Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Stop-And-Frisk Judge Defends Conduct In Case

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A U.S. District Court judge is defending her actions after being removed from a federal case regarding the city police department's use of stop-and-frisk.

Back in August, Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the department's use of stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional, and ordered the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee changes to the policy.

On Thursday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals put a stay on the judge's decisions and had her removed from the case, saying she had violated the U.S. judges' code of conduct by giving media interviews during the trial and publicly responding to court criticism.

Scheindlin says a careful reading of the interviews will show that she did not comment specifically on the case.

A new judge is being appointed to handle further proceedings in the case.

During his radio address Friday morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the decision speaks for itself.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who also appeared on the mayor's radio show, said as far as stop, question and frisk is concerned the department has an ongoing comprehensive training program in place, and every officer on patrol will get this training.

"Our police officers, remember a majority of them are black and Hispanic in the city," said Bloomberg. "They've had their names dragged through the mud over the past year and I think they deserve a lot better than that. These are people who put their lives on the line, it's dangerous their job, life threatening situations every day they are best trained best lead department in the world."

"We are at record lows in shootings, record lows in murders. The city just feels safe. So many people come up to me and tell me that," Kelly said.

While police officials applauded the judge's removal, civil liberties advocates were strongly disappointed.

"We're thankful that this appeals court has looked at this and removed this judge, which obviously had a bias against New York City police officers, and came up with decisions that would not work, crime would rise in the city, and prevent New York City police officers from doing their job," said PBA President Pat Lynch.

"The evidence before the court in this case was overwhelming. That Stop and Frisk NYPD style is out of control and is not compliant with the Constitutional standard. So today's ruling is disappointing. It is a setback absolutely, but it's only a procedural setback," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.

Meantime, the mayoral candidates have weighed in on the blockage and, as expected, both of them offered starkly different opinions.

Democrat Bill de Blasio says it's a step in the wrong direction.

"Obviously I am disappointed by today's court decision. I've been saying for a long time that we need to get to work at reforming stop and frisk and bringing police and communities together. And, further delay is not going to help this city heal and move forward," De Blasio said.

On the other side of the issue, Republican candidate Joe Lhota is praising the ruling.

"They removed Judge Scheindlin from this case because she violated her oath of office," said Lhota. "She was biased in her approach, she was actually talking about the case before, during and after the case. Classic three strikes, you're out. The second highest court in our land did the right thing today and all New Yorkers will be safe."

Lhota says the ruling further highlights his opponent's inexperience in leadership positions.

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