About the Case
The case concerns a 2011 incident in which Rikers Island guard Aubrey Victor was caught on video repeatedly kicking a 16-year-old inmate in the face. An internal prison investigation determined that he had used excessive and potentially deadly force. Personnel records of law enforcement officers are typically shielded from public disclosure because of a uniquely restrictive state law, Section 50-a of New York State’s civil rights law. However, Victor appealed the prison’s determination before the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), which hears disciplinary disputes involving city employees. These hearings are currently public record, and access to records of these hearings has enabled important reporting about misconduct at Rikers in the past.
Victor requested that OATH’s Report and Recommendation be removed from publication, but this request was denied by OATH Administrative Law Judge Faye Lewis. Victor then brought an Article 78 proceeding in the State Supreme Court, seeking to vacate this OATH decision and arguing that Section 50-a should extend to records of OATH proceedings involving corrections officers. The New York Times was granted permission to intervene and MFIA wrote a memorandum of law in support of a motion to dismiss Victor’s request. Argument on the motion to dismiss is set for October 31, 2016.