New York City's "stop and frisk" policy has been the subject of debate in the past, but Wednesday's ruling may put a serious dent in its enforcement.
Judge Shira Scheindlin was asked to rule on the New York Police Department's tactic of performing a "stop and frisk" on people entering and exiting certain buildings. While the trial hasn't begun, Scheindlin has issued a temporary injunction against the practice.
That means police officers won't be able to rely on people loitering around certain buildings as a reason to do a "stop and frisk." But how long will that stop them?
Well, the injunction could potentially stop them forever. That depends on Judge Scheindlin's final ruling.
An injunction is a court decision issued before a trial. It binds the parties' actions during the proceedings.
To get an injunction, the requesting party must show that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its case at trial. There must also be proof that without an injunction, persons affected by the case will suffer irreparable harm.
The standard of proof is slightly lower than at trial, but in many ways it is a trial before the trial. In this case, the plaintiffs were able to prove that these "stop and frisks" were harmful.
The NYPD defended its stop and frisk practices as part of the Operation Clean Halls program, which is designed to discourage trespassing, according to The Wall Street Journal. But opponents believe police were abusing their power.
The program doesn't give officers the right to stop anyone outside participating buildings, however. They still must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime is occurring.
In her ruling, the judge pointed out numerous problems with the "stop and frisk" policy. That included the number of cases marked "fail to prosecute" that stem from these encounters, and the fact that NYPD training materials misstate the legal minimum for a stop, reports CNN.
Now that the judge has ruled on the injunction, the case will go trial. If she finds for the plaintiffs, the "stop and frisk" injunction may become permanent.
- Judge limits "stop and frisk" searches in New York's Bronx (Yahoo)
- Could 'Stop and Frisk' Injunction Soon Go Beyond Public Housing? (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)
- NY Stop and Frisk Policy Challenged for Racism (FindLaw's Blotter)