May 21, 2013

A lawyer for New York City insisted yesterday that plaintiffs have thoroughly failed to prove that New York City police violate the U.S. Constitution on a massive scale by stopping, questioning and frisking young men of color without reasonable suspicion they have committed or are about to commit a crime.

Heidi Grossman, deputy chief of the city Law Department’s Special Federal Litigation Division, began closing arguments in the grinding, 10-week bench trial before Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin (See Profile) by questioning the plaintiffs’ claims with regard to each and every one of the 19 stops described from the witness stand by name plaintiffs or their witnesses.

Their testimony, Grossman said, was vague, inconsistent, unreliable and did nothing to advance the plaintiffs’ claim that the police are engaged in a top-down policy of violating the Fourth Amendment. Instead, she said the evidence showed that police practices comported with the Constitution, were in sync with the crime rate and demographics of individual neighborhoods, and are dedicated to keeping the city safe—”especially in minority neighborhoods.”

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