An Urban Outcast on the DigitalLegal Frontier:

The Technical Litigation of J.

Noah McClain

December 16, 2020

User interfaces which successfully clean up and suppress the intricacies of underlying technology are generally considered triumphs of crisp design, giving us a seamless experience without troubling us with all the complexity within. We users can tell that, say, an email sent from here ends up there without seeing or thinking through the interactions, systems and networks which make email possible. We can use technology without understanding it, and without needing to understand it, either.

Imagine, however, doing some things with the technologies in your pocket or on your desk which seem pretty benign to you, or even a little bit mischievous, and being told that, within a sub-surface plane of that technology – within those properties hidden behind the interface – you are actually committing a serious offense against law or contract. The inner workings of technology become a means of describing your action in ways you probably don’t understand and could not anticipate, not only because those workings are complex and hidden, but because – as is true of so many of the digital systems with which we interact – elements are actively kept secret.

For a pre-digital analogy, I think of The Fonz, and how that TV character would elbow a jukebox in a 1950s diner and his little jolt would cause a song to play. Picture this: Fonz is arrested. Prosecutors, who are going by the jukebox company’s description of how the machine works and recognizes credits, reason that Fonz’s jolt make the machine see credits that do not exist, and charge Fonz with the rather serious crime of forgery. The charge sticks not only because Fonz did his trick in front of witnesses, but also because what allegedly makes it a forgery is all sealed up in a machine to which he has no access, and to which no one beyond the jukebox company has access.

Something just like that happened to someone I will call J.[i] in New York City in the mid-2000s, involving an everyday digital technology. Actually, it happened to lots of people, but one person’s case proved pivotal for all the others, in a criminal case that legitimated thousands of felony arrests and hundreds of prosecutions. It also laid the foundation for a radical new form of legal thinking in which individuals can be held legally culpable through features of a technology withheld from their inspection and experience, for actions interpreted at the junction of expert knowledge and law. Equally radical is the sort of social marginality that can extend from this form of thinking, when people ill-equipped to dispute accounts of technology cannot then dispute accusations of guilt for the misuse of technology implied by those accounts. J’s story illustrates a form of defenselessness we all potentially suffer as our lives are led, increasingly surrounded by, and imbricated with technologies we probably do not understand but which might somehow, someday be cited as a framework for redefining our legal rights and liabilities in relation to their mysterious inner workings. Digital technology became a vector of social marginality for J., who did not seek a radical relationship with technology; that relationship happened to him.

J. is an African-American man born in late 1950s. I’ve never met J. and know him only through the paperwork traces of his life, and a few accounts of people who have crossed his path. As a teen, he boxed in New York City’s Police Athletic League,[ii] but by his early twenties, became entangled with the criminal justice system through a string of felony convictions for robbery or attempted robbery, each followed by prison terms which together landed him in prison for much of the 1980s and 1990s.[iii] According to court documents, J. has never held a job but had succeeded,once in renting a furnished room of his own after successfully qualifying for Social Security disability benefits. He lost his home and the benefits within a year because he was incarcerated again. J.’s subsequent addresses trace back to city jails, state prisons, and psychiatric hospitals, with no mailing address in the free world on record, in an adult life that has been deeply entwined with controlling institutions. While J. has no cell phone number or email address, his life has also, for 15 years, been deeply entwined with a digital technology, how that technology has been interpreted in legal venues, how human action is framed by that interpretation, and the criminal consequences then attached to it.

In an East Harlem subway station one night back in 2005, two police officers assigned to the city’s Transit division reportedly observed J. hanging around the turnstiles “selling swipes” of subway farecards. Selling swipes is unique to the New York subway and starts with a farecard magnetically coded with digital data known as a “MetroCard.” MetroCards depleted of value and discarded by users are collected by so-called “swipers,” who crease them in a very specific way that can – if done right, with the right kind of MetroCard – be used to enter the subway without paying. Swipers stand near the turnstiles at subway entrances, recruiting customers for discount subway entry. Using a skilled technique necessary to produce the outcome, they swipe the MetroCard through a turnstile reader several times according to a distinct pattern until the turnstile allows entry. The bent MetroCard cannot be used in this way a second time. 

Sign discouraging sale of Swipes on MetroCards
Swipe Machines in Subway Station

In my observation of swipers and in my interviews with subway personnel, people don’t sell swipes if they have other options. Station staff are constantly trying to warn them off. Police are often called. There is stiff competition between swipers for discarded MetroCards and for coveted positions next to turnstiles. Violence has occasionally been reported. Swipers have been accused of intimidating station staff and riders, riders have stabbed swipers, and swipers have stabbed one another over station turf. While most characterizations of swipers are as a nuisance, subway employees have also recounted to me that swipers can also play benevolent roles, giving free subway entry to those in need, en route to an unmissable appointment, or stranded without fare.

Several months before J.’s 2005 arrest, a new law targeting swipers had taken effect, introducing “unauthorized sale of transportation services” as a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of three months’ incarceration. The legislation had been proposed under hyperbolic claims that swipers distracted police from protecting subway riders from terrorism, but the law answered calls for clarity on just what kind of crime selling swipes actually is. People who jump subway turnstiles have long been charged with “theft of service,” but swipers don’t generally use the service they provide to a subway rider, leaving police to get a little creative with tangential charges like malicious loitering or criminal trespass. The new law stood to clear up the ambiguity with a straightforward charge.

But J. wasn’t charged under the new misdemeanor law. Instead, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office asked a grand jury to indict J. for “criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree,” which is a felony. The grand jury returned with a 14-count indictment, one for each bent MetroCard police say they found on J., each carrying a potential penalty of two to four years in prison.

Authorities had long used forgery laws to combat subway fare fraud. Back when the subway relied on tokens, police charged the ringleader of a major counterfeit token operation with criminal possession of a forged instrument. But the slug kingpin – a dropout grad student in sociology from the New School for Social Research – was caught in a counterfeiting factory containing 100,000 fake tokens, not just with a few fakes in his pocket.

J. was not the first alleged swiper to be prosecuted under forgery laws, either. The Manhattan District Attorney had begun to do it in 2001. By the time of J.’s 2005 arrest, two very different – but nonbinding – judicial opinions had been published on the question of how bent MetroCards relate to forgery law.

The first came in the case of a juvenile, known as D.U., caught with a bent MetroCard which, the kid claimed, he was using to help a friend with no money to get home. He was charged in Queens Family Court “with acts which, if committed by an adult, would constitute crimes of forgery and criminal possession of forged instruments.”

D.U.’s Legal Aid Society lawyer challenged the classification of a MetroCard as a “written instrument,” as state forgery laws describe them. The question is not without merit. A MetroCard full of value is visibly indistinct with one that is absolutely devoid of data, much less value. Commercial technologies are no help in reading them. Once, a group of resourceful computer hackers interested in the MetroCard couldn’t find any digital information on them at all. As the hackers later discovered, the MetroCard does contain data, but only proprietary software running on proprietary hardware can read the data. The juvenile was being construed as modifying a document unreadable to him, in ways not observable by him.

The implications of this theory are extraordinary. Anything – literally any thing at all – could be a written instrument if its properties are shaped to record information and, jointly, some machine is engineered to read those properties as information. Accusing people who disturb those properties of a weighty crime when they cannot discern what properties they are disturbing might subject a broad range of human action to interpretation in that light.

The Queens Family Court, however, was untroubled by the inaccessibility of the document. Drawing from precedents treating the data on cable boxes and cellular phones as documents, the court rejected D.U.’s challenge.

A contrary opinion came in 2005, months before J. was arrested in Harlem, when a Brooklyn criminal court weighed a misdemeanor forgery charge against an accused swiper. The judge asserted that a bent MetroCard is a written instrument but that it does not satisfy the language of state forgery laws, which define a forgery as something which, after alteration, “appears or purports to be in all respects” authentic. The subway authority does not sell or issue bent MetroCards, the judge reasoned, and one bent down the middle is obviously not genuine.

The Brooklyn judge’s opinion proposed an essential question: whose perception counts in determining what a forgery is? A person’s or a machine’s? Perhaps more important is the question that no one considered in evaluating selling swipes as a forgery: does it matter at all that the substance of the crime – the alteration of digital information – is not observable by the accused? Or that it is not observable at all beyond a circle of those with both expertise and institutional access, who merely represent the phenomenon to courts without even the possibility of independent challenge?

The Manhattan D.A.’s office put the perception of a machine front and center in charging J. with felony forgery. J. was offered no plea deal. According to a prosecutor, J. was targeted for special treatment because, in the prior 36 months, he had “been convicted ten times for MetroCard or Transit-related crimes,” all misdemeanors.[iv] It is also true that J.’s three prior felony convictions had been for crimes that include threat of violence. But at the same time, he had not been tried for any felony, much less one involving violence, since 1990 – an improved, if imperfect trajectory. Nonetheless, the Manhattan D.A.’s office decided to label him a “super-repeat offender” and make his prosecution a priority.

J.’s criminal trial was conducted in a Manhattan court, where J. protested his innocence, claiming he had been in the subway station seeking shelter. If police saw him cavorting with others near the turnstiles, he claimed, he was doing no more than talking to area acquaintances.

Prosecutors called an official with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), introduced as an expert in “MetroCard security.” The defense did not contest that designation, but how could it? The whole system is proprietary, engineered by an outside firm in San Diego, which had also designed the only machines able to read and write data in the system’s proprietary format. Only the MTA can inspect the technology along with the database, which records all the transactions accomplished through it. There is no expertise in MetroCard beyond the systems’ developers and the MTA. At the same time, access to expertise in J.’s trial was not entirely one-sided according to J.’s defense lawyer in that case, who recalled to me that the MTA expert had made himself available to the defense for pre-trial preparation. But shared access to one expert opinion still leaves that expert opinion uncontested.

Expert witness testimony is employed to impress facts on an event. Who shot the victim? The defendant did, because a ballistics expert says that the bullet was fired from her gun. MetroCard transaction records have been used in exactly this way in the past, such as to dispute the alibi of a man accused of killing a former partner and to show that a teenager arrested for fare-beating had actually paid what was due. But in J.’s trial, the MTA expert was asked to describe the MetroCard technology in the first place, then share how a bent MetroCard interacts with the fare-processing logic to produce an unpaid ride, and then to testify that J.’s bent MetroCards stood to obtain unpaid subway entry, according to examinations through the MTA’s proprietary equipment. In other words, the expert was not only asked to share data supporting an allegation that J. committed an offense; they were asked to describe a whole domain of technology in which an offense could even occur in the first place. It is a little like a ballistic expert having to describe the physics of a “shooting” in which a “bullet” can travel and injure someone, to a jury that has heard of neither.

The picture of the MetroCard system that emerged through questioning the MTA expert showed a technology at once complex, counterintuitive, and arcane. A MetroCard has two variable data fields on which its value is recorded, but one value is lower than the other. When used at a turnstile computer, the computer will treat the lower of these two values as the current number of fares on the MetroCard. As the MetroCard is swiped through the slot, it will deduct a fare from that number and write a new, lower value to the other data field, leaving the value it had just treated as the “current value” untouched, but making it obsolete once the new, lower value is written on the adjacent field. Thus, the two data fields take turns holding the “current” value of the MetroCard. The two-field system was explained as a way for each to back the other one up; if a user’s MetroCard were somehow damaged, the prior value is still written to the card and can be used to enter the subway.

In the two-field arrangement, a MetroCard depleted of value will have one data field indicating one fare and another indicating zero. A swiper’s bend exploits this configuration, according to this expert account, by creasing the MetroCard right where the field indicating zero fares sits on the magnetic strip. When swiped at a turnstile, the computer will defer to the one value it can read and allow entry.

Further questioning of the MTA expert revealed that just three of J.’s 14 bent MetroCards met essential criteria for use in selling swipes: unexpired at the time, the right sort of MetroCard, with the proper arrangement of data on the magnetic strip. We should take note that the eleven others were found by the MTA expert to lack these properties but each had still served as a basis for a felony charge in J.’s indictment.

Along with the testimony of police, a jury found J. guilty of one felony count and sentenced him to two to four years in prison. 

The paperwork traces of J.’s life are populated with grievances in civil lawsuits reflecting a person unusually disposed to challenge the wrongs they believe they’ve suffered. Though J. has often sought to have courts appoint a lawyer to represent his grievances, those efforts have failed and J. has gone it alone. J. once sued the MTA for mistreatment at the hands of a subway police officer.[v] Another time, after being found guilty of a misdemeanor crime, J. sued the Assistant District Attorney and his own lawyer, alleging each had filed false information in the case, but the courts rejected both suits.[vi] When he was incarcerated in an upstate prison, J. filed a suit against his prison’s warden in a federal court in Buffalo and even advanced the case through the discovery process, but once released back to New York City, could not make the nine-hour journey back upstate to see the case through.[vii] Most recently, J. sued the City of New York because, he says, a City corrections officer assaulted him after telling him, “It’s people like you that we fuck up and then go up in your ass and fuck.” The case was dismissed when J. could not satisfy the court that a certain statute of limitations should not apply in his case.[viii]

In what is the only instance in which J. has not been the unambiguous loser in a legal proceeding, the City of New York settled a case with J. in which he alleged a captain of the jail guard at Riker’s Island had choked him. The case took a long time and was put on hold twice while J. was sent for psychiatric examinations of his fitness to stand trial in his criminal proceedings. Key correspondence often did not reach J. During the four years the case was open, records show that he had 16 institutional address changes, but a penal system that counts every inmate several times a day apparently could not find him for the purposes of delivering his mail, even when J. had simply been transferred from one building on Rikers Island to another. In many of these transitions between facilities, and between occasional release and re-incarceration, J. would lose his legal paperwork and had to write to the court for fresh copies. “The inmates,” he wrote to a federal judge in one instance, “took all my legal work and other stuff out of my locker while I was at the sick cell in the clinic.”[ix] In the end, the City paid J. $2,500 and admitted no wrongdoing.[x]

 

J.’s propensity to fight perceived wrongs had long taken shape when he was charged with felony forgery for selling swipes (during that trial, incidentally, he fought with his lawyer, too), so we should not be surprised that he appealed the conviction. J. was appointed a lawyer from the Office of the Appellate Defender, a sort of Legal Aid Society for appeals. His new lawyer, Brian McCloskey, raised questions about the arresting officers’ shaky basis for probable cause to arrest J., but the main thrust of the appeal questioned the treatment of bent MetroCards as forgeries even while another law clearly specifies selling swipes as a misdemeanor.

In a brief to an intermediate court, McCloskey advanced the argument made by the Brooklyn judge, that not only does a bent MetroCard fail to fool the human eye, it fails to fool the turnstile reader, too. The reasoning was a little tricky: a turnstile computer, according to McCloskey, establishes the value of a MetroCard as the lowest number of fares between two data fields. If one of those data fields is obliterated, then the MetroCard is invalid on its face. Just because the MTA chose to have its computers accept invalid MetroCards does not mean that an invalid MetroCard is a forgery. [xi]

The intermediate court didn’t buy it. But J. was granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state. In a 2008 brief McCloskey submitted to the court, he offered a careful argument of law based on the transcript of the expert witness testimony from J.’s 2005 criminal trial. McCloskey offered an unsigned check as a metaphor for a bent MetroCard: information that is necessary to make it valid is missing. If a bank cashes it on faith, it does not mean that forgery has occurred, even if the unsigned check was presented with fraud in mind. [xii]

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office responded with a brief prepared by Gina Mignola, an Assistant District Attorney. Mignola’s argument proposed that by destroying relevant data – the field indicating zero fares – the written instrument is altered as read, leaving the turnstile computer with “no way to determine that the card has no value.” The brief further endorsed prior court findings that the eye of the turnstile scanner is the relevant audience. “Indeed,” the brief stipulated, invoking language of the forgery statute, “it is only to the eye of the scanner that the writing on the magnetic strip of the MetroCard ‘appears or purports’ to be anything at all, since the writing is invisible to the naked eye.”[xiii]

We should listen to Mignola. Data coded to a magnetic strip are not anything at all except to one specific proprietary arrangement of hardware and software, which, exclusively, can even detect the data as data at all. That is a troubling point.

Both McCloskey’s and Mignola’s arguments were based on the transcript of the expert witness testimony. If we imagine that that testimony offered an unambiguous understanding of the MetroCard technology, we might debate the merits of these arguments. But bent MetroCards do not quite interact with turnstile computers in the way that the expert testimony described. The testimony was not false per se – and I do not think it was intentionally misleading, either – but, through the nature of what the lawyers asked the MTA expert, and what no lawyer would think to ask without already having independent knowledge of the MetroCard system, what emerged was an account that glossed significant details about how a bent MetroCard interacts with a turnstile computer. The arguments offered by the litigants thus have the curious property of making significant interpretations of law based on misinterpretations of technology.

As I discovered through sustained research, a turnstile computer won’t ever grant an entry to a bent MetroCard. Getting a free ride with one is a multi-step process that entails swiping a bent MetroCard at the same turnstile multiple times, first in a bent state and then twice while it is being held rigid to counteract the bend. The reasons are elaborate, and I have explored them elsewhere, but they mean that while a visibly-bent MetroCard may become what prosecutors want to think of as a forgery, they do not actually fit the definition unless intercepted at a point in this multi-step process, which usually lasts not more than a split second.

The Court of Appeals sided with the Manhattan DA’s office in seeing J.’s bent MetroCards as forgeries. The bend applied to the MetroCard, the decision argued, did not create value where none existed but concealed to the turnstile reader that the MetroCard had no value, taking advantage of the system’s presumption that a damaged card was legitimate. It described J.’s offense in language of intentional action that purposefully engaged the actionable properties of the MetroCard system:

By bending the MetroCards, defendant successfully destroyed the zero-value information on one of the fields […]. Thus, defendant misused the “benefit of the doubt” system by intentionally making the valueless MetroCards purport to be authentic instruments.[xiv] 

A question never raised in the arguments – and to which the court’s decision did not speak – was how this technical criteria for a crime intersects with the lived experience of J., who was thus found to have destroyed something, and misused something, which he had no real way of knowing existed. The crime described in the court’s decision “happens” between a bent MetroCard and proprietary software and hardware, on a technical plane to which J. has no access. The way swipers can experience how turnstiles computers interact with bent MetroCards is through cause-effect relationships heavily mediated by a user interface that displays truncated messages to turnstile users. On that level – the one accessible to J. – the court could not find a basis to support a charge of felony forgery and had to look inside the technology, at least as it was reported to the court in the expert witness transcript.

The court’s decision stabilized the legitimacy of felony forgery charges used in what totaled, through 2014, 11,000 felony arrests for bent MetroCards.

MetroCards thrown on steps of Subway Station
MetroCard with Illustration of Stop-and-frisk

Illustration by Jeff Gipe

J. was not present when his case was heard by the Court of Appeals in 2009. In the span of 2013-2014, he was arrested three more times for selling swipes and charged under felony forgery laws for each. In the first, he pled guilty to attempting the crime and was sentenced to 18 months in jail[xv] but was likely credited for time served because he was back on the street to be arrested twice more in the months thereafter. Those arrests were consolidated into one case, [xvi] but stretched out over years as J. was twice determined psychiatrically unfit to stand trial. Having spent what appears to be all of 2014 and 2015 in one form of penal custody or other, J. was eventually convicted again of felony forgery and sent in early 2016 to state prison for two more years. Bending MetroCards for subsistence-level earnings became, for J., the source of a chronic legal entanglement for more than a dozen years and the counter is still running.

By any measure, J. lives deep on the social margins. Chronically unhoused, apparently without even a connection to someone stable enough to receive legal notices on his behalf, with multiple felony convictions, and often believed psychiatrically disabled, powerful actors – prosecutors, cops, courts – can more or less do what they want with him. And they more or less have, whether or not J.’s grievances are all credible. Though he has worked hard to resist victimization, J. is an easy target.

We should think of J. and his recent experience over selling swipes as a canary in the mine of a legal and technological future, of radical social marginality enforced through the interpretation of human action jointly with the intricacies of technology and law. The implicit theory that undergirds J.’s incarceration for felony forgery is that, within a digital technology, there is a plane of action in which human activity can be interpreted, for legal purposes, according to the unique dynamics of that plane. The theory does not address the relevance of the awareness of the person but J.’s case sets a precedent that people can be held criminally accountable for this alternate, “deeper” rendering of acts perpetrators cannot even observe, concealed by a user interface that masks what lies beneath it.

A similar form of thinking has begun to affect broader privacy rights. Whenever you send an email to your next-door neighbor, your message is likely to follow a relatively short and efficient route to her through networks and servers. But, if network conditions are just right, it is possible that your message will be routed through overseas servers, in way that is hard – if not impossible – to predict, because the circumstances determining the route continue to take shape even after you click “send.” Most people probably don’t care how their emails travel. But the paths of electronic communication can change its legal status, at least in the U.S.: once beyond national borders, a message is exempted from many of the protections against warrantless search by the National Security Administration. Our reflexive experience may be of sending a local, private email to someone 30 feet away, while a “technical” reading of our sent email gives it the legal status of “overseas communication.” Moreover, in what is known as the “traffic shaping loophole,” the NSA has developed means to redirect domestic internet traffic through overseas servers, pushing your email to your neighbor beyond the governance of U.S. courts and protections, giving it a new legal status to then invoke for strategic purposes.

Even those taking precautions against certain “technical” interpretations of their acts and artifacts must contend with the way that our digital technologies are subject to modification and updates to internal code but which leave the user experience more or less the same. Can undetected or undetectable updates reconfigure our legal rights and liabilities? (Could an undetectable change in the subway fare-processing software make swipers vulnerable to even more severe charges? Could another update eliminate their vulnerability to charges of forgery?) How do we confront these questions not only in light of the concealed complexity of digital technologies, but when some technologies are even purpose-built to deceive users about just what the innards are doing?

In a noxious possible future of which J. is a bellwether, properties of technology stand to reframe the legal status of how we use our digital stuff. It becomes possible, in effect, to engineer criminality around an act and to invoke that criminality when the powerful decide it’s expedient. Systems over which there is broad, distributed expertise – such as the internet – offer challenge enough in this regard. J.’s experience with a proprietary, largely unknown technology shows that its actual engineering may even be different from how that engineering is understood and made relevant in legal contexts. It may not matter how technologies actually work; it just matters how they are understood to work, when agents of power cite technology to interpret the actions of the weak.

J., and vulnerable people like him, stand on the front lines of that possible future. When his case was argued before the Court of Appeals, one of the judges pressed ADA Mignola on the potential for discrimination in allowing selling swipes to be prosecuted either as a low-grade misdemeanor or medium-grade felony, in which one charge could lead to a three-month sentence to a city jail and the other could lead to a prison sentence 16 times as long. “Does it mean you, the District Attorney, could sit there and say, ‘We’ve got too many Hispanics doing this. I think we’ll charge them with felonies and save the B misdemeanors for others?’” Mignola shot back, “We would never do that!”[xvii] But that’s just what New York City authorities did.

Or at least, they may as well have. Data I obtained from the New York Police Department show that, of the 11,000 “bent MetroCard” felony arrests over a dozen years, 92% of arrestees were African-American or Hispanic.[xviii] We either have a case of disproportionate policing, or, if somehow 92% of all swipes are actually sold by African-Americans or Hispanics, a case of saddling those populations with disproportionately harsh charges for a mild affront to public order. These demographics are statistically camouflaged in criminal justice data generally made public, because arrests and prosecutions of swipers are aggregated together with those for lots of other sorts of forgery: of deeds to property, of credit cards, of drug prescriptions, of contracts. and of wills, which are each specified as second-degree felonies to possess and, we might imagine, are instruments of much greater harm than a bent MetroCard.

J. was released from his most recent prison stint in 2018 and was arrested twice more in 2019 over bent MetroCards. As of the time of writing, J. has passed his sixtieth birthday and has just closed both cases by pleading guilty to misdemeanor forgery charges in each.[xix] The judge sentenced him to a “conditional discharge” of one year, during which he must not be arrested again, an option a judge can impose when “neither the public interest nor the ends of justice would be served by a sentence of imprisonment and that probation supervision is not appropriate.”[xx] It’s about time someone realized the futility of locking J. up for more years. But the precedents his 2005 case has set – both in relationship to bent MetroCards and the underlying idea of framing human action through hidden features of digital technologies – lives on.

Noah McClain (mcclain1@gmail.com) is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Illinois Tech in Chicago. He currently researches technology, policing, work, and the trajectory of “security” in complex organizations.  His most recent article, on the criminalization of “swipers” in the New York subway, appears in The Information Society.

i Just about everything in this story is public record, some of it instantly retrievable online. Still, because this story connects some dots across a person’s biography, I use only his initial to give J. some insulation from a simple web search. Certainly, anyone starting with this story can uncover his name; my strategy is to offer an obstacle to those who know his name to so readily uncover this story.

ii See “Gloves’ Results” New York Daily News, February 6, 1976

iii Information comes from the New York State Department of Correctional Services and Community Supervision Inmate Lookup Database, http://nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov/.

iv Mignola, Brief for Respondent, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York, in People v. J. (2009).

v J. v. New York City Transit, et al, Docket No. 1:90-cv-06364 (S.D.N.Y. Oct 03, 1990)

vi J. v. Cherrington et al, Docket No. 1:11-cv-05653 (S.D.N.Y. Aug 02, 2011); J. v. Klang, Docket No. 1:11-cv-05880 (S.D.N.Y. Aug 12, 2011)

vii J. v. NY Correctional, et al, Docket No. 1:95-cv-00711 (W.D.N.Y. Aug 22, 1995)

viii J. v. Perez et al, Docket No. 1:16-cv-04223 (S.D.N.Y. Jun 07, 2016)

ix J. v. City of New York et al, Docket No. 1:11-cv-07226 (S.D.N.Y. Oct 11, 2011)

x Settlement amount obtained via Freedom of Information Law request to the Office of the New York City Comptroller, returned September 20, 2019.

xi Reply Brief for Defendant-Appellant to Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York, in People of the State of New York v. J., 100 A.D.2d 944, 474 N.Y.S.2d 849 (App Div, 2d Dept 1984).

xii McCloskey, Brief for Defendant-Appellant to Court of Appeals of New York, in People v. J. (2009).

xiii Mignola, Brief for Respondent to Court of Appeals of New York, in People v. J. (2009).

xiv Opinion of the Court of Appeals in People v. J. (2009).

xv Referenced by Stephen MacArthur, Affirmation in Support of Motion to Consolidate, Supreme Court of the State of New York indictment number 732/2014.

xvi Supreme Court of the State of New York indictment number 732/2014.

xvii See comments of Hon. R. Smith in oral arguments before the Court of Appeals, March 26, 2009, in People v. J. (2009). Video available by request from the library of School of Law, State University of New York at Albany.

xviii Data come from the New York Police Department Legal Bureau, via Freedom of Information Law Request issued December 2012 and returned in November 2015.

xix New York criminal case numbers CR-012006-19NY and CR-026848-19NY, accessed on 16 September, 2019 in the WebCriminal database, https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcrim_attorney/AttorneyWelcome.

xx New York Penal Law 65.05, “Sentence of Conditional Discharge.” http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article65.htm#p65.05