In addition to the preliminary injunction, the judge offered proposed relief that is similar to the relief sought by the plaintiffs in Floyd v. City of New York, where the judge in 2012 certified a city-wide class of plaintiffs challenging the allegedly widespread practice of stopping young men, many of them black and Hispanic, without reasonable suspicion (NYLJ, May 17, 2012).
Trial in Floyd, 08 Civ. 1034, is scheduled to begin March 11 and because the plaintiffs are no longer pursuing money damages and are now seeking injunctive relief, it will be a bench trial before Scheindlin.
Because Floyd and Ligon dovetail in many respects, Scheindlin said yesterday that the remedy hearing in Ligon will be held in conjunction with the Floyd trial.
The proposed relief includes a formal, written policy on the "limited circumstances" in which police can make a stop on suspicion of trespass outside of a TAP building and the order that supervisors require UF-250s be completed for every trespass stop outside of TAP buildings.
The city's Law Department had argued that the Police Department has already stepped up its training on the parameters of proper searches under the TAP program.
But Scheindlin said the training was inadequate and that NYPD training materials "continue to misstate the minimal constitutional standards for making stops." Some of the training materials introduced by the defendants, she said, "may serve to further entrench the problem of these unconstitutional stops."
She raised the possibility of appointing a monitor who would review drafts of written or scripted training materials that would be submitted to the court as part of the proposed remedies.
The judge also said she recognized that alterations to training materials might involve "training materials outside of the Bronx and outside the context of TAP. But such steps are necessary to correct the longstanding misconceptions that led to the violations of plaintiffs' constitutional rights."
The judge said it is possible that training efforts already underway might ultimately work, and said she would dissolve the injunction if the city produces statistics showing they have led to a change in department practices.
Scheindlin also said she was "keenly aware that this Court does not stand in the shoes of the Police Department and is in no way qualified or empowered to engage in policy determinations," and that her job is to interpret and apply the law.