With Questions of Law Settled, Next Phase of Charting NYPD Reforms to Begin
After 14 years of litigation and decades of community action, plaintiffs’ counsel and Mayor Bill de Blasio reached an agreement which will result in the withdrawal of the City’s appeal of the landmark stop-and-frisk case, Floyd v. City of New York, brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, and co-counsel Beldock, Levine & Hoffman and Covington & Burling. In the Floyd case, a federal class action lawsuit seeking only injunctive relief, the district court found the City liable for a decade-long pattern of discriminatory and unconstitutional stops-and-frisks, but a series of developments in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily changed the conversation from one about unconstitutional and discriminatory policing to one about the internal workings of the courts. At the press conference today, the focus was squarely back on reforming the police department.
Said Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vincent Warren, “Today is the beginning of a long-overdue process: the reform of the NYPD to end illegal and racially discriminatory policing. For too long, communities of color have felt under siege by the police, and young Black and Latino men have disproportionately been the target. We are glad to have reached an agreement with the City and commend Mayor de Blasio for promising to drop the appeal and embracing reform. We are eager to finally begin creating real change.”
When it came to the remedies phase of the Floyd trial, attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights had pressed for a court-appointed monitor to keep the City accountable to the court and a joint reform process involving all the stakeholders in the issue to keep the City accountable to directly affected communities. Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered both. Under the agreement, the monitor will serve a term of three years, conditional on the City substantially complying with the remedies, and the parties will begin the process for stakeholder input as soon as the paperwork is completed.
Said lead CCR attorney Darius Charney, “We look forward to working with the communities directly affected on the streets every day to come up with solutions that protect the rights of all New Yorkers.”
On August 12, 2013, a federal court found the New York City Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk practices unconstitutional. In a 198-page ruling that followed a 10-week trial, Judge Scheindlin found the NYPD’s practices violate New Yorkers’ Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and found that the practices were racially discriminatory in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. For the purposes of the remedy phase, Floyd was joined with the case Ligon v. City of New York, brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Bronx Defenders, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, which challenges a subsection of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program that allows police officers to patrol many private apartment buildings across New York City.
Said co-counsel Jonathan Moore of Beldock, Levine and Hoffman, “This agreement to drop the appeal in this case vindicates the findings by judge Scheindlin and provides the opportunity for the NYPD to reform policies and practices that the district court found unconstitutional. However, the agreement is only the beginning. All the parties have much work ahead to implement remedies that will bring meaningful change to the NYPD.”
The Floyd case, filed in 2008, stems from the earlier Center for Constitutional Rights racial profiling case, Daniels, et al. v. City of New York, et al. that led to the disbanding of the infamous Street Crime Unit. The Daniels case was filed in the wake of the Amadou Diallo shooting, which will mark its 15th anniversary next week.
To learn more about the case, visit http://www.ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/floyd-et-al.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org. Follow @theCCR.