“District Judge ran afoul of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges”
Just two days after NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was shouted down at Brown University over NYC’s Stop and Frisk policy, with many protesters citing a finding by a trial Judge of racial discrimination, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has stayed the ruling, and kicked the trial judge off the case. (Full Order embedded at bottom of post.)
In a short but scathing ruling, the Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Shira A. Scheindlin “ran afoul of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges”:
Upon review of the record in these cases, we conclude that the District Judge ran afoul of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Canon 2 (“A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.”); see also Canon 3(C)(1) (“A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned . . . .”), and that the appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation was compromised by the District Judge’s improper application of the Court’s “related case rule,” see Transfer of Related Cases, S.D.N.Y. & E.D.N.Y. Local Rule 13(a),1 and by a series of media interviews and public statements purporting to respond publicly to criticism of the District Court.2
Accordingly, we conclude that, in the interest, and appearance, of fair and impartial administration of justice, UPON REMAND, these cases shall be assigned to a different District Judge, chosen randomly under the established practices of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. This newly-designated District Judge shall implement this Court’s mandate staying all proceedings and otherwise await further action by the Court of Appeals on the merits of the ongoing appeals.
In taking these actions, we intimate no view on the substance or merits of the pending appeals, which have yet to be fully briefed and argued.
The NY Times further reports:
Bill de Blasio, the Democratic nominee for mayor, whom recent polls have shown to be far ahead of his Republican opponent, Joseph J. Lhota, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.
“We have to end the overuse of stop-and-frisk, and any delay only means a continued and unnecessary rift between our police and the people they protect,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement.
Mr. Lhota applauded the ruling. “As I have said all along, Judge Scheindlin’s biased conduct corrupted the case,” he said in a statement, adding that the next mayor “absolutely must continue this appeal.”
Lawyers involved in the lawsuit said they would appeal the panel’s decision, which put off a number of changes Judge Scheindlin had ordered. Those included installing an outside lawyer to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution and directing some officers to wear cameras in a pilot program to record their street interactions.
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