Gibson Dunn attorney Jim Walden grabbed headlines earlier this month after issuing a flurry of subpoenas to city officials in the Prospect Park West case. Streetsblog reported at the time that the subpoenas were not yet sanctioned by the court and were unusual for the type of suit, known as an Article 78 proceeding, filed by opponents of the PPW redesign. Before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bert Bunyan decided whether to allow those subpoenas, Walden issued another round of subpoenas last week to at least six people, including Council Member Steve Levin, Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White, and Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman.
Today, at the urging of Judge Bunyan [PDF], Gibson Dunn withdrew the second round of subpoenas. City attorneys had gone to court seeking a temporary restraining order against the plaintiffs for trying to subpoena more people. After Bunyan recommended that Gibson Dunn withdraw the subpoenas, the city stopped pursuing the restraining order.
“The judge called the petitioners’ counsel out on this harassing strategy in court today,” said city attorney Karen Selvin, “rebuking them and prompting them to withdraw all the subpoenas issued under the petitioner’s direction over the last week.”
In response to the attempt by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to drag more people before the court, including CB 6 members Richard Bashner and Tom Miskel, Park Slope residents announced the formation of two YIMBY counterweights to the bike lane opponents. The new groups are known as “Neighbors for Better Neighbors” and “Seniors for Civility.”
“These subpoenas were clearly meant to silence and intimidate good, hard-working neighborhood advocates,” said NBN member and PPW resident Bill Carey. “I believe community members ought to talk to each other and work together rather than using a $700/hour corporate attorney to beat each other up.”
TA’s White called the lawsuit “not only frivolous, but reckless.” He added, “Removing the street safety improvements on Prospect Park West would put local residents in harm’s way. Streets with protected bike lanes have about 40 percent fewer crashes ending in death or serious injury for all street users: drivers and pedestrians included. The opponents of this bike lane are playing a dangerous game with people’s lives for the sake of a PR stunt.”
Bunyan is scheduled to decide on August 3 whether to allow Walden’s first round of subpoenas, issued to NYC DOT staff and Council Member Brad Lander.
You can read the full “Neighbors for Better Neighbors/Seniors for Civility” press release below:
Noah Kazis contributed to this post.