A lawyer for the federal judge removed from cases concerning the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy said Sunday that the city's attempt to have her orders vacated is bringing "character assassination into the judicial process."
City lawyers had filed papers Saturday asking the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin's orders that require changes to the controversial practice.
The court had stayed her orders and removed her from associated cases last month, saying she misapplied a related case ruling that allowed her to take the stop-and-frisk case and gave media interviews during the trial, calling her impartiality into question. The city's request said Scheindlin's conduct was, at minimum, reason to question her impartiality and, at maximum, a violation of the city's due process rights.
But Scheindlin attorney Burt Neuborne said Sunday the city's request is an attempt to twist the panel's ruling.
"At worst, the panel accused the judge of conduct that might cause the appearance of lack of neutrality," Neuborne said in a statement. "The panel did not even suggest that the district judge was actually biased."
Scheindlin had ruled in August that the city violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics by disproportionally stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking them. She assigned a monitor to help the New York Police Department change its policy and training programs regarding the tactic.
The street-stop policy has been in place for decades, but the number of stops increased dramatically during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to a high of 684,330 in 2011, mostly of black and Hispanic men. A lawsuit was filed in 2004 by four minority men, who said they were targeted because of their races, and it became a class-action case.