The plaintiffs’ appeal brief in our federal civil rights lawsuit against New York City and District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., has been filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in response to U.S. District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest’s tortured 35-page decision in the case.
In her decision, Judge Forrest fundamentally re-characterized the case in a way that did not reflect the case presented. The judge essentially decided a case not before her and ignored Plaintiffs’ actual claim and proofs. These errors led the court to uphold a plainly unconstitutional law enforcement practice.The Court disregarded key evidence and ignored the basic argument in the lawsuit that a person has no way of knowing if he possesses a knife that could result in arrest and prosecution. That is the central issue in Plaintiff’s constitutional Void for Vagueness claim.
Assistant DA Dan Rather, Jr. even admitted at trial that a knife that cannot be “flicked” open by the purchaser at the time of lawful purchase can suddenly transform into an illegal gravity knife two steps out the door if an NYPD officer is able to “flick” it open.Despite that damning testimony that proves that the City’s so-called “wrist flick” test is subjective, variable, and thus unconstitutionally vague, as well as all the other evidence presented by the Plaintiffs in the case, the Court avoided dealing with this key point by essentially ignoring Plaintiffs’ claim. Instead, the Court bought into the City’s and DA’s egregious argument that the claim that the Plaintiffs could not purchase another knife without risking arrest again was hypothetical, when it is not at all. It is a real risk that the Plaintiffs face, as well as anyone else, in buying or carrying a common folding knife in New York City.
Meanwhile, Knife Rights’ Gravity Knife Reform Bill has passed the Assembly with only a single “nay” vote and has passed out of the Senate Codes Committee. A Senate floor vote is expected shortly. The bill was introduced earlier this year in an effort to solve legislatively the problem of the continuing arrests and prosecutions on bogus Gravity Knife charges in New York City. Governor Cuomo vetoed last year’s bill, which had passed the legislature overwhelmingly, on New Year’s Eve.