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Appeals court blocks Stop and frisk decision

10/31/2013, 5:32 p.m.
Reports indicate that a federal judge’s decision ruling stop-and-frisk unconstitutional is being blocked.
Stop and Frisk on trial: week three

Reports indicate that a federal judge’s decision ruling stop-and-frisk unconstitutional is being blocked.

While analysts originally thought the appeals process could take so long that the next mayor could stop the appeal, on Thursday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the August ruling by Judge Shira Scheindlin, calling for changes to the NYPD’s controversial practice will be put on hold. Sheindlin has also been removed from the case.

After a two-month trial that ended in August, Scheindlin ruled the controversial "stop-and-frisk" practices of the NYPD to be unconstitutional in the court case, Floyd, et. al. vs. The City of New York. The ruling had enforced that the NYPD would have an independent monitor to change the stop-and-frisk policy. The case was filed by four African-American men who were stopped and frisked and they argued that the procedure violated their constitutional rights.

"No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life," stated Judge Scheindlin in her decision.

The appeals court is now blaming media interviews and public statements Sheindlin made following her ruling as indicators that she was impartial and thus removed her from the case.

“This case cries out for appeal. The judge has indicted the entire New York City Police Department, 35,000 officers, of racial profiling on the flimsiest of evidence,” said Kelly in August. “You look at the expert for the plaintiff and what he found. He looked at 4.4 million stops over a 10-year period. He found 6 percent of them were, in his opinion, unjustified. In the trial itself, there were four plaintiffs, there were 12 witnesses, there were 19 stops.”

The city went to the court of appeals to block the ruling citing that stop-and-frisk is a necessary tool to keep the city’s crime rate down. Since the ruling the NYPD has said that its officers are confused and scared to approach people for fear of getting sued or terminated.

In August The New York City Council also passed the Community Safety Act which also pushed for changes in NYPD stop and frisk practices. The City and the Police Union also sued over this decision and the outcome of these cases could also be effected by the federal court's decision.

“Instead of holding the residents of New York City in a perpetual state of confusion with regard to stop-and-frisk, the Association should join us in helping the city move forward so that residents will finally be assured that they will not be profiled,” stated New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams said in a statement last week. “We cannot let this lawsuit obscure what has been working: targeted efforts by the NYPD to deter crime in our communities, along with increased community engagement. In fact, according to the mayor’s office, there were no reported killings between October 7 and October 13, which is the longest killing-free period since January.”

Critics of stop-and-frisk say the practice unfairly targets Black and Latinos. Number from the NYPD indicate that a large majority of those stopped and frisked at innocent.

The case, known as Floyd v. the City of New York, was originally filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). In a statement they said they were “shocked” by the federal appeals court decision.

“The City carried out a whisper campaign against Judge Scheindlin but never once raised any legal claims of bias, even in its papers to the Court of Appeals,” CCR said. “That, unprompted, they should reassign the case from a judge deeply steeped in the issues for the last 14 years, who gave the City every opportunity to defend itself in the course of this litigation, is troubling and unprecedented.”