Judicial Panel Suspends 'Stop And Frisk' Ruling

9:41 PM, Oct 31, 2013   |    comments
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Melanie Eversley, USA TODAY

The civil rights community is reeling after a panel of three federal judges stayed an earlier decision that halted a police practice activists felt unfairly targeted minorities.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has granted a stay of an August ruling that ordered a host of changes and reviews in the practice of "Stop and Frisk," a policy that gives New York Police Department officers wide latitude in stopping anyone they deem suspicious.

Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly hailed "Stop and Frisk" as an effective crime deterrent while the NAACP and other civil rights organizations complained that minority males represented the majority of people stopped under the policy.

In issuing the ruling, the court also pulled Judge Shira Schiendlin from the case, citing an "appearance of partiality surrounding this litigation."

The ruling accused Scheindlin of steering the case toward her courtroom when it was initially filed five years ago.

The civil rights community expressed disappointment.

" 'Stop and frisk' policing is nothing less than the largest racial profiling program in the country, and Judge Schiendlin was right to rule it unconstitutional," NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous said. "Legalized racial profiling has been discredited and will ultimately be relegated to the dustbin of history."

"This is a disappointing roadblock in the effort to fight profiling on New York City's streets," said Niaz Kasravi, the NAACP's criminal justice director. "Judge Scheindlin's decision responded to vast amounts of evidence that the NYPD profiled based on race, ethnicity, LGBT status and faith. We will continue to fight until we end bias-based policing in New York City and across the country."

The New York Police Department and the mayor's office did not respond to requests for comment.

In the her August decision, Schiendlin ruled that police had violated the civil rights of thousands by wrongly targeting minority men.

The judges who wrote the Thursday ruling concluded that Scheindlin "ran afoul of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges," specifically, the parst that stipulates that a judge "should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities," and "shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

USA Today

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