On October 21, 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against the City of Columbus, Ohio pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 14111 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to remedy an alleged pattern or practice of unconstitutional misconduct by officers of the Columbus Division of Police ("CDP") including: using excessive force; making false arrests; lodging false charges; and conducting improper searches and seizures.
The filing followed a DOJ investigation of the CDP which analyzed CDP "use of force" reports, "injury to prisoner" reports, citizen complaint files, statistical data, civil lawsuits against the City, and policies and procedures of the CDP.
Contemporaneously with the filing of the DOJ's complaint, the DOJ filed a motion to stay the proceedings so that the parties could explore settlement. Magistrate judge Norah M. King entered a stay, which expired on December 20, 1999 without the parties reaching a settlement.
On October 25, 1999, Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9 ("FOP") filed a motion to intervene as a defendant in the action. Magistrate Judge Norah M. King granted the FOP's motion to intervene on February 7, 2000.
In response to the DOJ's complaint, the City filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and the FOP filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. In those motions, defendants noted that no court had yet interpreted or applied the language of 42 U.S.C. § 14141. Defendants maintained that §14141 was unconstitutional in that its enactment was not a valid exercise of Congressional authority pursuant to § 5 of the 14th Amendment and that it violated the Tenth Amendment. Defendants further argued that § 14141 must be construed to incorporate the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 cases for determining municipal liability. Defendants argued that the DOJ's complaint was therefore deficient because it failed to plead facts that the City caused, or was deliberately indifferent to, the pattern or practice of CDP officer misconduct as alleged in the complaint.
The DOJ filed a brief in opposition to defendants' motions, responding to the constitutional challenge to 42 U.S.C. § 14141. The DOJ also argued that the language of § 14141 imposed vicarious liability on the City for the acts of its officers. DOJ argued that the § 1983 standards of municipal liability were not applicable to § 14141 cases and therefore the complaint properly stated a cause of action.
On April 26, 2000, district court judge John D. Holschuh referred to the dispositive motions to magistrate judge Norah M. King for a report and recommendation. On August 2000, magistrate judge King issued her report and recommendation, which found that 42 U.S.C. § 14141 was constitutional She construed § 14141 to require the same level of proof as is required against municipal entities in actions under § 1983, as set forth in Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) and its progeny.
In response to the magistrate's report, U.S. Representatives John Conyers, Jr., ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, and other representatives moved for leave to participate as amici curiae. Representative Conyers was an original cosponsor of the Police Accountability Act - legislation that contained the language that ultimately was embodied in 42 U.S.C. § 14141. As grounds for their participation, the representatives stated that their interest was to correct the magistrate judge's interpretation of § 14141 as imposing § 1983's "policy or custom" test for determining municipal liability which they believed was a misapplication of the statute.
The Grand Lodge of FOP, the national police officer labor organization, filed a similar amicus motion, taking positions supportive of those taken by the City and the local FOP.
On November 20, 2000 district judge John D. Holschuh granted the motions for leave to participate as amici curiae and amicus briefs were then filed. After an extended round of additional briefing, there was a lengthy period of case inactivity while settlement negotiations continued.
On September 4, 2004, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman submitted a settlement proposal to the DOJ which outlined various reforms the CPD agreed to make in exchange for the dismissal of the DOJ's complaint without prejudice. The DOJ accepted the terms. On September 4, 2002, district judge Holschuh granted the DOJ's motion to dismiss the case without prejudice. Dan Dalton - 01/04/2007