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Court Strikes Challenge to Stop-and-Frisk Trial

MANHATTAN (CN) - The 2nd Circuit refused to let New York City appeal class certification in a lawsuit over racially disparate stop-and-frisk police policies.

"Well over one hundred thousand people" may fall into a class of plaintiffs who have been stopped by police since Jan. 31, 2005, without reasonable suspicion, court records indicate.

In a May certification order, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said that the case of Floyd v. City of New York involved "an issue of great public concern," namely "the disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos, as compared to whites, who become entangled in the criminal justice system."

The city sought leave to appeal, but the 2nd Circuit refused Wednesday.

City lawyer Fay Ng said the refusal should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Scheindlin's reasoning.

"The court did not rule on the merits of the district court's class-certification decision," Ng said in a statement. "Rather, it simply decided that the city's challenge to that decision should be heard at a later time. While we are disappointed, it was just a decision on a procedural aspect of the case."

A key witness for the plaintiff class, Columbia Professor Jeffrey Fagan, found that police have stopped, questioned and frisked New Yorkers and visitors more than 2.8 million times between 2004 and 2009.

While the NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne asserts that "stops save lives," Fagan intends to testify at trial that the vast majority of stops turn up no weapons, drugs or illegal activity.

The city hopes to undercut this testimony by calling upon New York University public policy professor Dennis Smith. A recent ruling, however, has limited the testimony Smith is qualified to share with the jury.

Trial is currently slated for March 18, 2013.

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