New York City will pay up to $75 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over legally baseless criminal summonses. The settlement was announced Monday, January 23, and allows anyone issued a so-called “pink summons” between 2007 and 2015 to potentially receive $150 per case.
A pink summons includes tickets for offenses such as trespassing, disorderly conduct, and urinating in public. The settlement puts to rest a lawsuit filed in a federal court in 2010, which alleged that officers issued more than 900,000 court summonses in order to fill quotas. About 25% of those summonses were tossed for legal insufficiency — i.e. a lack of clarity about why the person received the ticket, as well as possible lack of evidence.
The lead plaintiff in the case, Sharif Stinson, said he was given disorderly conduct summonses twice in 2010 while outside his aunt’s Bronx building. The officers said he used obscene language, but didn’t specify what the language or behavior was.
The tickets were dismissed as part of the settlement, which Stinson’s lawyers called the largest false-arrest class-action lawsuit in NYC history. The $75 million payout is nearly double the $41 million deal the city made with the five men who were wrongly convicted in the 1989 rape and beating of a Central Park jogger.
The settlement agreement also requires the NYPD to update and expand training and guidance for officers and their superiors. The new policies make it clear that any quotas or mandates on the number of summonses, street stops, or arrests are strictly forbidden. Some of these changes have been underway since the lawsuit was filed.
The consequences for pink summonses vary depending on the violation. For example, a charge of disorderly conduct can result in up to $250 in fines and up to 15 days in jail. A conviction for trespassing can result in a fine of $100 or more if it is accompanied by other charges. If you or someone you love was issued a pink summons, it is essential that you contact an attorney right away for help. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic ticket attorneys with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-203-2619 for a free consultation about your case.