Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Newsletter
June 7 , 2007

On the Legal Front: Good News. Bad News. And How You Can Help.

In this issue:
> Good News. Bad News. And How You Can Help.

> Remember, Goliath Lost:
   A Profile of Matthew Brinckerhoff, Lead Attorney on the Eminent Domain Lawsuit

> Good News. Bad News. And How You Can Help
Yesterday was a significant day in the fight against eminent domain abuse in our community and across the country.

On the positive side, US District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis, the presiding judge in the lawsuit Goldstein v. Pataki, ruled that the eminent domain lawsuit organized by DDDB and brought by 13 property owners and tenants, charging that the seizure of their property for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project violates the US Constitution, was rightfully brought in Federal Court, and that federal court had the right and the obligation to hear that challenge.

In other words, the attempt by Forest City Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation to deny us the right to have our claims heard by a federal court was rejected.

On the downside -- after having stated that he had every right to hear this case, Judge Garaufis then ruled that he did not believe that the plaintiffs had stated sufficient facts to sustain their claims that this particular taking was impermissible under the Constitution, thereby preventing the case from proceeding to discovery and trial.

The Judge's reason? He felt that our claims -- that, despite the veil of "public benefit," the true purpose of Atlantic Yards is to create private benefit for Forest City Ratner -- were not "plausible."

Obviously, we all who have fought so long and hard against this project emphatically disagree. We believe that, with the aid of document discovery and the depositions that we would be permitted if this proceeding proceeds to trial (which would give us access to Forest City Ratner's and government documents and communications), we can indeed prove that the motivation behind Atlantic Yards was principally intended, from the very beginning, to bestow a private, windfall benefit on the developer. And any so-called, speculative benefits to the public were only added after the fact to create the illusion that the project had some sort of public purpose.

Because Judge Garaufis failed to consider that there was no comprehensive development plan, that the project was developed and driven by Forest City Ratner from the beginning, that FCR planned the footprint of the properties to be seized, that Forest City was known to be the beneficiary before the takings occurred and that there was no legislative oversight -- all characteristics of an unconstitutional taking according to the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. the City of New London -- we are taking an immediate appeal to the United States 2nd Circuit (federal) Appeals Court. But we will not stop there. If necessary, we will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear our claims.

We are asking the Federal Court for the Constitutional right to have a trial on our Constitutional claims. In other words, we are simply asking to be heard. And we have every confidence that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals will recognize that we have a valid and strong Constitutional claim that must be heard in the Federal court.

And that's where you come in. At every stage in this struggle, we've asked for your support, and you have responded, selflessly and generously, in what is and will be a long legal battle.

We are asking again now because the need is so immediate, urgent and critical.

With your help, we will fight for and win our right to our day in court.

You can make an online donation today to the DDDB Legal Fund by visiting:

Or you can mail your contribution to:
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
121 5th Avenue, PMB #150
Brooklyn, New York 11217

Thank you!

More in-depth coverage of the Court's decision can be found at here:

New York Times:

Atlantic Yards Report:

> Remember, Goliath Lost:
   A Profile of Matthew Brinckerhoff, Lead Attorney on the Eminent Domain Lawsuit

Constitutional-rights attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff, who's representing the plaintiffs in the eminent domain lawsuit organized by DDDB, was profiled this week in Crain's NY Business.

We are extremely fortunate to have this incredibly capable, talented and enthusiastic attorney leading the eminent domain challenge - thanks to your generous financial support of our legal fund.

From the Crain's profile:

...[Mr. Brinckerhoff] believes the [Supreme] Court's swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy, will be eager to hold up Atlantic Yards as an example of what does not merit the use of eminent domain....

"We're going to stick this out to the very bitter end," says Mr. Brinckerhoff, who is being assisted by other lawyers at his firm. "Yes, we're up against [Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom], the state and the city, but we do this all the time. We stack up against anybody."...

Click here to read the full story:

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