University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name People of the State of New York v. Wallkill PN-NY-0003
Docket / Court 01-CIV-0364 (CM) ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
Case summary not yet recorded
On January 18, 2001, New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Town of Wallkill, seeking injunctive relief to reform and monitor the Wallkill Police Department, which Spitzer had described as "out of control."

The lawsuit was the offshoot of the Attorney General's investigation of the Wallkill PD. The investigation revealed a pattern of pervasive misconduct including: officers illegally stopping women motorists and sexually harassing them; retaliation by officers against the Town's Police Commission after it issued a report that criticized the department; and officers illegally stopping drivers for the Middletown newspaper and charging them with bogus traffic violations in retaliation for stories the newspaper ran about the department.

A month after the complaint was filed the Town agreed to enter into a consent decree which the Attorney General. However, in court proceedings discussing the formal entry of the consent decree, counsel for Wallkill commented that the Town did not believe that the court had subject matter jurisdiction over the action. Judge Colleen McMahon treated the comment as an oral motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and ordered that the parties brief the issue, before the court evaluated the proposed consent decree.

On March 20, 2001, after considering the parties' briefs, judge McMahon issued her decision and order dismissing the defendant's challenge to subject matter jurisdiction. The court cited the doctrine of parens patriae which allows states to use their power to seek federal relief to protect their "quasi-sovereign interest in the health and well-being - both physical and economic - of [their] residents." Alfred L. Snapp & Sons, Inc. v. Puerto Rico, 458 U.S. 592, 600 (1982).

On April 5, 2001, the court entered the consent decree and an amendment to the decree.

On May 2, 2001, the court appointed Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) as the independent monitor to oversee the implementation of the consent decree. On June 11, 2001, the Court appointed Dean M. Esserman to serve as auditor of the Wallkill PD for the duration of the consent decree. The court approved additional amendments to the consent decree on September 21, 2004.

The independent monitor issued four reports detailing the compliance efforts of the WPD.

On February 28, 2006, the court entered its order terminating its oversight with respect to the WPD and ordered the WPD to comply with certain sections of the Best Practices Guidelines adopted pursuant to the consent decree.

Dan Dalton - 12/29/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
General
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Racial profiling
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Town of Wallkill Police Department
Plaintiff Description The people of the state of New York seeking supervision of the Town of Wallkill’s police department, which is claimed to be "out of control"
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2001 - 2006
Case Closing Year 2006
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
01-0364 (S.D.N.Y.) 03/06/2006
PN-NY-0003-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Decision and Order Dismissing Defendant's Challenge to Subject Matter Jurisdiction 03/16/2001 (2001 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 13364) (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0003-0006 PDF | LEXIS | Detail
Amendment to Consent Decree 04/03/2001
PN-NY-0003-0007 PDF | Detail
First Report of the Monitor 01/01/2002
PN-NY-0003-0001 PDF | Detail
Second Report of the Monitor 07/01/2002
PN-NY-0003-0002 PDF | Detail
Third Report of the Monitor 02/01/2004
PN-NY-0003-0003 PDF | Detail
Fourth Report of the Monitor 03/01/2005
PN-NY-0003-0004 PDF | Detail
Final Judgment 02/28/2006 (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0003-0005 PDF | Detail
Judges McMahon, Colleen (S.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0003-0005 | PN-NY-0003-0006 | PN-NY-0003-0007 | PN-NY-0003-9000
Monitors/Masters Esserman, Dean (New York)
PN-NY-0003-0001 | PN-NY-0003-0002 | PN-NY-0003-0003 | PN-NY-0003-0004
Plaintiff's Lawyers Celli, Andrew G. Jr. (New York)
PN-NY-0003-0006 | PN-NY-0003-0007
Landau, Lisa (New York)
PN-NY-0003-0007
Peters, Mark G. (New York)
PN-NY-0003-0007
Pope, Peter (New York)
PN-NY-0003-0007 | PN-NY-0003-0007 | PN-NY-0003-9000
Spitzer, Eliot (New York)
PN-NY-0003-0007
Yap, Elisabeth (New York)
PN-NY-0003-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Rosenstein, Monte J. (New York)
PN-NY-0003-0006 | PN-NY-0003-0007 | PN-NY-0003-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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