NY Stop and Frisk law restored and Judge Scheindlin removed

A federal appeals court on Thursday halted a sweeping set of changes to the New York Police Department’s practice of stopping and frisking people on the street, and, in strikingly personal terms, criticized the trial judge’s conduct and removed her from the case. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/01/nyregion/court-blocks-stop-and-frisk-changes-for-new-york-police.html?hp
The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, “ran afoul” of the judiciary’s code of conduct by compromising the “appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation.” The panel criticized how she had steered the lawsuit to her courtroom when it was filed nearly six years ago.
The ruling effectively puts off a battery of changes that Judge Scheindlin, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, had ordered for the Police Department. It postpones the operations of the monitor who was asked to oversee reforms of the stop-and-frisk practices, which Judge Scheindlin had said violated the constitutional rights of minorities.
The appeals court’s action was an unexpected twist to what has been a long-running fight over the tactics, a centerpiece of the city’s crime-fighting strategy.
The use of police stops has been widely cited by the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as a crucial tool in helping drive the number of murders and major crimes in the city to historic lows.
But Judge Scheindlin ruled in August that the Police Department not only had violated the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures, but had also violated the 14th Amendment by resorting to a “policy of indirect racial profiling” as the number of police stops soared in minority communities over the last decade.
The police, Judge Scheindlin found, were routinely stopping “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.”
One civil rights lawyer who brought the stop-and-frisk case, Jonathan C. Moore, said the Second Circuit’s criticism was misplaced, and expressed shock that the panel would remove Judge Scheindlin.
“I think it’s a travesty of justice for this panel of the Second Circuit to take this case away from a judge who worked very hard for the last five years to resolve very important, serious issues involving the civil rights of the residents of New York,” Mr. Moore said.

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