The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals took an unusual step recently, blocking a federal district court judge’s ruling which found New York City’s stop and frisk policy unconstitutional because it targeted minorities. The appellate court removed the district court judge from the case altogether, finding the judge had granted interviews during the trial, calling into question her impartiality. The judge had assigned a monitor to help the police department change its policy and train on the new tactics. The appellate court has put that decision on hold pending the appeal brought by the city, asking the appellate court to reverse the judge’s finding that the policy violates constitutional rights.
It is possible that this issue may become moot when the new mayor of New York City gets elected. Democrat Bill de Blasio is currently leading in the polls and he has indicated that he would drop the suit if elected. The Republican candidate, Joe Lhota, would continue to pursue the appeal.
The judge, for her part, has denied engaging in any conduct that calls into question her impartiality. She conceded that she gave interviews, but stated she gave interviews on the condition that she would not discuss the case and further states she did not discuss the case. She indicated that the media took quotes from her written opinions and presented information as though it was provided during an interview.