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Court delays 'stop-and-frisk' reforms, boots judge

A circuit court blocked implementation of a judge's remedies and removed her from the case.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin is interviewed in her federal court chambers, in New York, May 17, 2013.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin is interviewed in her federal court chambers, in New York, May 17, 2013.

New York City's controversial use of the police tactic known as "stop-and-frisk" can continue without outside oversight or changes until a legal challenge can be heard by a new judge, a circuit court ruled Thursday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit stayed the remedies ordered by Judge Shira Scheindlin until the city's appeal of her decision can be heard. The New York Police Department will be able to continue stopping, questioning and frisking individuals they deem to be suspicious, a tactic that has affected millions of black and Latino men and women in the city.

Scheindlin ruled in August that the policy violated the constitutional rights of those who were stopped because the police targeted black and Latino men and women on purpose. She had ordered the NYPD to create a pilot program in which officers wore cameras and that an independent monitor be appointed.

The Circuit also ordered judge Scheindlin removed from the case, citing interviews she did with media outlets as proof of bias against the city.

"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," the Center for Constitutional Rights, which litigated the case, said in a statement Thursday. It also questioned the decision to remove Scheindlin from the case. "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."

The New York Civil Liberties Union has already announced it will appeal the stay.