Courts Blocks & Removes Federal Judge From NY Stop & Frisk Trials
Thursday (Oct. 31), a Manhattan federal judge who ruled in August that the NYPD's “stop-and-frisk” policy was unconstitutional has been blocked and removed from presiding over the case. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin's decision to reform stop-and-frisk and removed her from the case involving the policy due to bias.
Judge Scheindlin ran afoul of the court after comments she made during a trial back in 2007, and also to the media earlier in May when the non-jury case against the NYPD over stop-and-frisk was being heard. In a 10-week trial, Judge Scheindlin ruled that stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional, ordered a series of mandated reforms to the NYPD's policy, and appointed a special monitor to oversee the transition.
The panel of federal judges from the Appeals court sided with the New York City government in asking for a delay to the reforms , and putting both Scheindlin and the special monitor aside. The earlier ruling was seen as a victory for opponents of stop-and-frisk, but NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly has gained the upper hand while praising the courts for their latest decision.
“This is indeed an important decision for all New Yorkers and for all the men and women of the NYPD who work day in and day out to keep this city safe,” Kelly said, as reported by the New York Daily News. “I have always been concerned about the partiality of Judge Scheindlin.”
The decision delivered a serious blow to those who wish to see an end to the pervasive and reportedly ineffective police tactic according to research from outside organizations. The Center for Constitutional Rights, who represented the black and Hispanic plaintiffs in the case that Judge Scheindlin oversaw, offered a statement regarding the Appeals court's decision.
“We are dismayed that the Court of Appeals saw fit to delay the long-overdue process to remedy the NYPD's unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices, and we are shocked that they cast aspersions on the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary and reassigned the case,” wrote the CCR.
The group also alleges that the City ran a “whisper campaign” against the judge and never raised legal claims of bias.
The appeal of the stop-and-frisk case is scheduled to be heard by the same three judges who removed Judge Scheindlin this coming March. If it is reversed, the lawsuit will return to Manhattan Federal Court but without Judge Scheindlin.
Photo: New York Daily News