Appeals court hears city’s motion to delay stop-and-frisk reforms

courts law
Three judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals grilled lawyers from the city and lawyers suing for stop-and-frisk reforms, poking holes in the narratives both sides seems to have grown accustomed to repeating after months of Floyd v. City of New York.
Credit: Metro File Photo

The city’s motion to delay the stop-and-frisk reforms mandated by a federal judge was heard for the first time Tuesday by judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The judge’s ruling established a monitor over the NYPD as well as several specific measures, such as a pilot program equipping officers from five precincts with body cameras.

The plaintiff’s lawyer remarked after the hearing Tuesday that the Appeals Court was an “active bench.”

“The judges had a lot of questions for everybody,” Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Darius Charney said after the approximately two-hour proceedings.

One judge was particularly bothered by the amount of time the city had taken in bringing the motion to delay. Judge Jose Cabranes said the city was four to six weeks late in doing so, and asked if it was planning a “rope-a-dope” attack like the boxer Muhammad Ali, feigning lethargy “before springing to life.”

The “glacial pace” at which the city had approached this motion, he said, called into question its insistence that the remedies posed immediate and irreparable harm to the NYPD — that the ruling itself is harming the NYPD already.

“A reasonable observer, in reviewing the record, could think the city government has been speaking out of two sides of its mouth,” Cabranes suggested.

All three judges expressed doubt that, were the NYPD in such dire straits, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would have allowed the city’s law department to take so long in reacting to the ruling.

The judges, Judge Barrington Parker in particular, also brought up the presumptive next mayor, Bill de Blasio, who as public advocate filed an amicus brief against the city’s motion and has vowed repeatedly to throw out any appeal the city leaves open. With the non-expedited timeline the city has laid out, the appeal would extend well into 2014, likely not being decided until March at the earliest.

After the hearing, city attorney Celeste Koeleveld made a brief statement reiterating the city’s position and declined to take questions. She repeated the claim she made during the proceedings, however, that any delay was the fault of the plaintiff.

But Charney said that allegation was “absolutely false” and that the only way the city tried to expedite the process was by “trying to abbreviate our time to respond.”

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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