude that she was a “malingerer,” or not really suffering from an psychiatric problems.

This, Judge Weinstein wrote, “permitted the prosecution to thoroughly exploit the jurors’ misconceptions about the conduct of the rape victim and argue, among other things, that petitioner’s seemingly calm demeanor after the rape and her untruths to the psychiatrist -- which appear to be not untypical of rape victims -- were evidence that she had not been raped.”

No decision has been made on a new trial or an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Foley Square.

Emily Jane Goodman is a New York State Supreme Court Justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honor Andrew Haswell Green!


 

 
Andrew Haswell Green gets nothing more than a portrait in City Hall and a park bench.

Exactly one hundred years ago on November 13th, Cornelius Williams, a jealous and delusional furnace tender, set out to kill the elderly gentleman he claimed stole his girlfriend. Williams pumped five bullets into the greatest civic hero in New York City history, 83-year-old Andrew Haswell Green.

New Yorkers can be forgiven for not having heard the name, since his murder is not the only injustice committed against Andrew Green. Obscurity has done in a man whose contributions to the city were truly astonishing.

It was Green who was as much responsible for the creation of Central Park as its architects Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. In his position leading the state commission charged with building the park, he secured the adoption of their Greensward plan, defended it from meddlers, kept it on budget, expanded its acreage.

This would have been enough to make him deserving of recognition, but it is only one of his accomplishments. He was largely responsible for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. He brokered the creation of the New York Public Library and co-founded the Bronx Zoo. He added Riverside, Morningside and Fort Washington Parks to the map, too, and threw up a bridge over the Harlem River.

Most importantly, Green masterminded the 1898 consolidation of Greater New York, a fiercely contentious measure that, in a stroke, lassoed the various municipalities of today's Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island within the borders of New York City, enlarging the metropolis fivefold.

"It took Robert Moses, Fiorello LaGuardia and Franklin Roosevelt, drawing upon the combined resources of the federal, state and city governments, to exceed Green's accomplishment," urban historian Thomas Kessner has written. But while Moses has a state park, LaGuardia an airport and Roosevelt a drive named after them, among much other recognition, Andrew Haswell Green gets nothing more than a portrait in City Hall and a park bench. He deserves more.

GOTHAM'S FIRST COMPREHENSIVE CITY PLANNER

Born in

  New Yorkers can be forgiven for not having heard the name of the man responsible for the Washington Bridge (above) and the Bronx Zoo, since his murder is not the only injustice committed against Andrew Green.

Worcester, Massachusetts in 1820, Andrew Green moved to New York as a young man, became a lawyer and developed an interest in civic affairs. In 1857, after a stint as president of the Board of Education (where he railed against unfair state funding of upstate schools at the expense of those in the city!) he landed his position on the Central Park Commission. Honest, hardworking and tight with a buck, Green soon became the driving force behind that body

He convinced the legislature to adopt a series of escalating measures that gave the commission authority beyond just Central Park itself, and allowed it to oversee the development of all of northern Manhattan, the Harlem River and the suburban hinterland we now call The Bronx. In essence Green leveraged the Central Park Commission into the first comprehensive urban planning body in New York City history.

Mindful of growth and economy, two principles that would always guide his proposals, Green insisted on the coordinated planning of all the public improvements under his authority -- roadways, parks, bridges, water supplies, transportation lines and even cultural institutions.

By gaining the trust of public officials and the city's powerful business elite with well-formed arguments and a track record to back it up, Green was able to influence the metropolitan region's physical development to the end of the nineteenth century, long after the park commission was officially dissolved in 1870.

COMPTROLLER AND PRESERVATIONIST

In 1871 Green was enlisted to serve as New York City Comptroller after the Tweed Ring bankrupted the municipal treasury. He immediately put a stranglehold on the city's chaotic spending habits. By trimming unneeded workers, denying fraudulent claims, curtailing public works and sometimes even using his own personal credit to secure funds to meet the government payroll, he restored the city's fiscal health.

Green was a lifelong historic preservationist and champion of urban green space. He chose the location of the Bronx Zoo where it would fell the fewest trees, and even objected to the placement of Grant's Tomb and the New York Public Library - an institution he fought hard to create - on park grounds.

Soon after helping to quash a proposal to demolish City Hall and move the seat of government uptown, Green gathered New York's preservationists into the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, an organization he founded in 1895. In his lifetime and beyond the society created numerous state parks, lobbied to save endangered sites like Hamilton Grange, erected countless historic markers and proposed the name for the Williamsburg Bridge.

OUR INDIFFERENT CITY

 

In 1898 a small island was named for Andrew Green at Niagara Falls in recognition of the preservation work he did there. But incredibly, here in the five boroughs, no park, bridge, building, school or even street bears his name! All he has here is a forlorn and obscure bench in Central Park that was evicted from its original prominent hilltop years ago to make room for a compost heap.

"It is preposterous that the only memory marker recalling Green's contributions to New York is a park bench," wrote Mike Wallace, the Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author of Gotham, a History of New York City to 1898.

I agree. And I'd like to propose two significant structures, both in need of a name change, as candidates for a Green monument.

The first is the little-known Washington Bridge, a handsome Harlem River span that Green conceived. Ever since the Port Authority built the giant George Washington Bridge, the name of this other, lesser-known bridge has only confounded drivers.

The other is the Tweed Courthouse, the newly refurbished home of the Department of Education. (Tweed's designation is not "official," some say, but it is literally engraved in stone on the building.) Tweed was perhaps our city's greatest villain and Green our greatest champion; Tweed has a big shiny courthouse, and Green has a sad little bench. Isn't something wrong with this picture?

Michael Miscione discovered Andrew Haswell Green when producing a TV documentary in 1998 about the consolidation of all five boroughs into the City of Greater New York. He has launched a campaign to get a substantial monument named for Green.

Bank Robberies On the Rise


After notorious bank robber Willie Sutton was released from prison, he filmed a commercial in 1970 for a Connecticut bank, touting the bank's new photo credit card, a security measure. Now three decades later, at a time when everybody else -- from airports to government agencies to office buildings - are emphasizing their metal detectors and scanners and beefed-up security personnel, banks seem to be taking the opposite tack: They apparently prefer to be seen as friendly rather than secure.

Is it a coincidence that, almost as soon as Commerce Bank opened 17 branches in New York City, 16 of them were robbed?

Commerce Bank has the distinction of being the most targeted bank for robberies in New York this year. But it is probably unfair to single it out for criticism. It is certainly not alone. Bank robberies have more than doubled in the city this year so far, compared to 1999. By the beginning of September, there were 312; in all of 1999 there were just 141.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has blamed the surge of robberies in New York banks on their lax security, and security experts agree. Tom Reppetto, president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, says that many banks have cut down on the number of armed guards and do not have such standard security equipment as bullet-resistant barriers, closed circuit television, and "dye packs" - stacks of cash that explode with an ineradicable dye minutes after the robber leaves. Diana L. Taylor, the New York State Banking superintendent, has complained that many banks tell their employees to acquiesce to the robber's request. "This posture sends a clear message to the criminal that the institution is an easy and convenient mark for robbery," she wrote. And Robert McCrie, professor of security management at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, after analyzing the police department's latest bank robbery statistics, concluded: "Senior management in banking firms is blocking the imposition of needed controls They are resisting approving security measures that could make a difference."

Why Would New York Banks Be So Casual?

First, it is important to point out that few bank robberies in New York bear any resemblance to "Dog Day Afternoon" or "Bonnie and Clyde." The majority are committed without an actual weapon, just a note, and result in payoffs under $2,000. Most bank robbers nationwide, according to security consultant John Kennish, "do not case the bank prior to the attack, wear any kind of disguise to hide their identity, or have a post-attack plan in place prior to the attack." Violence is rare, though it does occur: In the course of 7,127 bank robberies committed nationwide in 2000-2001, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, eight people were killed.

This may help explain why, in an interview with Crain's New York Business, Vernon Hill, the chief executive officer of Commerce Bank, which is based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, could apply a cost-benefit analysis to such security measures as bullet-resistant partitions: "If we get 11 million customer visits and if we get robbed five to six times during the same period," he said, "am I going to design branches for the 11 million, or for the five to six robberies?"

Cost-consciousness is part of the equation. So is an apparent fatalism. The New York State Bankers Association says it encourages its members to implement what are called Best Practices strategies including dye packs and bullet-resistant barriers to reduce crime, but the association's general counsel Roberta Kotkin sounds less than confident about the efficacy of such a measure: "A study showed that 89 percent of banks that have bullet-resistant barriers were robbed," she says. Then why is it considered a best practice? "It's a deterrent," she replies, but no fail-safe antidote to robbery. "We have the best interests of our customer in mind. We do what we can. Bank robberies can't be eradicated."

This does not mean banks are completely indifferent. Some banks have strengthened individual branches where robberies have taken place, though, in order to keep costs down, have opted not to make wholesale improvements in their branch network. North Fork, which had 27 robberies in its 78 branches, upgraded its security by installing digital cameras that display the customer's photo on a flat screen as a deterrent. Still, Edward Hausdorf, the director of security at North Force Bank, said, "If someone is intent on robbing a bank, they're going to rob the bank."

But Commissioner Kelly and the others say there is plenty more that the banks could be doing. Kelly recently railed at a Chase Manhattan Bank manager who took 15 minutes to dial 911 after a robbery took place. "They don't get it," Kelly told the press. "They have a security guard, and he said he didn't see anything." Kelly wondered why Emigrant Savings Bank, which was robbed by the same perpetrator several times, did nothing to alter its security practices.

In Europe, banks have been installing "people traps" in which customers must enter the bank through an enclosure that includes a metal detector and takes considerably more time to exit. A security guard can press a button and trap the robber before he can escape.

In the absence of such obvious preventive measures by banks here, the police themselves are employing such strategies as stakeouts and special surveillance at branches that have been struck numerous times, according to Reppetto of the Citizens Crime Commission.

Meanwhile, Taylor, the New York State Banking superintendent, is trying to apply pressure on banks by informing them that bank examiners will be focusing on "safety and soundness" during their examinations. They will be looking to see that corrective action is taking place.

"If banks don't make the move toward better safety practices, they may find themselves on the road to a legislated solution," Taylor says, "whereby compliance with a set of standards is legally mandated by the New York City Council and/or the state legislature."

Gary M. Stern has written articles for the Daily News, NY Post, and NY Observer, and newsletters for JPMorgan Chase.

 

The Racial Profiling Settlement


More than four years after Amadou Diallo was gunned down by police, a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Diallo's parents seeking millions in damages nears trial, sure to re-ignite some public opinion against the department if it goes before a jury.

In contrast, few headlines were made last month when city officials settled a federal class-action suit accusing the police department of illegal racial profiling when stopping suspects. But the settlement, while downplayed by the department as merely formalizing changes that have already been made, requires department records to be turned over for outside review through 2007. This ensures that racial profiling - which is what police critics say killed Diallo -- will remain the subject of intense legal and judicial scrutiny for years to come. And, with data on race often subject to more than one interpretation, the settlement could wind up sparking future debates.

The Settlement

The police department will not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement with the Center for Constitutional Rights, the non-profit group that filed the federal lawsuit one month after the Diallo shooting, naming as plaintiffs 10 black men who said they had unfairly been stopped by police because of their race. As part of the settlement, these men will receive a total payout of $167,500 from the city.

The settlement also includes a court order prohibiting the department from racial profiling (it is already against department policy). Once the agreement becomes final (which will likely happen during a November 25 “fairness hearing,” a standard practice in class-action suits that gives plaintiffs a chance to object to the settlement), police will also be obliged to begin conducting racial-bias "audits." The results of these "audits" must be turned over quarterly to the Center for review.

Along with these internal audits, the department must turn over every so-called "stop-and-frisk" report. Each time a New York police officer stops a potential suspect and pats them down, the officer must fill out a form, essentially answering why they stopped the person in the first place. To try and ensure fairness, another outside law firm will also review the reports. U. S. District Judge Shira Scheindlein would review anything found by the center to be questionable.

The police department and the plaintiffs have also agreed to conduct outreach programs in schools and elsewhere to inform citizens why the police make stops, how to respond when stopped, and the rights people have if they believe they have been unfairly stopped . Between 40 and 50 such programs will be held at various city high schools each year..

Path to Compromise

Much has changed since the lawsuit was filed. Lawyers targeted the police department's Street Crime Unit, citing a 1999 report (in pdf format) by the New York State Attorney General's Office that reviewed 175,000 stop-and-frisk forms and found that the unit stopped about 16 black potential suspects for every stop that resulted in an arrest. Diallo was shot by four officers from the unit who were patrolling for a suspected serial rapist. The Attorney General's report and a report by the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights in 2000 both found that the police department stopped a disproportionately large number of blacks and Hispanics.

But police brass disbanded the unit in April (it had already been de-emphasized much earlier), citing decreased numbers on the police force and a need to deploy officers elsewhere. And a month before that, Commissioner Ray Kelly issued an order against racial profiling, putting in writing that the department prohibited "the use of race, color, ethnicity or national origin as the determinative factor for initiating police action" Of course, Kelly was sure to emphasize that this had been policy all along, just unwritten.

The true reasons behind these changes may be more closely tied to the lawsuit than city officials will ever admit, but it was certainly logical for the police to downplay the settlement, especially considering the avalanche of civil claims that inundate the city every year. Many of these claims involve allegations of improper behavior by the police department. There were 1,796 new police action claims filed in fiscal year 2002, while $21.9 million was paid out by the city for such claims in the same year, according to the New York City Comptroller's Office.

Yet in fiscal year 2003, there were only 41 police action verdicts, according to the New York City Law Department (12 of which were for the plaintiffs). The Diallo lawsuit seeks $81 million in damages and pain and suffering (although numbers named in pending civil lawsuits can be substantially inflated; Abner Louima sued the city for $155 million after he was tortured by police at a stationhouse, and he wound up settling for $8.75 million in 2001).

Reactions and Repercussions

It certainly wasn't the money, then, that led the New York Post to label the settlement as an "obscene sellout" in a September 20th editorial. Rather, the paper was dubious of how the settlement will play out. Bill Goodman, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said that the Center for Constitutional Rights will be on alert for patterns of racial bias, rather than scrutinizing individual incidents.

But Goodman hesitated when asked whether data gathered from the police department will be released to the public. "We haven't decided that," Goodman finally said; as far as he knows, he added, nothing in the settlement would prohibit the center from doing so. While the Post is concerned that the center will somehow "come up with wholly different stats," data released by the New York City Council this summer already demonstrate how easily statistics can make the department look bad.

"Blacks Are Searched by Police At a Higher Rate, Data Show," read The New York Times headline from the summer. The data showed that 50.9 percent of. persons stopped and searched by police in the first six months of 2002 were black, about double the percentage of the black population of the city (24.5 percent, according to the 2000 Census). Police quickly defended the numbers, pointing out that 59 percent of suspects in violent crimes were black, as identified by victims.

One wonders if the stop-and-frisk forms will point to a true cause-and-effect relationship between those two numbers for the average cop out on the beat when scrutinized. In any case, the numbers, unless they change dramatically, will do little to calm those who already feel that something is systematically not right with the police department.

Regardless of how the settlement plays out, it seems unlikely to be the last word on race and the Diallo shooting. The New York Daily News, citing a law enforcement source, reported that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Jim Comey was continuing to investigate police stop-and-frisks for signs of racial bias.

Then, of course, there remains the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Diallo's parents. The four plainclothes police officers who shot their unarmed son outside of his Bronx apartment building were cleared of all criminal charges. The civil suit would appear to be their last legal recourse. Anthony Gair, lawyer for the Diallo family, offered no hints of an imminent settlement, saying he thinks the case will make it to trial in January or February. And while Gair said he plans to attack the police department for failing to adequately train the men who shot Diallo, he also said, "It's my position…that the only reason Amadou Diallo was confronted at all was because he was black."

Jaime Adame has written for Newsday, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Austin American-Statesman.

 

The Case Of The 17-Year-Old Anti-War Protester


"Dismissed in the interest of justice," are words rarely uttered in our legal system. But in the case of People v. Gragert, New York City Criminal Court Judge Matthew Cooper ordered exactly that.

Alisa Gragert, a 17-year old senior at Friends Seminary was arrested during an April 7, 2003 demonstration against the war in Iraq. She was accused of blocking the "normal flow of pedestrian traffic," by laying down in front of 712 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The building houses the offices of the Carlyle Group, a major international investment firm, which antiwar protesters contended would profit from the war. According to the police, Gragert ignored an order to stand up when informed she was under arrest. She was charged with obstructing government administration, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and two counts of disorderly conduct, each punishable by a maximum of fifteen days. About a dozen other protestors were arrested for the same conduct, but the prosecutions were separated and Judge Cooper's decision deals only with Gragert.

Following her arraignment, the defendant was released on her own recognizance and ordered to return to court on June 11. When she appeared on that day with counsel she was told to return a month later, on July 25. The court entry, however, mistakenly read July 23, and when Gragert failed to appear on the 23rd, a warrant was issued for her arrest. When she and her mother walked into Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street on the correct day, she was considered a fugitive, taken into custody handcuffed and chained to a bench in open court. Once the error in the date was acknowledged Gragert was again released.

Prior to preparing for trial, Gragert's pro bono attorney, David M. Stern, of the firm of Rothman, Schneider, Soloway & Stern, submitted a 31 page motion asking Judge Cooper to dismiss the charges in the interest of justice without reaching the question of whether she was guilty or not. This procedure known as a Clayton motion based on a 30-year old New York case, People v. Clayton, is infrequently submitted to courts and even less often granted. However, according to the Criminal Procedure Law, a court may consider terminating a criminal case if the prosecution and possible conviction of the accused would "result in injustice."

Judge Cooper would have to consider the offense, the seriousness and circumstances, the extent of harm, evidence of guilt, the defendant's background, any police or prosecutorial misconduct, the purpose of punishing the defendant, how society would be affected by a dismissal and how dismissal would affect public confidence in the criminal justice system, input of any victim and "any other relevant fact indicating that...conviction would have no useful purpose."

He also had to distinguish Alisa Gragert's case from a 1996 case involving the arrest of 90 members of Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO) protesting the annual St. Patrick's Day parade. In that case, a criminal court judge had dismissed disorderly conduct charges in the interests of justice but was reversed by the Appellate Term which hears appeals from Criminal Court and which ordered the charges reinstated. " Sincere beliefs are not an excuse for lawless conduct," the appellate court said. expressing concern that the conduct was "likely to keep recurring."

Still, Judge Cooper found that Gragert's case was one of those "rare" and "unusual" cases that "cries out for fundamental justice beyond the confines of conventional considerations." The judge cited the defendant's age, her lack of a criminal record and the fact that she was bound for college. (She now attends Oberlin College in Ohio.) Letters supporting dismissal were submitted by her high school principal and teachers, the coordinator of her volunteer work at the American Museum of Natural History, friends and neighbors. A United Nations advisor wrote "We have the deepest respect and admiration for the gifted students who exhibit a caring attitude toward their community and dare to dissent from its mainstream views when their concern for common good compels them to do so. Alisa is such a student and we need to encourage her to follow the dictates of her conscience." While the decision did not address the large number of teenagers in the criminal justice system in general, in pointing out Gragert's age, the judge emphasized that, "She is too young to vote in an election, drink alcoholic beverages, enlist in the armed forces, buy a laser pointer or a can of spray paint, marry without both parental and judicial consent, or enter into a legally binding contract."

Although according to Judge Cooper, Gragert's actions did constitute disorderly conduct, he found the harm of causing pedestrians to walk around her "decidedly minor," in contrast to the ILGO demonstration at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street "which snarled traffic for an hour and a half."

"It is difficult to envision New Yorkers, renown for their ability to cope in the face of adversity, being particularly disturbed by encountering the defendant lying on the sidewalk and having to sidestep her," he wrote. "Impediments to the free flow of pedestrian traffic are a hallmark of city life. What with street vendors, people distributing leaflets, newspaper vending machines, food carts, coffee wagons, sidewalk eating, scaffolding, construction barriers, pavement excavations and groups of smokers in front of smoke-free buildings, one hardly expects to walk along a busy midtown street with an uninterrupted stride. In this instance, people may very well have been inconvenienced by the defendant's actions, but it could not have been that much more than the routine inconvenience we endure in this city on a regular basis."

In granting the motion, the judge concluded, "Unlike many nations, we pride ourselves on our willingness to hear the voices of dissent. Protest, in its many forms, has a hallowed place in our democracy and is very much a part of our American spirit. It is one of the great strengths of our society. And certainly our society is strong enough to recognize the mitigating circumstances present here and forego the prosecution of this young woman."

According to Barbara A. Thompson, spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney, there will be no appeal.

Emily Jane Goodman is a New York State Supreme Court Justice.

 

Fear of Terrorism


 
Leaving New York
While some New Yorkers are leaving the city, citing bad schools, high housing costs or the daily stresses of urban life, analysts debate whether the exodus is anything alarming or unusual, and what to do about it.

Why New Yorkers Are Leaving:

The City Is Too Expensive
by E.J. McMahon

City Schools and Housing Are Inadequate
by David Kallick

New Yorkers Who Left:

Rondrae Hunter
A Frustrating Apartment Search

Allison Woods
Struggling with Strollers and Schools

Stefan Kochi
Bad for Business


About a month after 9/11, I decided that, after having lived in New York for 12 years, I wanted to move. Even though my wife recognized that my fear was somewhat legitimate, she thought we ought to just stick it out for a while and see what happened. And she was very attached to Park Slope, where we lived, and to our friends in the neighborhood. I was attached too, but more than that I was frightened by the risk to our children.

With two kids, I just did not want to be in New York. We were in the middle of the anthrax scare, and I was opening my mail with gloves and a mask on. I was nervous about taking my kids on the subway. I didn't want to put them at risk. Then we had the scare about a dirty bomb and radioactive material in Manhattan. My wife started coming over to my side.

To decide where we would move, we drew a circle with the radius of a one and a half hour drive from Manhattan. Anywhere within the circle was a prospect. Then we visited a friend in Connecticut. I took a drive to the Long Island Sound and fell in love with the shore. It was a beautiful place. We moved to Milford in July 2002.

Though 9/11 was the main reason we moved, it wasn't the only one. Another reason was the financial situation; the rent in our apartment had just increased 15 percent. In the nine years we had lived there, the rent had climbed a total of 70 percent. It was just too expensive.

Our nine-year-old sons were soon going to leave their elementary school, PS 321, and would have to enroll in a middle school. I wasn't worried that they wouldn't get into a good school, but I was worried about how far away it would be. They were going to have to take subways and buses to get to school rather than walk down the street as they used to. I didn't like the idea of them doing that, and we couldn't afford to send them to a private school.

It took my sons awhile -- six months or eight months -- to adjust to the move. My wife had trouble as well. We came back to Brooklyn occasionally, and walked around, and the kids hung out with their old friends. It helped them with the separation. My wife still visits women friends down there, and she's in a book club that meets once a month.

I try to stay away from the city. I am a painter and so I go down and met with my artist friends sometimes. We visit museums and galleries. But I am a little scared. I really don't want to be in the city at all.

I see myself being comfortable again in New York only if we solve the terrorist threat. If Al-Qaeda, and Saddam Hussein were brought to justice and there were no attacks for a year or two, then I would feel much better. But I will never move back to New York. For me, the move is irreversible.

David Bassine, a painter, left New York and moved to Connecticut.



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