Sunday, November 10, 2013

New York Moves to Vacate Stop and Frisk Order

UPDATED: 6:30 PM 11/10/13  Judge Scheindlin in a letter two days ago (but only posted today on the court's electronic docket) in a letter to the panel that removed her asked the 2d Circuit panel that removed her from the stop and frisk case, saying that " Such a course of conduct would permit the parties to raise the issues at an appropriate point in the proceedings without being forced to address them in the context of an unseemly dispute among judges". h/t Legal Ethics Forum

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday declared his intent to cooperate with the incoming Mayor-elect Bill DeBlasio.  But via the motion filed just after midnight today (Sunday) the Bloomberg administration is certain to disrupt relations between itself, the NYPD,  and the Mayor-elect.  The City has moved to immediately vacate the entirety of the finding of federal Judge Shira Scheindlin that the City's stop and frisk practices violate the civil rights of African American and Latin citizens. The appeals court has already stayed the order and removed the Judge from the case.  Rather like the young men stopped on the street, the police felt disrespected by Judge Scheindlin.  The City's response is a fierce attack on the legitimacy of the court.  The City (and the police unions who as amicus will surely embrace the motion) would have the Court of Appeals short circuit the appeal and declare void all that Judge Scheindlin did at the conclusion of five years of litigation and a ten week trial.

The Corporation Counsel  filed "the City’s motion for an order modifying the stay order dated October 31, 2013 to the extent of vacating the District Court’s Remedies Order dated August 12, 2013, and its Liability Order dated August 12, 2013. 
The City's lawyers argue that "vacatur is appropriate to stem the tide of diluted trust and confidence in the NYPD that the mere existence of the District Court Orders fosters, even with the stay currently in effect."  The City asked the court to treat the matter as an emergency, demanding all briefs be filed on both sides by the coming Friday.

As I argued in an exchange on Legal Ethics Forum, the Second Circuit's removal order is injudicious and threw a lightning bolt at the feet of the then not-yet Mayor-elect.  That fear has proven to be understated as the responses by the City and the police unions promise to embitter the already uncomfortable relations between the incoming mayor and the police force on whom he (and we) rely to achieve safe streets.  Although the cops and the outgoing mayor will paint a rosy picture and be quick to blame the new regime for any increase in crime, the reality is that not all is hunky dory on the streets of New York.
At Fordham everyone with a university email address gets notice of every crime committed against a student or employee.  There is a steady stream of smart phone snatchings by young men - the principal victims being male students walking alone late at night on the streets near the college's idyllic Rose Hill Campus on Fordham Road in the Bronx.  The perpetrators of those crimes are in the social group targeted by the police in the stop and frisk program.  It has not made the streets safe but the persistence - and any increase - in such crimes is sure to be pinned on the new Mayor's coattails.

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