Published on: Sunday, October 11, 2020

A federal court has banned the enforcement of dozens of agreements that New York City police officers coerced from both individuals and businesses (article available here). For decades, the NYPD had a practice of threatening to evict people who had done nothing wrong, simply because a crime occurred at or near their home or business. Police would then use its no-fault eviction program to coerce residents and businesses to enter into settlements waiving their constitutional rights.  For instance, parents would have to agree to bar their children from their homes; businesses would have to agree to warrantless searches. Under the settlement order, the city will be barred from enforcing those no-fault settlements across the board, restoring thousands of New Yorkers' constitutional rights.

One case involved Sung Cho, a laundromat owner. Undercover officers first came and offered to sell stolen electronics to his customers. Then came the threat by police to evict him from his business. Finally came the offer from the city that he could stay "if he agreed to three demands: waive his Fourth Amendment right against warrantless searches, grant police unlimited access to his security camera system, and allow the NYPD to impose sanctions for alleged criminal offenses even without any opportunity for a hearing before a judge. Faced with eviction, he reluctantly settled on the city’s terms."