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Judge reviews need for monitor in NYPD surveillance case

A Manhattan federal judge reviewing the fairness of a settlement of a suit over alleged surveillance of the Muslim community by the NYPD expressed concern Wednesday that a civilian monitor’s post may be abolished after five years.

U.S. District Judge Charles Haight closely questioned lawyers for both the city and the plaintiffs about a provision permitting a future mayor to eliminate the internal “civilian representative” without any judicial review.

“Why was that, Mr. Farrell?” Haight asked city lawyer Peter Farrell. “Don’t you like me? Give me the thinking behind that particular proposal.”

Farrell said the city didn’t want to tie a future mayor’s hands, and felt five years was long enough to regain the public confidence that no illegal monitoring of political activity or profiling was going on. Plaintiffs’ lawyers said they didn’t like it, but the city refused to budge in settlement talks.

Haight, completing two days of hearings, reserved decision.

The landmark agreement, announced in January, bans investigations based on race or ethnicity, or probes of political activity. The mayor-appointed civilian monitor is supposed to help insure NYPD terror investigations don’t violate those rules.

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