Judges Decline to Reverse Stop-and-Frisk Ruling, All butEnding Mayor’s Fight
By BENJAMIN WEISER — Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
A federal appeals panel on Friday denied a request by lawyers for New York that it overturn a judge’s sweeping ruling on thePolice Department’s stop-and-frisk practices, all but ending the Bloomberg administration’s ability to legally challenge the ruling.
In August, the judge,Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, found constitutional violations in the practices and imposed remedies, including the appointment of a monitor. Last month, the appeals panel blocked those orders and removed her from the case, saying that by appearing to steer the litigation to her courtroom in 2007 and giving press interviews this past spring while the case was pending, she had compromised “the appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation.”
In a more recent opinion, the panel, of theCourt of Appeals for the Second Circuit, said it had not found any misconduct or ethical violation by the judge. But it continued the stay on her ruling while the city appealed it.
The city had sought to have Judge Scheindlin’s ruling vacated, citing questions about her impartiality. But on Friday the appeals court declined the request, effectively saying the appeal process should run its course. The appeals court added that the city could renew its request later as part of the full appeal.
The city’s request appeared to be strategic. While Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg disagrees with Judge Scheindlin’s ruling, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio does not, and has promised to withdraw the appeal when he takes office in January. Ending the appeal would mean that Judge Scheindlin’s order would probably go into effect.
Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is handling one of the two lawsuits against the city involved in the appeal, said he was gratified the appellate panel “summarily denied the city’s desperate ploy to vacate the district court’s thorough decision without even briefing on the merits.”
Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is handling the other suit against the city, said, “This marks the end of the Bloomberg administration’s effort to short-circuit the appeals process and undo the district court’s rulings before Bill de Blasio takes office.”