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Stop-and-frisk case sent back to lower court

Cyril Josh Barker | 2/27/2014, 10:20 a.m.

It’s not over just yet. While the city might have dropped its case to appeal a judge’s decision to keep stop-and-frisk the way it is, everyone is now vying for a seat at the table as reforms are made.

Last week, a federal appeals court sent the case between the city and civil liberties groups back to a lower court for the possibility of a settlement.

Police unions previously wanted to replace the city in the appeals case that ruled that stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional. Newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio stayed true to his campaign promise in January by dropping the city’s appeal in two class-action lawsuits.

The appeals case was previously awaiting trial in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The department must now appoint a monitor and reconstruct how the stop-and-frisk policy is used. No decision was made to get rid of the practice altogether, which many say discriminates against Blacks and Latinos.

“The Court of Appeals recognized the city’s interest in resolving the case, which we now intend to do in the district court,” said the city’s law department in a statement.

The city’s announcement came in response to two companion pieces of civil rights litigation: the Center for Constitutional Rights’ (CCR) landmark case Floyd v. City of New York, which found New York liable for a decade-long pattern of discriminatory and unconstitutional street stops, and the New York Civil Liberties Union’s (NYCLU) Ligon v. City of New York.

“We understand that the culture of the largest police force in the country cannot change overnight,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman, “but we believe in the good will and good intention of the new administration and look forward to working together to make New York City a place where the police protect both safety and individual rights.”

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement that police officers will have a word as changes are made.

“Our mission has always been to gain a seat at the table in order to protect our members’ rights and reputations,” he said. “We look forward to representing those interests, and our hope is that the court will recognize the importance of having the police officers’ voices heard in the process of addressing the issues raised in this litigation.”

In response to the 2nd Circuit panel’s lifting of the stay in the Floyd v. City of New York class action lawsuit and remanding of the case to the district court, the CCR said it is “gratified” that the Court of Appeals has accepted the parties’ proposed framework for resolving the case.

“Now that the litigation has largely concluded, we look forward to working with affected communities and the city toward achieving lasting reforms to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices,” the CCR said.