Stop-and-Frisk Plaintiffs Urge Court to Reject Stay Request
Plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk class action against New York City urged Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin (See Profile) Friday not to stay her sweeping remedial order in the case pending appeal.
In a letter to the court, lawyers for the prevailing side said that Scheindlin should allow a court-appointed monitor to do his job and make the New York City Police Department proceed with reforms on policies and procedures she found violated the U.S. Constitution in May. Their principal argument is that the issues are not ripe for appeal.
"The City asks the Court to stay the Remedies Order based on arguments devoid of factual support that assert speculative harms, imaginary threats to public safety, and unspecified errors of law," write the lawyers for the plaintiffs in Floyd v. City of New York, 08 Civ. 1034. "The City has failed to meet its burden of establishing entitlement to a stay."
On Aug. 12, Scheindlin found the police department liable for violating the Fourth Amendment rights of New Yorkers through the policy and widespread practice of stopping people without reasonable suspicion that they are involved in criminal activity. She also found a systematic violation of the Fourteenth Amendment because the overwhelming majority of those stopped and frisked are black and Hispanic men (NYLJ, Aug. 13).
She then ordered a number of reforms, including that police in one precinct per borough wear body cameras for one year to document stop-and-frisk encounters. In a move particularly galling to the city, the judge named a court-appointed monitor to oversee the process.
Friday, the plaintiffs, a class of hundreds of individuals who have been stopped and frisked, argued that Scheindlin's orders are not ripe for appeal because she had yet to compel the parties to take concrete steps, having only initiated a process that will lead to such an order. The letter was submitted by Beldock Levine & Hoffman, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Covington & Burling.
The remedies order issued by the judge, they state, calls for "two categories of next steps."
First, the parties are to sit down with the monitor and propose reforms to be submitted to Scheindlin for approval and implementation. The parties last week had their first meeting with the monitor, Peter Zimroth of Arnold & Porter.
Second, the parties are to implement immediate reforms ordered by the judge but only after "participating in a facilitated process allowing public comment." The judge on Thursday appointed as facilitator Nicholas Turner of the VERA Institute of Justice (NYLJ, Sept. 5).
"The Remedies Order thus currently compels only the participation in further proceedings to develop remedies," the lawyers state.