It’s Tuesday and the Mayor’s New Involuntary Commitment Policy Had Its First Day in Court
A controversial new policy finds itself quickly in court, and other links to start your day.
10:11 AM EST on December 13, 2022
Two weeks ago, just before jetting off to Greece and then Qatar, Eric Adams announced a shift in how New York City would be treating New Yorkers who appear to be struggling with mental illness. Even if they are not posing a threat to anyone else, NYPD officers and other City employees now have the ability to involuntarily bring them to a hospital, where they would undergo evaluation and (hopefully) treatment. The press conference hosted by the mayor grabbed headlines and took the city's own police force by surprise. Upon returning from abroad, Adams himself did a string of media appearances touting the policy change. A legal motion challenging the initiative was filed days after it was announced.
The motion was filed by lawyers representing Steven Greene, a plaintiff in an ongoing civil lawsuit against the City. Greene, who struggles with mental health issues and says he's been mistreated by the NYPD in the past, told his lawyers that since the announcement, he's been afraid to go outside, for fear of being taken involuntarily by the NYPD.
On Monday afternoon in federal court in Lower Manhattan, Luna Droubi, an attorney representing Greene, asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order for the new policy, which has already gone into effect.
"This is a lowering of the standard," Droubi told 81-year-old District Judge Paul A. Crotty. "This is a new policy."
Droubi and other lawyers for the plaintiffs, a group that includes organizations like Community Access, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York, and Correct Crisis Intervention, were arguing that because the mayor had shifted how the City was applying state law, this represented a completely new policy, and it should be subject to both scrutiny from the court as well as a possible pause to give the City time to fully explain to law enforcement how the policy would be rolled out. Currently, no police officers have received extra training based on the guidance.
The arguments from the attorneys echoed comments made by City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who told reporters last week, "What we'd like to see is a plan. We have not seen that yet."
Alan Scheiner, an attorney for the Adams administration, defended the initiative, and argued that the mayor was simply alerting his City employees to powers they already had.
"This is the application of an existing law," Scheiner told Crotty.
While the judge appeared skeptical of the plaintiffs' ability to halt the shift without any proof that someone's rights had already been violated by it, he defended their right to question it, leading to some chippiness from Scheiner, who claimed they didn't actually want people to find help.
"[The plaintiffs] claim to be advocates for the mentally ill, but they want people to starve to death, walk on the subway tracks," Scheiner told the court, before eventually being cut off by the judge.
In the middle of arguments, Crotty questioned why the Adams administration would hold a press conference to announce a new policy, if it wasn't in fact new.
"They haven't been [enforcing the law], and that’s the whole point of the new policy?" Crotty asked the City's lawyer, who answered in the affirmative.
The judge ended the meeting without issuing a decision, but said he would issue one "shortly."
Some links for you, issued immediately:
- Remember when humans first went to the moon? Same feeling.
- New York Focus has a helpful look at all of the bills passed during the legislative session that Governor Kathy Hochul has yet to sign. And a new Siena poll finds that New Yorkers haven't been too pleased with her time in office.
- New York mag on Jay Jacobs's future: "Despite the uproar, Jacobs's position seems secure. Hochul has continued to back the party leader, and the chairs of more than 40 county parties signed a letter of support that credited Jacobs with guiding the party 'through unprecedented crossroads during his tenure' and said he 'has consistently led with a steady hand.' His detractors are left with few good alternatives to get rid of him."
- If we can't even build bus lanes, how're we going to build more housing?
- Mayor Eric Adams, who is definitely an Enneagram Type 6, is now forcing City officials to take personality quizzes created by Deloitte for an undisclosed amount of money. Eric, Buzzfeed is free!!!
- Former comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer is suing the woman who alleged he sexually harassed her, for defamation.
- Rudy Giuliani owes his third ex-wife $14,000 in country club dues: "He went on to compare his financial dispute with Nathan to Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, saying that considering the $14,000 debt a loss for him would be like prematurely declaring Russians the victors in spite of their heavy casualties."
- The Intercept's Akela Lacy has an investigation on the "slave-like conditions for people who are incarcerated" in New York: "New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision data obtained by The Intercept reveals that people incarcerated in state prisons were also forced to perform a range of other jobs for penny wages during the height of the pandemic, including asbestos abatement and removal of lead paint."
- The first farmworkers union in New York state is still fighting their management for a contract.
- As are workers at the Starbucks Roastery in Chelsea, who ended their weeks-long strike after the company agreed to certain demands.
- A correction officer who made $140K last year is facing some consequences for lying about the reason why he skipped out on work one day: "He claimed in the report he didn't come to work because his female supervisor had followed him into the men's locker room screaming at him. But video showed that was not the case, DOI said."
- And finally: Slate, we challenge you to a duel! Fight us!!!
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