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Judge Temporarily Lifts Ban on Stop-and-Frisks Outside Some Bronx Buildings

By Patrick Wall | January 23, 2013 9:14am

THE BRONX — A federal judge temporarily lifted a ban on stop-and-frisks outside certain Bronx buildings Tuesday, citing city concerns that the ban would be difficult for the NYPD to implement.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin freezes an order she issued earlier this month that forbade police from stopping people without reasonable suspicion outside Bronx apartment buildings involved in a voluntary anti-trespassing program.

In granting the stay until another hearing in a few months, Scheindlin agreed with the city that halting these stops “may impose significant burdens on the NYPD.”

But she also acknowledged that “it is likely that a stay will cause some injury to those who are at risk of being subject to unconstitutional trespass stops” outside the Bronx buildings.

The stay begins immediately and will continue until after a bench trial, set for March, on a separate class-action lawsuit that claims police routinely conduct stops regardless of suspicion and mainly target minority men.

The city had also asked the judge to postpone the trial for that case, known as Floyd v. the City of New York, but Scheindlin on Tuesday denied that request, saying it would be “unfair and inappropriate” to further delay a case that was filed in 2008.

The stop-and-frisk ban, which Scheindlin has agreed to temporarily stall, was part of her ruling on Jan. 8 that police had unconstitutionally stopped and sometimes arrested thousands of New Yorkers outside of private buildings enrolled in the Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP), in which landlords give police permission to arrest unknown visitors.

Many of those stopped were tenants or their guests who had every right to enter the buildings, the judge wrote in her 157-page decision on the class-action lawsuit, Ligon v. the City of New York.

The city has filed a notice to appeal that ruling.

In the ruling, Scheindlin proposed possible long-term corrective actions for the NYPD, such as new written policies, reporting requirements and training materials.

But in an unusual move, she decided to withhold her final decision on which ones to require until after the Floyd case, since it may call for similar remedies.

Now, she has agreed to also postpone her short-term fix — the partial stop-and-frisk ban — until after the remedy hearing following the Floyd case.

In a statement, Heidi Grossman, the city lawyer handling the Ligon case, said she welcomed this decision.

“We believe the court correctly lifted the immediate relief it had ordered in Ligon,” she said.