Judge: Stop-and-Frisk is Unconstitutional

    August 12, 2013

The long-awaited ruling on the controversial stop-and-frisk policies of the New York Police Department has arrived, and it does not look good for Bloomberg: the New York Times reported this morning that U.S. District court judge Shira A. Scheindlin has ruled that the notorious policy of systematically stopping people in the street without reason to search them for contraband “demonstrates widespread disregard for the 4th Amendment and violates the 14th Amendment.”

An outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth of the law offices of Arnold & Porter, has been assigned by the courts to make sure the ruling is followed and to monitor the NYPD for further violations. The ruling arrives in the wake of a nonjury trial to settle the issue of the police’s stop-and-frisk procedures.

Anecdotal testimony was heard from several biracial or black men and a woman who told a story about her stop, and the judge also listened to statistical testimonies from experts on the millions of stop-and-frisk incidents that have happened since the policy became standard operating procedure in 2004. Police commanders and officers who conducted such searches were also heard arguing that the officers only stopped people when they had a reasonable suspicion of criminality.

When the judge was still in the midst of forming her opinion, the New York Times noted that she was already showing skepticism about the policy’s effectiveness.

The ruling is sure to draw controversy, with the judge’s opinion clearly reflecting her belief that the New York police were out of line, and often suspected innocent people for unsuspicious behavior.

Twitter is beside itself with joy: