Cleary Gottlieb Partners with The Bronx Defenders on Stop and Frisk Project

February 1, 2012

In 2010, more than 50,000 people were arrested for low-level marijuana possession in New York City. These arrests are typically the result of "stop and frisk" encounters with police. In many cases, the police lack the reasonable suspicion required to make the stops. The police often effectively create the crime by requiring stopped persons to remove small amounts of marijuana from their pockets or bags--which takes marijuana possession from a non-criminal violation to an arrestable misdemeanor. These unlawful arrests may have serious collateral consequences for the persons arrested, affecting their employment, immigration status, and eligibility for housing and student financial aid. Moreover, the arrests show a disparate racial pattern: nearly 90 percent of those arrested are African-American or Latino. In the fall of 2011, Cleary Gottlieb began a partnership with The Bronx Defenders to represent persons arrested for low-level marijuana possession in an effort to challenge the policing conduct that generates these needless, costly and often harmful contacts with the criminal-justice system.