The last few days have been busy, both with busking and because I’ve taken on a commitment as the volunteer ESL instructor for a summer after-school program. That said, I’m still finding time to busk and to do community outreach. And we’re looking forward to having Kalan back in town soon as well, which will double our boots on the ground.
In any case, today brought big news. I spoke by phone with a violinist who received a wrongful summons (‘blocking traffic’ for a solo violinist playing in the evening, written expressly once she had asked for the officer’s badge number.) She was adjudicated guilty at her first hearing, but we’ve gotten her in touch with an attorney and are looking forward to a fairer outcome on appeal.
Then, I met another performer who’s received a summons, this time with a charge of ‘disorderly conduct,’ for playing guitar and singing on the platform. Her court date is just before mine, at the beginning of September, and we’re looking forward to seeing that thrown right out with a lawsuit to boot.
And finally, I met a jazz saxophonist — an excellent one — who’s been arrested no fewer than five times for acoustic, rule-abiding performances. Is that unjust? Well, apparently New York City judges think so: they’ve dropped the charges all five times. Can’t even say how much I look forward to seeing this go back to a court of law — this time with the real wrong-doers as the defendants.
Pretty exciting for one day’s developments. Justice, justice, we’ll get you one day!
Update at 7:30 PM: I spoke with Paul Hale of Hale Legal Group this afternoon, and he said he’d be more than willing to take on summons cases for the performing community. I think we’ve found our guy.
I emailed back and forth recently with a prominent arts advocate. He had big news: if you receive a wrongful summons, you can go ahead and sue for it.
I followed up on this with Galluzzo & Johnson, and it was confirmed that a wrongful summons is potentially an easy target for a lawsuit. (Remember — even if your officer was polite, and even if he or she mentioned pretexts like blocking traffic, your summons was still wrongful if you weren’t clearly breaking a law).
Your first step after getting a summons should be to get it dismissed at the adjudication. I haven’t done this personally, but it’s said to be easily done. We’re hoping to observe the process and post tips soon. (You can also talk to a lawyer at any point for a consultation, although you can’t typically sign the retainer agreement to start a suit until after your charges have been dropped or you’ve received an ACD.)
After that, you can go ahead and get going with a lawyer. Alternatively, you can even file a notice of claim yourself with this form, and the city may settle without you needing a lawyer. (I suspect it’d best to work with someone for now, at least until we know the ropes better).
Last item: if you contact us, we can send additional information privately, cheer for you during the process, and potentially even help your attorney document other cases of harassment to support you. Let’s get this show on the road!