|U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin|
I have some personal experience with Judge Scheindlin. Her rigorous analyses and attention to detail have impressed me.
Today's Court of Appeals order removing her from the stop and frisk case came as a shock. I agree that the stay of her complex injunction in the underlying case is proper. But with the General Election November 5 and a strong critic of the current police patrol practice leading the NYC mayoral race by a wide margin over a defender of the stop and search practice it is difficult to understand why the 2d Circuit panel felt compelled to take such an extreme measure as to remove the trial judge who is correctly regarded as rigorous and dedicated. In these circumstances some may see the Circuit as throwing a lightning bolt at Bill DeBlasio, the Democratic candidate for Mayor.
The briefing schedule is quite short too - with argument set for mid-March. The substantive case is likely to be resolved by the City via policy changes by the new administration in consultation with the plaintiffs and the the U.S. Department of Justice which has filed an expression of interest and has offered to participate in reforming the patrol practices.
All told the court's decision today seems injudicious.
UPDATE: Judge Scheindlin has stated that she did not discuss the Floyd case in any of her interviews - and stated the ground rules to the reporters. Jeffrey Toobin affirms that in a post today. And rereading the New Yorker article today it is clear that all the judge's comments are from the record, not the interview. An AP report and other news accounts on which the 2d Circuit panel relies give another impression, as Legal Ethics Forum reports. The Circuit panel in my opinion responded impulsively and unwisely, embroiling the court in the imminent New York mayoral election which pits a defender of the stop and frisk policy Joseph Lhota against a strong critic - Bill DeBlasio. - gwc
Court Blocks Stop-and-Frisk Changes for New York Police - NYTimes.com:
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN
Published: October 31, 2013
A federal appeals court on Thursday halted a sweeping set of changes to the New York Police Department’s policy of stopping and frisking people on the street, and, in strikingly personal terms, criticized the trial judge’s conduct in the litigation and removed her from the case.
The United States 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 in early 2008.
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