Stop-and-Frisk to Continue Unchanged in NYC
After the landmark case of Terry v. Ohio in 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that stop-and-frisk searches by law enforcement officers were protected by the Constitution. In August of 2013, New York Judge Shira Scheindlin made huge legal waves by overturning the decision, calling the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional. Now, only a few months later, Scheindlin has been removed from the case — and the “old” stop-and-frisk is back. Lawyers and private individuals alike should take notice.
Scheindlin’s August Ruling on Stop-and-Frisk Angers Bloomberg
For nearly half a century, the NYPD’s famous (or infamous) stop-and-frisk program enjoyed a certain safety: it was, legally and officially, Constitutional. But in August of 2013, NYC Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that stop-and-frisk was anything but Constitutional, calling it a “policy of racial profiling.” Hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of New Yorkers celebrated the decision, which for many, seemed long overdue. By the NYPD’s own statistics, an eyebrow-raising nine out of ten individuals stopped (and frisked) between 2011 and 2012 were either black or Hispanic — and about nine out of ten times, nothing remotely criminal was uncovered. Two of the most common eventual criminal charges filed are drug possession and immigration issues.
Scheindlin determined the policy was little more than a front for racism, saying the NYPD had a habit of stopping blacks and Hispanics “who would not have been stopped if they were white.” Her August ruling did not end stop-and-frisk, but heavy new restrictions and monitors were put into place. Many New Yorkers seemed pleased by the newer, gentler stop-and-frisk; but others, like Mayor Bloomberg, were appalled. Fortunately for Bloomberg and those who agree with him, a bitter battle against the ruling has led to Scheindlin’s removal from the case — and a return to the “old,” pre-Scheindlin stop-and-frisk.
U.S. Court of Appeals Removes Scheindlin, Returns Stop-and-Frisk
In a surprising move, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has taken the controversial step of not only putting a stay on Scheindlin’s August ruling, but of removing her from the case altogether. When asked why, the Court explained that Scheindlin “ran afoul” of proper court conduct by failing to be impartial to the case, and by granting media interviews to big-name giants like the New Yorker and the Associated Press while the case was still ongoing. While Scheindlin is licking her wounds, calling criticisms against her “below the belt,” the NYPD (and the rest of New York) holds their breath — because as of November 5th, the city has a new mayor.
Sunita Patel is a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights — as well as a co-counsel on the stop-and-frisk case. In Patel’s opinion, “the next mayor should consider withdrawing the appeal. Any fair-minded and neutral judge to look at the record… will come up with the same conclusion. No one could come to a different conclusion than Judge Scheindlin.” Patel is confident: “…public opinion,” she says, “is on our side. Reform is going to happen one way or the other.”
NO JAIL TIME
Commonwealth v. "H" (DUI case)
Client was charged with three separate DUI cases calling for mandatory minimum imprisonment of 90 days on each case. Client was advised to seek immediate intensive alcohol counseling. Client was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest after serving 3 days in the county prison.
Commonwealth v. "C" (Felony drug/Firearms case)
Client was charged with felony Delivery of drugs and illegal gun possession and was facing a mandatory 3-6 year prison sentence in the State prison system. Client was sentenced to one year of house arrest.
Commonwealth v. "S"
Client was charged with simple assault, domestic. After a hearing where evidence and testimony was presented, the entire case was dismissed by Judge Leonard Brown.
State of New Jersey v. "H"
Charges for young man charged with second degree aggravated assault were downgraded to third degree and he was accepted into the County Pretrial Intervention program with charges to be dismissed and record expunged after one year of misconduct free behavior.
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