Judge Allows Lawsuit Challenging the NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk Policy to Move Forward

August 31, 2011, New York, NY – Today a federal judge rejected an effort by the City of New York to thwart a lawsuit filed by The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) that challenges the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy and practices. In her ruling turning away the City’s request to dismiss the claims of one of the named plaintiffs in the case, Judge Shira Scheindlin signaled the seriousness with which the court takes the claims that the NYPD’s practices disproportionately and illegally target communities of color.

The lawsuit, Floyd v. City of New York, was originally filed in January, 2008, by CCR and the law firms of Beldock, Levine & Hoffman, LLP and Covington & Burling, LLP as a class action charging the NYPD with engaging in racial profiling and suspicionless stop-and-frisks of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.

“Today’s decision confirms what the plaintiffs and thousands of New Yorkers have known for years, which is that there are serious questions about the legality and fairness of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program,” said CCR attorney Darius Charney. “Whether or not the City has violated the constitutional rights of law-abiding New Yorkers will now be for a jury to decide.”  
In her 86-page decision, Judge Scheindlin concluded that the statistical evidence submitted by the plaintiffs raises factual questions “as to whether the NYPD’s stop and frisk policies have had a disparate impact in the form of a widespread pattern of race-based stops,” and that supposed recent corrective action by the NYPD is not enough at this point “to negate the inference that intentional discrimination was the City’s standard operating procedure.” In addition, the Judge described audio recordings of NYPD precinct roll-calls presented by plaintiffs as “smoking gun” evidence that creates “a triable issue of fact as to whether NYPD supervisors have a custom or practice of imposing quotas on officer activity, and whether such quotas can be said to be the ‘moving force’ behind widespread suspicionless stops.”  


The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.


Last modified 

August 31, 2011