Wall Street Journal
July 31, 2014

 

Police Unions Denied Motion in Stop-and-Frisk Case

Five Organizations That Represent NYPD Members Wanted to be Considered Defendants

By Sean Gardiner

A U.S. District Judge on Wednesday denied motions by the city's five police unions to be treated as defendants in the landmark stop-and-frisk lawsuit.

The ruling clears a hurdle for the city in its attempt to drop its appeal and accept remedies, including an independent monitor, to stop-and-frisk that were ordered by another federal judge last August.

The 108-page ruling released Wednesday by Manhattan federal court Judge Analisa Torres denied motions by unions representing police officers, detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, captains and other higher ranking officers asking to intervene in the case.

Documents

Opinion and Order
July 30, 2014

Modifying Order 
July 30, 2014

Judge Torres ruled the unions, which want to become defendants to appeal the case on their own, didn't have a right to intervene because they had filed their motion years after the litigation had started.

"Today's ruling sets us on the road to beginning a joint reform process that fully engages the community and will bring true accountability to the NYPD," said Darius Charney, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented some of the plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk class action lawsuit.

The Patrolman's Benevolent Association, which represents police officers, said it would appeal Judge Torres's ruling. PBA President Patrick Lynch said the city's plan to drop the appeal has left "no party representing the interests of the employees who will be most impacted." He added, "It is unfair and inconceivable that employees wouldn't be allowed in this process."

Last August, Manhattan federal judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional in ordering several changes to the department. An appeal of that ruling was initially pursued by city lawyers while Michael Bloomberg was mayor. One of its appeals led to the removal of Judge Scheindlin from the case in October. The case was reassigned to Judge Torres.

Mayor Bill de Blasio promised while running for mayor in 2013 that he would drop the appeal if elected. After he took office in January, his administration negotiated with lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case. The result was an agreement for a modified version of Ms. Scheindlin's remedies, one of which capped the monitor at three years—if the city was found in "substantial compliance" of the court's order.

On Wednesday, Judge Torres granted a separate motion approving the modifications to Judge Scheindlin remedies, including the three-year term for the monitor.

Mr. de Blasio, in a news release, called the decision, "a major step in our efforts to repair police-community relations. We remain committed to ensuring that every New Yorker is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve."

Judge Scheindlin's decision was made after a two-month civil trial last summer challenging the NYPD's tactic as biased because African-Americans and Hispanics disproportionate to their populations were being stopped and sometimes frisked by police.

Jonathan Moore, another lead plaintiff attorney in the case, said, "The police unions should now stand down from their attempt to delay the implementation of meaningful reforms."

New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Donna Lieberman said the decision clears the way for Mr. de Blasio to make good on his promise to "end the legal battle over stop-and-frisk and reform the NYPD so it can become a force that all communities trust and respect."

Write to Sean Gardiner at sean.gardiner@wsj.com