Mass Dissent – Litigation Committee Report (9/15/2022)

The Litigation Committee of NLG-Mass. was busy this month. Law student intern Adam Baldasarre finished up his summer duties by investigating Boston police surveillance and especially drone surveillance, with an emphasis on Mass-Cass and other spots where people lacking sustainable housing gather for safety. No present plans for action as of this writing, but come back next month for an update. Law student intern Sara Malley was working on, among many other projects, looking at the likely presence of members of white Nationalist groups in Mass. law enforcement agencies. Sara invited Drew Friedfertig from the NLG Buffalo Chapter to the Litigation Committee’s September meeting. Big thanks to Drew for their inspiring action. The Buffalo Chapter has been doing some important and interesting work examining police policies and practices to screen out or investigate and discipline police officers who are members of white Nationalist organizations, anti-government militias, sovereign citizen groups, or “domestic terrorist” organizations, by submitting public records requests and lobbying local officials. The Litigation Committee discussed actions that are more directed to the threats in and politics of Massachusetts.

The Litigation Committee continued to gather records concerning the 2019 Boston anti-Straight Parade Protests, including following up on a FOIA request to the FBI Boston Field Office. Doug Smith, David Kelston and Sara Malley met with Boston Police Department’s (BPD’s) Legal Department, and we expect a final response to our 2020 public records request before next month’s report.

On the Litigation Committee’s public records requests regarding complaints about police throughout the Commonwealth covering their name tags or refusing to present their police identification cards upon request, BPD’s and New Bedford Police Department’s non-responses to NLG’s records requests were appealed to the  Secretary of State’s Office’s Supervisor of Records, in both instances resulting in Orders to produce responses within 10 business days. Doug Smith of the Litigation Committee continued our support for the Mass. Alliance Against Predatory Lending or MAAPL, working on motions addressing Housing Court’s adding additional family members to executions after judgment, and without notice or opportunities to be heard, as well as appellate briefing on racial histories of predatory lending and press releases on a successful SJC case giving homeowners some room for bringing  predatory lending counterclaims in post-foreclosure summary process actions.

The Litigation Committee is continuing, unfortunately without much success thus far, to advocate the passing of  local ordinances against the use of so-called less-lethal law enforcement methods—tear gas, rubber bullets and the like. Anyone who has any ideas or interest or just wants to collaborate on the effort, contact Litigation Committee member Doug Smith.