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Ligon v. City of New York

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
736 F.3d 118 (2013)


Facts

Jaenean Ligon and other New Yorkers (plaintiffs) filed an action against the City of New York (the city) (defendant) claiming their constitutional rights were violated by the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) stop-and-frisk program. The case was assigned to Judge Shira A. Scheindlin. Before the plaintiffs in this case filed their action, other cases involving violations of constitutional rights against the NYPD were before Judge Scheindlin. During a hearing in one of those cases, Judge Scheindlin instructed the plaintiffs that they could get documents they were seeking in the hearing by filing a new case, suggested that the case would have merit, and told them that if they checked the box stating that the new case was related, she would accept its assignment. The plaintiffs’ attorney in that case did so, which is how the present case came before Judge Scheindlin. While the current case and a related case were pending, Judge Scheindlin gave several interviews to media outlets. Judge Scheindlin did not mention the pending cases by name, but she said she knew that she was not the city’s favorite judge, she was skeptical of law enforcement, and other judges favored the government. In the articles, Judge Scheindlin was characterized as antipolice and a proponent of police reform. Following trial in this case, Judge Scheindlin held in the plaintiffs’ favor and ordered the city to perform certain remedial measures. The city filed a notice of appeal, and also filed a motion to stay the remedial measures ordered by Judge Scheindlin pending appeal. Judge Scheindlin denied the motion. The city did not request reassignment of the trial judge. This court stayed the trial court’s order for remedial measures pending appeal and ordered that the case be reassigned randomly to another trial judge. The court’s opinion explains its earlier order reassigning the trial judge.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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