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NYC Police Union cannot intervene in NYPD Stop and Frisk Case


The Court of Appeals reviewed and affirmed the District Court’s decision to deny the Police Unions’ motion to intervene pursuant to using an abuse of discretion review in the newsworthy stop and frisk case.

Background: On August 12, 2013, after a bench trial that followed plaintiffs’ withdrawal of claims for money damages and claims against individual defendants, Judge Scheindlin issued an order in Floyd v. City of New York, finding that the City had violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by acting with “deliberate indifference” toward the NYPD’s practice of making suspicionless “stops” and “frisks” and by adopting “a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups” for “stops” and “frisks.” On July 30, 2014, Judge Torres also issued an order denying the police unions’ motions to intervene, finding, inter alia, that the motions were untimely and that the police unions did not assert a legally protectable interest. Judge Torres held that plaintiffs would “face significant prejudice if previously uninterested late‐comers are permitted to prolong the legal wrangling and further delay plaintiffs’ hard‐won relief,” and that “[g]ranting intervention would permit the Unions to infringe upon the City’s prerogative to determine policing policy as manifested in its litigation strategy.”

The Court of Appeals reviewed and affirmed the District Court’s decision to deny the Police Unions’ motion to intervene pursuant to using an abuse of discretion review in the newsworthy stop and frisk case.

Background: On August 12, 2013, after a bench trial that followed plaintiffs’ withdrawal of claims for money damages and claims against individual defendants, Judge Scheindlin issued an order in Floyd v. City of New York, finding that the City had violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by acting with “deliberate indifference” toward the NYPD’s practice of making suspicionless “stops” and “frisks” and by adopting “a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups” for “stops” and “frisks.” On July 30, 2014, Judge Torres also issued an order denying the police unions’ motions to intervene, finding, inter alia, that the motions were untimely and that the police unions did not assert a legally protectable interest. Judge Torres held that plaintiffs would “face significant prejudice if previously uninterested late‐comers are permitted to prolong the legal wrangling and further delay plaintiffs’ hard‐won relief,” and that “[g]ranting intervention would permit the Unions to infringe upon the City’s prerogative to determine policing policy as manifested in its litigation strategy.”

Issue: “Whether public‐sector unions may intervene into a litigation where the actual parties to that litigation, including a newly‐elected mayoral administration, have agreed to a settlement.

Law: We have previously explained that “[i]ntervention is a procedural device that attempts to accommodate two competing policies: efficiently administrating legal disputes by resolving all related issues in one lawsuit, on the one hand, and keeping a single lawsuit from becoming unnecessarily complex, unwieldy or prolonged, on the other hand,” and that, “[i]n resolving the tension that exists between these dual concerns, the particular facts of each case are important, and prior decisions are not always reliable guides.”… Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b) provides for intervention by permission, stating in relevant part that: “[o]n timely motion, the court may permit anyone to intervene who . . . has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact.

Rule: To be granted intervention as of right or by permission, “an applicant must (1) timely file an application, (2) show an interest in the action, (3) demonstrate that the interest may be impaired by the disposition of the action, and (4) show that the interest is not protected adequately by the parties to the action.” The Second Circuit noted that a “[f]ailure to satisfy any one of these four requirements is a sufficient ground to deny the application.”

Analysis: The Second Circuit found that “the District Court acted within its discretion in denying the unions’ motions to intervene as of right and by permission” on the first and second ground – the application was not timely and the Union could not show an interest in the action. “The unions knew, or should have known, of their asserted interests in their members’ reputations and collective bargaining rights well before they filed their motions in September 2013.” Further, “[i]t was widely understood that the views of the incumbent municipal administration were not shared by their likely successors. This plethora of information should have put the unions on notice of the potential political and judicial dangers that these cases posed to their interests well before Judge Scheindlin’s August 12, 2013 Liability and Remedial orders.” “Intervention would disserve the balancing interest of Rule 24 in keeping a “lawsuit from becoming unnecessarily complex, unwieldy or prolonged.” We have made it clear that, for an interest to be “cognizable” under Rule 24, it must be “direct, substantial, and legally protectable.”28 In other words, “[a]n interest that is remote from the subject matter of the proceeding, or that is contingent upon the occurrence of a sequence of events before it becomes colorable, will not satisfy the rule.”

Holding: “[T]he police unions’ motions to intervene are untimely and do not assert an interest that the law seeks to protect. The unions knew, or should have known, of their alleged interests in these controversial and public cases well before they filed their motions in September 2013.” “[I]n the particular and highly unusual facts and circumstances presented here, it should have been readily apparent to the unions that their interests diverged from the City’s long before the unions filed for intervention.”

The case is Floyd v. City of New York, 13‐3088‐cv (2d Cir. Oct. 31, 2014).

#stopandfrisk #policeunion #intervention #nypd #nycstopandfrisk #frcp

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