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On NYC Plan to Detain Some Mentally Ill People Now Injunction Denied, Standing Cited

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell book

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 30 – As NYC got colder, on December 12, 2022 an oral argument was held on Mayor Adams' new policy, thread here and below.

On December 8 law firms announced that

people with mental disabilities filed an emergency request to immediately halt NYC's  new policy to greatly expand coerced transport to psychiatric hospitals of people perceived to have β€œan inability to meet their basic needs.”  

   On December 9, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge in that case, Paul A. Crotty, ruled that he would hear the matter on December 12. Inner City Press was there, live tweeted thread:

Judge Crotty: The City says what was done by the Mayor is an application of existing law --

Petitioners' lawyer Luna Droubi: Not so. Now a police officer, who is not a mental health professional, can involuntarily detain.

 City's lawyer Alan Scheiner: Petitioners are out of line. This was supposed to be discovery conference. Now it seems they are requesting, today, a TRO [Temporary Restraining Order]. But I'm happy to speak to the mertis.

Judge: I wish you would. City's lawyer: Police are authorized to take people into custody if they appear mentally unfit -

Judge: How is the previous policy different from the Mayor's statement of November- City's lawyer: This has been the policy for decades. The Mayor only added training

City's lawyer: If they are conducting themselves in a manner that poses a danger of serious danger. Plaintiffs make false allegations that the City is authorizing its officers to take people into custody for being mentally ill. That's not the case.

City's lawyer: It's true Mayor Adams talked at a press conference about a man shadow boxing in the street. But that's just a comment. Plaintiffs want to require imminent violence. But that's not the law. They're just making it up.

 City's lawyer: Plaintiffs don't have standing. There's no evidence anyone has been taken into custody -- Judge: What about Mr. Green's statement? City's lawyer: That's just fear, based on past experience. That does not create standing.

 City's lawyer: Just the fact that these organization do advocacy from the mentally ill does not give them standing. This motion is without jurisdiction. There is no emergency. Petitioners' lawyer: The City is reinterpreting, that led to the press conference

 Judge: Is it a change from the existing policy of the State Commissioner of Mental Health? Petitioners' lawyer: Yes. The Patron Guide says imminent harm. City's lawyer: That's false. Plaintiffs take offense at this definition, a person temporarily deranged

City's lawyer: Imminent danger is not required under 9.41. People can be cared for... The Mayor found that the policy wasn't being enforced... There's nobody in this room like that...  Judge: What are you reading from? City's lawyer: Plaintiffs' Exhibit 1.

Judge: Has the state mental health law changed? Counsel: No. Judge: The City is in compliance with the state law? Petitioners' lawyer: We say no - they are misapplying state law. City's lawyer: Not meeting their needs might cause them to be a danger

Judge: Doesn't the City have to comply with state law? City's lawyer: It's only guidance. Judge: What's wrong with them making a motion in the pending lawsuit? City's lawyer: This is a new issue. It's not relevant to the existing claims. There is no time travel

 City's lawyer: They are asking your Honor to order that the police cannot carry out state law. That's not relief they are entitled to. It's not an emergency, not even for emergency discovery. Judge: Should the plaintiffs amend their complaint? City's lawyer: Yes

Petitioners' lawyer: Mr. Greene has been harmed by the policy about to change -- Judge: How can you say it is about to change? Petitioners' lawyer: He is walking the streets of New York with a mental disability and - Judge: But we can agree it hasn't happened yet

 City's lawyer: The Mayor's statement says these are indicia: unawareness or delusion... Incapable of meeting human needs, an incoherent person. The plaintiffs want the City to let people starve to death --

Judge Crotty (former NYC official): Please. (Groans) Petitioners' lawyer: Is mumbling to oneself enough? This is a dangerous lowering of standard.

Judge: The policeman only decides about transport to hospital. City's lawyer: The police have been called on to make this determination for decades. Somebody has to do it

 Judge: Your point of view is that nothing was changed by Mayor Adams' press conference? City's lawyer: Correct. Judge Crotty: Then what was the purpose of the press conference?

 City's lawyer: Mayor Adams wanted existing law used to the further extent. Here's a hypothetical: I saw a man walking around on the tracks. I didn't ask why. But the police could. Judge: Anyone could ask that question. City's lawyer: Police could order transport

Judge: How many police officers have received this training? City's lawyer: There was no training in the initiative before the initiative was announced. There are materials I haven't brought with me...

 City's lawyer: The Finest Message is the most that most police officers would have seen about the policy. We are rolling out training this week. Judge: How long will it take? City's lawyer: I don't know. Last I checked we have 30,000 people in the Department. City's lawyer: The purpose is to tell the police, you don't have to wait. Petitioners' lawyer: They are moving quickly. Judge: The Mayor believes he's doing a good thing for the people with, uh, mental disease

Petitioners' lawyer: They say, an incoherent person... So a person who is mumbling can be involuntarily committed to a hospital. Judge: They say that's been the policy in the past. Petitioners' lawyer: The Mayor has announced a change to the Patrol Guide

 Petitioners' lawyer: Mr. Greene is no longer going out of his house, out of fear of being taken into custody. City's lawyer: Nobody has standing. These organization say on their website they want police out of mental health.

 A 2d petitioners' lawyer: Community Access has standing, diversion resources to advocate. Mr. Greene lives in supportive housing, he believes he is vulnerable to police under this new policy. Judge Crotty: I'll have a decision for you shortly. [When?] story soon

Addendum: After Judge Crotty said decision soon, 3d petitioners' lawyer Mr Moore bring up "all the way back to Eleanor Bumpurs" case in the Bronx. City's lawyer: Their complaint is 350 paragraphs & doesn't ask for a preliminary injunction. We've moved to dismiss.

A 2d petitioners' lawyer (Jonathan Moore): Community Access has standing, diversion resources to advocate. Mr. Greene lives in supportive housing, he believes he is vulnerable to police under this new policy.

On January 30, Judge Crotty denied expedited discovery and a preliminary injunction, on standing grounds: "without either associational or organization standing, the Organizational Plaintiffs cannot seek this preliminary injunction."   The motion for expedited discovery is DENIED without prejudice as there is no "good cause" absent an impending hearing for a preliminary injunction. Mirza v. Doe #1, No. 20CV9877, 2021 WL 2581421, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. June 23, 2021) (denying a motion to expedite discovery absent a showing of good cause). The Clerk of the Court is directed to terminate the motions at ECF Nos. 108, 122. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Paul A. Crotty on 1/30/2023)

Inner City Press remains covering the case.

It is Baerga v. City of New York et al, 21-cv-5762 (Crotty)


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