Joint Remedial Process in Floyd v. City of New York: What You Need to Know

Last updated January 18, 2017

Overview:

In August 2013, a federal judge found that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had engaged in a widespread practice of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stops and frisks and ordered a collaborative, joint remedial process (JRP) to develop a set of reforms that will help bring the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices into compliance with the Constitution. The judge highlighted the importance of getting this input, writing at the time, “No amount of legal or policing expertise can replace a community’s understanding of the likely practical consequences of reforms in terms of both liberty and safety.”

The JRP ensures that communities who have been directly affected by these practices will have direct input into shaping the future of stop and frisk in New York. The JRP was envisioned to solicit ideas for additional reforms from communities most impacted by stops and frisks. In addition to community stakeholders, the process will involve the City, members of law enforcement, local elected officials, organizations with expertise in policing and criminal justice attorneys representing the plaintiffs. This process echoes a similar process successfully implemented in Cincinnati, Ohio over a decade ago to address systemic abusive and biased policing practices. Guiding this process is the court-appointed Facilitator, Hon. Ariel Belen.


What is the Joint Remedial Process and why is it happening?

The purpose of the Joint Remedial Process, as stated by the court, is to develop a set of reforms with the direct input of the people most affected by the NYPD’s discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices. Those reforms will supplement the reforms to policies, trainings, supervision, discipline, and monitoring currently being developed by the plaintiffs, the NYPD, and the court-appointed monitor in the Floyd v. City of New York lawsuit.

In the spring of 2013, we asked a federal court in New York to order the NYPD to engage in a community-input process with the plaintiffs (the attorneys and clients who brought the landmark Floyd case) and other stakeholders to design reforms to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice with the goal of developing reforms together.

In August 2013, after a nine-week trial, the court found that the NYPD’s practice of stop and frisk was unconstitutional and racially discriminatory and ordered the NYPD to engage in this Joint Remedial Process. In its ruling, the court specifically wrote that meaningful and lasting reform requires the support and involvement of the people most affected. As the court emphasized:

The communities most affected by the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk have a distinct perspective that is highly relevant to the crafting of reforms. No amount of legal or policing expertise can replace a community’s understanding of the likely practical consequences of reforms in terms of both liberty and safety....

If the reforms to stop and frisk are not perceived as legitimate by those most affected, the reforms are unlikely to be successful. Neither an independent Monitor, nor a municipal administration, nor this Court can speak for those who have been or will be most affected by the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk.

Is the remedial process limited to stop and frisk?

The Joint Remedial Process includes reforms within the Floyd case as well as two related cases known as Davis and Ligon. Both the Davis and Ligon cases challenged NYPD practices beyond stop and frisk. Check here for information about the Davis case and here for information about the Ligon case.

What kinds of reforms could come from the Joint Remedial Process?

With respect to the Floyd case, the range of potential reforms is broad and could include changes to, among other things: how the NYPD holds officers accountable for unlawful street encounters, how the NYPD documents stop-and-frisk activity, what criteria the NYPD uses to evaluate officer conduct, what information the NYPD provides to people who have been stopped, and how supervisors oversee officer behavior. 

What will the Floyd Joint Remedial Process involve?

Retired judge and longtime mediator Ariel Belen has been appointed by the court to work with the parties to design and facilitate the Joint Remedial Process. .

The Joint Remedial Process is comprised of several activities:

(1) focus groups of those most affected by the NYPD’s unlawful stop-and-frisk practices;

(2) an advisory committee for Judge Belen and his staff, comprised of Plaintiff representatives, community organizations, NYPD leadership, police union representatives, law enforcement officer of color organizations, religious leaders, and academics;

(3) conversations between Judge Belen’s team, community leaders and police accountability experts on police reform issues; and

(4) structured community forums.

September 2015: Launch of JRP Advisory Committee

The Committee, which is comprised of JRP stakeholders including Floyd Plaintiffs; representatives from affected communities, including members of Communities United for Police Reform; NYPD leadership; and religious and academic leaders, was convened to advise Judge Belen and his staff on how to structure the JRP.

October 2015 - February 2016: Convening of Focus Groups

40 focus groups, each comprised of eight to ten members from communities across the city, were convened by Judge Belen and his staff, in collaboration with several grassroots organizations around the city, to elicit input on potential reforms. The Floyd focus groups were conducted through February 2016.

Participants were selected in collaboration with community organizations. We worked to ensure that the focus group participants represent a cross-section of those most affected by the NYPD’s practices, including young Black men, LGBTQ youth of color, homeless people, immigrants, public housing residents, and people recently released from prison. We reviewed and analyzed transcripts from each focus group as well as common themes for recommended reforms.

October - December 2016: Community Forums

Nearly 30 community forums were held throughout New York City in order to afford the public the opportunity to weigh in on proposed reforms and comment on themes and findings from the focus groups. Nine of these forums were organized by Communities United for Police Reform.

Fall 2016 - February 2017: Leadership Meetings

Judge Belen and his team held a series of informal “leadership” meetings with representatives with some of the JRP stakeholder groups as well as organizations with expertise in criminal justice and/or policing to solicit additional ideas for potential reforms.

March 31, 2017: Facilitator Finalizes and Submits Report

The facilitator will draft a final report with recommended reforms compiled from the input-gathering process. The parties – that is, the Floyd plaintiffs and the NYPD – will have the opportunity to provide comments to Judge Belen about what reforms he should or should not include in his report. Then, by March 31, 2017, Judge Belen will submit to the court and court monitor his recommendations on what reforms the NYPD should be required to adopt and implement. At that point, the parties could, if they thought it necessary and appropriate, write to the court with comments or objections to what Judge Belen has recommended. The court will then issue an order directing the NYPD to make specific changes based on the Joint Remedial Process.

Throughout the JRP, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), as lead counsel for the Floyd plaintiffs, will continue to work with the facilitator to ensure a meaningful and robust process.

Download this overview and timeline as a PDF.


Learn more about how we got here

  • 1999: Killing of Diallo and Filing of Daniels
    After the killing of Amadou Diallo by the NYPD Street Crime Unit, CCR and others file Daniels v. City of New York, challenging the constitutionality of the stop-and-frisk practices of the NYPD Street Crime Unit, with the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights and MXGM members as plaintiffs.
  • 2003: Daniels Settlement
    We settle with the NYPD, which agrees to disband the unit, adopt a written policy against racial profiling, and create a stop-and-frisk paperwork audit system. In the following years, the number of stop and frisks skyrockets, with the vast majority of stops in communities of color.
  • 2008: Floyd v. the City of NY
    CCR and co-counsel file Floyd v. the City of New York, a federal class action lawsuit against the City of New York that challenges the NYPD’s practices of racial profiling and unconstitutional stop and frisks. We receive and make public detailed data from the NYPD about its use of stops.
  • March  - May 2013: Trial in Floyd
    Impacted community members pack the court for nine weeks of trial. Over 100 witnesses testify.

  • August 12, 2013: LANDMARK VICTORY!
    A federal judge finds the NYPD liable for a widespread practice of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stop and frisks. She appoints an independent monitor to oversee a process for developing reforms that must include the input of communities most heavily impacted by stop and frisk.


  • August - October 2013: City Appeals
    The City appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and asks to halt the reform process. The police unions file motions to intervene in the case. In response, a broad base of New Yorkers file declarations about the importance of the reform process.
  • October - December 2013: Appeals Court Temporarily Halts Reform Process
    A three-judge panel for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals halts the reform process and removes the district court judge from the case but does not overturn the August rulings on liability and remedy. There is public outcry over the judge’s removal. CCR and others, including the judge, file motions for reconsideration before the entire appeals court.
    Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio promises to drop the appeals once he enters office. The court puts on hold the police unions’ motions to intervene in order to give de Blasio and the Floyd plaintiffs the chance to try to resolve the case in early 2014. The outgoing mayoral administration files a merits brief for the appeal.


  • January 2014 - September 2015: Agreement Announced
    In January 2014, Mayor de Blasio and the Floyd legal team announce agreement to drop appeal and move forward with reforms.The district court denies the police unions’ motions to intervene and agrees to modify the August 2013 remedial order by defining the term of the court-ordered monitor. The City of New York formally withdraws their appeal.
    • 2015 - Present
    CCR begins meeting with the monitor and facilitator to discuss immediate reforms and the collaborative Joint Reform Process (JRP).

Download this overview and timeline as a PDF.

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February 1, 2017