appeals court on Thursday blocked a judge’s orderthat required changes to the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also removed Judge Shira Scheindlin from the case, saying she had created an “appearance of impropriety” by, among other things, granting a “series of media interviews and public statements purporting to respond publicly to criticism of the District Court.”
Scheindlin gave three high-profile media interviews in the midst of the trial. One was with The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin. Another was an extensive, free-flowing interview to The Associated Press that came in May, right before the trial’s closing arguments.
In that interview, she openly criticised the Bloomberg administration for looking into her record and pushing a stat that revealed 60% of her 15 written “search-and-seizure” rulings since she took the bench in 1994 had gone against law enforcement. Reports said that the statistic was pushed onto the media by the Bloomberg administration.
“If that’s true, that’s quite disgraceful,” Scheindlin said. “It was very discouraging and upsetting. I can’t say it has no toll.”
The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that Schiendlin “ran afoul” of a section in the Code of Conduct for U.S. judges that states a “judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.”
Here’s the key part of the ruling:
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 partiality 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), and by a series of media interviews and public statements purporting to respond publicly to criticism of the District Court.
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.
Here’s the full ruling, via the Legal Times:
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