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Court Blocks Reform of Unconstitutional Stop-and-Frisk

Removal of judge who ruled in favor of constitutional rights 'troubling and unprecedented'

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Stop-and-frisk" protest in New York, Sunday, June 17, 2012. / AP Photo/Seth WenigTo the dismay of civil rights advocates, on Thursday a federal appeals court blocked the implementation of reforms to the New York City Police Department’s controversial "stop-and-frisk" program, which had been ordered in an earlier district court ruling.

The decision today by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will delay a ruling by District Court judge Shira Scheindlin, which said the NYPD has violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of people by wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men in stop-and-frisk searches. Scheindlin had ordered an outside monitor to oversee major changes to the program.

The reforms will now be halted until a further appeal by the city, which has pushed hard against stop-and frisk-reform, is heard in the months to come.

In addition, without the prompt of a legal request, the court ordered Judge Scheindlin to be removed from the case claiming she "ran afoul of the code of conduct for U.S. judges" when she gave of a series of media interviews and public statements after her ruling, the Associated Press reports.

"We are dismayed that the Court of Appeals saw fit to delay the long-overdue process to remedy the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices, and we are shocked that they cast aspersions on the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary and reassigned the case," stated the Center for Constitutional Rights.

CCR added, "The City carried out a whisper campaign against Judge Scheindlin but never once raised any legal claims of bias, even in its papers to the Court of Appeals. That, unprompted, they should reassign the case from a judge deeply steeped in the issues for the last 14 years, who gave the City every opportunity to defend itself in the course of this litigation, is troubling and unprecedented."

Likewise, The New York Civil Liberties Union promised to fight Thursday's ruling.

“The NYCLU is appealing today’s decision,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “There is overwhelming evidence that the stop-and-frisk regime is unconstitutional and out of control – just ask any black or brown New Yorker. We expect the next mayoral administration to make reforming stop-and-frisk a top priority, and we are confident New York City will soon see a day when all New Yorkers’ basic rights are protected and respected.”

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