The Bronx Defenders announces significant victory in our lawsuit challenging “Stop and Frisk” program
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Molly Kovel, The Bronx Defenders, 718-508-3421 or MollyK@bronxdefenders.org
The Bronx Defenders is pleased to announce that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has cleared the way for immediate implementation of crucial reforms of the New York Police Department’s “Stop and Frisk” program as ordered by Judge Shira Scheindlin.
This morning, the Second Circuit granted the plaintiffs major victories in Ligon v. City of New York and Floyd v. City of New York, two landmark class action lawsuits challenging NYPD’s “Stop and Frisk” program. The Bronx Defenders, along with our co-counsel the New York Civil Liberties Union, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and Shearman & Sterling LLP, represent the plaintiffs in the Ligon matter. Today’s ruling will finally allow all parties in these cases to begin the vitally important process of implementing the remedial order signed by Judge Shira Scheindlin in August 2013, with an eye towards creating lasting change within the NYPD.
Judge Scheindlin signed the remedial order after the one week preliminary injunction hearing in Ligon and the nine week trial in Floyd. Through these cases, the plaintiffs successfully demonstrated that the NYPD’s “Stop and Frisk” program violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the constitution and that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers had been wrongfully detained and searched without reasonable suspicion. Ligon challenges “Stop and Frisk” specifically as it is applied to buildings enrolled in the NYPD “Clean Halls” program, which allows officers to patrol inside of private apartment buildings. The “Clean Halls” program has been long used by the NYPD to justify hundreds of unconstitutional stops, frisks, summonses, and arrests.
The August 2013 remedial order, which applies in both Ligon and Floyd, appoints an independent monitor who will work with the parties to oversee reforms and delineate the necessary improvements in the training, supervision, monitoring, and accountability within the NYPD regarding stop and frisk. The order also sets forth a Joint Remedial Process that will give a wide variety of stakeholders, such as community members and grassroots groups, the opportunity to be heard in shaping the most sustainable and fundamental reforms that need to be made within the NYPD.
The Second Circuit had imposed a stay on all Ligon proceedings in October 2013 when the City challenged the remedial order. After Mayor Bill de Blasio was inaugurated in January 2014, the City agreed to proceed with the remedial process and asked the Second Circuit to lift the stay. New York City police unions, however, tried to intervene in the case, seeking to attack the rulings that found the NYPD behaving unconstitutionally on an enormous scale. Today’s order in the Second Circuit denies the police unions the right to challenge the remedial order and lifts the stay that had been imposed exactly one year ago.
We welcome the opportunity to finally begin the practical business of addressing the major problems within the NYPD. The Bronx Defenders will continue to seek justice for our clients and the communities we serve by coordinating with the federal monitor to implement these vitally necessary reforms in the NYPD. Moreover, given Ligon challenged the summons and arrest practices of the NYPD, we hope that the City will also agree that the NYPD’s problematic over-reliance on low-level arrests and prosecutions of misdemeanors, (commonly referred to as “Broken Windows” policing) also need to be rigorously addressed to ensure fairness and compliance with the United States and New York State Constitutions.