A federal appeals court put on hold court-ordered reforms to the New York City Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk program and ordered the case assigned to a different judge, saying the trial judge "ran afoul" of the judicial code of conduct.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the city's bid to block the reforms pending its appeal of U.S. Judge Shira Scheindlin's ruling in August that the program was unconstitutionally violated the rights of minorities.
Scheindlin compromised the appearance of impartiality by encouraging the plaintiffs to file a class action lawsuit over the stop-and-frisk tactic and by granting media interviews in which she answered critics of her ruling, the court said.
The ruling came just two days after lawyers for the plaintiffs and the city argued over a stay before the court.
Lawyers and representatives of the two sides did not immediately comment on the ruling.
The court's decision to take Scheindlin off the case was an exceedingly rare move, an indication of how displeased the judges were by her actions.
In her ruling, Scheindlin ordered a federal monitor to oversee sweeping changes to the police department's stop-and-frisk strategy, in which patrolling officers stop and search people based on "reasonable suspicion."
Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, who is heavily favored to win the election on Tuesday, has made his opposition to stop-and-frisk a central campaign issue.