A panel of federal judges has granted New York City's request to delay court-ordered reforms in the federal stop and frisk trial and has also removed Judge Shira Scheindlin from the case, citing bias.
In removing Judge Scheindlin from the case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit writes [PDF]:
Upon review of the record in these cases, we conclude that the District Judge ran afoul of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Canon 2 (“A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.”); see also Canon 3(C)(1) (“A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned . . . .”), and that the appearance of partiality surrounding this litigation was compromised by the District Judge’s improper application of the Court’s “related case rule,” see Transfer of Related Cases, S.D.N.Y. & E.D.N.Y. Local Rule 13(a), and by a series of media interviews and public statements purporting to respond publicly to criticism of the District Court.
The panel of three judges, John M. Walker, Jr., José A. Cabranes,and Barrington D. Parker, cite comments made by Judge Scheindlin in 2007, as well as articles in the Times, the New Yorker, and the Associated Press, in which Judge Scheindlin calls comments made about her impartiality by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg as "below the belt."
Kelly told the Wall Street Journal, "In my view, the judge is very much in their corner and has been all along throughout her career," and along with Mayor Bloomberg, assailed her character at a press conference in August.
The panel heard arguments between the City and the Plaintiffs in the case on Tuesday.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement, "We are dismayed that the Court of Appeals saw fit to delay the long-overdue process to remedy the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices, and we are shocked that they cast aspersions on the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary and reassigned the case."
CCR added, "The City carried out a whisper campaign against Judge Sheindlin but never once raised any legal claims of bias, even in its papers to the Court of Appeals."
The NYPD does not have to implement Judge Scheindlin's ruling until the case is decided.