Thursday, November 7, 2013

Judge Scheindlin moves to fight removal order

District Judge Shira Schendlin has entered her appearance in the appeal of the New York City stop and frisk cases from which she was removed last week by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York.

In an affidavit supporting a motion to appear as amicus or as counsel for Judge Scheindlin a raft of high profile lawyers led by NYU law professor Burt Neuborne attacks the removal order as a violation of the First Amendment and the Fifth Amendment's due process protections.  Citing newspaper and magazine accounts of her comments on her independence as a jurist the panel detected bias and violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires judges to suffer willingly the slings and arrows of public criticism.

Neuborne, et al., including ACLU legend Norman Dorsen, and former New York Corporation Counsel F.A.O. Schwarz, attack the Circuit Court judges for having "blindsided" Scheindlin without notice, removing her from the civil rights case in which she had ordered the New York City Police Department to reform the aggressive stop and frisk practices which she found to be racially discriminatory.

In a sign that the matter could get ugly just as Bill DeBlasio takes the reigns at City Hall, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association also moved to intervene.  The storm stirred by the order (which the City had not sought) demonstrates, in my view, the injudiciousness of the panel's abrupt unsolicited disqualification of the trial judge.  Issued five days before the election in which a critic of the police was elected by a huge margin, the order will stir contentiousness between police and the new Mayor.

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