Jalil Launches FOIL Lawsuit

 

As we all know, the Parole Board employs a number of tactics to keep long-term political prisoners like Jalil Muntaqim behind bars. They maintain files concerning such prisoners, but they do not share any of this information with Jalil or his attorneys. Since May of 2012, Jalil has been fighting to secure access to any and all communications sent to DOCCS by individuals or organizations supporting or opposing his bid for parole. In January of 2013, Michael Kuzma filed suit on behalf of Jalil under the Freedom to Information Law (FOIL) to gain access to all records maintained on him by DOCCS.

Jalil has a right to under FOIL to see these documents. Jalil and Mike will continue to work to pry loose these records from DOCCS. It is Jalil's firm belief that the release of these files will assist him in securing his liberation from prison. Read the Order to Show Cause, Petition, DOCCS answer, Jalil's Reply Affidavit and Order from Judge Dadd for more information. Judge Dadd does not hear oral argument in prisoner cases, but he has issued a written decision as to whether DOCCS is required to release the documents under FOIL.

Disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant feature of FOIL. Also, FOIL proceeds under the premise that the public is vested with an inherent right to know and that official secrecy is anathema to our form of government.

Read the October 13, 2013 Affirmation of Terrence X. Tracey for DOCCS explaining why DOCCS is withholding information, and the brilliant November 5, 2013 Reply Affidavit (with Exhibits) by Michael Kuzma.

The New York State Attorney General has until December 9, 2013 to respond to the papers Michael Kuzma filed on November 5, 2013. The case has been restored to the Court's calendar for December 12, 2013 to be decided on the papers. Odds are there won't be a written decision until late this year or early next.

On December 23, 2013, Judge Mark H. Dadd issued a Decision and Order specifically excluding the May 16, 2012 letter from the NY County District Attorney's Office to the Division of Parole from disclosure.

DOCCS Ordered to Pay Jalil’s Attorney’s Fees and Litigation Costs
BOTTOM V. FISHER
On June 19, 2015, the Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department in the State of New York, ordered the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to pay Jalil Muntaqim’s attorney’s fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) case his attorney, Michael Kuzma, brought in January of 2013.
Jalil had been struggling with DOCCS since May of 2012 to secure the release of any and all communications sent to DOCCS by individuals or organizations opposing his parole bid. As a result of the lawsuit, DOCCS relented and released the vast majority of documents Jalil sought access to. Although the court allowed DOCCS to withhold portions of a May 16, 2012 letter from the New York County District Attorney’s Office and the names of police organizations opposing Jalil’s bid for parole, it found that DOCCS had no reasonable basis for its blanket denial of Jalil’s FOIL request.

This case is a major victory for Jalil and other political prisoners seeking access to records under FOIL from recalcitrant state and local agencies. Read the decision here.

Jalil recently received some PBA letters in opposition to his release on parole as a result of the lawsuit. We are posting his letter here, as well as the PBA letters.

TO: The National Progressive Movement
FR: Jalil A. Muntaqim
RE: Support for Parole Initiative in Opposition to the PBA Campaign against My Release on Parole

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

I have asked Leslie J. Pickering to release the letters on my behalf on the Internet. Yes, I read the criticism by Lorenzo, and found it regrettably inappropriate to the issue. I do not deny the possibility of some Black activists being upset by a white activist reading an obnoxious racist letter, on behalf of a New Afrikan political prisoner, written by a white racist person. However, I find their sensitivity misplaced, especially when the intent is to educate and raise consciousness on the extent of the PBA’s (Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association) campaign and how it elicits racist support. Unfortunately, the focus has been misdirected, and I would therefore urge all activists, including Black activists, to join in the struggle opposing the PBA’s campaign, not only against me, but all Cointelpro victims.

We have recently learned of Sundiata Acoli’s having his parole denial reversed by the Court, and the virulent law enforcement opposition to the rule of law that granted Sundiata’s reversal. These letters speak loudly to the culture of opposition; even if an objective perspective is the PBA is not racist, the subjective reality of their campaign creates a venue for spewing of racist garbage under the color of their fraternity.

It is extremely important the progressive community knows and understands what our challenges are when the fraternity of law enforcement seeks to preserve a culture of vindictiveness and retribution, beyond the rule of law as established by the judicial process.

I ask all activists, Black and Euro-American, etc., to post these letters in condemnation of the PBA and its racist supporters, and urge all of you to encourage activists across the country to support the release of U.S. political prisoners, especially Cointelpro victims who have languished in prison 30-40 years.

Thank you Leslie for getting this out to folks, and I would like to offer my apology to Lorenzo and others for your sensitivity about the language of these vile letters. But I do not have the luxury to wait for Lorenzo or other Black activists to decide when they are prepared to come and support my fight for liberation. Let us together combat racism in all forms and practices.

Yours in fierce struggle
Jalil A. Muntaqim

To read the vile PBA letters, click here.