NEW YORK, NY, February 4, 2019 – Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP today announced the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of Federal Defenders of New York aimed to restore the constitutional rights of hundreds of individuals detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Over the course of the past month, the Bureau of Prisons and the facility’s Warden Herman Quay have repeatedly violated inmates’ sixth amendment rights to legal counsel, and more recently, in the wake of an electrical fire, they have knowingly allowed inhumane conditions to persist at the facility that seriously endanger the health and safety of hundreds of men detained there.
The lawsuit seeks immediate relief for the deplorable and rapidly deteriorating conditions at the facility, including sustained periods of time with little heat, light, or medical care for inmates. Inmates have been held in pitch-black cells with insufficient heat for the past week. They have had limited access to showers, hot water, or hot food. Inmates who have asked for medical care have not received it, and those who need new medications are not receiving them. Clean laundry has not been provided and many inmates are using soiled sheets and towels. Following a 35-day government shutdown during which the Bureau of Prisons repeatedly and illegally cancelled or delayed legal visiting, the Bureau of Prisons responded to a reported electrical fire by cancelling legal visiting for all men and women for all of the past week. The Bureau of Prisons has exacerbated the situation by refusing to give detailed or accurate information about legal visiting or prison conditions to the Federal Defenders or the public, and still has not provided a timeline for when normal visiting might resume.
“Numerous witnesses have seen and heard with their own eyes and ears the deplorable and inhumane conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Center. Hundreds of men are being locked into darkened cells, subjected to frigid temperatures for days on end, and denied basic necessities including hot water and critical medical care. We are hopeful that the Court will immediately restore these individuals’ constitutional rights, including their access to legal counsel,” said Sean Hecker, Partner, Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP.
“We are asking the Court to intervene immediately on behalf of the many hundreds of individuals who are detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center and entrusted to the government’s care. Legal and family visits must be allowed to resume and conditions improved,” said David Patton, Executive Director and Attorney-in-Chief of Federal Defenders, “The conditions at the MDC and the behavior of the officials in charge are disgraceful and inhumane and represent wholesale violations of our clients’ constitutional rights.”
About Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP
Founded in July 2017 by renowned litigator Roberta Kaplan, Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP has quickly emerged as one of the most formidable litigation boutiques in the country, fusing highstakes commercial litigation with a groundbreaking public interest practice. Clients trust Kaplan Hecker & Fink with some of their most pressing challenges, from white collar criminal defense, to complex appellate litigation, to business disputes, and Titles VII and IX matters. Kaplan Hecker & Fink’s team of New York-based litigators share a mission to provide the highest level of client service, advocacy, and advice while maintaining a deep commitment to the principles of integrity, fairness, and justice.