“This is a very important role; the work of this committee is of extraordinary importance, not just to the Muslim community, but to all communities in New York. The representative is charged with ensuring equal protection of the law in police surveillance and police investigations and reporting any systematic and repeated violations of individuals’ civil liberties and civil rights to the court. As the first Muslim representative on this committee, that particular note is not lost on me.”
On February 22, CUNY Law Foundation Board Member Muhammad Faridi ’07 addressed New York City Mayor Eric Adams and assembled guests as he assumed the role of Civilian Appointee for the Handschu Committee.
A partner in the litigation department of the law firm Patterson Belknap, Faridi works on complex commercial matters involving breach of contract and commercial tort claims. He also devotes a substantial part of his legal practice to pro bono work, including the representation of refugees, incarcerated people sentenced to death, and children with disabilities. Faridi has done extensive work with the New York City Bar Association on enhancing diversity in the profession through recruitment and retention of lawyers and in 2022, he was appointed to serve on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, entrusted to help ensure judicial nominations of candidates with the highest qualifications and from diverse backgrounds.
During the event, Dean Sudha Setty congratulated Faridi, noting that he and his firm have long been partners in the work of the Law School’s Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR), helmed by Professor Ramzi Kassem and Naz Ahmed.
“Muhammad is a wonderful devoted, lawyer, and as Dean of CUNY Law, I get to thank him for his work with the Law School, for giving back to us and our community, for being a thought partner, and for his generosity of mind and spirit. I am sure that those are the qualities he will bring to this crucial work with the Handschu Committee. He exemplifies law in the service of human needs,” commended Dean Setty.
“The civilian representative position is an important feature of the protections from NYPD surveillance that the Raza plaintiffs secured for all New Yorkers,” said Ramzi Kassem, CUNY professor of law; founding director, CLEAR; and counsel to the plaintiffs in Raza v. City of New York. “As an accomplished and reputable attorney hailing from the same Muslim communities that bore the brunt of police spying in our city for decades, Muhammad Faridi is an inspired choice as the next civilian representative. I look forward to working with him and extend my gratitude to Judge Stephen Robinson for his years of service as the inaugural civilian representative.”
Following the resolution of two federal lawsuits alleging improper investigations of the Muslim community in 2017, New York City created the Handschu Committee and a civilian representative to serve on the committee. The committee hears the basis for investigations into political activity, including terrorism investigations. If the civilian representative believes an investigation does not meet the required legal threshold under the Handschu Guidelines, they are empowered to report any abuses to the NYPD commissioner and the federal judge assigned to the Handschu case. The independent civilian representative serves a five-year term.
Muhammad Faridi ’07 accepts the Civilian Appointment to the Handschu Committee