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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bronx Stop-and-Frisk Case Wins Class Status

MANHATTAN (CN) - A federal judge certified the second of three class actions filed over the New York City Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk practices.

Jaenean Ligon leads the class in this case, made up of Latino and black New Yorkers who oppose police stops on suspicion of trespass outside certain privately owned buildings in the Bronx.

Before a court found the practice unconstitutional, police claimed the right to make stops in private buildings that are enrolled in the Trespass Affidavit Program, which was formerly known in the Bronx as Operation Clean Halls.

Another class action, Floyd v. City of New York, broadly addresses racial disparities in stops. A third class action, Davis v. City of New York, targets "vertical patrols" in public housing complexes.

U.S. District Judge Scheindlin presides over all three cases, and she has sided consistently against the NYPD.

So far, she has approved claims in all three cases, certified classes in the Floyd and Ligon cases, and granted a preliminary injunction in the Ligon lawsuit after holding a public hearing late last year.

Witnesses there included a Columbia professor and former assistant district attorney from the Bronx, who testified that the NYPD has illegally stopped people in the Bronx without reasonable suspicion of a crime.

"For those of us who do not fear being stopped as we approach or leave our own homes or those of our friends and families, it is difficult to believe that residents of one of our boroughs live under such a threat," Scheindlin wrote last month. "In light of the evidence presented at the hearing, however, I am compelled to conclude that this is the case."

The judge ordered the parties to present arguments about the best way to rein in the program.

Her second class certification Monday makes it likely that the Clean Halls will be forced to undergo systemic change.

The class includes: "All individuals who have been or are at risk of being stopped outdoors without legal justification by NYPD officers on suspicion of trespassing in Bronx apartment buildings enrolled in the NYPD's Trespass Affidavit Program (commonly referred to as 'Operation Clean Halls')."

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