A federal appeals court returned litigation over the New York Police Department’s stop-question-and-frisk policy to a lower court Friday for a potential settlement between civil liberties groups and the city.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to let police unions replace the city to continue the appeal over a judge’s finding that police sometimes discriminate against minorities with the crime-reduction tactic.
The appeals court’s decision was issued weeks after new Mayor Bill de Blasio withdrew the city’s challenge to a court-appointed monitor and other steps in order to rewrite the policy.
In its decision, the 2nd Circuit said the appropriateness of letting police unions continue the appeal “could well bear on settlement negotiations.” It said the lower court was “better positioned to deal with the complexities that might arise during multifaceted settlement negotiations in which a variety of interests must be accommodated.”
The ruling seemed to sit well with the police unions.
“Our mission has always been to gain a seat at the table in order to protect our members’ rights and reputations,” said Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
In a statement, the city’s law department said: “The court of appeals recognized the city’s interest in resolving the case, which we now intend to do in the district court.”
Police unions had asked to take over the appeal, saying the finding of discrimination by U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin unfairly tainted the 35,000-person police force, the nation’s largest. Scheindlin was removed from the case last year after the appeals court said she ran afoul of the code of conduct for U.S. judges.
The appeals court refused to let the unions replace the city and continue the appeal. The court said the unions could try to intervene in place of the city before a district judge first and then could appeal any rejection.