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Appeals Court Puts A Hold On NYC Stop And Frisk Ruling; Boots Judge From Case For 'Appearance Of Bias'

from the didn't-see-that-one-coming dept

In a rather surprising decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked Judge Scheindlin’s stop and frisk ruling which found portions of the program unconstitutional and ordered the addition of independent oversight and the deployment of body cameras by certain NYPD precincts.

The city immediately requested a stay pending appeal, stating (among other things), that following the ruling would place undue burden on the NYPD to comply. Somewhat hilariously, the city argued that training its cops to behave in a more constitutional fashion would be incredibly expensive and ultimately counterproductive if the decision was overturned (as it felt it would). Judge Scheindlin denied this request.

Scheindlin’s decision hasn’t been overturned but it has been kicked back to the district court and a stay has been granted. However, Scheindlin herself won’t be handling any further deliberations. The appeals court has kicked the judge off the case, claiming impropriety and a “display of bias” on her part.

Upon review of the record in these cases, we conclude that the District Judge ran afoul of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Canon 2 (“A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.”); see also Canon 3(C)(1) (“A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned . . . .”), and that the appearance of partiality surrounding this litigation was compromised by the District Judge’s improper application of the Court’s “related case rule,” see Transfer of Related Cases, S.D.N.Y. & E.D.N.Y. Local Rule 13(a), and by a series of media interviews and public statements purporting to respond publicly to criticism of the District Court.

The footnotes shed additional light on the court’s claims.

In a proceeding on December 21, 2007 involving the parties in Daniels v. City of New York, No. 99 Civ. 1695 (S.D.N.Y. filed Mar. 8, 1999), the District Judge stated, “[I]f you got proof of inappropriate racial profiling in a good constitutional case, why don’t you bring a lawsuit? You can certainly mark it as related.” She also stated, “[W]hat I am trying to say, I am sure I am going to get in trouble for saying it, for $65 you can bring that lawsuit.”

She concluded the proceeding by noting, “And as I said before, I would accept it as a related case, which the plaintiff has the power to designate.” Two of the attorney groups working on behalf of plaintiffs in Daniels, a case challenging the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices, helped file Floyd the next month.

The second footnote points to three articles that appeared in May of 2013 in which the judge responded to various criticisms of her court. Scheindlin’s comments in the three articles listed (here, here and here) don’t seem to cross any lines, but the court may be referencing something Bloomberg’s legal team assembled as an indication of her alleged bias against the NYPD. From AP’s article:

The AP interview came after a New York Daily News article revealed that the staff of Mayor Michael Bloomberg had reviewed her record to show that 60 percent of her 15 written “search-and-seizure” rulings since she took the bench in 1994 had gone against law enforcement.

As it stands now, the case sits in the Southern District Court of New York awaiting the circuit court’s decision on the city’s appeal. A randomly chosen judge will handle the case going forward, which at the moment involves nothing more than enforcing the stay.

This isn’t promising news for anyone hoping to see stop-and-frisk curbed. While the appeals court states that removing Scheindlin has no bearing on its view of the merits of the decision or the city’s appeal, it does seem to indicate that Bloomberg’s legal team have an easier battle ahead of them, especially when their amended appeal will have Scheindlin’s “appearance of bias” to use.

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Comments on “Appeals Court Puts A Hold On NYC Stop And Frisk Ruling; Boots Judge From Case For 'Appearance Of Bias'”

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17 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

’60 percent of her 15 written “search-and-seizure” rulings since she took the bench in 1994 had gone against law enforcement.’

6 for and 9 against shows bias? Seriously? That’s only one case away from 7 vs 8, which is as even as 15 cases can get.

Are judges supposed to rule differently in every other case, just to keep the numbers exactly even?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: From the...

You for some reason say “has-absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-technology-copyright-or-patents dept”.

Where even a simple search around the site leads you to the below:

“the Techdirt blog uses a proven economic framework to analyze and offer insight into news stories about changes in government policy, technology and legal issues that affect companies ability to innovate and grow.”

You seem to be the only one putting constraints on what type of article falls under this description.

Straw-men arguments fall apart when prodded or even stared at hard enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

Get in trouble?

She also stated, ?[W]hat I am trying to say, I am sure I am going to get in trouble for saying it, for $65 you can bring that lawsuit.?

I’m not exactly going to have a lot of sympathy for that judge… if she knew she was going to get in trouble for saying it, perhaps she shouldn’t have said it. And there’s a limited amount of “trouble” a judge can get in – she knew that exactly this would happen. I’m not quite sure why a judge would say something that would result in the appeals court overturning her ruling.

Bob Codsej says:

As much as I hate stop-and-frisk, it seems pretty clear the Second Circuit got it right on this one.

Scheindlin is on record *asking* a plaintiff to bring a suit so that she could personally (!) rule on it. She also used the related case rule to make sure that she sat at the center of pretty much all stop-and-frisk litigation, effectively “steering cases towards her” (NY Times’ wording). While the 60% argument that the mayor’s office is using truly is bullshit, the Appeals Court still has ample reason to kick this case back to the district court.

Honestly, I’d be kind of surprised if Scheindlin didn’t see this coming. There’s no way she couldn’t have known that her impartiality would be challenged, especially since there were calls for her to recuse herself back before the trial even began.

Stop-and-frisk needs to die an ugly, unconstitutional death. But it needs to die in a way that make sure that it stays dead. Having a judge so easily (and credibly) accused of bias just gives the mayor’s office a straw man to attack while the real fight goes on somewhere else.

Cloudsplitter says:

What a Load

The 2nd Circuit is full of shit, I could use more dainty language but none would apply here. This is Bloomburg judge shopping on a massive scale, with a lot of help from the boys in black. The judge in question should appeal this travesty to the full circuit, and demand a full judicial investigation. Never have I herd in a major civil rights case in the U.S a federal judge being removed from a case under such flimsy circumstances, it smells to high heaven.

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