Akerman LLP, a top 100 U.S. law firm, successfully represented the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) in its effort to increase transparency in law enforcement through the repeal of Section 50-a of the New York Civil Rights Law, which for decades had shielded law enforcement disciplinary records from public disclosure. After the killing of George Floyd and public demands for greater law enforcement transparency and accountability, Section 50-a was repealed. The police unions and other law enforcement agencies sued New York City in an effort to block the release of certain misconduct records from being made public. Akerman represented LEAP in its amicus brief at the district court level and also before the Second Circuit. The parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, resulting in success on the merits and a win for law enforcement transparency.
In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court decision that required New York police and other law enforcement disciplinary records to be made public. The Second Circuit's decision is a win for LEAP, for law enforcement officers more generally, and for the public.
After more than 40 years of allowing one of the most restrictive police secrecy laws to hide misconduct by the largest police force in the country, transparency has prevailed. This decision will help hold law enforcement officers accountable for illegal conduct, which, as explained in the Akerman brief, "is absolutely critical to the goals of policing: trust between police officers and police departments and the citizens and communities they serve."
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