New York Police Unions Can’t Challenge Stop-Frisk Accord

A group of police unions can’t fight New York’s settlement of a lawsuit challenging the city’s stop-and-frisk tactics, a federal appeals court ruled, upholding a lower court.

The city in August asked the court to dismiss its appeal in lawsuits over the policing tactic. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office in January, reversed the city’s stance on a federal judge’s ruling that stop-and-frisk discriminated against members of minority groups.

The previous mayor, Michael Bloomberg, had credited stop-and-frisk with driving down crime during his 12-year tenure. After U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the practice illegally discriminated against minorities and must end, Bloomberg’s administration obtained a stay of her order.

The appeals court delayed enforcement of Scheindlin’s ruling and removed her from the case, saying her actions ran afoul of the federal judges’ code of conduct.

In January, de Blasio announced the city had reached an accord with those who sued over stop-and-frisk. His administration moved to end the appeal in August, while the police unions asked to step into the city’s shoes and continue pursuing the case.

Too Late

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan today denied the unions’ request, saying that their motions came too late and that they knew, or should have known, their interests in the cases before they filed in September 2013, as stop-and-frisk practices have long been the subject of court filings and media scrutiny.

“Allowing the unions to revive a now-settled dispute by intervening at this late juncture would substantially prejudice the existing parties and unduly encroach upon the city’s inherent discretion to settle a dispute against it,” the appeals court said in today’s decision, without ruling on the merits.

“The court made clear that the PBA’s collective bargaining and state law rights do not take a back seat to what is clearly a voluntary agreement between plaintiffs and the city,” Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said in a statement. “The PBA will continue to monitor actions taken in this process.”

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The cases are Ligon v. City of New York, 13-03442, and Floyd v. City of New York, 13-03461, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).

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