On August 30, 1994, Peso Chavez, a Hispanic private investigator and New Mexico resident, filed a class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for alleged unconstitutional racial profiling by the Illinois State Police [ISP]. Chavez was represented by attorneys from the Roger Baldwin Foundation of ACLU, Inc. Defendants included the ISP; individual troopers; and supervisory officials, including those that headed "Operation Valkyrie," a drug interdiction program. Chavez claimed that the officers of the Operation Valkyrie unit had a practice of stopping, detaining, and searching African-American and Hispanic motorists based on their race and without legally sufficient cause or justification. Chavez's own detention arose when he was retained by a criminal defense attorney to drive through Illinois in an attempt to recreate the circumstances leading to the drug stop and arrest of the attorney's client. See People v. Koutsakis, 272 Ill.App.3d 159, 208 Ill.Dec. 549, 649 N.E.2d 605 (Ill.App.3d Dist. 1995).
Subsequent to the filing of the action, Gregory Lee, Anthony W. Thomas and Linda Thomas, African-Americans, and Joseph Gomez, a Hispanic, joined the action as plaintiffs. Plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from the ACLU.
The five-year procedural history of this litigation is somewhat complicated as reflected by the PACER docket. Plaintiffs were granted leave to amend the complaint numerous times and parties and claims were added and dismissed. Plaintiffs' legal claims alleged violations of: the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; the right to travel provided by the Privileges and Immunities Clauses of Article IV and the Fourteenth Amendment; the Fourth Amendment; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and various supplemental state law provisions. Plaintiffs sought damages and injunctive and declaratory relief.
Through a series of rulings during the five-year litigation, the District Court (Judge Blanche M. Manning) analyzed the legal merits of the various claims. On February 13, 1996, the District Court dismissed the right to travel claim and conspiracy claims. Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 1996 WL 66136 (N.D.Ill. Feb. 13, 1996).
On November 5, 1998, the District Court granted defendants' motions for summary judgment on the equal protection claim, holding that the statistical evidence proffered by plaintiffs was insufficient to show that similarly situated persons of varying races were treated differently by the ISP. As Plaintiffs' request for class certification was based on the equal protection claim, class certification was denied. The District Court also found that the plaintiffs' individual claims would not support an award of injunctive relief. Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 27 F.Supp.2d 1053 (N.D.Ill.1998).
On July 15, 1999, the District Court denied the motion to add Christopher Jimenz as a new plaintiff. Chavez v. Illinois State Police, No. 94 C 5307, 1999 WL 515483 (N.D.Ill. July 15, 1999).
On August 2, 1999, the District Court denied plaintiffs' motions for reinstatement of their claim for prospective relief under Title VI and for class certification of a class of Hispanic motorists with respect to the Title VI claim. Chavez v. Illinois State Police, 1999 WL 592187 (N.D.Ill. Aug. 2, 1999).
Thereafter, plaintiffs' counsel moved to voluntarily dismiss the remaining claims with prejudice, so they could pursue an immediate appeal. The District Court advised plaintiffs that such dismissal would result in reasonable costs being taxed against plaintiffs. Chavez v. Illinois State Police, 1999 WL 754681 (N.D.Ill. Sept. 9, 1999). Plaintiffs' dismissed the remaining claims and the Court awarded costs in the amount of $22,800.72 to defendants. Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal on October 15, 1999.
Plaintiffs then moved for reconsideration of the taxing order, which was denied by the District Court. Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 2000 WL 91918 (N.D.Ill. Jan. 19, 2000). Plaintiffs filed a second notice of appeal, seeking review of the taxing order.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed on all issues. Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 251 F.3d 612 (7th Cir. 2001). Of particular note, the Court of Appeals (Justice Michel S. Kanne) held that while statistical proof could be sufficient to establish the discriminatory effect element of the equal protection claim, the statistical evidence offered by the plaintiffs was neither relevant nor reliable and was therefore insufficient as a matter of law.Dan Dalton - 01/09/2007