Court blocks ruling that altered NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy

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from CNN,

A federal appeals court Thursday blocked a ruling that deemed the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional, while removing the judge from the case as other appeals are heard.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said the lower court judge “ran afoul” of requirements that judges avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, the appeals court said, jeopardized “the appearance of partiality … by a series of media interviews and public statements purporting to respond publicly to criticism of the District Court.”

Scheindlin, in a related 2007 proceeding, said, “If you got proof of inappropriate racial profiling in a good constitutional case, why don’t you bring a lawsuit? You can certainly mark it as related,” adding, “I am sure I am going to get in trouble for saying it, for $65 you can bring that lawsuit,” the ruling said.

The ruling also points to interviews with the New York Law Journal, The Associated Press and The New Yorker in which the judge spoke about her personal beliefs on the issue and defended her decision.

The stop-and-frisk policy — in which police stop, question and frisk people they deem suspicious, even if they’ve committed no crime — has been one of the most controversial policing techniques in recent time, fueled by clashes between civil rights and civil liberties groups challenging the practice as racist and illegal. Law enforcement and other proponents say the practice works to reduce crime.

In August, Scheindlin ordered that the stop-and-frisk policy be altered, finding that it is unconstitutional in part because it unlawfully targets blacks and Latinos.

City officials had bristled at the contention that police racially profile suspects and appealed the ruling.

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