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National Lawyers Guild RNC Update

National Lawyers Guild RNC Update

National Lawyers Guild

"Can I talk about my case?"
The NLG strongly advises people who were arrested during the RNC to not talk and to not write about the specific circumstances of their arrest if they have pending cases, without first speaking with a lawyer. This applies to the particular acts just before and during the arrest. Please be aware that statements made on the Internet, as well as videos/photos shared or posted, reside in the public domain, and are not private or privileged; they may be viewed by law enforcement. The NLG recommends having such material reviewed by a lawyer before making it public. Be aware that if you are talking to the media, posting emails, having phone conversations about your case or otherwise publicly speaking about your arrest or the arrests of others, you are potentially sharing that information with the police. It may result in problems if you have a pending case. If you assume the government may monitor telephone and email communications, even if the government's action may be illegal, yo
u will better protect yourself and others.

While you may want to comment on how you were treated after your arrest (e.g., experiences in custody, conditions at Pier 57, the length of custody until arraignment or release on a DAT), be sure to note and save what you say or write; if future statements differ, your prior statements may return to haunt you."What should I do with photos, videos, or witness information relating to my arrest?"--Update 10/15/04

Download police misconduct forms and return them to the NLG.
Gather evidence such as videos, photographs, etc. Collect and safeguard the names, addresses and statements of witnesses who can testify about the circumstances of your arrest. Forward a brief summary to evidence@nlg.org If you think the evidence you have collected could help other people who were arrested or abused in the area, please print these forms and follow the instructions for sending your evidence to us.

Document and safeguard everything you remember ASAP. Make sure your lawyer has all information related to your case. If you prepare documentation of the circumstances of your arrest and/or injury at your lawyer's request, do not give it to anyone or you may destroy privileges that protect the document.

"When Do I Get My Lawyer? Can I change my lawyer to an NLG lawyer? "
— NEW 10/15/04

If you haven't been arraigned yet (i.e. released on summons or DAT):

If you were released on a summons or a DAT, you will be arraigned by Legal Aid or another public defender. There will be PLC/National Lawyer's Guild folks on site to take your info, and after this initial arraignment, if you are not eligible for a Legal Aid attorney you will be assigned a National Lawyer's Guild Attorney. Again — if you didn't tell us when your DAT date is we won't be there for support — so give us your info.

If you have been arraigned:

If you have already been arraigned you should have either been arraigned by an NLG attorney or by a public defender. If the public defender was a Legal Aid lawyer, then the National Lawyer's Guild is asking that you stay with your Legal Aid attorney, because there aren't enough NLG attorneys to take all of the cases. PLC, NLG and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys have been working together and we trust Legal Aid and think they will do a good job. If you have a New York County Defender or 18-B attorney and you strongly feel you cannot work with them, please contact us. If you were arraigned by a National Lawyer's Guild Attorney then you should have received the name of who your lawyer will be when you were leaving the arraignment part, if you did not — let us know and we will track your lawyer down.

"What do I do if I have a private attorney?"

If you use a private attorney, please contact the NLG at nycmassdefense@riseup.net so that the lawyers can coordinate their efforts regarding possible witnesses and other evidence.

"What if I forgot my Legal Aid attorney's name/number?"
— NEW 10/15/04

You can call the Legal Aid Society criminal division at 212-298-5000, and they should be able to tell you which attorney handled your arraignment.

"Where do I go for court appearances?"

All hearings following arraignment are held at the Criminal Court Building, 100 Centre Street, in Manhattan. Be sure to carefully read your DAT slip. Some arraignments are held at other locations, such as Midtown Manhattan Community Court.

"What do I do if I was arrested while riding my bicycle?"

Time's Up!, an all-volunteer group that promotes non-polluting transportation and the environment, is helping to organize information and provide extra support to people who were arrested while cycling or who had their bikes confiscated. You should contact them in addition to the NLG if either of the above scenarios applies to you. You can visit their website here.

"What should I do if I was injured by the police?"

If you were injured during the RNC protests, go to a medical facility right away and have your injuries documented on paper and by photo (make sure you keep the name of the person taking the photo, their contact information, the date, time and place — digital cameras with time and date notations on the photo are great). If you cannot go to a medical facility, have a friend take photos of your injuries or take them yourself. It is important to document your injuries over time, e.g., darkening discoloration of bruises over time. Safeguard the originals of your documentation and email a summary to evidence@nlg.org. The summary should include your name, address, phone number, docket or arrest number, and a brief description — date, time, location and what happened to cause the injury.

"How can I be part of a lawsuit for the way I was treated?"
— Update 10/15/04

Please read the recently released MEMO TO RNC ARRESTEES: CIVIL LAWSUIT OPTIONS If you file a notice of claim (as described in the memo), please send a copy of it to the NLG at nycmassdefense@riseup.net or fax it to (212) 679-6178. You should document and safeguard, untill requested by an attorney, any details reguarding your experience. You should also complete a Police Misconduct Form and send it to the NLG.

"I got a DAT. Do I really have to go back to NYC to go to court?"
Unfortunately, you are required to appear on the date that appears on your Desk Appearance Ticket ("DAT"). If you do not show up the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest, which will cause you problems if the police ever run your information in the future. If you are from out of state, be sure to contact the NLG before you return to New York.

"Do you still need clothing worn at Pier 57?"

Please place the pants or shirt that you wore while you were detained at Pier 57 in a plastic bag . Print and complete the evidence intake form, and attach it to the bag and keep it in a cool, dry location. Send an email to evidence@nlg.org and indicate your name, phone number, and date/time you entered and were released from Pier 57. If you do not receive a response by September 30, 2004, you may assume your clothes are not needed and may wash them.

"I have more questions!"

You should check out the People's Law Collective. They have been working closely with the NLG. If you called the legal hotline during the RNC you talked to someone from PLC. They also have quite a few FAQs on their website that we have't duplicated here. If you still can't find what you are looking for you should send an e-mail to nycmassdefense@risup.net with your question.