New York Daily News

November 1, 2013


 

Stop-and-frisk judge removed from case, reforms put on hold after federal appeals court ruling

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Judge Shira Scheindlin's ruling pending the outcome of city appeal. Scheindlin had ruled in August that the city applied stop-and-frisk in a discriminatory manner. The special monitor to reform the policy, appointed by Scheindlin, will be put on hold.

By Daniel Beekman / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

RICHARD DREW/AP
Judge Shira Scheindlin was removed from the NYPD stop-and-frisk case Thursday by a federal appeals court.

A federal appeals court in a stunning ruling Thursday blocked reforms to the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program and booted the judge who ordered the changes off the case.

The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals unexpectedly yanked Judge Shira Scheindlin, saying she “ran afoul” of the judicial code of conduct because of remarks she made in court in 2007 and to the media while the case was being heard earlier this year.

Scheindlin determined in August after a 10-week trial that aspects of stop-and-frisk were unconstitutional.

The panel’s decision means the reforms and the independent monitor Scheindlin appointed to oversee the changes will be put on hold at least until next year, pending the outcome of an appeal by the city.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly hailed the order.

“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. “I have always been . . . concerned about the partiality of Judge Scheindlin.”

Head city lawyer Michael Cardozo also applauded the three-judge panel’s decision.

“We could not be more pleased,” he said. “The ruling of unconstitutional practices is no longer operative and that question will now receive a fresh and independent look.”

The appeals judges — John Walker, Jose Cabranes and Barrington Parker — said Scheindlin erred in 2007 when lawyers were trying to sanction the city over stop-and-frisk based on an old case.

She suggested the lawyers open a new lawsuit instead. They agreed, and Scheindlin took the new case, Floyd et al. vs. New York City et al., and ruled on it six years later.

TODD MAISEL, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly (right), seen here with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hailed the order.

The appeals judges Thursday cited three media reports Scheindlin cooperated with in May as evidence of her lack of impartiality. But she insisted Thursday she did nothing wrong in her interviews.

“The interviews . . . were conducted under the express condition that I would not comment on the Floyd case,” Scheindlin said. “I did not. Some of the reporters used quotes from written opinions in Floyd that gave the appearance that I had commented on the case. However, a careful reading of each interview will reveal that no such comments were made.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyer noted that the judges granted the stay based on wrongdoing by Scheindlin, even though the city based its case on other arguments.

“You know how Gerald Ford said, ‘Drop dead, New York?’ These judges are basically saying, ‘Drop Dead’ again,” fumed Jonathan Moore.

Mayor Bloomberg, who trashed Scheindlin in August, arguing the judge had “ignored the real-world realities of crime,” remained quiet Thursday.

Instead, mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio, the Democratic mayoral front-runner, and Joe Lhota, his Republican opponent, took center stage.

The city would likely drop its appeal under de Blasio, who opposes the stop-and-frisk tactic.

“What Judge Scheindlin did was correct,” he said at the Park Slope, Brooklyn, Halloween parade. “We need to get to work at reforming stop-and-frisk and bringing police and communities together.”

The appeals panel decision could give Lhota a boost, but he still trails the Democrat by about 40 points.

JOE MARINO FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
NThe 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a judge's order to make changes to the city's stop-and-frisk policy.

“Bravo!” Lhota said. “I have stood with Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly in support of these proactive policies that have saved countless lives. The court has vindicated our positions.”

The bombshell decree provoked anger from civil rights advocates who believe stop-and-frisk perpetuates racial profiling.

“This is a travesty of justice,” said Moore. “This is the absolute low point for civil rights in New York.”

Critics of stop-and-frisk, including the NAACP and the New York Civil Liberties Union, insisted their side would win in the end.

“This represents yet another chapter in the long, historic struggle for civil rights in this nation, and no rights have been won overnight,” City Councilman (D-Brooklyn) Jumaane Williams said.

The black and Hispanic plaintiffs who filed the stop-and-frisk lawsuit will appeal the panel decision by asking that the issue of the stay be heard before the full appeals court, said Moore.

The police unions were in high spirits Thursday.

“We salute the judges who made this courageous decision to remove an obviously biased judge from this case,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said.

The appeal of the stop-and-frisk case is currently scheduled to be heard by the same three-judge panel next March. In the event of a reversal, the lawsuit will be sent back to Manhattan Federal Court, but not to Scheindlin.

In the meantime, a new NYPD inspector general, established this year by the City Council, is scheduled to start work Jan. 1.

With Greg B. Smith, Corinne Lestch, Mara Gay and Rocco Parascandola

dbeekman@nydailynews.com