Attorneys for New York City asked a federal appeals court to vacate a judge’s orders that require the police department to change its stop-and-frisk practice that critics argue unfairly targets minorities.
The city said Saturday in filings with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin’s orders this summer should be thrown out largely for the same reasons a three-judge panel of the appeals court gave in staying her decision on Oct. 31, pending an appeal.
The panel stayed her order and removed her from the case, saying she misapplied a related case ruling that allowed her to take the stop-and-frisk case and gave media interviews during the trial, calling her impartiality into question.
“At a minimum, the District Court’s misconduct makes it reasonable to question the impartiality of the District Court Orders, and at a maximum represents a violation of Appellant’s Due Process rights to a neutral arbiter and to present a defense,” the filings said. “In either case, the District Court Orders must be vacated.”
Scheindlin ruled in August that the city violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics by disproportionally stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking them. She assigned a monitor to help the New York Police Department change its policy and training programs regarding the tactic.
An attorney for Scheindlin responded Sunday, claiming that the city’s attempt to have her orders vacated is bringing “character assassination into the judicial process.”
“At worst, the panel accused the judge of conduct that might cause the appearance of lack of neutrality,” lawyer Burt Neuborne said in a statement. “The panel did not even suggest that the district judge was actually biased.”
Opponents of the tactic blistered at the city’s request to vacate the judge’s orders Saturday.
“Voters overwhelmingly rejected [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy by choosing a mayor committed to reforming stop-and-frisk, so fighting reform now not only adds injury to those subjected to the policy but is a waste of taxpayer money and counterproductive to public safety,” said Joo-Hyun
Kang, a spokeswoman for Communities United for Police Reform.
Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio has said he would drop the city’s appeal of Scheindlin’s ruling but he could also settle with those urging reforms, which would eliminate federal oversight.