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Stop and Frisk Attorneys Oppose Police Union Intervention in Lawsuit

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press@ccrjustice.org

November 25, 2013, New York  – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel, Beldock, Levine & Hoffman and Covington & Burling, urged the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to reject a request by New York City police unions to intervene in Floyd v. City of New York, the federal class action civil rights lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices. In a landmark ruling in August, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin found the NYPD liable for a pattern and practice of racial profiling and unconstitutional stops in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, and ordered reforms to begin. In their request to intervene, the police unions expressed concern over Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s stated intention to drop the City’s appeal in Floyd.

“The unions’ request amounts to a claim that they disagree with Judge Scheindlin’s ruling. This falls far short of the threshold for allowing a non-party to intervene in a case,” said CCR Senior Attorney Darius Charney. “The court did not find that the unions had violated the Constitution, and remedies to stop and frisk will not harm the police unions in any way. In fact, if the reforms affect them at all, the unions are likely to benefit from improved police-community relationships. If we let every group or individual who disagreed with a court ruling enter into the case, our judicial system would be highly dysfunctional.”
 
Plaintiffs’ attorneys say this is the latest in a series of obstacles placed – primarily by the City – in the way of reforms to stop and frisk. Last month, the Court of Appeals granted the City’s request to stay the remedy process—a request opposed not only by the plaintiffs, but also by numerous dozens of community groups, faith leaders, unions, and policing experts who submitted declarations affirming that delaying reforms will continue to harm affected communities. On its own volition, the appeals panel also reassigned the case to a new judge, without permitting the parties an opportunity to fully respond, and despite later assurances from the panel that it had found no ethical breach or bias on Scheindlin’s part. In addition, the panel went on to assign itself as the panel to hear the city’s appeal, bypassing the court’s custom of assigning appeals panels randomly. Meanwhile, the city filed a motion to have the entire ruling vacated after the appellate panel issued its highly unusual decision.
 
Said Co-counsel Jonathan Moore, “Mayor Elect De Blasio has promised to drop the appeal, and the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support him in that decision. The Unions should not stand in the way of the meaningful reform the NYPD needs, especially since the Unions will be included in the remedial process ordered by the district court.”
 
Today’s filing comes on the heels of a report released on November 14 by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the latest in a steady stream of quantitative analyses that document, contrary to the outgoing administration’s claims, that stop and frisk, as currently practiced, is an effective crime fighting policy. The new report found that only three percent of the 150,000 arrests from 2.4 million stops between 2009 and 2012 resulted in convictions, and only a tenth of one percent led to convictions for violent crimes.
 
Floyd was filed in 2008 and stems from the earlier racial profiling case, Daniels, et al. v. City of New York, which led to the disbanding of the infamous Street Crime Unit and a settlement with the City in 2003. For more information on Floyd, click here.
 
 
Covington & Burling LLP and Bedlock Levine and Hoffman LLP are co-counsel in the case.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.