United States ConstitutionU.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin recently ruled that New York police were in violation of the Fourth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. According to ABA Journal, “Scheindlin reviewed statistics on 4.4 million police stops made between January 2004 and June 2012, and said a forms database indicated at least 200,000 were made without reasonable suspicion.”  In her 195-page decision, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote, "A police department may not target a racially defined group for stops in general—that is, for stops based on suspicions of general criminal wrongdoing—simply because members of that group appear frequently in the police department’s suspect data."

New York Police Found in Violation of the 4th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution

According to several sources, Judge Scheindlin found that New York police violated the following:

  • Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches
  • 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause

Did the New York Police Participate in Racial Profiling?

New York Police apparently had an unspoken policy to target “the right people" for their stops.  In her decision, Judge Scheindlin referred to this policy as "a form of racial profiling."  She further stated, "While a person’s race may be important if it fits the description of a particular crime suspect, it is impermissible to subject all members of a racially defined group to heightened police enforcement because some members of that group are criminals."

So, what happens next? Judge Scheindlin appointed lawyer Peter Zimroth to monitor New York City's controversial stop-and-search policy.

What Are the Constitutional Limitations to Stop & Frisk?

Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), is a Landmark Supreme Court case, which decided the constitutionality of a “Stop & Frisk.”  Under the ruling, a police officer may stop a person without probable cause for arrest if the police officer has reasonable that the defendant is engaging in criminal activity.  Furthermore, if the officer reasonably believes that the person is armed and dangerous, they may conduct a protective frisk.

What are your thoughts?