A federal appeals court on Thursday halted a lower court’s ruling that changes must be made to New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk police tactic and removed the lower court judge from the case altogether. But in delaying appeal of the initial ruling until a new mayor takes office next year, the development left uncertain whether what has become a bitter policy dispute in New York will be resolved in the courts or in City Hall.
Judge Shira Scheindlin had ruled in August that stop-and-frisk violates the Constitution and ordered the New York Police Department to make changes to the program and submit to outside monitoring, the Associated Press reports. In her ruling, she said stop-and-frisk wrongly targets black and Hispanic men and violates their civil rights.
The city, led by staunch stop-and-frisk proponent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, appealed the decision to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled Thursday that Sheindlin should be removed from the case, and that her ruling would be stayed pending appeal. The federal court said her media appearances violated the code of conduct expected of U.S. judges by compromising her appearance of partiality.
Democrat Bill de Blasio is the overwhelming favorite to succeed Bloomberg in the Nov. 5 election, and since de Blasio has been fiercely critical of stop-and-frisk, it seems unlikely he would carry on the appeal, in which case the policy may simply be changed through eventual appointment of a new police commissioner.
Correction: This article originally described incorrectly the appeals court’s ruling; the appeals court temporarily stayed the lower court’s ruling pending appeal. It did not overturn the ruling altogether.