NYC:COURT UPHOLDS PRIVACY EXEMPTIONS ON GUN LICENSEES’ ADDRESSES

(The following is a reformatted version of a press release
issued by the New York City Law Department and received via
electronic mail. The release was confirmed by the sender.) 
For Immediate Release 
APPEALS COURT UNANIMOUSLY UPHOLDS PRIVACY EXEMPTIONS
UNDER FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW (FOIL),
INCLUDING HANDGUN LICENSEES’ AND HATE CRIME VICTIMS’ HOME
ADDRESSES 
RULING RECOGNIZES THE LEGITIMATE PRIVACY AND SAFETY CONCERNS OF
PERSONS WHO HAVE HANDGUN LICENSES AND THOSE WHO ARE THE VICTIMS
OF HATE CRIMES 
New York, N.Y., Feb. 5, 2013 - The Appellate Division, First
Department - a midlevel appeals court - today upheld exemptions
from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) of
home addresses of handgun licensees and hate crime victims.  The
decision was unanimous (4-0).  The New York Times had sued the
Police Department, challenging the denial of several FOIL
requests seeking that and other information. 
“The Court reached the correct conclusion upholding the
exemptions from disclosure under FOIL,” said Corporation Counsel
Michael A. Cardozo.  “The ruling protects important privacy
interests and allows an appropriate balance between privacy and
safety concerns versus the public’s right to know.” 
The case is complicated.  It began in 2010 when The Times filed
four FOIL requests with the Police Department seeking various
data in electronic form.  In response, the Police Department
provided some of the requested data, but declined to provide
other information on the grounds that it was exempt from
disclosure under FOIL. 
The Times then sued in December 2010.  In a decision filed on
Nov. 1, 2011, the lower court --- the New York County Supreme
Court - ruled in favor of the Police Department on some issues
and in favor of The Times on others.  The Appellate Division has
now reversed all the lower court findings that were favorable to
The Times and sent back to the lower court for further findings
one aspect that was favorable to the Police Department. 
Highlights of today’s ruling: 
•     The home addresses of persons who have handgun licenses are
exempt from disclosure under FOIL.  The Court recognized that
disclosing a person’s home address implicates heightened privacy
and safety concerns, especially when disclosure is in electronic
form.
•     The home addresses of hate crime victims are exempt from
disclosure under FOIL.  The Times had also sought this in
electronic format. 
There are other elements of the ruling that apply to procedural
issues involving FOIL requests.  These are also favorable to the
Police Department, and our office can explain these to
reporters. 
Elizabeth Freedman of the Appeals Division handled the case for
the City.  “FOIL recognizes privacy and public safety exemptions
from disclosure,” noted Freedman.  “This decision is critical
for a number of reasons.  For example, a handgun licensee might
be concerned that someone could steal a gun from his or her
house if the owner’s name and address were widely disseminated.
Or a victim of domestic violence who had a handgun license might
be concerned that his or her abuser would be able to locate him
or her and cause further injury.  In the case of hate crime
victims, the Court recognized the sensitivity of these crimes
and these victims’ privacy concerns.” 
In fact, in reaching its decision, the Court noted that
“disclosing a person’s home address implicates a heightened
privacy concern.” 
Marilyn Richter of the General Litigation Division also worked
on the appeal and oversaw the matter in the lower court.  The
Law Department’s legal team also included Leonard Koerner and
Francis Caputo.  Doram Tamari of the Police Department’s Legal
Bureau played a central role in the litigation. 
The New York City Law Department is one of the oldest, largest,
and most dynamic law offices in the world.  Tracing its roots
back to the 1600’s, the Department has an active caseload of
80,000 matters and transactions in 17 legal divisions.  The
Corporation Counsel heads the Law Department and acts as legal
counsel for the Mayor, elected officials, the City and all its
agencies.  The Department’s 650 attorneys represent the City on
a vast array of civil litigation, legislative and legal issues
and in the criminal prosecution of juveniles.  For more
information, please visit nyc.gov/law. 
Contact:  Kate O’Brien Ahlers, Communications Director,
(212) 788-0400, kahlers@law.nyc.gov 
(kgt)NY 
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