Stop-and-Frisk Battle in New York City Intensifies After Scheindlin’s Removal

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

When Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program was unconstitutional in August, for many New Yorkers, it seemed like a victory. But after just a few short months of courtroom scuffling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has taken the dramatic steps of not only staying Scheindlin’s decision, but removing the judge from the case altogether. And now, with a new mayor replacing Bloomberg — Scheindlin’s most vocal detractor — the future of stop-and-frisk in New York City is less certain than ever.

Scheindlin and Bloomberg Go Head-to-Head Over Stop-and-Frisk

Stop-and-frisk has always been a controversial topic. The program has gained enough notoriety that it’s become a common household name — and, some would say, for good reason. According to the NYPD itself, between 2011 and 2012, approximately nine out of ten stops were directed at blacks and Hispanics, some illegal immigrants. Some, like Bloomberg, insist this reflects not racism, but a gritty reality of who crime strikes. “We disproportionately stop whites too much,” he said, “and minorities too little.” Bloomberg, no stranger to controversy, ignited a firestorm of angry disbelief with his comments — but the backlash didn’t deter him.

In fact, Bloomberg was so opposed to Scheindlin’s ruling of unconstitutionality — which condemned stop-and-frisk as “a policy of racial profiling” — that he pushed the issue all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. At first, many seemed skeptical that Bloomberg’s appeal would do anything other than waste time and eat up tax dollars. Now, it’s become evident that that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Scheindlin’s ruling has been stayed, all monitors on the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics have been removed — and so has Scheindlin herself.

The Future of Stop-and-Frisk in New York City

The U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision to block Scheindlin’s ruling and remove the judge has been met with mixed opinions. Michael Cardozo, the Corporation Counsel of New York City, is pleased. In fact, “We could not be more pleased,” Cardozo says, going on to describe Scheindlin’s ruling as “unjustified” and “deeply problematic.” NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly agrees with Cardozo. “This is indeed an important decision for all New Yorkers and for the men and women of the NYPD who work very hard day in and day out to keep this city safe,” Kelly says. “I have always been, and I haven’t been alone, concerned about the partiality of Judge Scheindlin and we look forward to the examination of this case — a fair and impartial review of this case based on the merits.”

Others aren’t so sure. The New York Civil Liberties Union calls Scheindlin’s removal and replacement “troubling and unprecedented.” Jonathan C. Moore, a civil rights attorney, calls it a “travesty of justice.”

In the midst of the chaos, many are looking to the new mayor as the deciding factor in the future of stop-and-frisk. Sunita Patel, a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, puts it plainly: “The next mayor should consider withdrawing the appeal.”



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