University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Bolger v. District of Columbia PN-DC-0004
Docket / Court Civil Action 03-0906 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On April 21, 2003, plaintiffs, a group of protestors detained and interrogated by the D.C. Metropolitan Police, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the D.C. Police and the FBI in the United States Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs, represented by several public ... read more >
On April 21, 2003, plaintiffs, a group of protestors detained and interrogated by the D.C. Metropolitan Police, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the D.C. Police and the FBI in the United States Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs, represented by several public interest organizations, asked the court for compensatory, injunctive, and declaratory relief, claiming violations of their First and Fourth Amendment rights, as well as alleging a civil conspiracy to violate their rights. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that they were targeted for wearing black clothing (which the D.C. Police believed was linked with the belief in 'Anarchy'), and detained and arrested without probable cause.

The protest that was the subject of the suit was against the war in Afghanistan and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank; it took place in D.C. on April 20, 2002. The plaintiffs had returned to a parking garage in which they had parked and had access to the internet. While they were congregated and eating, D.C. Metro Police approached them with drawn guns. The protestors were dressed in black. They were accosted and insulted by the police, then handcuffed and taken into custody. Their vehicle and personal belongings were searched without consent.

Several of the plaintiffs were interrogated in video interviews, recordings of which were later disseminated within the FBI. The plaintiffs were interrogated about the nature of the political activities and associations, their travel arrangements and housing accommodations in D.C. They were released, but later charged with Unlawful Entry into the parking garage (in which the plaintiffs had parked their vehicle). The charges were dismissed at the D.C. Superior Court for being baseless.

The plaintiffs claimed in their lawsuit, filed a year later, that they were arrested in violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and association, and that they were arrested as part of an illegal intelligence-gathering operation designed to monitor protected First-Amendment activities of select political organizations, of which the plaintiffs were presumed to be a part.

On September 11, 2007, the Court (Judge John Bates) partially granted the FBI's motion for summary judgment. The Court found that the plaintiffs were not entitled to declaratory or injunctive relief in regards to the dissemination of arrest records and interrogation video because they could not demonstrate that the harm was continuing. The compensatory action was maintained against the FBI and the entire action against the MPD was allowed to continue.

On March 31, 2009, the Court ruled on MPD's motion for summary judgment. The Court found that most of the individual officer defendants were entitled to qualified immunity, but that the District of Columbia's policy of targeting black-clad protestors for enforcement created a genuine issue of material fact as to a valid constitutional claim.

On November 13, 2009, the plaintiffs and defendants made a joint motion to dismiss the case with prejudice following a Settlement Agreement. The Agreement awarded the plaintiffs $450,000 to be divided amongst them. This amount was inclusive of attorney's fees.

The case was closed on November 16, 2009.

Blase Kearney - 06/25/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Failure to train
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pattern or Practice
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Criminal Conspiracy to Violate Federal Rights, 18 U.S.C. § 241
Bivens
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) District of Columbia
United States
Plaintiff Description Protestors at an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. who were wearing all-black
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 Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2009
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)
1:03−cv−00906 (D.D.C.) 11/16/2009
PN-DC-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Second Amended Complaint 08/07/2006
PN-DC-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 09/11/2007 (510 F.Supp.2d 86) (D.D.C.)
PN-DC-0004-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 03/31/2009 (608 F.Supp.2d 10) (D.D.C.)
PN-DC-0004-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PCJF wins settlement in illegal arrest case in D.C. 11/10/2009
PN-DC-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Joint Motion for Order Dismissing Case With Prejudice 11/13/2009
PN-DC-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bates, John D. (FISC, D.D.C., D.C. Circuit)
PN-DC-0004-0003 | PN-DC-0004-0004 | PN-DC-0004-0005 | PN-DC-0004-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Messineo, Carl L (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-0002 | PN-DC-0004-0003 | PN-DC-0004-9000
Miller, Radhika M.S. (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Verheyden-Hilliard, Mara E (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-0001 | PN-DC-0004-0002
Wolfe, Zachary J. (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bruckheim, Michael P. (Maryland)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Copeland, Chad Wayne (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-0003 | PN-DC-0004-9000
DeBerardinis, Robert A. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Efros, Ellen A. (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-0003 | PN-DC-0004-9000
Koger, Thomas Louis (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Lee, Julie Steptoe (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Mew, Caroline M. (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Nebeker, William Mark (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Parris, Lori S. (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Schifferle, Carl James (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Vricos, James H. (District of Columbia)
PN-DC-0004-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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