A federal appellate court panel bounced the landmark stop-and-frisk lawsuits against New York City back into a lower court Friday so the matter can be resolved.
The transfer was expected since New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said the city would drop its appeal to two district court rulings last year that the city's police had discriminated against and violated the constitutional rights of its citizens in applying the street-level surveillance and interrogation tactic.
City attorneys, seeking a settlement of the two lawsuits, Ligon v. City of New York and Floyd v. City of New York, requested the case be moved back to district court for 45 days, and the court of appeals obliged.
"The city believes that such a resolution is possible and desirable, and that the public interest strongly favors this result," read the nine-page decision. "Accordingly, the city's motion is hereby granted."
Chris Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which brought one of the cases on behalf of the plaintiffs, said, "This ruling removes the last hurdle to a settlement of the stop-and-frisk litigation, and we can now all move forward with the reform process."
Nicholas Paolucci, spokesman for the city's law department, said, "The Court of Appeals recognized the city's interest in resolving the case, which we now intend to do in the district court."
The decision also shifted into district court a request by police unions, specifically the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the Detectives Endowment Association, the Lieutenants Benevolent Association and the Captains' Endowment Association, to play a role in any settlement.
The decision said the unions opposed the transfer and "contend that they should be granted leave to intervene and, if necessary, continue the appeal to protect collective bargaining interests and to contest findings by the District Court the unions believe to be unwarranted."
PBA president Patrick J. Lynch said: "Our mission has always been to gain a seat at the table in order to protect our members' rights and reputations. We look forward to representing those interests and our hope is that the court will recognize the importance of having the police officer's voices heard in the process of addressing the issues raised in this litigation."