Stop-and-Frisk: Attorneys Challenge Appellate Court On Removal of Judge Scheindlin

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Judge Scheindlin

[Justice]

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Beldock Levine & Hoffman and Covington & Burling has asked the entire Second Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider an October 31, 2013 decision by a three-judge Second Circuit panel to remove District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin from Floyd v. City of New York.

CCR and the co-counsel represented plaintiffs in the federal class action challenge to the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices.

In ruling on the City’s request to stay the remedial process ordered in Floyd, the appellate panel took the extraordinary step of reassigning the case to another judge, though the City had never made such a request.

“The removal of Judge Scheindlin was done by a perfect storm of procedural irregularity," said CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy. "The appellate panel cast aspersions upon the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary – and thus inappropriately cast doubt on her legal rulings – while itself taking an unprecedented step that no party requested, of which no party was notified, and without providing the parties an opportunity to be heard. 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.”

In today’s filing, the Center for Constitutional Rights asked the Second Circuit to vacate the decision removing Judge Scheindlin from Floyd and noted that she is steeped in the complexities of the case, having presided over an earlier, related racial profiling case, Daniels v. the City of New York, as well as over the nine-week trial in Floyd, which included testimony from over 100 witnesses and resulted in an 8,000-page trial record.

Floyd was filed in 2008 after the City failed to comply with a settlement in Daniels.  In August, Judge Scheindlin issued a 198-page opinion in Floyd, in which she found that the City had violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures and the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition on racial discrimination, and ordered a joint remedial process in order to bring the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices in line with the Constitution.

Today’s filing follows a late Friday filing by the City asking the three-judge panel to vacate all of Judge Scheindlin’s decisions in the case in light of her removal from the case. Notably the appellate panel did not accuse Judge Scheindlin of bias against the City and has not called the merits of her decisions into question.

Said co-counsel Jonathan Moore, who was also co-counsel in the predecessor Daniels case: “This unprecedented action by the Second Circuit should not detract from the central issue that has been resolved after 6 years of litigation: overwhelming evidence has conclusively proven what hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers already know well – that the City’s quota-driven stop and frisk program has produced systematic constitutional violations that must be remedied if the NYPD is to win back the trust of our communities.” 

 

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