Monday, August 12, 2013
Federal Court Findings and Repudiation of Unconstitutional “Stop-and-Frisk” Practice Underscores Extent of Racial Profiling in America’s Criminal Justice System
In a nearly 200-page opinion and order, U.S. District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin in the Southern District of New York ruled today in the closely-followed, class action case of Floyd v. City of New York that the City of New York “is liable for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth amendment rights.” The Court further found that “[t]he City acted with deliberate indifference toward the NYPD’s practice of making unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks” and that “[e]ven if the City had not been deliberately indifferent, the NYPD’s unconstitutional practices were sufficiently widespread as to have the force of law.” As the City “adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data[,]” the Court found the resulting “disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.”
In a separate 39-page opinion and order (also accessible via the link above; it follows the first opinion and order), the Court ordered remedies, “including immediate changes to the NYPD’s policies, a joint-remedial process to consider further reforms, and the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee compliance with the remedies ordered in this case.”
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Jerry J. Cox said: “Today’s ruling is a vindication not just of the rights of all New Yorkers, but of all Americans. This opinion’s findings illustrate precisely the pervasiveness of racial profiling in America’s criminal justice system examined in great detail in a recently released report co-sponsored by NACDL, Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, a critically important and inclusive examination of the profound racial and ethnic disparities in America’s criminal justice system, and concrete ways to overcome them.”
NACDL Secretary and Executive Director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, Rick Jones said: “If upheld on appeal, not only will today’s ruling put an end to ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ as we know it in New York City, but it will serve as an important warning to other jurisdictions around the nation who engage in or are considering New York City-type ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ practices.” “This will strike a blow against racial profiling, a practice that is fundamentally inconsistent with equal justice under law,” Jones added.