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Federal trial begins in challenge to random bag searches on New York subways

[JURIST] US District Judge Richard M. Berman will consider the constitutionality of New York City's random search of bags and packages in the city's subway system, as trial begins Monday in the case [JURIST report]. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [PDF complaint; press release] in August, saying the random searches are unreasonable searches and seizures. Lawyers for five subway riders [NYCLU plaintiff profiles] will argue that the search program "has no meaningful value in preventing the entry of explosive devices into the system by the terrorists the NYPD is attempting to thwart." The random searches began in July as a means to thwart terrorism and lawyers for the city will argue that an al Qaeda training manual which advises terrorists to avoid police checkpoints, justifies the random searches of those taking the subway. In an earlier protective order [Andrews Publications report], Berman ruled that NYC did not have to tell the NYCLU specific details about its random searches. The trial will likely last for three days. AP has more.

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