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MyraB
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Category: Criminal Law
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There has been a lot of controversy about New Yorks stop and

Resolved Question:

There has been a lot of controversy about New York’s stop and frisk policy. Take a look at it here, at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/13/nyregion/stop-and-frisk-practice-violated-rights-judge-rules.html?_r=0&pagewanted=all&pagewanted=print. The article notes the following:

Judge Scheindlin’s decision grapples with the legacy of There has been a lot of controversy about New York’s stop and frisk policy. Take a look at it here, at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/13/nyregion/stop-and-frisk-practice-violated-rights-The judge found that the New York police were too quick to deem suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop.

“Blacks are likely targeted for stops based on a lesser degree of objectively founded suspicion than whites,” she wrote.

What do you think of this ruling? Is the judge correct? Or, is the mayor correct?


. But she said that changes to the way the New York Police Department employed the practice were needed to ensure that the street stops were carried out in a manner that “protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much needed police protection.”

The judge found that the New York police were too quick to deem suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop.

“Blacks are likely targeted for stops based on a lesser degree of objectively founded suspicion than whites,” she wrote.

What do you think of this ruling? Is the judge correct? Or, is the mayor correct?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  MyraB replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for your question.

I believe the judge is correct in her ruling based on the facts included in the article. If 90% of the people stopped are released without any basis for summons or arrest, then it is difficult to argue that the policy produces reasonable seizures under the constitution. The standard for a valid stop under the constitution has been for many years that of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. In addition, where police encounter someone and are reasonably concerned for their safety they may conduct a pat frisk. But, in my opinion under the standards that exist, there is no justification for the stop and searches as have been conducted by the NY police, and the numbers reflect the lack of reasonable justification. I would come to that conclusion even if there wasn't the overlay of racial profiling. But, the disparity in numbers when looking at race weighs against reasonableness. The policy seems to be unconstitutional as written and as applied.

It is true that there are instances where everyone is stopped and searched which has been deemed reasonable under the constitution. These include airport screenings and roadblocks to uncover drunk drivers. However, one of the central reasons these are deemed reasonable is that they are highly regulated and everyone is subjected to the stop and/or search and there is very little, if any, discretion left to officers in the field. The NY policy, in contrast, seems to leave much discretion to the officers and results in discriminatory enforcement.

Please feel free to ask any follow-up questions.

MyraB, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 371
Experience: I have over 20 years experience in criminal law and civil litigation from pre-trial practice to appeal.
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