A Letter to The Daily News from Our President and General Counsel

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, The New York Daily News ran a scathing editorial lambasting Judge Nelson Roman, who is being considered for a federal judgeship by the White House, for his participation in an appellate decision suppressing evidence found as a result of an unlawful search during a Stop & Frisk encounter in the Bronx. The Daily News literally invited Republicans in Congress to vote down the Roman nomination. At LatinoJustice PRLDEF we’ve been at the forefront of the Stop & Frisk issue, advocating for reform, educating and organizing community responses, and suing the NYPD for illegal “Hallway Stop & Frisk” practices. The attack on a sitting judge, and a Latino one at that, required our immediate response. Thankfully, the Daily News ran a shortened version of my letter today. Below I share an extended version of the original letter that I hope adds to the discourse. Police practices grounded in racial profiling must be challenged, be it in Arizona, Alabama or in the South Bronx. And to that end we must support an independent judiciary that is coming around to questioning the suffocating practices of the executive branch.

You can show your support for Honorable Judge Roman by submitting your letters to the editors on our site. Tell them police practices grounded in racial profiling must be challenged by an independent judiciary and to stop the attacks on Judge Roman!

Re: “A judge gets benched” Editorial 10 July 2012
Since 1961 the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that evidence seized in violation of the 4th Amendment cannot be used in a criminal trial. This is bedrock constitutional law which is taught to every police cadet. The Daily News would rather impugn the trajectory of the stellar career of a New York jurist, the Hon. Nelson Roman, whose appointment to the federal bench would further integrate a court in desperate need of diversity, because of one decision in a Stop & Frisk case. One decision. Judge Roman was part of a three-member majority opinion, clearly not an outlier. Heretofore, one would think that the elevation of a former police officer and former prosecutor would be fine and dandy for New York’s Hometown Paper. Instead the News invited Republicans in Congress to attack Judge Roman. Think about it: a former cop and prosecutor now sitting on the bench has serious doubts about aspects of Zero Tolerance Policing – the theoretical criminological foundation for New York City’s discriminatory Stop & Frisk practices. As New York’s federal and state courts get brought into the fray and hold firm to their duty to enforce the Constitution, Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelley should draw pause. Instead, they insist on maintaining a practice in which, last year, according to the NYCLU, 90% of all young African-American and Latino stopped and frisked were innocent.

In 1961 the Supreme Court went on to say that “nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws.” For 60 years we have abided by the exclusionary rule. It’s time for the Daily News to recognize that the Constitution has a place in the debate over Stop & Frisk.

Juan Cartagena
President & General Counsel
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
11 July 2012

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