University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name U.S. v. City of Steubenville PN-OH-0002
Docket / Court 97-966 ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On August 28, 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against the City of Steubenville pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §14141 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to remedy an alleged pattern or practice of unconstitutional misconduct by officers of the Steubenville ... read more >
On August 28, 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against the City of Steubenville pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §14141 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to remedy an alleged pattern or practice of unconstitutional misconduct by officers of the Steubenville Police Department ["SPD"] including: using excessive force; making false arrests; lodging false charges; and conducting improper searches and seizures. The filing followed a year long DOJ investigation of the SDP.

Contemporaneously with the filing of the government's complaint, the parties filed a joint application for the entry of the consent decree. In support of the joint application, the parties submitted the declaration of James J. Fyfe, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert in police management, who consulted the DOJ during its investigation of SPD. District Judge George C. Smith entered the consent decree on September 3, 1997. The consent decree included the implementation of changes in the use of force, officer training, internal affairs investigations, officer detention and arrest of subjects, and collection and retention of department information and data.

On October 20, 1997, the Fraternal Order of Police of Fort Steuben filed a motion for leave to intervene as a third-party, so that it could challenge the consent decree. Judge Smith denied that motion on July 23, 1998.

In accordance with the consent decree, the parties selected Charles D Reynolds to serve as auditor. The auditor was charged with oversight of the implementation of the provisions of the consent decree and provided quarterly reports to the court.

In 2001, a member of the police department who had not been chosen as the Chief of Police when that position was being filled sued in state court, alleging a violation of Ohio Civil Service law. The city defended the case on the grounds that it followed the procedures specified in the consent decree, and the matter was moved to federal court. On June 15, 2001, Judge Smith found that case (C2-01-322) related to the underlying civil rights case; both were assigned to Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr., for decision. On June 15, 2001, Judge Sargus ordered the cases consolidated, denied the city's dismissal motion, and granted the U.S. permission to intervene as a party in the civil service case. 147 F.Supp.2d 872 (2001). On September 7, 2001, Judge Sargus granted the DOJ and the City's motion for summary judgment in the individual officer's lawsuit. That officer, the Court found, was not entitled to become the Chief against the procedures specified in the decree. 2001 WL 1681105.

Monitoring and reporting by auditor Reynolds continued until early 2005. On March 2, 2005, the parties filed a joint motion for termination of the consent decree and dismissal of the case. Judge Sargus granted that motion and the case was dismissed on March 4, 2005.

Dan Dalton - 01/04/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
General
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
False arrest
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Racial profiling
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) Steubenville Police Department
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1997 - 2005
Case Closing Year 2005
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 ]

  Interview: William A. McCafferty, Chief of Steubenville Police Department (April 2005)
Written: Apr. 01, 2005
By: Police Assessment Resource Center (Police Assessment Resource Center)
Citation: Police Practices Review (April 2005)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ 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)
97-0966 (S.D. Ohio) 07/12/2006
PN-OH-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Re: Investigation of Steubenville Police Department 05/12/1997
PN-OH-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
Press Release: ""Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Steubenville, Ohio Police Department"". 08/26/1997
PN-OH-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Complaint 08/28/1997
PN-OH-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree 08/28/1997
PN-OH-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Memorandum of Law in Support of Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree 08/28/1997
PN-OH-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Consent Decree 08/28/1997 (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Declaration of James J. Fyfe, Ph.D. 08/28/1997
PN-OH-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
United States' Memorandum in Opposition to Intervention by Fraternal Order of Police, Fort Steuben Lodge No. 1 11/07/1997
PN-OH-0002-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Opinion and Order 07/23/1998 (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
News Release 10/27/1999
PN-OH-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Opinion and Order 06/15/2001 (147 F.Supp.2d 872) (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judgment in a civil case / Opinion and Order 09/07/2001 (2001 WL 1681105) (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Status Report 01/20/2004
PN-OH-0002-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Declaration of Charles D. Reynolds 03/02/2005
PN-OH-0002-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 11/28/2006 (463 F.Supp.2d 760) (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum Opinion 09/25/2007 (243 Fed.Appx. 157)
PN-OH-0002-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Forester, Karl Spillman (E.D. Ky.)
PN-OH-0002-0011
King, Norah McCann (S.D. Ohio) [Magistrate]
PN-OH-0002-0002 | PN-OH-0002-0003 | PN-OH-0002-0007 | PN-OH-0002-9000
Marbley, Algenon L. (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0010
McKeague, David William (W.D. Mich., Sixth Circuit)
PN-OH-0002-0011
Sargus, Edmund A. Jr. (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0013 | PN-OH-0002-0014 | PN-OH-0002-9000
Smith, George Curtis (S.D. Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0002 | PN-OH-0002-0003 | PN-OH-0002-0005
Sutton, Jeffrey S. (Sixth Circuit)
PN-OH-0002-0011
Monitors/Masters Reynolds, Charles D. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0016
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hinnant, William C. Jr. (South Carolina)
PN-OH-0002-0010
Masling, Mark S. (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0002-0002 | PN-OH-0002-0003 | PN-OH-0002-9000
McNamara, James Donald (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0010 | PN-OH-0002-0011
Nelson, Mellie H. (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0002-0002 | PN-OH-0002-0003 | PN-OH-0002-0004 | PN-OH-0002-0005 | PN-OH-0002-0012
Olivito, Richard A. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0010
Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0002-0002 | PN-OH-0002-0003 | PN-OH-0002-0004 | PN-OH-0002-0005 | PN-OH-0002-0009 | PN-OH-0002-0012
Rattan, James Evan (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0004 | PN-OH-0002-0005 | PN-OH-0002-9000
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0002-0002 | PN-OH-0002-0003
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0002-0002 | PN-OH-0002-0003 | PN-OH-0002-0004 | PN-OH-0002-0005 | PN-OH-0002-0012
Sanders, Deborah (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0012
Schlanger, Margo (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0002-0002 | PN-OH-0002-0003 | PN-OH-0002-0004 | PN-OH-0002-0005 | PN-OH-0002-0009 | PN-OH-0002-0012
Zealey, Sharon J. (District of Columbia)
PN-OH-0002-0002 | PN-OH-0002-0003 | PN-OH-0002-0004 | PN-OH-0002-0005 | PN-OH-0002-0012
Defendant's Lawyers Cristallo, Paul J. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0010
Loughry, Michael S. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0010
McLandrich, John T. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0011
Repella, Stephen Gary (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0003 | PN-OH-0002-0004 | PN-OH-0002-0005 | PN-OH-0002-0015 | PN-OH-0002-9000
Scialdone, Frank H. (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0011
Stoffers, Henry (Ohio)
PN-OH-0002-0010 | PN-OH-0002-0011
Other Lawyers None on record

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