City, Plaintiffs Reach Accord in Stop-and-Frisk

, New York Law Journal


Plaintiff Nicholas Peart, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter
Mayor Bill de Blasio announces that New York City will not appeal Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin's ruling that the police stop-and-frisk tactics are unconstitutional. Appearing with deBlasio yesterday at the Brownsville Recreation Center in Brooklyn are left, Nicholas Peart, 23, a plaintiff in the litigation, and Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter.

But it was already apparent that de Blasio, who ran against stop-and-frisk, was about to be elected mayor.

The motions panel then rejected a move by Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo to vacate Scheindlin's rulings on Nov. 21.

The full court followed on Nov. 25 by placing the entire matter in "abeyance," including requests for en banc review by both the plaintiffs and lawyers for Scheindlin who said the motions panel was out of line for removing her from the case. The full circuit invited the parties to seek a remand for purposes of resolving the cases.

The city accepted that invitation Thursday, as Acting Corporation Counsel Jeffrey Friedlander and Assistant Corporation Counsel Deborah Brenner, filed a motion for a limited remand with the Second Circuit for 45 days "to permit the parties to explore a resolution" in Floyd and a second case, Ligon v. City of New York, 13-3123.

The police department had already begun a substantial easing back of stop-and-frisk by the time the parties were gearing up for trial in Floyd in 2013 as the quarterly statistics on the number of stop-and-frisk encounters as reported to the City Council showed a dramatic drop.

The numbers had continued to drop even as the city was arguing before a Second Circuit motions panel for a stay of Scheindlin's rulings.

The total number of stop-and-frisk reports filed by police for 2013 was about 194,000, less than one third the encounters reported by police during the peak of the program. There were 694,000 encounters in 2011 and 532,911 in 2012.

By the middle of January, Bratton said, "The problem has been more-or-less solved" and de Blasio said reform was underway.

Bratton addressed one question yesterday on an idea raised by Scheindlin during Floyd and included in her remedial order—a pilot program in which officers in one precinct per borough would wear body cameras to record police encounters for one year.

Bratton said, "American policing is moving very quickly in that direction."

What's being said

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    Bravo, Mayor de Blasio. Proud of you.Judge Scheindlin’s service to New Yorkers and the Constitution has been acknowledged and honored by Mayor de Blasio’s principled act to admit the abuse of stop-and-frisk. The Law Department, now presided over by Zack Carter, will honor the law rather than seek to make legal that which isn’t. Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Laws taught us that making “evil” legal isn’t lawful, but ultimately, a war crime. Seeking to legalize unconstitutional behavior legal isn’t honest or honorable. There are more cases in the Law Department’s inventory that need to be addressed; we are prosecuting one such case, presided over by Judge Koeltl, which exposes the defective school disciplinary system potentially injuring 1.1 million school kids with false charges being levied, known to be false when made, just to victimize the innocent. For public service lawyers to assist in the harm will cost taxpayers even more in damages let alone the wrong lesson taught kids in school that truth and actual innocence don’t matter. Now, thankfully such behavior will run afoul of Corp Counsel Carter and Mayor de Blasio. It is a bright new day for a unified City that respect-in-fact the Constitution. /s/Ravi Batra

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