Civil Rights Lawyers Blast Decision to Remove Judge From Stop-and-Frisk Case

The Center for Constitutional Rights wants a New York court to vacate their decision removing a judge from a landmark stop and frisk case.

An NYPD car.
Photo Credit: Kevin B/Wikimedia Commons

Civil rights lawyers are calling on a New York court to vacate their decision to remove a judge from a landmark case involving stop and frisk in New York City.  

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) made the appeal today to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 31, the court decided to suspend the ruling made by Judge Shira Scheindlin in August that concluded that the New York police were using stop and frisk tactics in unconstitutional ways that constituted racial profiling. Scheindlin also ordered remedies to that policy, like installing a federal monitor to monitor compliance with the ruling.

Stop and frisk is a tactic used by police that critics say target young Black and Latino males. It was a flashpoint issue in the mayoral race.

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The Second Circuit Court of Appeals made the controversial decision to remove Scheindlin from the case, even though the city had not asked for that.  They said that Scheindlin gave the appearance of bias through news media interviews and her encouragement of lawyers and plaintiffs to file a class-action lawsuit on stop and frisk. Now, the CCR and their partners are fighting against that decision by the court of appeals. In a statement, the organization said that Scheindlin “is steeped in the complexities of the case.”

“The facts conclusively show that the district judge engaged in no unethical conduct whatsoever and that her decision finding the City liable for widespread constitutional violations and racial profiling is based on overwhelming evidence presented at trial,” said CCR’s Legal Director, Baher Azmy, in a statement.

The CCR filing comes as the Bloomberg administration filed a motion to vacate Scheindlin’s ruling. But the future of the court battle over stop and frisk is in doubt, since Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has pledged to withdraw the city’s appeal of the decision by Judge Scheindlin.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.