The three-judge panel also took the unusual step of removing Scheindlin from the case. It said she ran afoul of the code of conduct for U.S. judges by misapplying a related case ruling that allowed her to take the case, and by giving media interviews during the trial. It noted she had given media interviews and public statements responding to criticism of the court. In a footnote, it cited interviews with the New York Law Journal, The Associated Press and The New Yorker magazine.
In the AP interview, Scheindlin said reports that Bloomberg had reviewed her record to show that most of her 15 written "search and seizure" rulings since she took the bench in 1994 had gone against law enforcement was a "below-the-belt attack" on judicial independence. She said it was "quite disgraceful" if the mayor's office was behind the study.
Scheindlin said in a statement later Thursday she consented to the interviews under the condition she wouldn't comment on the ongoing case.
"And I did not," she said.
Scheindlin said some reporters used quotes from written opinions that gave the appearance she had commented on the case but "a careful reading of each interview will reveal that no such comments were made."
In 2007, Scheindlin told the same lawyers who had argued a similar case before her to bring the stop and frisk case to her, because she said the two were related. Not long after, the current case was filed by the attorneys.
The appeals court said a new judge would be assigned at random to handle further decisions and said it would hear arguments in March on the formal appeal by the city. That judge may choose to make alterations to Scheindlin's rulings, but it would be unlikely.
Scheindlin decided in August that the city violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics by disproportionally stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking them. She assigned a monitor to help the police department change its policy and training programs on the tactic.