A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: New York City

Topless Bust Spills Over Into Suit

By Antonio Mendez

Earlier this month, a fire-eating burlesque dancer filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Supreme Court against two police officers who arrested her for sunbathing topless at Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn.

She is seeking unspecified damages plus attorney fees for assault and battery, malicious prosecution, and violation of her civil-rights.

On July 12, 2012, Jessica Krigsman was hanging out —literally—on a park bench when she was approached by cops and told to put on her shirt. “Haven’t you heard of People v. Santorelli?” she asked the officers. “This has been legal since the ‘90’s,” she added, trying to get the cops abreast of the law. “Call your supervisor!”

Rather than calling, the officers escorted Ms. Krigsman to their supervisor. She was arrested, taken to the 68th precinct stationhouse, and held for five hours. Ms. Krigsman was released only after receiving a summons by NYPD for “obstruction of a sitting area”—a Parks Department code prohibiting the hoarding of benches. The summons was dismissed three months later.

Earlier this year, NYPD reminded its officers in a memo that they “shall not enforce any section of law, including…against female individuals who are simply exposing their breasts in public.” In discussing the memo’s origin, Inspector Kim Royster commented that such memos were “periodically circulated to remind personnel of our policies.” The Inspector added that the memo “comports with the N.Y. Court of Appeals ruling on taking enforcement action against individuals for public nudity.”

That 1992 N.Y. Court of Appeals case is the very one that was cited by Ms. Krigsman. Many media outlets discussed Ms. Krigsman’s lawsuit, but none have peeked into the law books for a legal analysis.

Does Ms. Krigsman have a good case? Will the City lose its shirt in damages on her lawsuit?

LASIS goes after the naked truth.

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And in This Corner: NYPD v. Press. (It Ain’t Over Yet)

By Matt Catania

Judging from the response at a public hearing earlier this month, the New York City Police Department still has a long way to go to appease bloggers and other less-established journalists who, under the NYPD’s current rules, couldn’t get press passes to attend major media events or to cover breaking news.

The NYPD has proposed new rules that would make bloggers eligible to receive press passes (the change in policy resulted from settlement between the NYPD and bloggers who filed suit against the department in 2008), but several journalists at the April 7 hearing said the proposed rules gave them more questions than answers, and may herald tighter restrictions on press access to crime scenes than what previously existed.

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19th Century Law, Hot Dogs, and the Metropolitan Museum

A Note from the Editor:

A New York Times article on August 26th, 2009 ,about the police issuing tickets to hot dog vendors in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art included the following paragraph:

“The legal status of the vendors is murky. The city used to make money by selling vending rights to two hot-dog carts outside the museum, on Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, but in 2007, a disabled veteran, Dan Rossi, arrived, saying a 19th-century law enabled him to operate freely in some areas that are off limits to others. Soon, other veteran-operated carts joined his.”

Of course, this raises the questions: What 19th-century law?  Why is the law murky?  What the devil is going on?

Our intrepid student reporters did some research and went to Museum to find out for themselves.  Here are some of their stories.

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