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Court rules to add to defense in union lawsuit blocking City of Buffalo disciplinary records

Buffalo Police Car
Posted at 5:33 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 11:13:04-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York Supreme Court Justice Frank A. Sedita, III has ruled that a new respondent can be added to the lawsuit to block police disciplinary records.

This means James Kistner, who has a federal case against the Buffalo Police Department pending, can be added to aid in the city’s defense — a defense the court says has been weak.

“The petitioner asked for provisional relief in the form of a temporary restraining order also known as a TRO,” said Sedita. “The petitioner’s motion for a temporary restraining order was not opposed by the City of Buffalo, therefore it was granted.”

Back in July, the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association and the Buffalo Firefighter’s union, the “petitioners”, asked the court to file a temporary restraining order after 50-a was repealed.

The repeal of 50-a allowed the public to access disciplinary records for public officials.

Sedita says that request was granted because it went unopposed by the “respondents” in the case: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, and Fire Commissioner William Renaldo.

The unions claimed these records included unsubstantiated and unproven claims against officers.

A number of social and racial justice groups asked to be added as “friends of the court”, but were denied. Sedita said they have no legal “skin in the game”.

“[They] bring up very timely, very powerful, controversial, thought-provoking issues but this is, as I said before, this is not a forum for political debate. This is a forum to decide a legal controversy.”