On March 8, 1999, a class of plaintiffs--consisting of individuals subjected to stop-and-frisks, without reasonable suspicion and on the basis of race and national origin, at the hands of the Street Crimes Unit (SCU) of the New York City Police Department (NYPD)--filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the City of New York, the New York City Police Department, and several named and many John Doe police officers. (All claims against the NYPD were voluntarily dismissed with prejudice by a Stipulation and Order issued June 17, 1999.)
The plaintiffs, represented by various counsel--primarily including Moore & Goodman, LLP; the Center for Constitutional Rights; Debevoise & Plimpton; and Van Lierop & Burns, LLP--asked the court for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs claimed that the SCU's stop-and-frisk practice violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as without reasonable suspicion required by the former and contravening the Equal Protection Clause of the latter.
On October 20, 1999, the Court (Judge Shira A. Scheindlin) dismissed plaintiffs' Equal Protection claim for failing to identify similarly-situated white individuals who were not subjected to SCU stop-and-frisks. Plaintiffs motioned to reconsider, and the Court reinstated their Equal Protection claim, finding the allegations alone were sufficient to state the claim because the complaint alleged the NYPD's policy contained an express racial or national origin classification.
The Court, finding that plaintiffs' proposed class satisfied the class action rule and that certifying the injunctive class was appropriate, approved plaintiffs' motion for class certification January 25, 2001. After the Court denied defendants' motion for reconsideration of the class certification, defendants filed a petition for leave to appeal with the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Court of Appeals initially granted defendants' petition, but it reversed itself and dismissed the appeal June 12, 2001, explaining the petition had been improvidently granted.
While the case was in progress, the NYPD disbanded the SCU. Discovery and settlement discussions proceeded, and on September 24, 2003, the parties agreed to, and the Court approved, a Stipulation of Settlement, to last until December 31, 2007, during which time the Court maintained jurisdiction to enforce compliance. Prominent among the terms of the Stipulation, the NYPD was (1) to adopt a written policy pertaining to racial or national origin profiling in compliance with the United States Constitution and New York State Constitution; (2) to undergo audits, conducted by the NYPD Quality Assurance Division and to be shared with plaintiffs' counsel, assessing whether stop-and-frisks are conducted according to NYPD regulations and whether they are based upon reasonable suspicion; and (3) to provide training and public education relating to the NYPD's racial profiling policy.
The case was reopened by order of the Court September 28, 2004, for the purpose of awarding attorneys' fees. The parties, shortly thereafter, entered into another Stipulation of Settlement, in which defendants agreed to pay plaintiffs' class counsels' fees--about $3.5 million.
The court, by an oral order given April 16, 2007, extended the term of the parties' September 2003 Stipulation. Defendants motioned the court to vacate the oral order, and the court approved defendant's motion, vacating the oral order, July 16, 2007.
Just before the order expired, the plaintiffs attempted to show violation of the court order and unconstitutional race discrimination by the NYPD. At a hearing on December 21, 2007, Judge Scheindlin directed them to instead file a new lawsuit. Two months later, two of plaintiffs' counsel filed Floyd v. City of New York
, PN-NY-0009 in this Clearinghouse, a new class action suit raising these issues.David Postel - 11/11/2013