NYC asks court to vacate order curbing stop-and-frisk by police
by Chris Francescani
City attorneys have asked a U.S. appeals court to vacate a federal judge's decision ordering the New York Police Department to curtail its stop-and-frisk tactics, after the same court removed the judge from the case but left her ruling intact.
The "public perception of the NYPD has been clouded" by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin's August ruling against the department, city attorneys wrote in the motion filed late Saturday.
Scheindlin's order "lends credence to the notion that the NYPD unfairly targets minorities for stops and frisks, undermining its ability to carry out its mission effectively," New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardoza wrote.
Scheindlin ruled in August that the NYPD's practice of stopping individuals on the street and frisking them if they arouse "reasonable suspicion" had led to "indirect racial profiling" of young minorities. She ordered the practice scaled back, named a dozen law professors to a panel that would help implement reforms by the department and appointed a federal monitor to oversee the process.
But in a stunning decision last month, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Scheindlin off the case, saying she violated the judicial conduct code by giving media interviews on the matter and by encouraging plaintiffs in the case to file the lawsuit.
The three-judge panel ruled that Scheindlin's actions undermined the appearance of impartiality but did not address the merits of her opinion. The panel instead suspended her ruling and scheduled arguments in the case for next spring.
City attorneys on Saturday asked the court to speed up the appeals process so it can be completed by January 1, when Bill de Blasio, elected mayor last week, takes office.
De Blasio campaigned on reforming the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk, calling it a form of racial profiling. He has said that once he is sworn in, he will drop the city's appeal.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Ray Kelly, have called stop-and-frisk a key part of the city's anti-crime strategy and a factor in an historic drop in violent crime.
Attorneys for Scheindlin asked the appeals court panel to lift its stay of her orders and delay a legal debate about her removal from the case until next year.
Scheindlin attorney Burt Neuborne said in a letter to the court filed on Friday and released on Sunday that the "unseemly dispute" over her ouster was "distracting attention from the underlying merits" of the court case.
Christopher Dunn, assistant legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, a plaintiff in a stop-and-frisk case, called the city's latest motion a "last-minute gambit to erase ... Scheindlin's findings of discriminatory and unlawful stops before the incoming de Blasio administration can withdraw the pending appeal."
Former homeless man loses benefits for failing to report $850 found on sidewalk
HACKENSACK, N.J. – Offers of support have been pouring in from around the nation for a formerly homeless New Jersey man whose good deed proved costly.
James Brady of Hackensack was notified recently that his government benefits were being suspended after he failed to report as income the $850 he had found on a sidewalk and turned over to police.
Brady, who was homeless when he found the money on a sidewalk in April after leaving a local homeless shelter, turned the cash over to police. He was allowed to keep it six months later after no one claimed it during a mandated waiting period.
But the Hackensack Human Services Department denied him General Assistance and Medicaid benefits through Dec. 31 because he failed to report the cash as new income. The director of human services said the agency was just following the rules.
The 59 year-old Brady is a former photographer and market data analyst who has suffered from depression since losing his job a decade ago, according to The Record of Woodland Park.
Brady told The Record that he hadn't realized he was required to report the money. Formerly homeless, he had recently found housing and was seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist and taking medication, but was unsure he'd be able to afford continuing care after his benefits were cut off.
The newspaper says offers of support for Brady have been pouring in from readers.
Bergen County's United Way has also set up an account specifically for Brady through its Compassion Fund.
The chapter's head, Tom Toronto, told the newspaper that the offers of help stem from a feeling that Brady did a good deed when it would have been easier not to.
"Here's a fellow who behaved admirably, who clearly could have used the money himself, but he showed a tremendous amount of pride and honesty," Toronto said.
Mindful that cash assistance could affect Brady's benefits going forward, Toronto said The United Way planned to work with Brady to develop a program of goods and services tailored to his needs.