A team of distinguished attorneys has filed a legal brief on behalf of the federal judge who was removed from the stop and frisk cases last week. The attorneys, led by the founder of NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, Burt Neuborne, claim in the filing [PDF] that federal Judge Shira Schneidlin's ousting by a panel of Second Circuit judges was "an affront to the values underlying the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of procedural due process of law."
The three appellate judges who removed Judge Scheindlin—John Walker Jr., José Cabranes, and Barrington Parker Jr.—pointed to comments she made in the press as proof of her "bias" against the City and the NYPD in the stop and frisk case. They also claimed that comments she made to an attorney in 2007—comments that other attorneys and legal experts have categorized as appropriate and routine—constituted judicial misconduct.
“I thought when I saw the order that procedural fairness required that she at least have an opportunity to defend herself. I reached out to her and offered my services pro bono, and she accepted," Neuborne told the Times.
Neuborne's filing asks the appeals court to vacate the order removing Scheindlin, or bring it before the entire panel of Second Circuit judges for an en banc hearing.
A spokeswoman for the Law Department declined to comment on the filing.
Christopher Dunn, the NYCLU's associate legal director, who is litigating one of the two stop and frisk cases before the court, told the paper that the brief would allow for the judges' methods for determining Judge Scheindlin's removal to be entered into the legal record, and create “an opportunity for the judge to participate and defend herself" at oral argument.
Judge Analisa Torres was chosen to oversee the stop and frisk cases while they wait to be heard on appeal. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has said he would drop the appeal upon taking office, but has hedged his language with respect to having a federal monitor oversee the stop and frisk reforms, as ordered by Judge Scheindlin.
For more context on what happened, and what happens next, take a look at our explainer.