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New York AG: Half Of Stop-And-Frisk Arrests Don’t Lead To Convictions

Appeals Court Rejected Stop-And-Frisk Judge's Appeal To Be Reinstated

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In a first-of-its kind analysis, a report from the New York Attorney General’s office found that just 1.5 percent of stop-and-frisk arrests resulted in a jail or prison sentence longer than 30 days.

Of those, the report found a tenth of 1 percent led to convictions for weapons charges or violent crimes.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office analyzed 150,000 stop-and-frisk arrests from 2.4 million stops between 2009 and 2012.

The report released Thursday morning showed that close to half of those arrests failed to result in convictions.

“My office’s analysis of the city’s stop-and-frisk practices has broad implications for law enforcement, both in New York City and across the state. It’s our hope that this report — the first of its kind — will advance the discussion about how to fight crime without overburdening our institutions or violating equal justice under the law,” Schneiderman said in a news release. “The vast amount of data we analyzed over four years should serve as a helpful guide to municipalities and law enforcement officials around the state, where stop-and-frisk practices are used to varying degrees.”

The report says those caught up in the legal system pay a price in areas like future employment and college opportunities. It adds that there has been a sharp uptick in litigation costs for New York City.

The data, provided by the NYPD, led to the following findings by the AG’s office:

  • Close to half of all stop and frisk arrests resulted in no convictions because the arrestees were never prosecuted, their cases were dismissed, or they received an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (a dismissal of a charge if the defendant does not commit another crime within six months or a year);
  • Just 1 in 16 stop and frisk arrests — or 0.3 percent of all stops — led to a jail or prison sentence of more than 30 days;
  • Just 1 in 50 stop and frisk arrests — or 0.1 percent of all stops — led to a conviction for a violent crime;
  • Just 1 in 50 stop and frisk arrests — or 0.1 percent of all stops — led to a conviction for possession of a weapon;
  • Almost one quarter of stop-and-frisk arrests (24.7 percent) were dismissed before arraignment or resulted in a non-criminal charge.

“The numbers stand as stark evidence that this stop-and-frisk program is not about keeping our streets safe; it’s certainly about putting people — people of color primarily — into the criminal justice system,” Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“I’m a little bit surprised that it’s as ineffective in getting convictions as one might have thought,” Lieberman added.

The mayor’s office didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment on Schneiderman’s report, but the NYPD responded forcefully, claiming that the analysis is flawed because it doesn’t take into consideration the crime prevntion aspects of stop-and-frisk.

“This analysis somehow just ignores situations where an officer’s action deters or prevents a crime from occurring in the first place,” argued NYPD Deputy Commissioner John McCarthy. “Those situations never result in arrest conviction or jail time because a crime is prevented.”

Stop-and-frisk has been around for decades, but its use grew dramatically under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration to an all-time high in 2011 of 684,330 stops, mostly of black and Hispanic men. To make a stop, police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is about to occur or has occurred, a standard lower than the probable cause needed to justify an arrest. Only about 10 percent of the stops result in arrests or summonses, and weapons are found about 2 percent of the time.

Meantime, a federal appeals court refused Wednesday to reconsider its order removing a judge from court cases challenging the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan had removed federal Judge Shira Scheindlin last month, saying she had misapplied a ruling that allowed her to preside over the stop-and-frisk cases and had made statements in media interviews that jeopardized the appearance of judicial objectivity.

Her attorney Burt Neuborne filed papers last week, asking the panel to reconsider the order and saying the appeals judges had offended due process by ousting her without letting her defend herself. Scheindlin ruled in August that police officers sometimes carried out stop-and-frisk unconstitutionally by discriminating against minorities.

On Wednesday, the panel denied Neuborne’s request, saying it lacked a procedural basis.

“We know of no precedent suggesting that a district judge has standing before an appellate court to protest reassignment of a case,” the judges ruled.

The decision said “the cases were reassigned not because of any judicial misconduct or ethical lapse on the part of Judge Scheindlin – as to which we have expressly made no finding” – but solely because of conduct codes that said judges should not be part of a proceeding in which “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

“Frankly, if that had been the language in the first order, I doubt we would have been in court,” said Neuborne.

Scheindlin found that stop-and-frisk discriminated against minorities and appointed a monitor and a facilitator to find better ways to employ the tactics.

On the ruling removing Scheindlin, City lawyer Michael Cardozo said the court’s refusal to reconsider was correct.

“The Second Circuit clearly explained how the judge’s comments compromised the appearance of impartiality and required reassignment to a different district judge,” Cardozo said in a statement.

After being removed, Scheindlin issued a statement saying she had properly presided over the cases because they were related to a previous case she had heard. She also consented to interviews under the condition that she wouldn’t comment on an ongoing case.

“And I did not,” she said.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise that he’d reform stop-and-frisk and has voiced support for the changes to the policy recommended by Judge Scheindlin.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)