POLICE SPYING LAWSUIT DISMISSED ON TECHNICALITY
On March 2, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a motion to reconsider their earlier decision dismissing a suit by Peace and Justice Works (PJW) against the City of Portland for police spying activities. The case had been rejected in 2003 by a federal magistrate who claimed the July, 2002 filing date was beyond the two-year filing deadline for civil rights suits (see PPR #29).
The clear timeline presented by PJW, member Dan Handelman, and their attorney showed they had no knowledge about the "small number of documents" the Police Bureau had handed over to the City Attorney in January of 2000 until the City admitted having them in July that year. Because an Oregon statute specifically prohibits the "collection or maintenance" of information on those who are not suspected of criminal activity, Handelman's attorneys argued that the City had admitted to collecting the information, even if they did not maintain it. But as a result of the court's decision on the deadline issue, the question of the collection of information on Handelman with no suspicion of criminal activity has not been addressed.
The Portland Police in the CIU were involved in these activities, which implies that they may have acted similarly in their capacity as deputized members of the federal Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force (see article). PJW's case underscores the possibility that similar such files exist on a local or national level about other individuals and groups, perhaps based solely on their political, religious or social affiliations. Meanwhile, PJW awaits the results of the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act Request regarding any PJTTF files being held on the group by the FBI (see PPR #34).
For more information contact Peace and Justice Works, which is the parent group of Portland Copwatch, at 503-236-3065.
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