Government Law

Seeking to side with plaintiffs suing New York, city council sues for right to file amicus briefs

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New York County Courthouse

New York County Courthouse in Lower Manhattan.

The New York City Council has sued the city’s law department for the right to file amicus briefs in court cases—including cases in which plaintiffs are suing the city.

The case, filed on Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, stems from a court ruling denying five city council members the right to file an amicus brief, the New York Times reports. The council members wanted to support homeowners and renters who sued the city over its property tax system.

Since then, at least three city council members sought to file an amicus brief supporting a suit by public housing tenants, but the law department effectively denied the request by not responding, the lawsuit says.

At issue is whether the New York City charter makes the city council a city agency or a separate and co-equal branch of government. The lawsuit claims that city council members have the right to file the briefs under the principles of separation of powers and free speech.

The law department maintains that the corporation counsel is the sole attorney for the city and its agencies, including the city council. The department says city council members may file briefs as private citizens, but not in their official capacity.

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