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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

United States Federal Judge Puts End To NYPD's 'stop-and-frisk' policy


Federal judge orders end to NYPD's 'stop-and-frisk' policy, appoints special monitor


Herbert Dyer, Jr


Judge - New York Crew
In a stunning decision handed down Monday morning by federal District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, New York City police were deemed “guilty” of “systematically stopping innocent people” in the streets of New York.
As reported by the New York Times, Scheindlin said that the NYPD deliberately, purposely stopped and frisked thousands upon thousands of usually young black and brown men on the slimest of pretexts. They were supposedly looking for weapons, drugs, or other contraband.
The judge's ruling is contained in a 195-page decision and opinion.
According to the Huffington Post, the judge noted that the stop-and-frisk policy not only escalated but grew more and more aggressive with each passing year, even as crime throughout the city steadily declined. This, according to Scheindlin, was prima facie evidence that New York's finest held little regard for the Constitution's 4th Amendment prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures” by government agents.
The judge also determined that the NYPD was violative of the 14th Amendment.
Judge Scheindlin, however, did not simply point the finger of blame at the cops. Her order contained some serious teeth. She also handed down – ordered – immediate policy changes and prescriptions.
Scheindlin holds forth from the Federal District Court in Manhattan, one of the federal system's busiest jurisdictions.
According to ABC News, she will appoint an “outside lawyer,” Peter L. Zimroth, to ride roughshod over and monitor the NYPD's future compliance with this nation-state's Constitution.
Current TV reports that Zimroth is a partner in the New York office of a nationally reputed, "white shoe" law firm, Arnold & Porter, LLP. He is also a former New York City corporation counsel and prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The case before Judge Scheindlin was called Floyd vs. City of New YorkThe judge's ruling comes after a full two-month bench (no jury) trial earlier this year over the controversial and contentious, Mayor Bloomberg-supported, stop-and-frisk practices of the NYPD.
Scheindlin sifted through testimony from approximately a dozen black and brown men and one woman as they detailed their various, numerous, incessant, encounters with police.
She listened to the professionals as well -- numbers experts (statisticians) -- who told her, showed her, that an astonishing 4.43 million people were “stopped and frisked” between 2004 and mid-2012. That is at least twice the number of black men, women and children combined who live all of New York City.
NBC News reports that the NYPD, including top commanders, defended their stop-and-frisk practice, of course. They argued that the stops were perfectly “legal” because they were done only when officers “reasonably suspected” crime was in the offing. And so, they were just gathering up, stopping and frisking, the "usual suspects."
Do you see a pattern developing here? No? How about a "profile?"
The judge was having none of it.
Yes, yes. The US Supreme Court long ago gave its stamp of approval and imprimatur to police nationwide to stop and investigate “suspicious” people. But Scheindlin wrote that the NYPD had overstepped even those guidelines and its own inherent authority.
She found that officers were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that which, save for an individual's dark complexion, was perfectly legal, ordinary....innocent; that the people being stopped were all somehow, or mainly, of a particular "racial" or ethnic group and age-set. That practice, she said, in effect, whether intentionally done or not, destroyed any legal basis which is always necessary for a stop and closer look at the possible "offender."
Indeed, she specifically referred to the fact that 88 percent of the stops resulted in no arrest nor ticket whatever. That number -- 88 percent -- she said, shows that these people should never have been stopped in the first place.
Opinion
At this writing, it is not known what or how New York's bevy of mayoral candidates will react to this ruling.
If they have any sense, any political sense, they will applaud it and promise to enforce it.
But, it is probably a safe bet that the NYPD and the current and outgoing mayor will appeal this decision to this nation-state's high court, the US Supreme Court.
If so, before Scheindlin's prescriptions can be enacted or administered, her ruling may be put on hold until the Supremes take their decision in the matter.
As stated above, however, the Supremes have already weighed in in the past on police stops, ruling -- naturally -- in favor of the police. Thus, the chances of them overruling their own ruling are slim and none...And Slim left the building a long time ago.
References

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