Headshot of Talia Kamran

Talia Kamran

  • Hosted by Brooklyn Defender Services
  • Sponsored by Venture Justice Fund
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • Issue area Civil Rights/Civil Liberties, Police/Government Misconduct
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Talia will work with Brooklyn Defender Services to represent Brooklyn residents whose phones and other technological devices have been seized by the NYPD, advocate for the reform of the property seizure process, and use impact litigation to advance the data privacy rights of New Yorkers while their phones remain in NYPD custody.

In 2021, 40% of phones seized by the NYPD were not returned to their owners. The process to reobtain property following an arrest or police investigation is incredibly burdensome on New Yorkers. For low-income New Yorkers who can’t replace their phones, the indefinite retention of cell phones leaves them unable to access technology required to maintain employment, recertify income-stabilizing and nutritional benefits, and other essentials of life.

Additionally, due to the ever-expanding technological capacities of the NYPD, phones that remain in custody represent a serious threat to people’s data privacy. Data taken from phones is used to populate some of the NYPD’s most notoriously discriminatory policing tools, such as the NYPD gang database and predictive policing technology. New Yorkers need more comprehensive regulation of the property seizure and return process and rules to limit police access to phone data in their custody.

Fellowship Plans

During Talia’s Fellowship, Talia will represent low-income Brooklyn residents who have had their phones seized by the police to ensure people quickly regain access to their essential technology. Talia will engage with community organizations to develop trainings so community members can assist each other in getting their property back. Finally Talia will develop a policy proposal to better regulate the property seizure process and use impact litigation to limit the NYPD’s access to civilian data from devices in custody.

After years of community organizing around issues of policing and surveillance in New York communities of color, I pursued law to dedicate my career to fighting alongside movements for police accountability. I am honored to begin my movement law work through my Equal Justice Works Fellowship.

Talia Kamran /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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