Stop and Frisk Ruling Opens Door for Civil Rights Lawsuits

District Judge Shira Scheindlin says that the New York Police Department's policy of Stop and Frisk violates civil rights afforded to American citizens and that the policy is essentially "indirect racial profiling." The controversial policy has been lauded by Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and others for its ability to allegedly prevent crimes before they happen. In fact, the mayor said in a statement that Stop and Frisk has saved thousands of lives.

Kelly went further to say that Judge Scheindlen's findings were based on "the flimsiest of evidence" and warned that violent crime would spike once more under the proposed revisions to the policy. Both the Mayor and Kelly pointed out that the majority of violent crime in New York is disproportionately distributed throughout "minority" communities including the Black and Hispanic community which have borne the brunt of the Stop and Frisk policy. (A whopping 90% of individuals who have been stopped belonged to one or the other.) What's worse, documentation has come forth (via a protected whistleblower) showing that police supervisors ordered beat cops to make quotas-which is absolutely illegal.

Scheindlen fired back that stopping any individual without probably cause is simply unconstitutional. And much of the City agrees. The number of civil rights lawsuits has spiked by 40% (mostly in response to Stop and Frisk). Estimates put the average number of Stop and Frisk related civil rights lawsuits against New York City at 40 per month. The city has been forced to pay out more than $300 million to combat the trend.

But Bloomberg and the City are trying to protect themselves. Under the "Plan for Certain 1983 Cases Against the City of New York", the Village voice says "the parties exchange only limited discovery. The City is then given 80 days to file an answer to the complaint. The plaintiff, meanwhile, is obligated to turn over medical and prior arrest records." If mediation fails, the process reverts to the normal procedure. Proponents say 1983 streamlines the process. Critics say it hamstrings victims.

If you have been the victim of an illegal stop and frisk, racial profiling, or have had your civil rights violated by the NYPD, you can fight back. You may be entitled to damages from the City of New York and NYPD. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation to learn your rights at either (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122.

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