Federal District Judge Rules That Stop and Frisk Methods Used by New York Police Violated Citizen’s Constitution Rights


In David Floyd, et al., v. City of New York 08-CV-1034 (SAS) U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the standards used by the City police have violated the rights of thousands of New Yorkers. The plaintiffs in this combined case are David Floyd, Lalit Clarkson, Deon Dennis, and David Ourlicht, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated, plaintiffs (a total of 12 class members were certified) to sue the City of New York.

Judge Scheindlin in her opening remarks of the Floyd case summarized the case as being a situation concerning the tension between liberty and public safety in the use of a proactive tool called “stop and frisk.” Current procedures that have been used by the city police were found to be a form of racial profiling and thus violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.


The Floyd case was a suit brought by residents of New York against the New York Police Department (NYPD) for having violated their civil rights. The parties in the Floyd case challenged certain aspects of NYPD’s “stop and frisk” practices in connection with stops made on suspicion of trespass outside of certain privately-owned buildings in the Bronx. Residents moved for preliminary injunction, seeking an order requiring NYPD to create and implement new policies, training programs, and monitoring and supervisory procedures specifically addressing the issue of unconstitutional trespass stops outside buildings.

In Judge Scheindlin’s decision, which was decided on August 12, 2013, she found that the City of New York was liable for violating the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs because of the way that the NYPD had conducted stops and frisks over the past decade. In a similar case, the Lion v. City of New York that Judge Scheindlin decided in January 2013, Scheindlin found that the plaintiffs there could be certified as a class of people representing those who had been stopped outside buildings participating in Trespass Affidavit Program (“TAP”) in the Bronx.  Accordingly, they were entitled to preliminary injunctive relief based on violations of their 14th Amendment rights.

Scheindlin, in her August 16, 2013 opinion, combined the Floyd case and the Ligon case together because the remedies recommended in both cases were the same and both should be reviewed together.

Because of the Constitutional violations found in both the Floyd and Ligon cases, Judge Scheindlin is requiring that the NYPD reform the city’s practices and policies related to their stop and frisk program to conform to the requirements of the United States Constitution.

Judge Scheindlin stated in her opinion that she would be appointing Peter L. Zimroth to be an independent Monitor and to oversee the reform process of the police department and to make sure that the police were in compliance with the constitution. Judge Scheindlin outlined the four steps that would need to be followed by Zimroth, the federal Monitor, and the NYPD in order to achieve the prescribed reforms that Scheindlin believes the NYPD needs to make:

The Outline for Reform:

First, the NYPD should revise its policies and training regarding stop and frisk to adhere to constitutional standards as well as New York state law.

Second, the NYPD should revise its policies and training regarding racial profiling to make clear that targeting “the right people” for stops is a form of racial profiling and violates the Constitution.

Third, if necessary, change the use of “performance goals” which the police department may have been using to increase the number of “stop and frisks” required by the City Police every year.

Fourth, where legitimate uncertainty exists regarding the most efficient means of reform, and where parties may have differing views, it may be feasible for the Monitor to test the alternatives by applying them in different precincts and studying the results.

In closing, it should be noted that on August 16, 2013 – four days after Judge Scheindlin’s opinion was issued in the Floyd v. City of New York  case – the City of New York filed its Notice of Appeal in the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York saying that they were filing their appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, from ECF Document 372 the remedial opinion and order, dated August 12, 2013 and ECF Document 373 opinion and order, dated August 12, 2013.

By the time the Appeal for the Floyd case has been decided there will most likely be a new Mayor in New York and it will be the their responsibility to follow Judge Scheindlin’s recommendations on the city “stop and frisk” practices or deal with the recommendations of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

~Jane Fraytet~

1 Comment

Filed under Library, News, Of Interest to Law Students

One response to “Federal District Judge Rules That Stop and Frisk Methods Used by New York Police Violated Citizen’s Constitution Rights

  1. Pingback: New York Stop-and-Frisk Case: Part Deux | Charlotte Law Library News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s