October 31, 2013

In the NYC stop-and-frisk case, the 2d Circuit said the district judge Shira Scheindlin created an "appearance of partiality."

It stayed her order and removed her from the case.

The appellate court's 2-page ruling cited this NYT article in a footnote to criticize Scheindlin for the way the related-case rule has directed stop-and-frisk cases against the police to her ever since 1999, when she was randomly assigned the case dealing with the police shooting of Amadou Diallo. The NYT had this (last May):

In a city with dozens of Federal District Court judges, it is striking that a single judge has so many opportunities to rule on one of the Police Department’s signature crime-fighting tactics — a development that has frustrated city officials....

The language of the court rule leaves it to the discretion of individual judges to accept the case as related or not. It instructs judges to consider whether placing the cases in the same courtroom would result in conserving judicial resources, allow more efficient litigation or serve the convenience of the various parties.

The rule calls for related cases to have a “similarity of facts and legal issues” or to stem from the “same transactions or events.” But cases are not related merely because they involve identical legal issues or litigants....

26 comments:

Jack Wayne said...

Lefties - always overreaching.

David said...

From a star in court to a star court in a few easy steps.

ironrailsironweights said...

There's not a one-in-a-quadrillion chance of it happening, but the city should lay off half of the absurdly overstaffed NYPD and enact a concealed-carry law. Crime rates would plummet.

Peter

James Pawlak said...

More Federal Judges Vs. The Constitution.

Cedarford said...

Danger of allowing judges to get 1st in line for "similar" cases is that soon, a single judge and only one is trying those sort of cases and positioning herself as "the expert".
Without other opinions of other jurists weighing like cases with their judgment and insights.

And that inevitably leads to the media wanting to see and talk with the "expert judge" doing all the drug class action lawsuits or stop and frisk and if the judge loves the exposure, they quickly say something that brings their partiality into question.

Cedarford said...

Danger of allowing judges to get 1st in line for "similar" cases is that soon, a single judge and only one is trying those sort of cases and positioning herself as "the expert".
Without other opinions of other jurists weighing like cases with their judgment and insights.

And that inevitably leads to the media wanting to see and talk with the "expert judge" doing all the drug class action lawsuits or stop and frisk and if the judge loves the exposure, they quickly say something that brings their partiality into question.

MikeDC said...

An untrustworthy judge with too much power fighting an untrustworthy police force with too much power.

rcocean said...

If you look at her track record she's always been a hard-core lefty legislating from the bench.

I actually have more respect for her than someone like Grandma O'Conner. At least this judge knows what she's doing.

William said...

When DeBlasio becomes mayor in a few months this will become a moot issue.

Terence Noonan said...

perhaps the problem is the rule and not the application of the rule i this particular circumstance. Judicial economy is a pretty slender reed to balance the fourth amendment on. Another example in this same district (S.D.N.Y. - 2d Cir.) is found at 972 F. Supp. 251 (1997). Judge Edelstein for decades heard all cases, no matter where they were originally filed, concerning Teamster issues. Then to top it off, as will be seen in the last paragraph of the above cited case, he threatened potential lawyers with sanctions if they had the temerity to challenge what he considered to be his sole and exclusive control of these cases. This is simply a bad rule and should be done away with.

sean said...

Wow. That's pretty scathing, especially when you consider that the Second Circuit appellate panel is pretty much hard core lefty itself. (Recall that Judge Calabresi compared George Bush to Adolf Hitler.)

EDH said...

William said...
When DeBlasio becomes mayor in a few months this will become a moot issue.

My first thought too. But at least the political decision-maker has to answer for the results of his action in the next election.

Federal judges, not so much.

Carnifex said...

I just love judges who are trying out for their own tv show.

Yeah...

Not so much...

Douglas said...

I wonder: is it true that a future Mayor DeBlasio could make this all go away? That is, could he drop the appeal and thereby force the Second Circuit to reinstate the currently stayed district court opinion? Or would the Second Circuit have the power at that point just to vacate the district court decision in the interests of justice and remand for a new trial? Inquiring minds want to know.

jr565 said...

After how Kelly was treated at Brown I'm glad this was overturned.
its going to be short lived because Deblasio is simply going to change the policy, court opinion or no.
But that's ok, because he will then have to answer for his higher crime rates. Of course, I'll probably want to move out of NYC before then so,that I don't have to be here when the sh*t its the fan.

tolkein said...

In response to jr565

The Marxist response to the higher crime rate will be that this reflects the injustice of the current capitalist system, whose inherent violence towards the dispossessed and those fighting for social justice had been suppressed by the NYPD but whose ugliness is now on display for all to see. The solution will be to set up a people's police, with people's courts and dismantle the heteronormative and pro-capitalist structures that repress the peace loving people of the Democratic People's Republic of New York.

See, that was easy to write. And you know it's what you will soon see in the pages of the New York Times.

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"There's not a one-in-a-quadrillion chance of it happening, but the city should lay off half of the absurdly overstaffed NYPD and enact a concealed-carry law. Crime rates would plummet."

NYC's crime rate if pretty low as it is; it's a much safer city than many smaller cities out there in the heartland.

Robert Cook said...

"I wonder: is it true that a future Mayor DeBlasio could make this all go away? That is, could he drop the appeal and thereby force the Second Circuit to reinstate the currently stayed district court opinion? Or would the Second Circuit have the power at that point just to vacate the district court decision in the interests of justice and remand for a new trial? Inquiring minds want to know."

Uh, I believe as Mayor he could simply change the policy or rescind it altogether, could he not?

Tank said...

For those of us in the NY area following this case as it progressed, two things were evident.

1. The Judge had an agenda and was going to act on it regardless of the evidence (akin to the gay CA Judge who ruled on one of the Gay marriage cases - I think it was the one regarding the referendum).

2. The evidence was a lot weaker than people thought it would be.

Peter said...

"I think it’s a travesty of justice ..." Mr Moore said

"Travesty" is such a strange word, in part because it always seems to be "justice" that is travestied. Does anything else ever get travestied?

In any case, I'd guess many New Yorkers will be relieved. At least for awhile.

"Police have done a remarkable job in lowering NYC crime- lets take away one of their more effective tools!" Older New Yorkers at least will remember the not-so-good old days, when criminals mostly ruled the streets and the subways.

Freeman Hunt said...

The related case rule sounds like a small bit of procedure that provides a big opportunity for abuse, allowing one judge to become lord of some part or parts of the law. Shouldn't cases on the same issues be dispersed among judges so that their rulings might check one another? It seems foolish to leave this up to the judges themselves. Then you're going to have the least power hungry ones checking themselves most and the most power hungry ones, the ones you have to especially watch out for, checking themselves least. A check on power that depends on the person whose power is being checked to check it is no check on power at all.

Robert Cook said...

"In any case, I'd guess many New Yorkers will be relieved. At least for awhile."

I doubt most New Yorkers who aren't subject to the stops and frisking of their persons ever give the slightest thought to the practice, and they certainly don't feel "relieved" (or not) according to whether the policy is in force. As I said above, crime rates in NYC are pretty low...it's safer than many smaller cities in heartland America. (There's no evidence to suggest the stop-and-frisk policy has any effect on maintaining the low crime rates, and it certainly had no cause in the drop in crime rates, as they dropped long before this policy was effected...as did the crime rates in cities nationwide.)

If more New Yorkers were subjected to the practice than presently--i.e., if more white (or wealthy) New Yorkers were subjected to it--you can be sure the protestation against the practice would be amplified by orders of magnitude. And the practice would be stopped without need of court order or Mayoral decree.

sean said...

Considering what white, wealthy people put up with in order to fly, and considering the volume of nanny-state restrictions tht are enforced against white, wealthy New Yorkers, Robert Cook's contention seems very doubtful to me.

Uncle Pavian said...

We had the same problem in our town, after some years of the Westboro Baptists acting out in public after which the cops carting them off to jail, after which they would be released by the Hon. Sam Crow, who would then order the city to pay their legal fees. Eventually, Judge Crow decided that this was causing people in Topeka to question his lack of bias and he recused himself from further Westboro Baptist litigation. The more extreme behavior stopped shortly afterward, but there's probably no connection.

Douglas said...

Robert Cook,

Yes, of course De Blasio could change the policy as mayor, but then he would have to take responsibility for the consequences of doing so, which he would greatly prefer to avoid. He would much rather say, "My hands were tied. The courts have ruled" than say "Better to let criminals prey on the weak than inconvenience a few people."