CHLP Files Amicus Brief Supporting Review of Nushawn Williams' Civil Commitment

Last week, CHLP filed a motion and proposed brief in support of Nushawn Williams' request that the New York Court of Appeals review the decision to indefinitely civilly commit him to a New York State Psychiatric Center as a dangerous sex offender based on his sexual activity with young women while living with HIV.

In support of the application, CHLP argues that Williams represents the only case in New York where an individual has been essentially isolated or quarantined in whole or part based on his HIV status. We also argue that singling out a person living with HIV for this kind of extraordinary treatment under the law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Dr. Neal Rzpekowski, who joined our amicus brief and who has treated several of Nushawn's former sex partners, recently stated: "Thank you for submitting this brief on behalf of Shyteek [Nushawn]. It is at least clear to me that Nushawn was and is being punished unjustly for his actions, which so far have had negligible consequences and no deaths even over 20 years later. I hope you succeed to secure his release on behalf of all of us and of those others who are also unjustly accused and or incarcerated."

CHLP Deputy Director Mayo Schreiber drafted the motion papers and brief with assistance from Executive Director Catherine Hanssens. Special thanks to Charles King, CEO of Housing Works, who personally reached out to a number of the organizations represented on the brief and encouraged their participation.

In addition to The Center for HIV Law and Policy, the amicus brief has the support of the following organizations and individuals:

African Services Committee
American Academy of HIV Medicine; Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Dr. Jeffrey Birnbaum, SUNY Downstate HEAT Program
Harlem United Community AIDS Center, Inc.
Housing Works, Inc.
Latino Commission on AIDS, Inc.
Legal Action Center
National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors
National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc.
Dan O’Connell
Osborne Association
Neal Rzepkowski, M.D.
Treatment Action Group
William M. Valenti, M.D.
Voices of Community Activists & Leaders, Inc. (VOCAL)